UW Sociology Internships offer students a chance to earn academic credit while doing public sector work. These unpaid positions provide means to explore, contribute to, and grow in organizations committed to change in Seattle and King County. Internships let Sociology majors experience and support the important work of our partner organizations.

Due to the time required for on-site training, these department-sponsored internships require a two-quarter commitment. Our Internship Program runs during Winter and Spring quarters of each academic year.

While the internship organizations differ and each internship demands its own set of skills, strengths, and time commitments, all our positions have many things in common:

  • Internship positions are unpaid and require a two-quarter commitment. As part of the internship, students are required to register for SOC 404 in Winter Quarter and, optionally SOC 399 in Spring.
  • Interns must be current UW students, and we prioritize Sociology majors.
  • When applying, students will have an initial interview with Susanna Hansson in the Sociology Advising office. Finalists for the positions will then interview with internship site staff before the internship can be finalized. All interview times will be arranged via email.
  • Finalists’ completed applications will be shared with internship site staff.  By submitting an application, you authorize us to share all application materials, including your academic records.

Course Requirements

Internship positions are linked to our Practicum course, SOC 404. All students who accept internship offers from partner organizations must also sign up for this 5-credit, graded course in Winter Quarter. In Spring Quarter, interns earn academic credit by signing up for SOC 399, a variable credit course that is graded CR/NC. SOC 404 is a seminar style class designed to give students practice in applying sociological concepts and knowledge to work experiences. Through readings, projects, papers, discussions and/or presentations, students consider how Sociology helps inform and enrich their internship experience. For Sociology majors SOC 404 can count as an upper division elective (or toward lower division electives). For non-Sociology majors, SOC 404 counts as an I&S course.

Preparing Your Application

Students may apply for two internship positions. However, a targeted, carefully considered application for one position is often stronger than a more generic application for multiple positions. If you wish to apply for more than one position, please complete a separate application and a position-specific cover letter and resume for each internship position.

Applications will vary, but a strong application will showcase a student’s individual strengths and respond directly to the requirements and prompts. For additional help putting together your application, you may schedule an appointment with an advisor

Winter and Spring Quarters 2020

Federal Public Defender Internship

The Federal Public Defender (FPD) for the Western District of Washington (WAW) was established in the spring of 1975 to ensure the Sixth Amendment right to effective counsel and equal access to justice for defendants accused of federal crimes. The office also provides support and training for lawyers who accept appointments to represent financially qualified clients under the Criminal Justice Act (CJA), the law which assures professional legal counsel in federal courts by paying an hourly fee for court appointed lawyers who serve clients without the means to pay for legal services.

The FDP Seattle office contributes research and support to both high-profile federal cases and more local defense efforts.  UW interns analyze case documents, reports, surveillance video, and recorded telephone conversations. In some cases, their research efforts have been instrumental in obtaining reduced sentences for clients. In complex drug cases, interns have created charts to demonstrate direct links between defendants and transactions.

The Federal Public Defender internships are unpaid. This year, the Department of Sociology will be able to place up to two (2) student interns at the FPD offices.  Students need to be US citizens or legal residents to qualify for this internship.

FPD interns volunteer for 10-12 hours/week during regular FPD office hours in the downtown Seattle location during both winter and spring quarters.

2020 FPD Information and Application

Seattle Municipal Court Internship

The Seattle Municipal Court (SMC) is the largest misdemeanor court in the state of Washington and has long considered itself the peoples' court. Through a Community Involved Justice model, the Court strives to make the justice system more effective by re-establishing links between criminal justice service providers and the communities they serve. Community Involved Justice initiatives ultimately seek to transform the way people think about crime - not just as cases to be processed but as problems to be resolved and relationships to be developed and maintained.

Working with defendants, observing court proceedings, and networking with court staff, will give students an understanding of misdemeanor probation, an introduction to multiple career paths within the criminal justice system, and offer student interns a better understanding of how the criminal justice system actually operates.

The Seattle Municipal Court internships are unpaid. This year, the Department of Sociology will be able to place up to eight (8) student interns at Seattle Municipal Court.

Seattle Municipal Court interns volunteer as Court Case Aides for at least 8 hours a week (two 4-hour shifts per week) during both winter and spring quarters.

2020 Seattle Municipal Court Information and Application

Independent Research Internship (SOC 399)

For students who choose to do an internship during Summer or Autumn quarter, the Sociology department offers an Independent Study model (under the SOC 399 course number) which allows students who have secured internships to coordinate their study with a department faculty member. SOC 399 can be taken for between 2 and 5 credits, depending on how many hours the student spends at the internship every week. SOC 399 is graded CR/NC.

Step One: Find an Internship

To register for SOC 399 credit, you first need to find the internship on your own. Here is a list of resources to help you do this:

  • Sociology Blog:
  • The Carlson Leadership and Public Service Office cultivates and publicizes internships in the public sector (community-based organizations, government agencies, and educational institutions).

The UW Career and Internship Center offers internship listings and other career related resources.

Step Two: Find a Faculty Sponsor

The faculty member supervises the academic component of the internship. The most natural "fit" is a faculty member whose research interests match the content of your internship. You might also approach faculty with whom you already have a working relationship.

When you approach a faculty member, be as prepared and as specific as possible. 

  1. Produce a written proposal that is as specific as you can possibly make it. This is a proposal for an academic project connected with the internship area, not a proposal for your site work. Remember that you are not getting credit for the internship itself or the work you do there, but for an academic project connected to that work (e.g., a paper, etc.).
  2. Email your selected faculty member and ask if it would be appropriate to meet during office hours. Offer to email or leave the proposal ahead of time, or to bring it when you meet.
  3. At your meeting, make your pitch and demonstrate that you are self-directed, motivated, responsible, and capable.
Step Three: Complete the Necessary Paperwork

You can pick up hard copies of the relevant forms outside Sociology Advising Office (SAV 203). When you have completed the registration form, turn it in to the Sociology Advising Office, and we will register you for the credits. The number of credits you receive from your internship is based on the number of weekly hours you dedicate to your internship site.

Along with completing the SOC 399 Registration Form, your site supervisor must complete a Site Evaluation at the end of your internship. Give your supervisor the form (downloadable below) and have him or her send it to the address listed.

You can receive 2-5 credits of SOC 399 depending on the work you arrange with your faculty sponsor. The general guideline is 3 hours per week, per credit received. All credits in SOC 399 are graded C/NC. You can count up to 5 credits of SOC 399/499 (Independent Research credits) toward the Sociology Elective Requirement.

Independent Research Internship (SOC 499)

ndependent research (SOC 499) in sociology allows students to work closely with faculty on current faculty research projects or on student and faculty designed projects. Similar to internships, independent research can be a valuable part of the undergraduate program, providing experience critical to future employment and graduate work.

Independent research is best suited to students who have a particular research subject they want to investigate and are prepared to find a faculty sponsor and work closely with them on either a jointly designed or already existing research project. Independent study is normally open only to juniors and seniors. Students must provide a written proposal outlining the objectives and research strategy of their project.

Students interested in independent research should also be aware of SOC 494, the Sociology Practica. Practica courses are organized by the department in cooperation with local organizations like schools, businesses, and government programs to immerse sociology students in real-world projects and help them gain valuable experience beyond the classroom.

Students may also receive 2-5 credits through SOC 499. Registering for SOC 499 credit involves two steps:

  • Find a faculty supervisor
  • Complete the SOC 499 Registration Form
Step One: Find a Faculty Supervisor

Think about contacting a faculty member whose class you enjoyed taking or whose research area interests you. You can also look at faculty areas of interest and/or ongoing research to find a faculty member or project that interests you and then contact that faculty member via email.

Step Two: Complete the SOC 499 Registration Form

You can pick up a hard copy of the SOC 499 Registration Form outside the Sociology Advising Office (SAV 203), or access it below. When your faculty sponsor has signed your form and you have attached your research proposal, turn it in to the Sociology Advising Office and we will register you for the credits.