Independent Study and Internships

Independent studies are available in both Biology and Environmental Science; internships are available in Environmental Science only. Independent studies and internships provide opportunities to develop research skills and/or gain a better understanding of what professional biologists / environmental scientists actually do in their fields.

Most Responsibilities Fall on the Student

Independent studies and internships place a great deal of responsibility on the student. As you can see from the guidelines that follow, the student must take the initiative in planning, setting up, and carrying out the work. Arrangements must be made and approved by the supervising faculty member before a student may sign up for credit.

Make Plans a Semester Ahead

Since advance registration comes about two-thirds of the way through any given semester, and since the end of a semester is hectic for both students and faculty, you should begin planning for an independent study or internship early in the semester that precedes the one in which the credit will be earned. Recognize that individual faculty members may not always be able to commit to supervising an independent study or internship during a given semester. Consequently, the earlier you start to make plans, the better.

Independent Studies in Biology or Environmental Science

Definition

An independent study is an independent student research project conducted on or off campus which is supervised by a member of the faculty of the appropriate department.

Independent Study Guidelines

  1. Students considering an independent study should contact the appropriate faculty member during the semester prior to registering for BIO 440 or ENV 440.
  2. Credit: 1-3 credit hours in BIO 440 or ENV 440
  3. The amount of academic credit earned will depend on the nature of the study and the extent of investigation required as determined by the supervising faculty member.
  4. Students will submit a study proposal to the supervising faculty member for approval. The proposal will contain a description of the study, the procedures to be followed and the materials needed, an adequate list of references, as well as other information which would allow the faculty member and the student to construct an appropriate experimental design.
  5. Prior to commencement of the study, an agreement will be drawn up between the student and the supervising faculty member which contains the approved study proposal, the method and frequency of reporting by the student on the study, and the method of evaluation and grading to be employed by the supervising faculty member.
  6. At the end of the independent study the student will submit a written report or written paper in acceptable scientific style concerning his/her study to the faculty member. The report will include, but shall not be limited to, the following: a description of the nature of the study, a description of the procedures used in the study, the results of the investigation, and a discussion of the significance of the findings. A copy of the student’s report will be filed with the Biology Department.
  7. The student may be required to present an oral report covering his/her independent study experience to the Biology Department. Depending on the quality of the work, the student may be advised to present his/her findings at a professional meeting.
  8. Some studies may require more than one semester to complete. In such cases the student will receive the grade of “I” at the end of the first semester.

Internships in Environmental Science

Definition

An internship is an apprenticeship during which the student works (as a volunteer or for pay) at a job in their field of study under the supervision of an on-site professional. The student should gain professional experience and academic knowledge while on the internship. With the approval of the Environmental Science Committee, a student may obtain academic credit for an internship served. For academic credit, the student must follow the guidelines below.

Eligibility Criteria

To be eligible for an internship in Environmental Science, a student must: (1) be a declared major, (2) have completed 60 semester hours (junior status), and (3) have a 2.75 G.P.A.

General Internship Guidelines

  1. Prior to the start of the Internship, the student must complete an “Internship Contract,” signed by the student, the site supervisor, and the faculty supervisor (See the Environmental Science Program Coordinator)
  2. A student may receive credit for up to two internships (ENV 461 and 462). Each internship may carry up to 3 hours of credit.
  3. The amount of academic credit earned will depend on the nature of the work performed, as determined by the faculty supervisor. The approximate guidelines are as follows:
    1. 1 Hour of Credit equals 40 Hours of Work On Site
    2. 2 Hour of Credit equals 80 Hours of Work On Site
    3. 3 Hour of Credit equals 120 Hours of Work On Site
  4. Throughout the internship, the student must maintain a work log that includes dates, time spent on site, and a summary of the work performed and its relevance. An updated copy of the log must be turned into the site supervisor and the faculty supervisor every two weeks.
  5. The student must meet with the site supervisor and the faculty supervisor on a regular schedule (determined by the supervisors at their discretion).
  6. The site supervisor must be willing to submit a written evaluation of the student at the conclusion of the internship.
  7. The student’s grade will be based upon the site supervisor’s evaluation, the work log, and the written and oral presentations.
  8. The student must follow one of two options, the Research-Oriented Internship or the Experiential Internship. A description of each follows.

Specific Requirements for the Research-Oriented Internship

  • The student will perform research at a private, educational, or governmental firm/agency concerned with environmental issues.
  • Prior to the start of the research, the student will submit a study proposal approved by both the site supervisor and the faculty supervisor. The proposal will contain a literature review of the subject area to be investigated, the objectives of the study, the procedures to be followed, an adequate list of references, and other information which would allow the supervisors to adequately evaluate the study.
  • At the end of the internship, the student will submit a written research report to the site supervisor and to the faculty supervisor.. The report will be written in acceptable scientific style (Abstract, Introduction, Materials and Methods, Results, Discussion, and Literature Cited). A copy of the student’s report will be filed with the Environmental Science Committee.
  • The student will present a formal oral report describing his/her research and internship experience to an appropriate audience approved by the internship coordinator. Depending on the quality of the work, the student may be advised to present their findings at a professional meeting.

Specific Requirements for the Experiential Internship

  • The student will gain experience at a private, educational, or governmental firm/agency concerned with environmental issues.
  • The activities must provide the student with practical experiences that enhance his/her understanding of: 1) the function(s) of the firm / agency, 2) the responsibilities of professionals in the field, and 3) the education and skills necessary to work in the area.
  • The student will write a library-research paper on an environmental issue that is relevant to the work performed by the firm/agency where the student earned the internship. The topic will be approved by the site supervisor and by the faculty supervisor.
  • The student will present a formal oral report describing his/her work and internship experience to an appropriate audience approved by the faculty supervisor.
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