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Compensation and Labor Laws

Compensation for time spent in an internship depends upon the employer and/or the project.  Some government and non-profit organizations offer unpaid internships, while most for-profit internships are paid.  Typical wages range from $10 to $15 per hour, with the exception of engineering internship opportunities which average $17 to $22 per hour.

Unpaid internships with for-profit companies are subject to state and federal labor laws which are meant to distinguish an intern from a volunteer or an employee and to emphasize the necessary educational aspects of an internship.

With that in mind, PSU has developed the following guidelines for unpaid internships with for-profit companies based on labor laws and our commitment to providing quality educational opportunities to students:

  • The internship is highly educational and will primarily benefit the Intern
  • Learning objectives are established with the intern before beginning the internship and are revisited regularly to ensure ongoing objectives are being met
  • The intern is supervised and mentored throughout the internship 
  • The intern is not a consultant or on-site expert for any project or task that your professional staff is not able to perform (e.g. create a website, write a grant, develop a marketing campaign) 
  • The intern should not displace a paid employee
  • The employer derives no immediate financial advantage from the intern 
  • No more than 30% of the intern's time should be spent on clerical or repetitive tasks
  • The internship is a substantial learning experience, such that a faculty member would approve the internship as worthy of academic credit
  • Unpaid/non-credit internships are limited to only one academic term or 10 weeks