What is experiential learning?

What is experiential learning?

Experiential learning is an engaged learning process whereby students "learn by doing" and by reflecting on the experience. Experiential learning activities can include, but are not limited to, hands-on laboratory experiments, internships, practicums, field exercises, study abroad, undergraduate research, and studio performances.

UI undergraduates may choose to complete internships for academic credit in their major department or through the Pomerantz Career Center.

Funding available

The Department of History is pleased to announce an award that will provide $1000 each for two undergraduate or graduate students in History who are pursuing unpaid internship opportunities. History majors and minors will be given preference. This opportunity is made possible by a generous gift from a University of Iowa History graduate. (Students may apply for internships anticipated during the next semester or summer session.  Some situations for current internship experiences may be eligible for funding, if available.  Once a decision is made on eligibility, an email notification will be sent to the student.)

Qualifying internships may count for course credits. Students interested in receiving course credit need to register for HIST:3101 (select the faculty supervisor from the approved MyUI listing) during the appropriate academic session.

Interested students should submit the following materials by email to historydept@uiowa.edu during the Spring semester.

  1. Resumé or curriculum vitae. Please include your full name & student ID.
  2. Description of the internship opportunity, including actual dates of the experience, and the benefit to your plan of study and/or professional preparation.
  3. Copy of your application materials for the internship.
  4. Letter from Internship Sponsor confirming internship and dates if available. If the letter is not available at the time of your application, we will require it before releasing funds.
  5. Essay (approx. 500-words) on how the study of history has shaped your educational experience, and how your understanding of history will influence your path after graduation.

Successful candidates will be required (a) to write a brief report following their internship and (b) to participate in an informational session about internships, with exceptions for extenuating circumstances (such as a move away from Iowa City).

Internships for History Department credit (HIST:3101:0IND)

The Department uses the course number HIST:3101:0IND for internships. These are done at the student’s initiative. The student identifies relevant work experience (see below for suggestions) and then brings it to the Department (any faculty member or the Director of Undergraduate Studies) for permission to register.  The internship can be done 3 credit hours in the fall, spring, or summer semester; it may be repeated, for a maximum of 6 credit hours.  Grading is on the Satisfactory/Fail basis.

In designing the internship, students and their internship sponsors and faculty supervisors should follow the internship guidelines of the Career Center:

  • Professional experience which relates to student's major field or area of career interest
  • At least 80% professional work
  • Occupies at least one academic term (fall, spring or summer)
  • Full or part-time intern must work a minimum of 10 hours per week
  • Intern must work at least 10 weeks during spring or fall term, or 8 weeks in summer
  • Requires continuous supervision by a professional in the field (not a student)
  • Student must have earned at least 12 semester hours of UI coursework
  • Must be in good academic standing (if below good academic standing, academic advisor approval is needed)

History faculty advisors must receive a letter or email from the internship sponsor at the outset (outlining hours and duties) and a confirmation of completion at semester’s end.  

Students may choose to have their internship notated on their transcript by simultaneously taking a zero-credit hour class the Career Center in which they “expand on their internship experiences by reflecting on their experience during a midterm evaluation.” The student must register for this class prior to the internship state date. If the student does not take the zero-credit hour class, the Internship will appear on the transcript simply as HIST:3101:0IND.

Internship opportunities

UI undergraduates have completed a wide variety of history-related internships, near Iowa City and further afield.  Most of these are unpaid, as is appropriate for HIST 3101:0IND; for paid internships please work through the Pomerantz Career Center.

In addition to the list below, you might think about creating your own project, for example by contacting a business or community organization (in Iowa City, or in your home town) to see whether they might be interested in having you research or write their history. For example, one UI history major currently is doing research on a historic building in downtown Iowa City.

In or near Iowa City

  • Iowa Women's Archives, University of Iowa Main Library, Third Floor.  The IWA provides internships for students interested in Iowa and Women’s History to help arrange and organize archival materials.
  • University of Iowa Natural History Museum, Iowa City Pentacrest
  • Old Capitol Museum, Iowa City Pentacrest
  • State Historical Society of Iowa, Special Collections, 402 Iowa Ave, Iowa City  (335-3916).  Interns may be needed to help organize, describe, preserve, or transcribe archival materials, among other projects. Check hours before you stop by.
  • Herbert Hoover Presidential Library and Museum (West Branch, IA). The oldest of the nation’s presidential libraries, the Hoover Library is only a few miles from Iowa City and offers a range of internships in archival work and public education. Many UI history majors have had terrific experiences interning there.
  • The Johnson County Historical Society (Iowa River Landing area, Coralville) often has openings for interns to help process archival collections, organize exhibits, transcribe oral histories, and engage with visitors.
  • Historic Iowa State Penitentiary Project. History majors may be able to assist in preserving and cataloguing 150 years of photographic records from the Iowa State Penitentiary in Fort Madison, which closed in 2014. Contact Mark-Fullenkamp@uiowa.edu.
  • The University of Iowa Center for Human Rights encourages students to explore human rights internship opportunities in Iowa and around the world. Its internship programs for undergraduates (includes testimonials from recent interns)

In Iowa

  • African American History Museum of Iowa, Cedar Rapids
  • Des Moines County Historical Society, Burlington. Internships include training in proper handling of historical artifacts and documents.  Contact Lindsey Schier at lindseys@dmchs.org for more information.
  • The Des Moines Internship program, run by UI's Department of Political Science, gives undergraduate students the opportunity to live in Des Moines for a full semester or summer while interning in one of many positions in the business, non-profit, and government sectors.
  • National Czech and Slovak Museum & Library, Cedar Rapids
  • The Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs (the State agency responsible for the State Historical Society and the State Historical Museum) offers a number of internships at the State Historical Society in Des Moines and other sites.  See the DCA internship page for details and latest postings.

Outside of Iowa

  • Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum, Springfield, IL. The ALPLM internship program is open to qualified college students, recent graduates or graduate students. Interns from all majors and interests are encouraged to apply.  Interviews will be conducted for all positions.
  • Illinois Holocaust Museum & Education Center (Skokie, IL). Interns help the Illinois Holocaust Museum and Education Center fulfill our mission of promoting human rights and working against genocide. Interns work with the exhibition, preservation and interpretation of Museum collections, and assist with educational programs and fundraisers.
  • Jewish Women's Archive (Brookline, MA) offers ongoing opportunities for interns, with projects such as: researching and writing historical content for an award-winning web site, creating and distributing press releases, planning events, and assisting with fundraising.
  • National Park Service The NPS runs many internship programs; those of interest to history majors include the Historic Preservation Internship Training Program and the Historic Sites and Structures Documentation Internships.
  • Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum, Cleveland, OH. Internships in many areas, including Library and Archives; Museum Collections.
  • The Smithsonian Museum in Washington D.C. runs numerous internship programs, some of them of interest to historians.
  • The Washington Center is a Washington D.C. Internship Program sponsored by UI’s Career Center. Some of the opportunities may be of interest to history majors, whether for departmental credit or for credit through the Career Center.

University resources

Undergraduate research

Gain hands-on experience by participating in the research and creative discovery of faculty and staff.


Build on-the-job experience while connecting and networking with professionals in your field.

Study abroad

Enhance your degree, stand out to employers, shape your own perspective, and transform into a global citizen.

Community-engaged courses

Apply your academic skills and knowledge to help community partners solve real-world problems.