Experiential Education


  • An academic internship is a form of experiential education that integrates knowledge and theory learned in the classroom with practical application and skill development in a professional setting. An integral component of the experience that distinguishes it from other types of work is one or more forms of structured and deliberate reflection contained within learning agendas or objectives.
  • The co-op program at Stony Brook (new in 2012) is a learn-while-you-earn program, similar to an academic internship in terms of the application of classroom learning in a work setting, but different in that a co-op must be paid. Stony Brook’s co-op program is a parallel program, meaning students attend school full time and work part time during the same term.
  • Service Learning provides faculty with the opportunity to integrate community engagement projects with curricular objectives. Such service would be conducted in and meet the needs of a community and is coordinated jointly between the university and the community. While performing service projects, students gain a greater awareness of diversity, cultural competency, and social justice issues.

Is academic credit involved?

An academic internship involves academic credit. Credit-bearing internships require a faculty sponsor.

The co-op program requires departmental approval and academic credit.

A service learning project is one component of a credit-bearing course.

Community Service & Service Learning Committee

The Community Service & Service Learning (CSSL) Committee is a team of faculty and staff working together to promote and create service learning and community outreach opportunities at Stony Brook University. We welcome faculty to join us and help champion the many benefits of community involvement.

If you are interested in learning more about the CSSL Committee or service learning in your classroom, contact Urszula Zalewski, Assistant Director of Experiential Programs, at 631-632-6814 or at urszula.zalewski@stonybrook.edu. If you are interested in other aspects of experiential programming and community outreach at the SBU Career Center, contact Megan Smedley, Internship Consultant, at 631-632-6812 or at megan.smedley@stonybrook.edu.

What is the faculty member’s role?

  • Review and approve the position and learning objectives
  • Determine the number of credits to be awarded and the departmental designator (e.g. your department 488 or EXT 488)
  • Sign the agreement form
  • Set clear expectations of written assignments (journal, mid-term, and final reports)
  • Connect with your student at least three times during the work term
  • Submit the final grade (usually S/U but varies by department)

What about non-credit internships? Do faculty get involved with these?

Some students choose to do an internship simply for the experience. If there is no academic oversight, there is no need for faculty involvement.

Some employers will push for students to apply for academic credit because they believe there is a stronger commitment to the internship. Ultimately it is the faculty member who approves credit and the institution that awards it; employers do not award nor approve credit.

For a comparison chart of credit vs. non-credit internships, click here.

How do students acquire an internship or co-op?

Most students use Handshake, the Career Center’s employer database, but often times, students will use their networks of family, friends, alumni, and mentors, to identify their own internships that most closely align with their career interests and professional goals.

Have questions about internships or co-ops?

Contact: Urszula Zalewski, Assistant Director of Experiential Programs, at 631-632-6814 or at urszula.zalewski@stonybrook.edu