Internships and Off-Campus Learning Experiences

Internships and Off-Campus Learning Experiences

Off-campus learning experiences are non-classroom experiences such as internships, off-campus independent studies, or other approved immersion projects/studies. Internships are the most common approach to off-campus study, and recent surveys of Mercyhurst graduates indicate that completing an internship correlates highly with increased job offers and higher starting salaries after degree completion. In most majors, internships are not required; however, it is highly recommended that every student complete at least some credits in the form of an internship or other off-campus, discipline-specific, hands-on learning experience. Students interested in internship opportunities should consult with their academic advisors and arrange to meet with a staff member in the Career Development Center.

It is recognized that, because off-campus learning is a valuable and desirable supplement to the more structured theoretical learning of the classroom setting, formal academic credit may be selectively awarded only if all the following conditions are fulfilled:

  • That all learning experiences are directly related to an existing curriculum area at Mercyhurst and that they embody the essential principles and practices formally taught in that area;
  • That the learning experiences are of sufficient length to provide significant and realistic experience (a minimum of 200 hours but no more than 275 hours are required to receive 3 credits);
  • That the learning experiences reflect an active participatory rather than a passive observatory role (75 percent of the total hours accumulated must be in an active participatory role); that the intern(s) and faculty member(s) directing the learning experience communicate in the best way possible (e.g., personal conference, seminar, written report) on at least a bi-monthly basis, which may be included in the minimum hours required;
  • That the student must file and have approved a written application with the appropriate faculty member, department director, and the Office of the Provost prior to the field-based experience to receive credit. The intern must be formally evaluated during the learning experience by a faculty member Written evidence of regular evaluation by the immediate supervisor (e.g., cooperating teacher, internship coordinator) must be shown;
  • That the student is required to present a critique of the learning experience in the form of a paper to the faculty member(s) or an oral presentation to a relevant class;
  • That the faculty member who is directing the off-campus experience and the supervisor who is commenting on the specific strengths and weaknesses develop a written evaluation;
  • That students receiving off-campus learning experience credit pay the published rate;
  • That off-campus learning experience courses are considered part of the 45credits (excluding laboratory credits taken in conjunction with a course) in a major program only when such experience is required by the department;
  • That no more than 12 credit hours in off-campus learning experiences are granted to any student unless specifically approved by the internship director and the Office of the Provost;
  • That off-campus learning experience courses are used to meet Core requirements only upon approval of the department director and the Office of Academic Affairs;
  • The basis for grading off-campus learning experience courses is left to the discretion of the individual department and/or the internship director;

In cases such as exchange programs where program guidelines are dictated by another institution, Mercyhurst students will be exempted from the regulations concerning off-campus learning experiences with the consent of the appropriate faculty members, the department director, and the Office for Academic Affairs. Off campus learning experiences are graded on a Pass-Fail basis.

Study Abroad and Global Travel / Learning
Qualified students who have completed three regular semesters may be granted permission to spend all or part of their year in study at a university in another country. Students who wish to study abroad must have a minimum 2.75 grade point average. Degree credit is granted upon successful completion of an approved program of international study. Students interested in studying abroad should arranged to meet with staff in the Study Abroad Office at least six months prior to the proposed start date of the proposed program.

Permission to study abroad must be obtained from the dean of global programs prior to enrollment in any study abroad program. To receive approval to study abroad, a student must complete all required university application processes in the term prior to the proposed study abroad. Credits from study abroad completed outside of the university’s established approval processes will not be eligible for transfer. Exceptions to any study abroad policy must be granted in writing by the dean of global programs. 

Independent Study Abroad
Students seeking to study for a semester or more as an independent student (not as part of a Mercyhurst sponsored program) should begin consultations with staff at the Study Abroad Office at least two semesters prior to the proposed study abroad. Students must complete all university application processes in order to gain approval to undertake independent study abroad. Independent study abroad must be conducted through university approved affiliates (i.e. CEA, AIFS, Athena, or Semester at Sea) or approved accredited student travel/study providers.

Students must receive preliminary approval to study abroad from Mercyhurst University before applying to an affiliate provider for program participation. Students who apply for and/or submit fees to a provider without first having obtained university approval to study abroad risk not getting that approval and the possible loss of monies paid and/or denial of credit transfer. The university will not, in most cases, accept transferred credits if the student has not secured appropriate permissions and/or approvals in advance of a study broad experience. Students interested in study abroad should review the study abroad link under “Academics “on the portal or arranged to meet with staff in the Study Abroad Office in Preston 105.

Faculty Student Academic Travel (FSAT)
Mercyhurst regularly offers students the opportunity to participate in faculty-led study abroad excursions that allow students and their instructors to study and learn together about the richness of our global community. Students may enroll in one or more university courses that combine classroom content and travel to international destinations. Courses in this program, known as FSAT, are offered each year and are typically announced and open for enrollment in the spring of the academic year prior to course offerings and travel. Students must successfully complete both the coursework and the travel in order to receive credit for an FSAT course. Grades for the courses are assigned after the successful completion of both the in-classroom content and the travel. Students interested in study abroad should review the study abroad link under “Academics” on the portal or stop by the study abroad office in Preston 105.

Mercyhurst in Ireland
Students also have the opportunity to spend a term in Dungarvan, Ireland, Erie’s sister city. Each year, normally in the spring term, Mercyhurst faculty members go abroad with students, and together with faculty members in Ireland, teach a range of courses that fulfill requirements in the REACH core curriculum and, depending on the term, major and minor requirements. Credit for courses is granted upon successful completion of classes in Ireland. Faculty members and students’ study and travel together throughout the term, including weekend trips to Dublin and the west coast and an excursion to continental Europe. Students interested in the Mercyhurst in Ireland Program should begin planning at least a year in advance, consulting with their academic advisor and dean of global programs.

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