Internship Academic Credit and Compensation

Earning While Learning

Internship models vary. Some students earn credit for an internship opportunity while others may not. Most internship opportunities are paid, while others are not. Below you will learn how academic credit works at San José State University and the importance of compensating your intern. Whether or not the university grants credit for an internship, each employer is responsible for ensuring its legal compliance with the U.S. Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). A student receiving credit for an internship experience has no correlation to whether or not an employer is legally responsible for paying an intern.


Academic Credit

Each department operates ​​independently and may or may not offer a course that can be used towards academic credit for an internship. Please ask student candidates if they are enrolled in or plan to enroll in a course for internship credit. If so, ask them to bring any necessary documentation for signing from their professor. Documentation may include a University Organization Agreement (UOA) and a Student Learning Plan. Additionally, time-cards and performance evaluations may be requested throughout the semester. 



Many for-profit employer internships offered to San José State University students are paid. Interns may be compensated with an hourly rate that is not below the minimum wage of the state where they will work.


Benefits to Paying Interns

  • Attract skilled interns and remain competitive.
  • Increase intern commitment and compensate for contributions.
  • Broaden the number of qualified applicants by limiting the financial burden of students who cannot afford unpaid internships.
  • It's the right thing to do!
    • Compensation rates are recommended to be based on the desired qualifications, major, class level, and comparable internship positions in the designated industry.
    • A stipend is a one-time payment. A stipend to cover meals, travel, and living expenses does not correspond to an hourly rate.
    • Consideration for other types of compensation such as tuition, books, stock options, royalties, etc. also do not meet an hourly rate. Questions about alternative forms of compensation should be answered by legal counsel.
    • Full time 40 hour a week unpaid internships are prohibited in fairness to students who need to support themselves. Consider splitting the time into part-time hours or into multiple positions.
    • Internships may not be commission based under San José State University Career Center policy. Commission-based positions can be considered for part-time or full-time postings.
    • Unpaid internships with structured duties and responsibilities, learning outcomes, and supervision may be permissible with compliance to the U.S. Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) which pertains to pay requirements in for–profit organizations.
  • Reduce financial burdens that may require a student to work a second job during their internship (or limit internship opportunities to only those students who can afford them).
  • Offset the cost of paying for tuition when a student chooses (or is required) to earn credit for an internship, a paid internship opportunity will help them pay the class tuition.
  • Comply with the U.S. Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), which governs minimum wage requirements in for-profit organizations. The U.S. Department of Labor has developed six criteria for identifying a learner/trainee who may be unpaid. These criteria are as follows:
  1. The training, even though it includes actual operation of the employer's facilities, is similar to training that would be given in a vocational school.
  2. The training is for the benefit of the student.
  3. The student does not displace regular employees, but works under the close observation of a regular employee.
  4. The employer provides the training and derives no immediate advantage from the activities of the student. Occasionally, the operations may actually be impeded by the training.
  5. The student is not necessarily entitled to a job at the conclusion of the training period.
  6. The employer and the student understand that the student is not entitled to wages for the time spent training. All six requirements must be satisfied in order for an intern to be deemed a non-employee trainee (exempt from FLSA minimum wage requirements). Visit the Department of Labor (DOL) website for details.