Intern Abroad

Completing an international internship is a great way to obtain hands-on global work experience while earning academic credit. Western Michigan University's study abroad staff can assist you in identifying and applying for overseas internship opportunities.

Obtaining credit for internships

WMU's Study Abroad office only supports internships abroad undertaken for academic credit and will assist students seeking credit through WMU.

Academic credit for an internship abroad can be assigned directly through WMU, under the supervision of an appropriate faculty member or by an overseas institution if it's part of a study abroad program, as follows:

  1. Study abroad program (when receiving a transcript from a foreign university): Many study abroad programs offer internships for credit during or following a term of study. These credits will be evaluated and reported on a transcript by the foreign university. However, the applicant should discuss the project with a major advisor and the department chair before applying for an overseas internship through a study abroad program. Some academic departments have additional requirements. Receiving approval for the academic credits is obtained through the same procedures used when requesting recognition of normal coursework abroad. Applicants will indicate the internship course abroad as part of the online course approval process. The internship credits and grade will appear on the student's official foreign transcript, along with the other academic coursework completed abroad. Study abroad specialists will post these grades to the student's WMU transcript in accordance with the documented approvals in the student's study abroad application file. It is possible to incorporate an internship during a study abroad experience, which can provide professional, international work experience and the opportunity to broaden interaction with the host community while taking academic courses overseas. In most cases, overseas internships will be assessed by someone in the host country and the final grade will be posted on the official foreign transcript issued by the host university. In most cases, there is no need to arrange for a WMU faculty member to evaluate an international internship experience. While on an internship during a study program, you will be eligible for WMU financial aid and be covered under international insurance.
  2. Under the supervision of a WMU faculty member (credits issued by WMU): This is the most suitable option for students completing an internship arranged directly with an employer or through a placement organization when not combined with a study abroad program. Students should check with department chairs, faculty advisors or advising staff to determine if their department has a course number that can be used to recognize internship work abroad. Some faculty will agree to supervise a student’s work as independent study. Study abroad staff can provide assistance to students experiencing difficulty identifying someone to supervise the internship. The instructor of record will be responsible for determining the method of evaluation, assessing the student’s work, and assigning a final grade for the internship. Applicants will document the department's agreement to supervise, evaluate and award credit for the internship abroad during the online application process. When academic credit is approved through a WMU department, study abroad staff will review security and safety issues with the student, as well as the internship assignment. The Haenicke Institute for Global Education will provide applicants with a contract template clarifying the relationship between them, the overseas employer and WMU when the applicant is arranging an internship directly with an employer. This contract is mandatory and will be signed by the study abroad director on behalf of WMU.

University policy requires all students interning abroad to register with the Study Abroad office prior to leaving campus, which ensures the applicant will be covered under the University’s risk-management procedures, including emergency medical and security insurance. WMU credit will not be awarded for internships conducted overseas that are not approved prior to the start date.

For more information, call (269) 387-5890 or email study-abroad@wmich.edu.

WMU international partners offering internships

  • Deakin University, Australia
  • Macquarie University, Australia
  • Norwegian School of Management, Oslo
  • Novancia, Paris
  • Swinburne Technological University, Australia
  • Universidad de Burgos, Spain
  • Université de Franche Comté, Besançon, France
  • University of Bonn, Germany
  • University of Otago, New Zealand
  • University of Paderborn, Germany
  • University of Tasmania, Australia
  • University of Wollongong, Australia
  • Waikato University, New Zealand

Steps to arrange an internship

  1. Meet with the department chair or advisor of applicant's major to discuss options and earning academic credit for the internship; some departments have additional requirements beyond what is required by the Study Abroad office.
  2. Meet with a study abroad specialist to finalize application plans.
  3. Complete an internship abroad application.
  4. Follow through with a study abroad specialist to prepare for departure.

Placement organizations

Working through an internship placement organization can help students locate an appropriate internship in a particular field of study. These program and internship providers offer support and guidance in the search for the best location and company, and have well-developed relationships with companies willing to supervise U.S. student interns. Additionally, these providers often assist students with locating housing and getting settled in the host country.

Enrollment in an internship program offered through a provider is subject to approval by both the student's academic department and study abroad staff. Applicants need to work with a WMU faculty member, who will evaluate the internship and serve as the instructor of record for academic credit earned. Additionally, applicants need to work with study abroad staff to ensure all credits earned will be applied to the applicant's degree program. Applicants who arrange to receive WMU credit for the internship will be eligible for financial aid during the term in which the internship will be completed and will be covered by WMU's international health and emergency evacuation insurance. Applicants who do not register for the internship through the Study Abroad office will be ineligible to receive academic credit, international insurance or financial aid for the internship program.

Numerous international placement organizations and providers exist; costs and fees vary greatly, as do the services and resources provided before, during and after the internship. To assist in this process, WMU has approved several internship providers, which are listed below. Students who wish to work with a provider that is not listed below are strongly advised to seek counsel from a study abroad specialist before applying to obtain any necessary approvals.

University-approved international internship providers

Steps to arrange an internship through a placement organization

  1. Meet with the department chair or advisor of the applicant's major to discuss options and earning academic credit; some departments have additional requirements beyond what is required by the Study Abroad office.
  2. Identify a faculty mentor who agrees to provide oversight for the internship; normally, this is a professor in the department which approves credit for the internship. 
  3. Complete the internship abroad application.
  4. Complete the internship provider's application.
  5. Meet with a study abroad specialist to confirm internship approval and other requirements to receive credit are satisfactorily completed.

Steps to arrange an internship independently

This is a great option if an applicant already knows of a particular business or organization with which they would like to serve as an intern. This option is usually less structured and supported than the other two, but it allows students to customize an internship to suit their needs—location, company, dates, etc. Applicants who are willing to put in the time and effort can research international companies seeking internship candidates to arrange a beneficial internship experience. Staff in WMU's Career and Student Employment Services and Study Abroad offices can provide advice on how to conduct a search to identify international employers seeking interns.

Study abroad staff will provide applicants with a Student Internship Foreign Placement Agreement clarifying the relationship between the applicant, their employer and WMU for students who arrange an internship directly with an employer overseas. This contract is mandatory and will be signed by the director of study abroad on behalf of WMU and may also be signed by the department chair.

  1. Students must discuss internship ideas with the chair or advisor in their academic major department to identify an appropriate opportunity and to ensure the internship will be eligible for academic credit.
  2. Student identifies a faculty member from the academic department who agrees to serve as the instructor of record.
  3. Student meets with the appropriate WMU study abroad specialist to review the application and requirements.
  4. Student completes the internship abroad application.
  5. Student prepares and obtains necessary signatures for the Student Internship Foreign Placement Agreement.
  6. Student reviews best practice guidelines for international internships.
  7. Upon completion of an internship, students must check in with the study abroad specialist and the instructor of record to ensure academic credit earned is applied to their WMU degree program.

Overseas internships identified by WMU will be posted on BroncoJobs.