Most students complete an internship, independent study, or study abroad experience as part of their SIS degree. This page provides information on the requirements for each of these opportunities.

Course Planning

An academic planning sheet and approved courses for this semester are available here.


Internships are a great way to gain practical experience and explore possible careers. You can do an internship whether or not you earn credit for it. Earning credit for an internship can help you to manage your time.

Before you can do an internship for credit, you need to have an internship offer. The SIS Office of Career Development can help you find and apply for internships.

Registration Process

If you decide to do the internship for credit, you must enroll in an online class. During the semester, one section of the class is for sophomores and juniors and one section is for seniors. Internships are 5 hours per week per credit (ie 5/week=1 credit, 15/week=3 credits for a maximum of 6 credits.)

For Spring 2024:

Section 001: All others: Professor Tamar Gutner

Section 002: Seniors: Professor Michelle Egan

Please note: Professor Egan wants to speak with all students before signing their registration forms.  

You cannot add the class to your schedule in Student Planning. Use the forms below instead.  The forms require multiple signatures and can take up to two weeks to complete. Please plan ahead.

Rules & Limitations

  • First-year students must complete 30 academic credits in residence at American University before registering for an internship. Transfer and exam credits do not count towards the required 30 credits.
  • Transfer students may register for an internship after finishing 12 credits in residence at American University.
  • A maximum of 12 credits of self-designed work is permitted in the major.
  • Internships for thematic or regional credit must be for a minimum of three credits. Internships for elective credit may be for fewer credits. All SIS internships must be taken for an A-F grade.
  • F-1 students may only take 1 online class (or 3 credits) as part of their full-time enrollment requirement each semester. J-1 students may not take any online classes. F-1 students may not do a second internship at the same location unless the second internship is academically different than the first internship.  International Students must complete CPT or OPT with ISSS.

Last updated: 11 February 2019

Study Abroad

Typically, SIS students study abroad during their junior year for one semester. Learn more about how to apply

  1. Demonstrate satisfactory academic progress

    Students going abroad for a semester must complete and pass the following:

    • Math (Q1) requirement
    • College Writing (W1) Sequence (WRTG-100 and 101 or equivalent)
    • SISU-205
    • SISU-206 and SISU-306
  2. Research study abroad programs two semesters before leaving
    • Learn about possible study abroad programs on the AU Abroad website
    • Carefully review courses in the equivalency database
    • Develop a preferred schedule for each program you are considering
    • Select as many SISA courses as possible if you want major credit
    • To have new courses approved, submit a request through the course equivalency database
  3. Review your intended courses with the SIS Advisor who is assigned to your intended program (one semester before leaving).

    Once you have AU course numbers and intended schedule(s) for the program(s) you are considering:

    • Meet with your academic advisor to determine which program is the best academic fit for you
    • Complete the required forms with SIS Academic Advising.
    • Apply for the AU Abroad Mobility Award if you have financial need
  4. Go abroad
    • If your courses change while you are abroad, contact your advisor to update your academic plan
    • Make sure to stay in touch with your advisor about your plans for next term

Independent Work Options

Choose one of the four possible independent work combinations available to School of International Service (SIS) undergraduate students. 12 credits is the maximum for independently designed work.

Option 1

3 credits in major internships

3 credits in major independent study

6 credits in elective internship or independent study

Option 2

3 credits in major internship

9 credits in elective internship or independent study

Option 3

6 credits in self-designed capstone

6 credits in elective internship or independent study

Option 4

12 credits in elective internship or independent study

Independent Study

Independent Studies are an option for self-directed students with a strong interest in a research area that is not covered by the courses SIS typically offers

Preparing for your project

What do you want to know or be able to do at the end of this project? If you are completing directed reading, what do you want to learn about? If you are conducting independent research, what is your research question? If you can't define a research question or learning goal for your directed reading project, speak with an academic advisor.

Draft your research abstract or directed reading proposal. Explain what your focus is, why you want to pursue it and what you hope to learn by the end of the semester if you complete the project. Meet with a faculty member to review your proposal and make modifications as needed.

Registration Process

You cannot add the class to your schedule in student planning. The forms below will add the class to your schedule.

You must complete the Independent Study Eligibility form in person with an advisor. The approved SIS Independent Study Supplement must be attached to the Independent Study Registration form. The Independent Study Registration form is online only.

  1. Independent Study Eligibility Form
  2. SIS Independent Study Supplement
  3. Independent Study Registration
  4. Request for Registration Action (if you are dropping a class)

Rules & Limitations

  • All independent studies must be supervised by a full-time SIS faculty member.
  • You must successfully complete Introduction to International Studies Research (SISU-206) before registering for an independent study.
  • Independent studies for regional or thematic credit can only be completed for three credits each.
  • If you want the course to apply to a major requirement, your proposal must be reviewed and approved by the Undergraduate Program Director.
  • A maximum of 12 credits of self-designed work is permitted in the major.
  • Students wishing to complete an independent study capstone must commit to a full year 6 credit project. Please speak with an academic advisor during junior year if this option interests you.

Course numbers

  • SISU-390 Directed Reading - with instructions from faculty (sophomores and juniors)
  • SISU-490 Independent Study Project - Full Year Capstones Only

A directed reading is a project in which a student completes a series of predetermined readings and submits work based on those readings. An independent study project is a course in which a student does an independent research on a topic agreed upon by the student and faculty.

Last updated: 27 September 2018


The Consortium of Universities of the Washington Metropolitan Area gives students the opportunity to take courses that American University does not offer.


If you are interested in a registering for a course at another school, please contact that department to determine if they require any prerequisites or placement exams. Before you can enroll, the syllabus for the class must be reviewed and approved by the appropriate academic department at American University.

It is important to leave generous commuting time in your schedule if you choose to take a consortium class. Please also note that you will only be registered for a consortium course in there is still space available during the first week of school at that institution.

Please note, you will pay the AU tuition rate to take consortium courses at these schools.

Consortium Registration Form

Participating Universities

Last update: 24 May 2023