Unpaid Internships


Students occasionally inquire about receiving academic credit for unpaid internships. Bates has no program through which such work experience credit can be granted.

Why do some corporations have this requirement?  The employer may not be primarily interested in your academic career. Instead, they may simply want highly talented students to work for free.  However, they are subject to minimum wage laws, which prohibit them from hiring unpaid interns, even if those interns are willing to work for free.  So, in order to hire an intern legally, the intern must receive ‘something of value’ in return.  In this exchange, Bates provides the ‘something of value,’ namely academic credit.  In short, the employer wants to use Bates’ resources to pay you to work for them.

The economics faculty do not have the time nor the desire to advise independent studies that are outside of our expertise and of questionable academic value. (Work experience is valuable, but it is of a different nature than the academic experience.)  Also, we have concerns about large, well-capitalized firms pushing their summer labor costs onto colleges and universities, while exacerbating inequities for students who rely on employment income to pay their expenses.  The Bates faculty as a whole stated in 2002 that they do not want to participate in such a system.

If employers are unwilling to pay you, there is nothing more that the Department or the College can do. We understand that this may prove to be a great disappointment.  However, the faculty strongly believes that we cannot disingenuously promise and provide syllabi for independent studies we have no intention of offering.