Frequently Asked Questions

What is an internship?

An internship is an unpaid or low-paid position that allows you to get experience in a professional field. Interns are assigned a supervisor by the office in which they work. At the beginning of an internship, the supervisor and the intern agree upon the intern's duties and work schedule. At the end of the internship, the supervisor evaluates the intern's performance.

The Unruh Institute offers internship placements with elected officials, political consultants, non-governmental organizations, state and local government agencies, environmental organizations, political parties and campaigns, interest groups, political media and more. 

How do I apply for an internship? 

If you are interested in obtaining an internship during the academic year (during the fall, spring, or summer semester), please contact the Unruh Institute via email ( to schedule an appointment with the Institute’s Internship Associate. During the appointment, the Internship Associate will provide you with some available internship opportunities based on your political and public service interests. The Internship Associate will then instruct you to further research the available internship opportunities, pick one, and write a cover letter and resume that is specific to the particular internship. After the application documents are reviewed, and final drafts are completed, the Internship Associate will send the materials to the internship provider.

Students: All provider correspondence is handled through the Internship Associate.

Can I find my own internship?

Yes, you can secure an internship on your own. However, the internship MUST be political in nature. Approval prior to the course registration is required. In order to gain approval, please email Professor Art Auerbach, the professor for the course, with a description of the internship provider organization or firm and a brief overview of your responsibilities. Professor Auerbach’s email address is

Can I receive course credit through the University of Southern California for my internship? 

Yes. The Unruh Institute of Politics offers a supplemental internship course, POSC 395: Directed Governmental and Political Leadership Internship. Students can earn credit for political internships by enrolling in POSC 395. The course requires D-clearance. Before the Unruh Institute is able to grant students D-clearance, they are required to apply, obtain the internship, and fill out the required paperwork (to view more details on how to apply for an internship, please review the “how do I apply for an internship?” section).

The required paperwork includes an internship student agreement form (filled out by both the internship supervisor and the student) and a one page, double-spaced description of the student’s internship responsibilities.

How many hours do I have to intern? 

The amount of credit available depends on the number of hours that students work at their internship in total. Students are required to fulfill their number of hours by the last day of classes at 5pm. Please see below for the required number of hours per unit:

















Hours must be completed by the last day of classes of the academic calendar. The deadline for Fall 2014 is December 5th (12/5/14) and for Spring 2015 is May 1st (5/1/15). 

Do the units count toward my major? 

Up to 4 units of POSC 395 can be applied to the Political Science major or minor.  POSC 395 units are also sometimes required for International Relations minors.  Units may count toward major degree programs in many fields, or may count toward your upper-division university requirements for graduation.  See the Internship Coordinator or Internship Associate for more information.

Is there a set meeting time for the class? 

No. POSC 395 does not meet on a weekly, set basis. Events throughout the semester will be arranged prior to the start of the class.

What are the requirements for POSC 395?  

Those students who have not already taken POSC 395 are required to attend an orientation to review the requirements of the course. Usually, orientation is a one-hour meeting that takes place the week after the semester registration deadline.

The written requirements for the course include a two-page research proposal, an outline and annotated bibliography, and a final research paper. Students are also required to attend two political events and compose two-page, double-spaced papers for each event. Students submit these written materials to the Blackboard system for grading. 

Students are also required to attend professional development events throughout the semester, including an Interviewing Workshop, a Jobs Forum and a Mentoring Session.  Those students who have already taken POSC 395 are not required to attend the Interviewing Workshop or the Jobs Forum. However, ALL students are required to participate in a Mentoring Session.

For more information about the requirements of the course, please CLICK HERE to view the course syllabus.

Is POSC 395 required for an internship placement?

Yes, students are required to take POSC 395 if they are being placed in an internship through the Unruh Institute, unless the internship is during the summer or, in very rare cases, during the fall/spring semesters.

Does the Unruh Institute provide an on-campus internship course? 

Yes. The Unruh Institute administers an on-campus California policy research internship. This course allows students to conduct research on major political and public service challenges facing the state. To learn more about POSC 395: California Policy Research Internship, please CLICK HERE

Does the Unruh Institute offer any awards or scholarship for students?

Yes, but only for summer internship opportunities. The Unruh Institute offers a variety of summer awards that are open to undergraduate students of all majors currently pursuing degrees at USC. CLICK HERE to learn more. 


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