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Unpaid Internships and Course Credit

There are often college students, especially in a tight economy, who are willing to do unpaid internships to gain experience and to get introduced to their field. Many students are willing to intern on a part-time basis (20 hours or less per week) without pay to begin to build a base of experience.

Students in the Fisher College of Business at Ohio State are no exception. Many of them come to the Office of Career Management to seek advice about these kinds of opportunities, or to report their unpaid internships to us. The Career Management staff is seeing an increasing number of students who indicate that their internship offer requires them to get credit.

As the Fisher College of Business does not give credit for internships (they are not a required part of our curriculum for graduation), having an employer require them to receive credit presents a challenge.

Employers who do not pay their interns should be conscious of unpaid Internships and the law.   The Fair Labor Standards Act states the criteria that must be met by an employer if the intern is to be unpaid:

1. The work performed is an extension of a trade studied by the student.
2. The work experience benefits the student.
3. The intern does not displace regular employees.
4. The employer gains no "immediate advantage" from the student’s work.
5. The employer holds out no promise of future employment.
6. The intern understands that he or she is not entitled to wages for the time spent in the internship or in training.

Additional information regarding the Fair Labor Standards Act can be found at the following website:

http://www.dol.gov/whd/regs/compliance/whdfs71.pdf

Recommendations and Alternatives

  1. It is always best to pay an intern and minimum wage is all that is required by law. Paying an intern shows an investment in their learning and recognizes the contribution they will make to the company.
  2. If you do not pay an intern and require that they receive credit, it is important to note that the awarding of credit resides in the college and students must enroll in an internship course, Business Administration 2191, and complete a series of assignments related to their internship to be awarded 0.5 and 1 hour of credit. Please complete the following steps to assist a student in enrolling in BA 2191: 
  •  
    • Provide the student with an internship offer stating that they must receive credit. 
    • Meet with student to discuss, sign, and date theDocumentation of Unpaid Internships to ensure that the internship is educational by design and is not violating the Fair Labor Standards Act.. This document must be returned to the Office of Career Management before a student will be given permission to enroll in BA 2191

      In person – 150 Gerlach Hall
      By Fax – 614-292-1007, Attn.: BA 2191 Coordinator
      By Mail – 150 Gerlach Hall, 2108 Neil Ave., Columbus, OH 43210 Attn: BA 2191 Coordinator 
  • Refer the student to schedule an appointment to enroll in BA 2191 by calling the Office of Career Management at 614-292-6024.

Please note that students must pay tuition and fees for the credit associated with BA 2191 and taking this course during a semester in which a student is already paying full-time tuition is more economical that taking BA 2191 by itself.

Students must take BA 2191 during the semester in which they are interning and they must enroll by the 5th week of the semester. Students will also have the option to complete the course credit for a 7-week session.

Feel free to contact the Office of Career Management at (614) 292-6024 if you have any questions.