Internships and Research

Students in the Department of Economics are often interested in pursuing internships off campus. Some internships offer significant hands-on job and career experience, while some offer more academic experience in a non-classroom setting. Students also participate in independent studies, or research, for credit.

The department regularly notifies students of internship opportunities. To receive an academic credit for an internship with academic content, students should discuss the internship details with the DUS before the start of the internship.

Finding Career-focused Internships

There are several offices and tools at Johns Hopkins to help students find internships. Those include working with the Economics Club, the Life Design Lab, and University Experiential Learning. The Center for Financial Economics also offers an intersession course, Seminar in Financial Literacy, that connects students with Johns Hopkins alumni working in the financial services industry.

Life Design Lab

The Life Design Lab supports students to connect their academic pursuits to post-graduate goals. Undergraduate and master’s students have access to life design programs and courses, experiential learning opportunities, and connections with alumni and employers through assigned Life Design Educators.

Economics Club

The JHU Economics Club connects current economics undergraduate students with each other, economics graduate students, Johns Hopkins alumni and other professionals working in relevant fields. The club organizes two to three events per semester and all Hopkins undergraduates with interest in economics are invited to participate.

Students are encouraged to become general body members of the Economics Club to receive emails about upcoming internships. Details about the Economics Club and their events are also posted on the Economics Club website.

Guidelines for Internships with Academic Credit

The overarching principle is that an internship should qualify for academic credit only if it has genuine academic content (typically a significant reading list and a significant written evaluation or project). Unlike a classroom course, the student takes major responsibility for crafting the reading list and the written project. Our specific guidelines:

  • A student wishing to do a for-credit internship must get approval from the DUS prior to the start of the internship and find a faculty sponsor.
  • Before accepting the applicant, the sponsor will ask for a written proposal, laying out the reading and the writing project (or some acceptable substitute). Frequently, sponsors will help guide students to appropriate reading, but primary responsibility falls on the student.
  • According to university rules (see link above) internships cannot offer more than one credit. If your project warrants more than one credit, that can be given only through the rubric of independent study. We will attempt to match the number of credits with the amount and level of academic work in the internship/independent study.
  • The internship will be graded credit/no-credit by the faculty sponsor. Credit will be based only upon the academic component of the internship (likely the reading and the writing) If at the end of the term the faculty sponsor finds that the academic component of the internship was not successfully completed, credit will be withheld.
  • We will generally only consider applications for for-credit internships from students who have taken the relevant background courses. For example, we are unlikely to approve an internship at a financial institution from an applicant who has not pursued adequate background in our financial economics courses.

Independent Study

Independent study works in many ways like an internship. The student finds a sponsor within the Department of Economics and develops a study plan including reading and most likely a written project. There are however some important differences:

  • Independent studies generally do not involve a placement off campus; they are more like on-campus courses but with only one student and that student taking a much more active role in designing the project.
  • The number of credits is not limited to one; it is determined by the faculty sponsor.
  • Instead of being graded credit/no-credit, it is graded pass/fail. Expectations for passing grades are somewhat higher than for regular courses.

Generally speaking, faculty members will be willing to serve as independent-study sponsors only for students who have demonstrated an ability to work independently and who have completed all of the courses which would ordinarily be thought of as prerequisites for a study of the kind proposed by the student.

Research

Students can pursue research either through completing a one- to three-credit independent study with a faculty mentor from the department, or pursuing a senior thesis in their junior or senior year with a faculty mentor from the department. The senior thesis requires registering for two courses: AS 180.521 (Research in Economics) and AS 180.522 (Senior Thesis). Students should contact their economics adviser or the DUS to learn more details.