California State Capital Building

Internships & Fellowships

Political science internships are for students who are looking for experience in the practical aspects of politics and government. A huge benefit of a political science internship is that students have a wide array of options and can work as interns in various government departments according to their interests. The internship provides a student with a good understanding of how the government department functions and what particular skills they need to focus on for a successful career. The political science internship will not only provide career guidance but also valuable work experience.

The department offers three internship programs which satisfy the capstone requirement for the undergraduate major: (1) local internships, (2) Sacramento semester, and (3) Washington D.C. semester. Students are strongly encouraged to apply for an internship as part of their program.

Students can enroll in the internships course by taking Political Science 495. You must be a political science major and a senior to eligible for this program. Local internships earn 3 units of credit.

Interested in applying for an internship? 

  • Do not have a public Facebook or Twitter that includes unprofessional photos or such. Students have been let go after the first week (or later) of an internship when bosses/supervisors searched and found images that conflict with the organization's public reputation.  Right or wrong, this is a reality that students should be aware of: images and writings on publicly available social media pages can impact your acceptance into and continued work at select internships, jobs, and other programs.]

  • DO NOT SEND AN EMAIL from an immature-sounding, unprofessional, suggestive, or inappropriately named email address. Be professional. Impressions matter.  If you are unsure what we mean by an unprofessional email address, ask us.  Some employers and others gain an impression about your seriousness of purpose by what name/wording you choose for your email address. Create a new professional email address, if necessary.

  • If you want to reach out to non-profits, especially those serving the poor or other vulnerable populations:  Non-profits often don't use the language of "internships," but they offer "volunteer opportunities," so don't only say "internship" as that may be interpreted differently by organizations.  For instance, in the past, some nonprofits of interest to students have said, "We don't offer internships," but on a follow-up, the student asked if there is a Volunteer Coordinator or any volunteer opportunities, and then the student was able to volunteer [or "intern"] at said organization.  Thus, we recommend inquiring about "intern or volunteer opportunities" at any organization that interests you and that qualifies for the course expectations.

  • If you are seeking an internship toward a Course Credit (e.g. POLS 495), then the organization and duties must be approved by the Instructor who will be instructing the course for the semester of course credit. (See SDSU Class Schedules for future semesters to see who will be instructing the course when you want to take it.)  If you want to start emailing organizations to find an internship before the semester begins, know that you will ask the Instructor if the internship would be appropriate for the course before beginning any internship hours for course credit.  For any academic credit internship, paid or unpaid, the Instructor must secure a Service Learning Agreement (SLA) with the organization before you can begin internship hours for course credit. Students must inform the Internship Supervisor to expect an email from the Course Instructor about an SLA with the Department of Political Science. SLAs are required for all California State Universities’ internship courses.  Students must provide the Course Instructor with the Supervisor's / Volunteer Coordinator's name, phone number, email address, work address, and organizations' name to begin or to update the organization's SLA. If the Supervisor needs the SLA to be completed by someone else at the organization, then the Supervisor should let the Course Instructor know the name, title, phone number, and email address of the appropriate contact person to complete the organization’s SLA. Download the Summary of SDSU SLA Process for Internships.

  • An organization might reply to you with a request for a resume or a reference (e.g. a previous employer or professor).  Be prepared to supply those upon request.  Have multiple friends, SDSU's Career Center, and/or SDSU's Writing Center look over a resume before you send one out.  First impressions matter and typos are not helpful.
Other Important Forms/Docs: Sample Outreach and Follow Up Email
Waiver Release Liability Form COVID 19

Paid Internships

  • Center on Budget and Policy Priorities: The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities is looking for highly motivated undergraduate and graduate students! If you are interested in Media, Federal Legislation, Health Policy, Housing Policy, Food Assistance, National Budget and Tax Policy, Outreach Campaigns, State Fiscal Project and Welfare Reform and Income Support Division, visit for more information.

  • With funds from a generous San Diego area donor, the Center for Human Rights within the College of Arts & Letters at SDSU is able to provide awards to students who are accepted to an unpaid internship at a human rights organization. Students may be eligible for awards between $1,000 - $2,000 during the fall or spring semester and up to $4,000 during the summer. For more information:

  • Honors Internship Program: a 10-week, paid internship for college undergraduate and graduate students. While exploring our exciting career options, students work side-by-side with FBI employees at our Washington, D.C.-area Headquarters or in Field Offices around the country. Open to a wide range of academic areas, this internship offers experiences students can’t find elsewhere.

  • National Academy of Social Insurance: The National Academy of Social Insurance is now accepting applications for paid internships for students either studying for or interested in careers in social insurance policy. The programs consist of a 12-week summer semester internship that usually spans May to August, depending on the student’s schedule. Students receive a $4,500 honorarium for their internship experience and academic credit may be arranged. International students with valid student visas are encouraged to apply.  For more information, visit Internship Opportunities or contact us at [email protected].

  • SANDAG: Internships open periodically. As of March 2020, interns receive $15 an hour with a one-year contract and paid sick leave accrued.

Unpaid Internships


  • Please consult the website of the city or district that interests you.



Interests Groups

You can find more information on the San Diego County Internships/Volunteers page a list of volunteer coordinators. You can also view the PDF on NGO internships created by UCSD's Human Rights minor program.

See our Canvas site for a list of more internships.

For more information about internships (PS 495), contact:
Department of Political Science
Phone: (619) 594-6244

The Sacramento Semester Program offers you, as a student at one of the 23 California State University campuses or other college or university, the opportunity to work with members of the legislature, departments in the executive branch, or with political associations and lobbyists during a four and one-half month internship. Typically, Sacramento Semester students conduct legislative research, monitor bills, correspond with constituents or grassroots membership, prepare press releases and newsletters, and participate in budget work and campaign planning.

The Sacramento semester earns 12 units, all of which apply to the major.

Learn more about program by visiting the Sacramento State University's internship page.

The Washington Internship Program gives students the opportunity to spend a semester or summer working and taking classes in Washington DC, gaining valuable experience while earning academic credit toward their degrees. Interns get firsthand experience with the political process, obtaining skills that will help prepare them for careers in virtually any sphere.

The Washington semester earns 12 units, 6 of which apply to the major, and 6 of which apply toward your university total.

For more information about the program, visit the Washington Center's internship page.