“Zero credit,” zero cost for internships

By Sophie Whorf, Senior Staff Writer

Miami students’ gripes about the costs associated with internships for college credit are being addressed by a zero-credit policy offered by the university.

Before this policy, students needed to apply for academic credit in order for an internship to appear on their official Degree Audit Report (DARS) — which did not come without a hefty price.

During the summer semester, Miami charges Ohio residents $535.60 per credit hour, and out-of-state residents $1,243.06 per credit hour, according to the One Stop for Student Success Services website.

Many students are unaware that they have the option to complete an internship for “zero credit,” which effectively eliminates the cost associated with earning credit hours and still displays the experience on students’ DARS.

According to Miami’s 2015-2016 General Bulletin, “340” is the course number associated with internships across the university, and a student can earn up to 20 hours of academic credit depending upon the internship.

The zero-credit policy differs across Miami’s individual schools, departments and majors.

Some of the departments with the policy include Accountancy, Architecture and Interior Design, Kinesiology and Health and Electrical and Computer Engineering — to name a few.

Howard Kleiman, the assistant chair of the Department of Media, Journalism and Film, said students should not be surprised that there is a cost associated with completing an internship for academic credit.

“The big misperception with students is…‘Why do I have to pay?’” Kleiman said. “Well, now the answer is that you don’t.”

“‘And if I want more credit hours, why do I have to pay?’ Because there’s no such thing as actual free credit hours for any course. [Earning] academic credit is never free … [whether] you’re [doing] an internship over the summer or taking English 111.”

Kleiman says that one reason why academic credit is not free is due to the faculty supervision it requires.

“Once we sign off on [the internship], even at zero credit, we now are a player — if something goes wrong, we have to get involved, we have to read student papers every week … faculty members have to be on duty and pay attention,” said Kleiman.

Regardless, Kleiman is glad that Miami can relieve a financial burden faced by many students.

“I think Miami did a great thing by saying to students, ‘We understand the hardship of doing an internship — where on one hand, you’re not getting paid, and on the other hand, you’re actually paying to do it, [so] we’re gonna give you this [zero credit] option,” said Kleiman.

While zero credit comes at zero cost, it does not count toward a student’s overall credit count, which may be a concern for students who are concerned about graduating on time or want to use a summer internship to reduce the number of classes they take during the fall/spring semesters.

Shivani Bhatt, a junior accounting major, expects to have an eight-week internship this summer, which she opted to receive one credit hour for — even though the accounting major does offer the zero credit option.

Bhatt says that she needs the academic credit in order to take the Certified Public Accountant Examination (CPA) the summer after she graduates. The test requires 150 completed credit hours, 30 of which are hours to be completed within the accountancy department specifically.

Bhatt, an Ohio resident, says that although the price of the academic credit is steep, it is worth it.

“I really want to get [the internship] because it’s one less class I’d have to take during the school year,” Bhatt said. “For accounting students, this [option] is really popular.”

Clare Howard, a junior nutrition and dietetics major, has an internship this summer as well, but chose the zero-credit option, which will appear on her DARS as volunteer experience. Unlike Bhatt, Howard is not dependent on her internship for academic credit.

Howard, an out-of-state resident, says that the price of credit hours played a large part in her decision.

“I would not [pay for academic credit]. That was the reason I did [zero-credit]. I asked the professor, ‘Are my parents gonna have to pay for this?’, because that would be really expensive.”

For most majors, internships are not an academic requirement. However, Kleiman says that internships are strongly recommended due to the professional experience they provide.

“You got experience [that] you can put on your resume; You learned something [that] you can talk about, [which] you [can] leverage into a job,” said Kleiman. “There’s no magical thing about [the number of credit hours on] your DARS… that doesn’t mean anything in terms of the quality of the experience.”