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Internships/Research for Visiting International Students

Moses Kalyango
Moses Kalyango, Makerere University (Uganda)

An internship is a temporary, hands-on learning opportunity that provides meaningful, career-related experience extending a student's education beyond the classroom. At Iowa State, internships can be paid or unpaid, for credit or not for credit, and for career-related experience at Iowa State or at an external (non-Iowa State) employer.

The department/unit offering the internship program is responsible for ensuring that the internship is meaningful and will serve to enhance the student's educational experience and career development.

Who is a student intern? Student interns are undergraduate students enrolled in foreign institutions who come to ISU for an Internship approved by the Provost’s office. Note that Student Interns are NOT considered Visiting Scholars, therefore departments will not go through the Provost’s Office new Visiting Scholar approval process to host a student intern.

The J-1 Visa regulations specify a participant in the Student Intern Program must:

  • be currently enrolled in a degree program at a foreign institution
  • return to that institution to continue the degree program after the internship
  • demonstrate sufficient proficiency in the English language to successfully participate in his or her program activity and to function on a day-to-day basis, per U.S. Department of State regulations.
  • fulfill educational objectives for the participant’s current degree program
  • be a minimum of 32 hours per week
  • not include clinical patient care or contact (includes veterinary patients)
  • complete an evaluation within 30 days of the end of the internship
  • submit the completed evaluation to the ISSO
Blanca Lugo
Blanca Lugo, EARTH University (Costa Rica)

Department's Responsibilities:

Your primary responsibility as the supervisor of an intern is to ensure that the internship you offer is meaningful and will serve to enhance the student's educational experience and career development. An internship should NOT be viewed as a form of "cheap labor." The Iowa State department/unit must:

  1. Ensure that the proposed internship meets the "trainee/learner" criteria according to the U.S. Department of Labor. (If the criteria are not met and the steps for getting on the "pre-approved program list" will not be taken, then you have an employment situation. For Iowa State undergraduate students, process a HIRE as an Hourly Student Worker; for non-Iowa State students, contact your University Human Resources Delivery Team to pursue other employment options.)
  2. Complete the "Internship Program Request/Approval" form (PDF, 140KB). Obtain the approval of the department chair/director, and dean/vice president. Submit the form to the Office of the Senior Vice President and Provost. Once your program is approved by the college and received by the Office of the Senior Vice President and Provost, it will be tracked on a "pre-approved program listing" and you will not be required to submit annually unless there are substantial changes to the program.
  3. For each intern participant, complete a "Participation Agreement" form (PDF, 89KB) and forward it to the department chair/director for approval. Have it signed by the participant. Each completed form should be retained by the department, with copies provided to the dean or Career Services Office (depending on your college), and to the participant.

Faculty in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences can bring interested international students through our Internship Program in Agriculture. Interested faculty should contact Visha Arumugam to discuss the process and requirements to see if this option will work for them.

Additional Resources:

Questions or interested in hosting a student intern? Contact Visha Arumugam at or call 515-294-8447.