Frequently Asked Questions

Getting Started


What is JS 181: Internship?

The JS 181 Internship course is designed to provide experiential learning in community organizations to promote understanding of the multiple links between coursework and workplace dynamics. Internships provide broad exposure to the operations of a variety of agencies and organizations that range in focus from criminal justice to social justice. Students can take a maximum of six units of JS 181. This can be accomplished through one three-unit internship (120 hours in one semester), one six-unit internship (240 hours in one semester) or two three-unit internships over two semesters. 

When can I complete my internship requirement?

Your internship can be completed at any time during your degree, provided that you have satisfied all the following requirements: matriculated student (no open university), upper division standing, completed JS 100W of FS 100W with a C or better, Justice Studies or Forensic Science major, and at least a 2.0 GPA.

I completed an internship outside of JS 181. Can I just use that?

No. You cannot use previous volunteer work or internships to satisfy the requirement for JS 181. This is because it was not completed as part of the JS Curriculum, including the additional requirements assocated with the Internship course. Make sure to confirm your enrollment in the Internship course prior to starting an internship. 

Can I use my place of employment and/or training for that employment to fulfill my internship requirement?

No. We typically do not provide internship credit for one’s work activity. There are federal guidelines that define internships that we risk violating if we do that. However, that does not preclude your workplace as the location for your internship. You can conduct your internship at your place of employment provided that the internship does not overlap with your work activities. For example, if your work activity is as a law enforcement officer, you can complete an internship in another ‘department’ such as victim services. Again though, your work activities and internship activities cannot overlap.

I am an International Student here on a student visa and therefore I am unable to work. Does this impact my ability to complete an internship?

No. The internship is a course at the university (JS 181). As a result, it does not violate the rules of a student visa.

When should I start looking for an internship?

The sooner the better. We recommend at least several months prior to you completing your internship, however, some internship placements are competitive and require an application. In addition, some require specific background checks that can take a while to complete. The background check is a common delay, so plan ahead if your placement requirements one! Finally, as the semester draws nearer, internship placement may fill up, leaving you with few options. Therefore, if there is a specific organization or field you are interested in completing your internship in, we recommend beginning the process at least six months in advance.

I am graduating this semester, but I have not found an internship. 

Then you are not graduating this semester! It is each student's responsibility to be organized and ensure that they have a placement prior to the beginning of the semester. If you are having difficulties finding a placement, or are not sure of the process, come see the Internship Coordinator as soon as possible. Waiting until the beginning the semester in which you are taking your internship almost ensures that you will struggle to find a placement. If you are attempting to graduate in the semester that you are completing your internship, we recommend talking with the Coordinator and finding an internship placement at least two to three months prior; more if it is an 'unlisted' internship placement. That means, if you are taking your Internship in the Spring semester, you should have your placement identified by the beginning of December at the latest.


Finding an Internship

Does the department find internship placements for students?

No. Each student is required to find an internship placement on their own. We have resources available to assist with that process, such as the Department's Internship Opportunities web page. However it is the responsibility of each student to find and secure their own internship placement before the start of the semester. You can also schedule a meeting with the Internship Coordinator, who can assist you with the process. 

NOTE: The Coordinator will not find an internship for you, but rather assist you with finding the right placement given your career interests and skillset. The Coordinator can also assist with ensuring that you follow all the necessary administrative steps (e.g., paperwork) and that you are ready to begin your internship at the start of the semester. 

How do I find an internship placement?

There are several options available to students. The first is to search through our Internship Opportunities web page to see if any of the organizations fit your interests. The second is the University’s Opportunities web page. The third is SJSU Handshake, which lists a variety of internship opportunities. The fourth is to search for an internship on your own. If you have an 'unlisted' internship placement that you feel would be beneficial, contact the Internship Coordinator, and they can help make sure that a) it meets the requirements of the Department and University and b) that you complete all the necessary steps and paperwork needed to get it approved. 

The place I am applying requires a resume and an interview. I have not done that before.

Applying for an internship can often be like applying for a job. Many require an application, including a resume, and conduct an interview. Obtaining an internship placement can be a long process, which is why we recommend starting early, and should prepare you for finding employment after you complete your degree. As a result, we recommend you speak to the Career Center at SJSU if you need assistance with submitting an application and conducting an interview. They are happy to help. 

What is the difference between a listed and unlisted internship?

Throughout the years we have built relationships with various organizations in the Bay Area. These organizations have been common locations for student internships in the past. As a result, they are familiar with our requirements for internships and the university has ensured that they meet the expectations of the internship program. While it is not necessary to complete an internship at an 'approved' location, doing so can help in reducing the amount of paperwork you need to complete and the potential anxiety/stress of worrying whether your unlisted internship will be approved. An 'unlisted' internship is simply one that is not on our list of pre-approved placement locations.

What is the process for getting an unlisted internship approved?

The first step is to find an organization that you feel would be a suitable place to complete your internship. While the preference is for those related to Justice Studies, the focus of the internship program is to provide students with experience in a field that they might be interested in pursuing after graduation. Therefore, any internship location could be approved.

Once you have found a potential internship location, the second step is to complete a Request for Approval of Unlisted Internship. In addition to this form, you must provide a signed letter from the organization (on official letterhead) outlining a) the mission and values of the organization; b) the type of work the intern will be completing; c) that the intern will be able to complete the necessary 120 hours within the semester; d) that there will be a designated supervisor who will oversee the intern’s work, report hours, and evaluate the intern at the conclusion; and e) that the organization will enter into a formal agreement over the parameters of the intern’s placement.

The third step is to submit the form, along with the letter from the organization, to the Internship Coordinator. The student will receive an email response reporting whether the internship placement has been approved or not. 

The last step, if approval is granted, is to complete and submit all other required internship paperwork.


Obtaining a JS 181 Add Code

How do I obtain an add code for JS 181?

During the registration period, prospective internship students must fill out the Internship Add Code Application. This application is used to assign students to an internship faculty advisor. Next, send the completed and signed Agency and Student Internship Agreement form and Internship Registration form to the Justice Studies office (dropoff: MH 524; or email:, subject, "Internship Paperwork"). Once your paperwork has been submitted and approved, students will receive an add code for the course.

Students who are completing an 'unlisted' internship have an additional step of getting the placement pre-approved. This means completing the Request for Approval of Unlisted Internship form and submitting it to the Internship Coordinator, after completing the Add Code Application.

Students may not register for an internship section until an add code is received. Students will not receive an add code until they have an internship location secured and the appropriate paperwork signed.

When is the final date to submit my paperwork?

JS 181 is like any other course, so it can be added or dropped at any point prior to the university's add/drop deadline. While this gives you additional time to secure your placement, it also means that once the deadline passes there is nothing we can do for you as it is the university's policy and not the department. In addition, if you submit your paperwork on or just prior to the deadline we cannot guarantee approval as there are several administrative steps needing to be completed before you are provided an add code for JS 181. Therefore, do not wait until the deadline.  

How does the JS 181 course work?

Once you submit your paperwork and receive your add code, you will be assigned to a FS/JS faculty member. You will be contacted by your faculty member to schedule a meeting during the first two weeks of the semester. You will meet an additional three times, typically once per month, throughout the semester. 

During your first meeting your assigned faculty member will outline the expectations for the semester, sign your paperwork (bring that to your first meeting), and ensure you still have your internship placement. 

Meetings are with other students assigned to the faculty member and are an opportunity to discuss your internship progress. Prior to each meeting, students will complete reflections and submitted them on Canvas or directly to their instructor. These will be used to direct the meeting discussion. At the conclusion of the course, students will write a 10 to 12-page paper describing their experience. For more information about the course requirements and guidelines for completing assignments, see the Course Syllabus.


Alternatives to Completing JS 181

Are there alternatives to completing an internship?

Yes. We understand that some students are unable to complete a traditional 120-hour internship. As a result, we have developed four (main) options for these students: Record Clearance Project, Collaborative Responses to Family Violence, Themis, and Individual Studies

Record Clearance Project

The first option is the Record Clearance Project. Note that this option requires TWO courses taken over two semesters (i.e., not an option for those in their final semester prior to graduation). For more information on the courses, go here

Collaborative Responses to Family Violence

The second option is the Collaborative Responses to Family Violence Program. Students interested in working with family violence and working across disciplines are invited to participate in the collaborative response to family violence track. In this track, specialized internships are available to students who successfully complete JS 137, Collaborative Response to Family Violence. Note: JS 137 does not satisify the internship requirement. Rather it provides the opportunity to apply for specialized internships not available to other students. The course provides students with a foundation for understanding the diverse range of services and systems that intersect to increase safety for victims and accountability for offenders. Additionally, students learn the process for effective interdisciplinary collaboration and collaborative leadership, highly valued skills in the workforce. JS 136 (Family & Community Violence) is encouraged, but not required.


The third option is being an editor for the student-led journal Themis. Themis is a professional-quality, peer-reviewed academic journal, publishing SJSU student research in justice studies and forensic science. Student editors select papers for publication; communicate with authors; edit accepted papers for content, writing mechanics, and formatting; lay out the journal for printing; edit and approve proofs; and distribute printed journal to authors. For more information contact Mary Juno

Individual Studies

The fourth option is enrolling in JS 180 (Individual Studies). This is for students who have extensive experience in their chosen, justice-related, career (e.g., military service). If they can validate their previous experience, they may take JS 180 and treat their past work experience as if it were an internship. As a result, students would write an extensive 20 to 25-page paper that draws on their experiences in the organization that qualified them for substituting the Internship course. To chose this route, instead of JS 181, students need to demonstrate the above requirements and obtain permission from the Undergraduate Coordinator or Internship Coordinator. The form for this subsitution can be found here.

I will be enrolling in the Record Clearance Project (RCP) advanced classes (JS 141 and JS 142) to fulfill my Internship requirement. Do I still need to enroll in the JS 181 course?

No. Students enrolled in JS 141 and JS 142 do not need to enroll or participate in JS 181. The RCP internship meets the departmental requirements, so getting an add code for JS 141 or JS 142 is sufficient to meet the internship requirement; a separate add code for JS 181 is not necessary.

I will be enrolling in the Collaborative Responses to Family Violence course (JS 137). Do I still need to enroll in the JS 181 course?

Yes. JS 137 does not satisify the internship requirement. It simply provides access to internships only open to students who complete JS 137. For more information please contact Maureen Lowell

How do I enroll for the Themis internship?

Contact Mary Juno to obtain an add code for JS 180, which will substitute for your JS 181 requirement. 


Completing a Second Internship

I am currently completing a one-semester (3 units) internship. Can I take another internship, with another organization, next semester?

Yes. You would follow the same procedure as you did with your first internship, enrolling in a new section of 3 units. You may also request the same faculty advisor for the second internship.

How many internships should/can I do during my degree?

Justice Studies and Forensic Science students are required to complete one semester-long 120-hour internship through JS 181, for three units of credit. However, students may take a maximum of two internships (six units) to count towards their degree. If a student takes a second internship, it would be categorized under Core Competency Area E: Experiential Learning and count towards the 120-unit SJSU requirement and the 8 upper division course electives Justice Studies requirement.

What is the advantage of taking a second internship?

For students without much professional experience in the Justice Studies field, for example those working in retail, a second internship helps build your resume. A second internship also provides an opportunity to explore other areas within the field, to determine if it is a career path is right for you after graduation. Also, it is not uncommon for an internship to transition into a place of employment, or to provide you with contacts for future employment opportunities. 

Note: If you are considering a second internship, please consult with the Internship Coordinator to ensure that it can be used to satisfy your Area E competency area.