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. Including an experiential learning component to your college career may help you to:

  • Take an in-depth look at a chosen historical topic
  • Build upon classroom knowledge, travel, and see history in the world
  • Gain professional experience in your chosen field, or explore something different

Undergraduate students of history may explore experiential learning through several avenues, including:

Resources for Experiential Learning

The Department of History 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 a 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.

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).

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 to see whether they might be interested in having you research or write their history.

In or near Iowa City

Iowa Women's Archives

University of Iowa Natural History Museum

Old Capitol Museum

State Historical Society of Iowa

Herbert Hoover Presidential Library and Museum 

The Johnson County Historical Society 

Historic Iowa State Penitentiary Project. Contact Mark-Fullenkamp@uiowa.edu.

The University of Iowa Center for Human Rights 

In Iowa

African American History Museum of Iowa, Cedar Rapids

Des Moines County Historical Society, Burlington

The Des Moines Internship program

National Czech and Slovak Museum & Library, Cedar Rapids

State Historical Society of Iowa, Des Moines, varied

Outside of Iowa

Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum, Springfield, IL

Illinois Holocaust Museum & Education Center, Skokie, IL

Jewish Women's Archive, Brookline, MA

National Park Service, nation-wide

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum, Cleveland, OH. 

The Smithsonian Museum, Washington D.C

The Washington Center, Washington D.C. 

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.