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 from Career and Professional Development.
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 Academic Affairs 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 Academic Affairs;
- 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 of Academic Affairs. Off campus learning experiences are graded on a Pass-Fail basis.