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Applications & Registration FAQ

Who is eligible for a Practicum course?

To be eligible to participate in an SIS Practicum, MA students must:

  • be in good academic standing (including a 3.0 cumulative GPA)
  • have completed 18 credits* of graduate coursework prior to the semester in which they will participate in the Practicum (*MIS students must complete at least 15 credits toward their degree to apply)

Dual-degree students (e.g. MA/MBA, JD/MA and KU/AU) must also: 

  • have completed at least 9 of the minimum 18 credits in SIS to be eligible to participate in a Practicum.

Students are eligible to apply for any Practicum, regardless of their particular MA program (e.g. an IPCR student may apply to a USFP Practicum).

Practicum courses are designed to be capstone experiences, but students may also use them as electives or concentration courses. Capstone students are given priority consideration during the application process. Students using the Practicum for other requirements are considered only after all qualified capstone students have been placed.

Students in the online MAIR/MIS programs have practica options designed specifically for the online format of their program, however are also eligible for on-campus practica if they are able to attend on-campus meetings. Click here for more information about capstone options for MAIR/MIS students.

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How do I apply for a Practicum course?

To apply, students submit an online application form with a tailored cover letter and resume for each of their preferred Practicum courses. 

The application cycle for summer and fall 2017 practica is now over, but stay posted for the spring 2018 application cycle. Complete details on the application process will be sent out in emails to all Grad students.

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Can I apply to more than one course?

Yes. In fact, we encourage it. Some Practica are very popular, and we may receive as many as 50 applications for 15 places. In these cases, even highly qualified students can be turned away. We strongly suggest applying to one or more backups in case this happens with your top choice. There is no limit on how many applications a student can submit.

On your online application form, you will be asked to rank the Practica to which you are applying in order of preference. If your first choice fills up, you will be considered for your second choice, and if needed your third, and so on. Students are only allowed to take one Practicum per semester and will only be offered placement in one course.

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When are applications due?

Applications for the summer and fall 2017 terms are now closed. Stay posted for the spring 2018 application cycle. Information will be sent out via email through SIS Graduate Advising announcements.

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I didn’t know about/forgot about/was traveling during the deadline. Can I apply late?

No. Late applications will not be accepted.

In some cases, Practicum courses with few acceptances may be opened for a second round of applications after course registration begins. Watch your email for notification of a second round.

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Who makes the acceptance decisions?

Professors and/or Program Directors review the applications to their courses and decide which students to accept. Clients are not involved in reviewing applications or accepting students.

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How can I strengthen my Practicum application?

A Practicum is intended to simulate a real-world professional experience, beginning with the application process. Students apply to a Practicum by submitting a cover letter and a resume. There are several steps you can take to strengthen your application:

  • Address your cover letter to the Practicum professor. They are the ones who will be reading your application.
  • Focus your materials on your relevant skills, experience, and how you will work with the Practicum team to solve the client's problem. Be specific about how your knowledge and skills can contribute to the client's issues and project. Describe how you will fit in with the rest of the team.
  • Have your cover letter and resume reviewed at the Career Center (Strongly Encouraged). Do not submit your materials without getting a second opinion! Make an appointment with an advisor by calling 202-885-1804, or bring your materials to the SIS Atrium for walk-in advising (3:00-5:00pm on Mondays and Wednesdays). Visit the Career Advising site for more tips and resources.
  • Come to an information session to meet the Practicum professor. Before applications are due, every Practicum professor will hold an information session on campus to meet interested students, explain the project and their vision for the Practicum, and answer questions. Professors are not able to interview all candidates before making their decisions, so the info sessions are a great opportunity to put a face to your application and gain some insight in how to tailor your materials.
  • Meet the Practicum professor at their office hours or over email. If you can't come to an information session, you are still encouraged to reach out to the professor to introduce yourself and ask questions about the Practicum.
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Is Practicum placement guaranteed?

No. Spots in Practicum courses are awarded based on a competitive application process. Professors will carefully review each student's background and skills to compose the most qualified team to address the client's needs.

Fall and Spring courses are capped at 15 or fewer, and Summer courses are capped at 10. Popular courses may receive 3 or 4 times as many applications as can be accepted. 

Students are encouraged to apply to several courses in case they are not accepted to their top choice. Students rank their applications by preference. In the event that a student is accepted to more than one Practicum, they will be offered a place in their higher-ranked course. Students will only be offered placement in one course.

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Can I take a Practicum course as an elective or a concentration course? Can I do more than one Practicum?

The Practicum Program is intended to be a capstone experience. Accordingly, students who are planning to use the Practicum for their capstone requirement are given priority consideration in the application process. Once all qualified capstone students have been placed, professors who still have room on their teams may consider applications from students who are planning to use the Practicum as an elective or other degree requirement. Students who have taken a Practicum in a previous semester may apply a second time as a non-capstone student. Students may not take more than one Practicum course in the same semester.

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I am trying to plan my schedule before applying. When will Practicum course days and times be posted?

In short, as soon as possible. The Registrar's Schedule of Classes continues to change right up until registration day. Unfortunately, this means we do not always have class days/times available before the Practicum application deadline. Most Practica are scheduled in the 5:30-8:00 slot, although there are exceptions.

All course times will be available before you are asked to commit to registering for a Practicum. They will be listed on the Schedule of Classes, Practicum Program website, in your acceptance email, and on the form to confirm your participation.

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I’ve been accepted to my Practicum and confirmed my placement. How do I register?

Once you have submitted your online confirmation you do not have to take any more actions to be registered. Your registration will be processed by the Office of Experiential Learning, which administrates the Practicum Program. Your Practicum should appear on your course schedule within two weeks of the Priority Registration date.

Your registration may be delayed if there is an administrative or financial hold on your account, if you have registered for too many credits, or if you have registered for another class during the same time as your Practicum. Please make sure to clear any holds, keep the time of your Practicum course open, and have room under your credit cap to accommodate 3 credits.

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My Practicum conflicts with one of my required courses this semester. Can I still register for the Practicum?

We try to be strategic about Practicum scheduling to prevent conflicts with core requirement courses, but sometimes they do occur. Class meetings are required for Practicum students. You cannot register for a Practicum if you have a conflicting class. We strongly recommend completing core requirements during other semesters when possible.

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I need to drop my Practicum. How do I do that?

Because your classmates and clients are relying on each member of the Practicum team, students are not allowed to drop their Practicum course once they have confirmed their participation. Do not confirm your Practicum placement unless you are confident that you will be able to participate. Exceptions may be made in the case of unforeseen and unavoidable circumstances. Please contact Stephanie Fischer (fischer@american.edu) if you need to drop your Practicum.

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