Experiential Learning Policies
To read more about the numerous career, internship, and experiential learning opportunities available, click here.
A field experience is a three-credit elective that incorporates two components completed over one term:
- 130 hours of supervised professional work carried out by an MLIS student at an information service host site that provides the student with an opportunity to apply the skills, methodologies, and theories learned through coursework, and
- 20 hours of scheduled class meetings, conferences, and on-line reflective discussion with other students registered for LIS 2921 or LIS 2924 in a given term, and overseen by the field experience coordinator.
Please note: the definition, course prerequisites, academic and work requirements, and application process for LIS 2921 or 2924 Field Experience vary from that of LIS 2922 Practicum in School Libraries. Students in the School Library Certification Program (SLCP) must successfully complete LIS 2922 and follow the requirements of the SLCP in order to meet teacher certification requirements. Questions regarding SLCP requirements should be referred to Dr. Mary K. Biagini.
Student Learning Outcomes
Students will clarify their career objectives while gaining insightful, resume-worthy experience at an information organization, which will help prepare them for their chosen career.
Students register for LIS 2921 or LIS 2924 (if the student is in the Archives and Information Science specialization), earning three elective credits upon successful completion of the course.
- Students must have completed 12 credits of LIS coursework, including LIS 2000 Understanding Information and LIS 2600 Introduction to Information Technologies (or LIS 2610 Library and Archival Computing), before the start of the field experience.
- Students must have earned a minimum QPA of 3.0 to receive permission to register for LIS Field Experience.
- The student must be registered for LIS Field Experience in the term in which the supervised professional work occurs. The field experience must be completed in one term. Only extenuating circumstances will be considered for an incomplete grade and must be approved by the field experience coordinator.
Requirement or Elective
Field Experience credits are not required when earning the MLIS degree–LIS 2921 or LIS 2924 is considered an elective course. Although LIS Field Experience is not required, all students are strongly encouraged to incorporate this elective course into their plan of study in order to gain real world, experiential learning.
Students who successfully complete all requirements for LIS Field Experience earn a grade of “Satisfactory.” Students who do not successfully complete all requirements for LIS field experience earn a grade of “Unsatisfactory.” Grading will be based on performance as determined by the host site supervisor and the quality of the final report/project as determined by the Field Experience Coordinator.
In order to determine a viable, academically credible field experience, students must:
- Attend information session in the term prior to the field experience. For those unable to attend on-campus, the information will be made available online.
- Speak with your academic advisor to identify a host site, a host site supervisor, and a proposed project. Note: Online students must first confirm state eligibility by checking the status of allowed states for the School of Computing and Information at PittOnline.
- Submit the Application for LIS (2921 or 2924) Field Experience, including two written statements (outlined on the application).
The Registration Team will enroll students in three field experience credits after receiving documentation and approval from the field experience coordinator.
For a partial list of previous host sites and contact information, click here.
Download the Application for LIS (2921 or 2924) Field Experience for full details regarding the process of applying for and registering for the field experience.
Requirements for successful completion of the field experience
As a three-credit elective class, the LIS (2921 or 2924) Field Experience comprises 150 total hours of on-site and academic work divided as follows:
Student Work Requirements
- Complete 130 hours of work at the host site under the direction of the host site supervisor and according to the agreed upon schedule with the host site supervisor
- Follow all policies and procedures that host site staff must follow, e.g., dress, acceptable use of technology, interactions with patrons
- If the student is ill or if there is extreme inclement weather on a scheduled work day, the student must inform the host site supervisor in advance of scheduled work shift and must make up any missed hours.
Student Academic Requirements
- Participate in regularly scheduled class meetings (20 hours) with the field experience coordinator and other field experience students to discuss progress, experiences, and shared challenges and learnings
- Post remarks to a weekly field experience blog on CourseWeb
- Prepare a mid-term report and submit to the field experience coordinator
- Facilitate a meeting at the host site that includes the field experience coordinator, the host site supervisor, and the student
- Submit to the field experience coordinator a final, confidential written reflection about the student’s experience at the host site framed around their career objectives and the “Goals for Graduates of the MLIS Program” that includes several examples of work developed for the host site during the experience (portfolio)
- Confer individually with the field experience coordinator to review the final course deliverables for the Field Experience, which may include a report or a project.
- To offer students an opportunity to extend their academic experience to a practical work experience. The practicum allows students to gain some experience in an area they wish to explore and to apply their knowledge and skills in a work situation.
- To show in concrete terms the work options available to students through an apprenticeship term that can provide job-related training.
- To illustrate the Program’s commitment to translating information system development and management ideas into action and to contribute to the development of local businesses and industry.
- To broaden the scope of the Program and to enrich the program by contact and exchange with area businesses, industries, and community groups/agencies.
- Students must have completed a minimum of eighteen credit hours.
- Students must be in good academic standing.
- A practicum is designed to provide a student with an opportunity to experience the nature of workplace for which they are being educated. Thus, students who are already working in the field are not normally eligible for a practicum. An exception might be made when the student is working, but not in a job related to the field and the practicum is not in the same organization in which they are employed.
- Normally a practicum is three (3) credits. With the approval of the Practicum Instructor a more extensive practicum can be six (6) credits. In all cases, practicum credits are not counted toward the Foundations, Cognitive, or Systems requirements, i.e. they are electives.
- Students should plan to work between 100-250 hours per term (7-20 hours/week) for a practicum. When a student is taking other courses, the practicum should be limited to less than 20 hours per week. When a student is registered for only the practicum, the number of hours per week may approach 40 hours or full time work. (International students should consult with the Office of International Student Services as full time practica impact options open to the student for post graduation work experiences.) Individual schedules will be arranged between the student and the Site Supervisor, and it is the student’s responsibility to notify the practicum advisor of the schedule arrangements.
- International students must obtain approval for Conditional Practical Training after registering for a practicum.
- While minor exceptions can be made by the Practicum Instructor, students should alert their supervisor that generally all work on the practicum should be completed during the academic term. More specifically, work may not begin until the beginning of the term and should be completed before grades are due.
- The practicum must complement the student’s education in information science. A good practicum should exercise the student’s educational learning and/or to introduce the student to new areas of the information profession which complement the student’s academic background or area of interest.
- Grading will be based on practicum performance as rated by the Site Supervisor and the quality of the final report as rated by the Practicum Instructor. The normal grading for the practicum is Pass/Fail.
- During the normal period for course registration and the drop add period before the beginning of the term, the student is to submit three documents (and international students should also submit a CPT or pre-completion OPT request via OIS):
- Practicum Application which provides information about the student, the location of the practicum, and the courses they have completed
- Practicum Proposal which describes what the students expects to be learning during the practicum. This may be accompanied by a letter from the practicum host extending the offer.
- Practicum Site Agreement which identifies the site supervisor and indicates their agreement with practicum policies.
- The Practicum Instructor will inform the Internship Coordinator of his/her approval of the practicum application and will place a copy in the student’s folder.
- After receiving approval from the Practicum Instructor, the Internship Coordinator will enroll the student in the appropriate practicum course (INFSCI 2980 or TELCOM 2940).
- Students must communicate with their Practicum Instructor at least once a month or as necessary to discuss their practicum. Students must keep a written log of the practicum experience to be examined by and discussed with the Practicum Instructor. The Practicum Instructor may require that these communications occur during a scheduled practicum review session.
- A report, normally about 10 pages in length, relating the practicum to the student’s academic goals, is required for the completion of the practicum. This report should also include the student’s specific duties at the site and a critique of the strengths and weaknesses of the practicum as it relates to the student’s academic and personal development. This report must be sent to the Practicum Instructor before the final week of the term, and must be signed by the Site Supervisor.
The Department of Informatics and Networked Systems agrees to:
- Assign a faculty member to facilitate communication regarding student educational progress. The faculty member agrees to be available for consultation with the site supervisor as needed.
- Provide services of administrative assistance to facilitate effective communication lines between the Program and the site on all matters.
- Provide the site with a student profile if required, listing the student’s educational background, field of interest, and qualifications for working in the particular site.
- Provide information about the University’s academic calendar. This should be used to set beginning and ending dates of the practicum as well as period when the student might reasonably be expected to be excused from work for holidays.
- Insure that student placements shall not be considered final until the plan has been fully reviewed by the Program. Modification and changes, such as early termination, shall be submitted in writing.
- Keep the site informed of any changes in university policy or curriculum that affect the site-program relationship.
- Insure that Practicum Instructor will offer guidance to the Site Supervisor (if needed) as to requirements/content of final evaluation report of the student’s progress.
- Provide that this agreement shall continue until review or termination is requested in writing by the Program, the site, or the student.
- Refrain from discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, ancestry, sex, age, marital status, familial status, sexual orientation, disability or status as a disabled veteran or a veteran of the Vietnam era.
Department of Computer Science
For information regarding the Undergraduate Computer Science Cooperative Education Program, visit this Web page.
Department of Informatics and Networked Systems
Through the assistance of the Swanson School of Engineering’s Cooperative Education Office, formal arrangements have been established with industry that permit the School of Computing and Information students to rotate four-month terms between the workplace and the classroom. As a graduate student at the University of Pittsburgh, this rotation begins after the completion of at least 18 graduate credits across at least two full-time terms of study, with the Co-op student completing at least one full-time four-month work rotation, but no more than two of such rotations. These rotations, which are typically but not necessarily with the same employer, allow job duties to increase as the knowledge and skills of the student progress. During Co-op rotations, students earn competitive salaries determined by the Co-op employer.
If interested in applying for the Cooperative Education program, please email Alka Singh, Director of Experiential Learning.
Internship Approval Guidelines
- Students must have taken at least five information science courses
- Have consent and approval of the Internship Coordinator
- Complete the INFSCI 1085 Student Internship Application Form and have your internship supervisor complete the INFSCI 1085 Employer Internship Agreement Form (send them this link)
- After these forms have been completed, you will be enrolled in the INFSCI 1085 course by the Internship Coordinator.
- Register for INFSCI 1085
- Only one INFSCI internship will count for credit as an INFSCI capstone class requirement. Students who wish to complete a second INFSCI internship must contact their INFSCI advisor.
Student Performance Assessment
- Students will be awarded 3 credits for a successfully completed internship
- Students will not receive a letter grade for an internship (S/NC); this course will not affect students’ QPA
- Students are required to submit two reports during their internships – one in the middle of the term and another one during finals week.
- At the midpoint of the term, students must complete the INFSCI 1085 Internship Report.
- At the end of the internship period, students must complete a final INFSCI 1085 Internship Report.
- At the end of the term, ask your internship supervisor to complete the INFSCI 1085 Employer Internship Evaluation Form (send them this link).
Internship Position Requirements
- Internships can be paid or unpaid
- 10-15 hours of work per week
- Must complete the internship in the term when you are registered for INFSCI 1085
- Work duties/positions must be directly related to the information science and technology fields. Some examples of acceptable positions are:
- Programmer / web developer / application developer
- Database administrator
- Data analyst
- Business analyst
- Project manager
- Web designer
- Technical liaison
- Quality assurance/systems testing
- The following duties/positions will not be accepted as valid internship positions:
- Data entry
- Document scanning
- Help desk triage
- Customer service
For more information about internships in the BSIS Program, please contact:
Room 520, Information Science Building