NONPROF 921: Nonprofit Administrative Internship


Course Description

Internships integrate theory and practice through planned, supervised work experience. This internship course is a learning experience in which students work in a nonprofit organization or other appropriate setting performing tasks related to Nonprofit Management and Leadership. The internship provides an opportunity for students to apply what they have learned in prior coursework to an actual work setting. The internship experience is conducted under the supervision of an employee of the sponsoring agency or organization, and a faculty member or academic staff monitors its educational component.

Explanation of the Online Course Format

This course will be offered in an online synchronous course format. This means online communications and learning methodologies will be used to enhance the learning experience for students.  Additionally, regular virtual “face-to-face” meetings will be utilized to accommodate instructor/student communication. The amount of time that we will meet “face-to-face” in the virtual classroom is scheduled, in comparison with the asynchronous learning in a traditional self-paced course.

Course Objectives

By completing the internship and course, students are expected to:

  • Apply classroom knowledge to the world of work.
  • Gain experience in carrying out professional responsibilities and tasks.
  • Learn more about a chosen area of nonprofit management work.
  • Develop valuable contacts by networking with professionals.
  • Identify competencies that need further development.


To enroll in an internship, students must:

  1. Have a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or higher;
  2. Have graduate student standing for a NONPROF 921 internship;
  3. Secure a suitable internship, and identify an on-site supervisor for the internship; and
  4. Meet with the program’s academic supervisor-designated faculty or academic staff; and
  5. Submit the Nonprofit Management and Leadership Internship Agreement form for approval by the academic supervisor for the program.

Course Procedures

  • Enroll in the course: NONPROF 921
  • Complete the Nonprofit Management and Leadership Agreement form that defines the student’s responsibilities, outlines the nature of the training and internship activities, and delineates the role of the supervising agency or organization.

Note: If the internship involves confidentiality (patient/medical records, etc.), the supervising faculty member must contact Cindy Piercy at regarding the preparation of an Affiliation Agreement between the University and the agency.

  • Provide copies of the Internship Agreement form to the Helen Bader Institute for Nonprofit Management and the on-site supervisor.
  • Meet in a classroom setting up to 4 times during the semester of enrollment. Students will meet with the instructor for two-hour periods. The classroom time is intended to allow students to learn about theories and practices of adult learning and nonprofit management. It is also designed to allow students to learn from each other through discussions of their experiences.
  • Send a brief journal entry to the academic supervisor every two weeks. This journal entry should address these topics and questions:
    • Summarize your tasks/projects for the previous two weeks.
    • What was one thing that happened that surprised you or was especially exciting?
    • What was one thing that happened that was difficult or challenging to complete or manage?
    • What was one thing that you learned or found especially interesting or meaningful?
    • Give some description of the organization involved. Describe its mission/service delivery briefly, client base/neighborhood it serves, some discussion of the structure and culture of the organization (organizational size and hierarchy, revenue sources, grassroots vs. professional, etc.).

At the end of the semester/internship, the intern must submit two documents:

  1. An informative one-page memo on the workplace and working conditions will be put on file to provide information for future students searching for an internship (Put yourself in the position of a student looking for an internship. What would they want to know about a particular place?).
  2. A paper addressing the relevance of your internship to your academic work in nonprofit management and leadership:
    • Students should submit a scholarly paper of 5000-8000 words, which draws on their journal entries and analyzes some particular aspects of the agency/organization and your internship work there with a nonprofit management and leadership focus/context.
    • The paper should tie in two or more readings from the nonprofit management and leadership literature that are pertinent to the organization/project/community that you were involved with, and grounds your experiences in a broader theoretical or historical context.
    • The paper topic should be developed with the involvement of the course advisor.

Also, the student is responsible for the following:

  1. The Evaluation of Intern form. The student should provide the agency/on-site supervisor with this form to complete and send directly to the Helen Bader Institute for Nonprofit Management. See the form for due dates.

Assignment policies

The writing assignments (workplace memo and paper) are due on the last day of the semester, or earlier as arranged with the course supervisor.

Course Evaluation and Grading

Students will be evaluated on attendance and written assignments. To receive a grade of “pass,” for the course, students must satisfactorily complete all assignments by the due date and must complete the required internship hours. Failure to complete the assignments by the due date, or to complete the required internship hours, will result in a “no pass” for the course.

Institutional choice and kind of internship

  • Given the wide range of nonprofit management and leadership studies applications, many employers would be an appropriate choice for an internship engagement. Examples include (but are not limited to) nonprofit arts organizations, social service agencies, religious-based organizations, membership organizations, consulting firms, or other businesses that serve nonprofits, health, and mental health providers, schools, etc. The choice of internship site is subject to approval by the course instructor.
  • The intern is expected to conduct the same type of work as a fully-paid employee in the institution where the internship takes place. Tasks may include (but should not be restricted to) routine work.

Special out-of-class requirements

  • Students are responsible for locating their internships, although some opportunities may be available through the Helen Bader Institute for Nonprofit Management. UWM does not screen the internship sites, and students should investigate possibilities to their satisfaction before making any commitments.
  • Before the actual start date of the internship, the internship institution’s representative (“agency or on-site supervisor”), the student, and the academic advisor should discuss the specific content of the internship. The Nonprofit Management and Leadership Internship Agreement form, outlining the content of the internship and the rights and responsibilities of each party, should be completed and a copy given to each party.
  • During the internship, if the student experiences any on-site difficulties, such as being asked to do work beyond the scope of the internship agreement, or harassment, the student should report such matters to the academic supervisor for assistance.

Course Hours/Credits and Attendance requirements

The intern is expected to perform 40 hours of internship work for each course credit taken. The number of credits (1-3) granted for the internship is subject to the approval of the academic supervisor and is based on the complexity of the academic component. Internship work hours will be set according to the time needed for the experience that supports academic work.

Safety policies

Some internships have higher than average occupational hazards. The student is expected to follow all safety procedures customary in the industry or business, where the internship takes place. Safety policies should be part of the three-party discussion referred to above.

Special skills required of students beyond the formal prerequisites

Some institutions require special skills such as a driver’s license, physical fitness, or specialized GIS experience. It is the student’s responsibility to inquire about such requirements before the beginning of the internship. All special requirements should be mentioned explicitly in the Agreement referred to above.

Other Considerations

  1. Students who register for an internship without completing the necessary paperwork will be dropped administratively from the course.  Students are expected to complete the required internship hours. Students who do not complete the required hours, as reported by the internship site will not pass the course.
  2. Internships may be paid or unpaid; however, they cannot be part of regular employment or job.
  3. Interns are encouraged to request a debriefing session with the on-site coordinator after the internship is complete.
  4. The academic supervisor is expected to guide the student based on the student’s written work and in-class discussions. The academic supervisor should also meet with the student to discuss her/his experience of the internship and the evaluation from the on-site supervisor.
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