Master of Urban Planning Internship

All students are encouraged to complete a planning internship, especially if they do not have prior professional experience in the field. The basic objective of the internship is to provide practical experience under competent and committed professional guidance. The internship must be preceded and succeeded by at least one semester of course work in planning while in residence at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

The Internship (UP 590)

  1. An MUP internship must consist of at least 160 hours of appropriate planning-related work (minimum of 50%-time employment for 8 weeks) at an off-campus agency.
  2. The work must be planning, or clearly related to planning; that is, it must involve action directed toward the physical, economic, environmental, or social betterment of a community. The agency must be involved in such action, and the internship must be performed under the supervision of a professional in the field.
  3. Internship credit will not be given for work that is primarily clerical in nature (typing, coloring maps, answering the telephone, mindless data entry), for manual labor (e.g., landscaping), nor for most university research. Typically, an internship consists of support tasks similar to those of an entry-level professional position. These might include field data collection, map preparation, data analysis, preparation of case memos, participation in public meetings, and preparation of reports to support planning activities. To receive internship credit, you must be actively participating in substantive planning work.
  4. Internship credit will normally not be given for work in real estate, law, banking, engineering, architecture, or landscape architecture offices, unless the work of the office has a clear planning component that distinguishes it from the norm. Internship credit will normally be given for work for relevant public agencies, consultants in planning or economic development, community nonprofits, and private developers.
  5. UP 590 internship credit is given only to students enrolled in the MUP degree program or one of our approved joint programs. Prior approval of internships by the degree coordinator is required and completion of the three forms and weekly log must precede the award of credit.

Most internships are during the summer break. Some students, however, are able to obtain internships of suitable quality and duration during their second academic year. You must register and pay tuition and fees (which are minimal for zero-credit courses) during the term or summer session in which the internship is performed, in order for the course to appear on the official transcript. Internships may be on a paid or volunteer basis, depending on your arrangements with the agency.


You need to submit four forms in order to complete your internship:

  1. Agency Offer of Internship. This one-page form is filled out by the professional who will act as your internship supervisor. The purpose of the form is to assure the necessary commitment of time by the supervisor, and to confirm that the tasks will be appropriate for an internship. It is your responsibility to provide this form to your internship supervisor once you have accepted the internship offer.
    Once you have received the Offer, you should submit it to the MUP Program Director for approval. This will allow you to enroll in UP 590.
  2. Weekly Log. You need to maintain this during the internship. For each week you should summarize your activities, in a brief paragraph or bulleted list.
  3. Student Internship Evaluation. This form must be completed at the end of the internship in order to receive a grade of satisfactory for UP 590.
  4. Agency Internship Evaluation. Your internship supervisor must return this form to the Department at the end of the internship.It is your responsibility to ensure that s/he has the form and submits it in a timely manner. The form provides the supervisor with the chance to evaluate your skills and to reflect upon your contribution to the agency. You may not receive a grade for UP 590 until the form is submitted.

You should submit documents 2, 3, and 4 in one package to the MUP Program Director upon completion of your internship, in order to receive UP 590 credit.

Internship Credit for Prior Experience

Occasionally, MUP students have had substantial professional planning experience prior to enrolling. In such cases, an additional internship would provide little added benefit to the student's education. The Department may provide internship credit for prior experience, but the burden is on the student to present the case and submit appropriate supporting materials. The application should include the following:

  1. Evidence of work for a minimum of one year, full-time.
  2. Description of agency and job responsibilities, sufficient to address Internship criteria 2, 3, and 4 outlined above.
  3. Identification of supervisor(s) and description of supervision and guidance provided by a professional in the field.
  4. Supporting letter from supervisor, attesting to professional planning nature of work, quality of performance, and improvement achieved during course of employment.
  5. Samples of work products.

All applications for prior internship credit should be submitted to the MUP Program Director.

International students: Before you seek off-campus employment,you are required to see an Adviser at International Student and Scholar Services to confirm you can be authorized to work and to process work authorization. You cannot work off campus until you have completed two semesters of course work. Accepting off-campus employment without proper authorization can result in the revocation of your visa and deportation.

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