A growing body of research demonstrates that experiential learning enhances student learning, success in the classroom, on-time graduation, and transition to the workforce. Many UGA students already engage in experiential learning, and ensuring that all students do so prior to graduation will take the world-class learning experience that UGA provides to an even higher level.

To this end, all UGA students must meet the Experiential Learning Requirement (ELR). SPIA students meet ELR in one of several ways:

In SPIA, INTL 4622R “GLOBIS Human Rights Lab” is a research-intensive course and courses with applied components include INTL 4415 and 4425R which are courses associated with the Security Leadership Program and POLS 4645E “Applied Civic Engagement.”

Beginning in fall 2023, all UGA approved non-credit programs will also meet the requirement for SPIA students. A list of those experiences can be found at the website for the Office of Experiential Learning’s “Engage Georgia” page.

The options below offer students information on how one may add an academic component to an applied experience and insight on special internship experiences offered by SPIA: The Emerging Leaders and Experiential Learning Internship Programs. Additional options include information on SPIA’s study away programs and several need-based study abroad scholarships offered by the school.

The Office of Student Affairs communicates information about internships and experiential learning opportunities which come to our attention through the Advising News & Updates listserv. Any UGA student can subscribe by e-mailing [email protected].

Emerging Leaders Program

Interested in making a difference in the lives of citizens within organizations at the local, state, or federal level? If so, there are few more impactful and satisfying career paths than that of a public affairs leader. The University of Georgia and its partners in the local, state, and federal government seek the next class of paid Emerging Leaders Interns who will spend 8 to 11 weeks interning in local, state, or federal government offices, in the nonprofit sector, and in the public-facing operations of private businesses during the academic or summer terms. This is a wonderful opportunity to gain experience in the areas of public policy, public services, public/private partnerships, public safety, and public well-being.


The application process is simple. Submit your resume and a short statement (no longer than one page, single-spaced) about why the Emerging Leaders Internship program is a good fit for your interests. Additionally, be sure that you satisfy at least two of the following conditions: (1) history of overcoming unique challenges; (2) first generation college student; (3) member of a low income family; (4) reside in a rural or inner-city location; (5) raised in a single parent household. Please address these conditions, as they apply to you, in your short statement.


Submit your application materials directly to Dr. Will Donnelly ([email protected]) at the UGA School of Public and International Affairs (SPIA) or contact Dr. Donnelly at 706-542-0096 for more information. Your application will be considered by a committee which will select prospective candidates for internships. SPIA and its UGA partners will facilitate contacts between candidate interns and internship sponsors in government and nonprofit agencies. The sponsors will make the final selection of interns, and the intern experience will begin in either an academic or summer term. All internships are paid. Awardees will also complete a project or activity related to their internship that is shared with the UGA and SPIA community. Participation in the Emerging Leaders Program meets the Experiential Learning Requirement in SPIA.

SPIA Experiential Learning Internship Program

The Experiential Learning Internship Program provides paid internship opportunities for undergraduate students in Georgia and Washington, D.C. on a competitive basis. Students spend 8 to 11 weeks interning in government agencies or non-governmental organizations (NGOs) throughout Georgia or Washington, D.C., or to work locally to identify issues that affect the non-profit and governmental sectors, all while preparing for career opportunities in these fields.


Experiences across both the international affairs and political science majors are available across broad categories of organizations. Sponsoring agencies represent fields within international affairs on human rights, terrorism, defense and security policy, policy analysis, democracy promotion, and the countering of extremism. For political science majors, intern experiences can include legislative, government relations and lobbying, campaigns and political parties, policy research and analysis, city and county government, state government, federal government, political communications, and non-profits.


Eligible students must be current undergraduates with a major in political science and/or international affairs as evidenced by a record of course-taking in SPIA courses; demonstrate an interest in careers in public affairs, public policy, and government; and obtain a recommendation of support from a SPIA faculty member. Awardees will also complete a project or activity related to their internship that is shared with the UGA and SPIA community. (These awards may not be used for the spring term of the Washington Semester Program.)


Some internships may be performed remotely. In fulfilling internships of this nature, the intern agrees to incur any and all costs associated with fulfilling the internship, including but not limited to travel, lodging, meals, and expenses.


Students are to be paid $16/hour for undergraduates or $18/hour for graduate students. Select internships in public affairs, politics, government, non-profits, or with a focus in areas related to political science or international affairs are eligible. SPIA has secured placements with a variety of organizations. The process is competitive, and selected finalists will be presented to agency partners who make the final decisions on placement.


The application for consideration consists of completion of an online application form, the candidate’s résumé, the candidate’s statement of purpose describing their interest in public sector careers, and the identification of a faculty member who will complete a recommendation form for the candidate. The Office of Student Affairs will distribute the recommendation form to the faculty member.


Participation in the SPIA Experiential Learning Internship Program meets the Experiential Learning Requirement for SPIA.


For more information, contact Dr. Will Donnelly via email at [email protected] or by phone at 706-542-0096.




Students who wish to add an academic component to an applied experience should:

  • Take at least one appropriate pre-requisite course from POLS, INTL, or PADP & have 60 credit hours
  • Speak with their advisor in SPIA about the appropriateness of the experience
  • Provide verification of the applied experience (sample confirmation letter)
  • Obtain the agreement of the sponsoring agency to the Memorandum of Understanding signed by the Dean (signed forms are available from Mr. Joe Davis ([email protected]) & only signed forms should be presented to sponsoring agencies).
  • Register for the approved internship-related course(s)

Please forward required documents and any questions about adding a credit component to Mr. Joe Davis at [email protected].


The course offerings for an academic component for internships permit students to enroll for 4 to 12 credit hours in a fall or spring term (4 to 8 hours in summer term) across four different areas:

  • Internship research paper: One four-hour course graded A-F for an original empirical research paper.
  • Internship analytical essays: One four-hour course graded A-F for a series of six analytical essays in which students draw upon their upper division course work and “analyze” observations & ideas from their internship experience.
  • Internship performance: One four-hour course graded an “S/U” for job performance. This requires formal feedback from the agency or organization that is sponsoring the internship. This course must be taken with one or both of the internship courses and applies to the program of study as a general elective.

For more information on the expectations and content of SPIA internship courses, please review the current handbooks for interns:

2024 – Political Science Internship Manual

2024 International Affairs Internship Courses Syllabus

We expect that students will work full time for the agency or organization for at least twelve weeks over the course of a semester (6 weeks in the summer) in order to be eligible for full-time credit (12 hours). The remainder of the semester should be used to focus on activities in support of the internship (including the completion of research for academic credit). Students and the faculty supervisor will be in contact on a regular basis. Part-time internships may qualify if they are at least 10 hours per week for the specified number of weeks: 10+ hours per week may take 4 credit hours from a graded course, 20+ hours may take 8 from a combination of graded or pass/fail courses.

These course offerings are designed to take into account the substantive content of both the internship and the previous academic work completed by that student. Eligible students will have completed at least 60 credit hours and taken at least one of the approved pre-requisite courses for the appropriate sequence. Pre-requisites are tied to the substantive content of the internship and are required. 

SPIA divides internship credit components into six different fields:

Legislative Internship (POLS 5100, 5101, 5102)
Internships related to state or national legislatures.
Required Pre-requisite (at least one from): POLS 4600 or POLS 4660 or POLS 4605

Lobbying Internship (POLS 5110, 5111, 5112)
Internships for lobbying organizations, including work for non-profits.
Required Pre-requisite (at least one from): POLS 4530 or POLS 4600 or POLS 4650 or POLS 4070 or POLS 4520 or POLS 3010 or POLS 4060 or POLS 4071 or POLS 4073 or POLS 4090 or POLS 4105 or POLS 4155 or POLS 4400 or POLS 4420 or POLS 4510 or POLS 4540 or POLS 4541 or POLS 4600 or POLS 4650 or POLS 4690

Campaigns Internship (POLS 5120, 5121, 5122)
Internships for organizations involved in political campaigns.
Required Pre-requisite (at least one from): POLS 4510 or POLS 4515 or POLS 4520 or POLS 4530 or POLS 4550 or POLS 4600 or POLS 4660 or POLS 3010 or POLS 4400 or POLS 4420 or POLS 4425 or POLS 4551 or POLS 4605 or POLS 4640 or POLS 4650 or POLS 4665 or POLS 4690

Federal, State, or Local Government Internship (POLS 5130, 5131, 5132)
Internships for governmental agencies at any level, including courts, prosecutors, and public defenders.
Required Pre-requisite (at least one from): POLS 4640 or POLS 4650 or POLS 4720 or POLS 4730 or POLS 4740 or PADP 3000 or PADP 4630 or POLS 4072 or POLS 4090 or POLS 4105 or POLS 4110 or POLS 4420 or POLS 4525 or POLS 4541 or POLS 4610 or POLS 4641 or POLS 4660 or POLS 4705 or PADP 4650

International Affairs Internship (INTL 4720, 4721, 4722)
Internships related to international affairs including government agencies, think-tanks, and non-governmental agencies.
Required Pre-requisite (at least one from): INTL 3200 or INTL 3300

Internships in law firms are generally not eligible for use in the political science internship programs unless the firm is directly involved with government relations, public policy, and/or campaign law. Students may identify organizations for internships independently, by using the resources of the UGA Career Center, or working with Dr. Donnelly in SPIA. SPIA publishes an Internship and Career Newsletter weekly via the SPIAdvis listserv as well.


SPIA partners with other entities to offer applied experiences for students in Athens, Atlanta, Washington, and beyond. Examples of such partnerships are:

Georgia Legislative Internship Program

CITS Russell Security Leadership Program

Washington Semester Program


The School of Public and International Affairs believes international education is vital to the educational mission of SPIA and encourages students to pursue foreign study. SPIA offers a variety of programs led by our faculty to destinations around the world. More information on SPIA-led programs through GLOBIS, UGA at Oxford, other departments, and about SPIA’s need-based study abroad scholarships may be found at the study abroad pages of this website.

Beyond the excellent SPIA-led programs, students may work with the Office of Global Engagement to participate in programs offered across campus and through UGA partners to find the right program for their interests.

Participation in UGA approved study abroad is one way students can meet SPIA’s Experiential Learning Requirement.


It’s never too early to begin your search! Familiarize yourself with the companies or organizations in your area of interest. Visit their website, attend information sessions and join professional organizations. There are so many ways that you can get a head start. Check the deadlines for internships. The UGA Career Center can help you with your internship search. Each major is assigned a Career Consultant who can help you sharpen search skills, resume, cover letter, and interviewing techniques. To set up an appointment with your Career Consultant, just call (706) 542-3375 or visit their website.