The School of Criminal Justice at Michigan State University gives students opportunities to receive academic credit for participating in the internship program with approved criminal justice agencies.
The program is the oldest such program in the country, dating back to the founding of the school in 1935. An internship provides the first relevant work experience for students while serving as a capstone to educational programs. For these reasons the school generally limits internship availability to students who have attained junior status (undergraduate only) and have an overall grade point average of at least 2.5.
The internship program offers a planned program of observation, participation, and study in a selected criminal justice agency. In a single 15-week semester, students may work 10 to 40 hours per week as arranged with their internship agency.
The criminal justice internship coordinator meets with each student prior to placement to discuss career goals and identify agencies of interest. During the internship, each student should be assigned to a field supervisor who discusses the work that will be done and assists the student in determining placement objectives. More than three out of five criminal justice students participate in the internship program before graduating.
CJ 494, CJ 894 and FRS 894 are graded on the Pass-No Credit system. A “pass” is based on completion of contact hours required by the school and the agency, as well as course requirements that include orientation, a learning objective statement, progress report, weekly journal reports, a final paper and performance evaluation by the agency.
Agencies are not required to compensate students. Most agencies reimburse for mileage and related costs incurred in the performance of agency duties. Where stipends or salaries are provided, details are worked out between agency and student, but compensation does not affect internship status.
Credit and Contact Hours
The minimum number of work/contact hours per credit for 15-week programs are listed below. Some agencies require more contact hours than these minimums set by the school. Hours per week may vary but total hours may not. Individual work schedules are negotiated between agencies and interns.
Expectations for Interns
Students interns are expected to:
- Be prompt and timely in their work
- Perform all assigned tasks to the best of their ability
- Follow all agency rules and regulations
- Conduct themselves professionally at all times
- Submit required internship assignments
- Complete the required amount of hours arranged with the agency
Internship Eligibility (CJ494, CJ894, FRS 894)
- Hold junior, senior or graduate status
- Have a minimum 2.5 cumulative GPA
- Previously have completed the core CJ courses: CJ 110, 220, 275, 292 and at least one 300 level core course (undergraduates only).
- Undergraduates may use three to 12 general elective credits toward their degree
- Graduate students may use one to six general elective credits toward their degree
Internships are available during fall, spring and summer semesters. Positions may be paid or unpaid, task-oriented or observational. Approved internships will expose students to new learning experiences.
- Attend classes part-time and intern with an agency part-time
- Intern with more than one agency within a semester
- Intern for more than one semester with the same/different agency
- Develop new internship options and submit them for approval
- Receive internship credit for new CJ-related experiences acquired through a current employer
- Receive internship credit while attending a criminal justice (police or military) related training academy, provided application is made prior to academy entry
Students enrolled in an MSU internship course have an official relationship with the university and are thus protected from lawsuits. Hospitalization and health care costs are not covered by the university or the hosting agency. Each student must sign an insurance/liability statement certifying possession of a health insurance policy. Affordable coverage is available through MSU.
Types of Participating Agencies
These are some of the agencies that provide internships for criminal justice students:
- District Courts
- State Government Agencies
- Federal Government Agencies
- Juvenile Delinquency Detention & Treatment Facilities
- Local, County & State Police Departments
- Probate Courts
- Crime Laboratories
- Corporate Security Divisions
- Private & Governmental Law Offices
- Correctional Facilities
- Private Security Consultants
- Probation Enhancement Programs
- Circuit Courts
Why should students complete internships?
There are many benefits of internships. Students can:
- Explore personal career choices
- Develop professional work habits and improve communication skills
- Gain hands-on work experience
- Acquire new skills while applying classroom knowledge
- Network with professionals in the field
- Improve employment potential