Undergraduate Program: Academic Credit for Work Experience

Students can earn academic credit based in part on experiences outside of the university setting. These may include summer employment or volunteer activities at a camp for special needs individuals, in a social service agency, or in a human resources setting. To earn academic credit, a student must provide evidence that he or she learned something from that experience, and that what was learned is related to the field of psychology. Academic credit is not awarded just for experience.

The following guidelines are provided to help students and faculty arrive at a mutual understanding of what is required for the awarding of academic credit based in part on experiences outside of the university.

  • Arrangements for earning academic credit for experience in a social service or human service setting must be made prior to engaging in that experience. Normally, this would occur during pre-registration in the spring (for the following summer and fall) or the fall (for the following spring). Students can register for credit for either the semester they will engage in the activity or the semester when they work on their second paper (see below). Credit will not be awarded until all of the requirements listed below are satisfied.

  • Students should keep a daily journal in which they record what happened each day and their thoughts about these events. To protect the privacy of others, names of clients or campers should not be used. Such individuals should be referred to by a single initial or some other code known only to the writer. When done well, the journal becomes a record of how the student's thinking evolved over the course of the experience.

  • Based on their journal, students should write a paper summarizing their experience and describing what they learned.

  • An on-site supervisor should be identified. The faculty sponsor should communicate with that person to discuss the scope of the students' activities and academic goals for credit. The person should write a letter at the end of the on-site experience describing briefly what the student did, how well the student performed, and what he or she believes the student learned.

  • When they return to campus, students should meet with their faculty sponsor and agree on the focus of a second paper in which the student relates his or her experiences to the literature in that area.

  • The grade awarded should be based on the evidence of learning provided by the student through his or her journal, the two papers, and the on-site supervisor's letter.

  • The amount of credit earned is negotiable. The norm is 3 credit hours; however, the amount of credit should be commensurate with the amount of time and effort involved. In no cases should the amount of credit exceed 6 hours based on a single semester or summer.  Students will receive credit under PSYCH 599.