Credit for Unpaid Internships

Unpaid Internships

For an organization to host an unpaid intern they must meet the six criteria of the Fair Labor Standards Act definition of "Trainee":

The Supreme Court has held that the words "to suffer or permit to work," as used in the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) to define "employ," do not make all persons employees who, without any express or implied compensation agreement, work for their own advantage on the premises of another. Whether trainees or students are employees of an employer under the FLSA will depend upon all of the circumstances surrounding their activities on the premises of the employer. If all of the following criteria apply, the trainees or students are not employees within the meaning of the Act:

  1. The training, even though it includes actual operation of the facilities of the employer, is similar to that which would be given in a vocational school;
  2. The training is for the benefit of the trainees or students;
  3. The trainees or students do not displace regular employees, but work under close supervision;
  4. The employer that provides the training receives no immediate advantage from the activities of the trainees or students and, on occasion, his operations may even be impeded;
  5. The trainees or students are not necessarily entitled to a job at the conclusion of the training period; and
  6. The employer and the trainees or students understand that the trainees or students are not entitled to wages for the time spent in training.

For more information on the Fair Labor Standards Act and Internship please read the opinion letters at these two links:

Marquette University – College of Business Administration Internship Courses

If you would like to host an unpaid intern, the Marquette University College of Business Administration does not require that the student receive credit.  However, if your organization would like to require credit as a component of your internship program, some students are able to receive credit for internships.

The Business Career Center encourages employers to compensate interns to acknowledge the work the student is providing.  In addition, the organization will benefit, as a paid role often attracts a larger applicant pool.

For students with junior standing, a GPA of 2.5 or better* and who have completed the introductory course (3001) in the academic area where they are seeking credit, a 3-credit internship course is available.  To earn three credits, students must apply through the Business Career Center and must be able to complete 240 work hours** following the date of their application.  Students may learn more about the 3-credit internship course option through the Business Career Center website.
*Some majors require that additional GPA and eligibility criteria are met.
** The Accounting Department requires 480 internship work hours.

For the students who are not able to receive credit through their major, there is a second option. Students may take a one-credit internship course, for which 120 work hours are required.  Students may learn more about the BUAD 1986/2986 option by contacting the Business Career Center.

The responsibility for applying for internship credit lies with the student.   Work hours may not be counted retroactively, so students need to apply in time to meet the work hour requirements for the internship course.

Source: University of Colorado Career Services