Sorry, you need to enable JavaScript to visit this website.

Skip to content Skip to navigation

The Earth Systems Internship

Finding an internship | Internship ApprovalAssignments/internship requirements | Grading

The Earth Systems internship requirement provides students with the opportunity to apply their interdisciplinary environmental problem-solving skills to a real-world project. Students are expected to choose a project that supports their Earth Systems academic interests – be that policy work, scientific field and/or lab research, environmental education, or work with a business or non-profit organization. Examples of previous internships include:

•    Policy analysis on climate change regulations through Stanford in Government
•    Scientific research conducted under a Stanford faculty member via the SESUR program
•    Self-designed project investigating the process for becoming a successful organic farmer through interviews and site visits
•    Development of environmental curriculum for K-12 students on plant reproduction
•    Research with a local solar power company on the ideal interval for washing solar panels to maintain maximum power generation.

The internship experience must consist of at least 270 hours of work in total. Starting in 2017/18, students enroll in 1 unit of academic credit (EARTHSYS 260) for the internship. (See the Grading section below for more details on registration).

The Internship is required of (and restricted to) all declared majors. It is commonly undertaken during the summer between the Junior and Senior years.

The internship projects must allow students to have either their own project or a piece of a larger project that they can “own” and apply their academic skills to during the period of the internship. For this reason, acting as a lab assistant, conducting trail maintenance, fund-raising, collecting signatures, etc. are not appropriate internship projects. 

Finding an Internship

Earth Systems staff and student advisors are great resources in finding an internship. Please watch your email for opportunities sent via the esmajors e-mail list, and meet with staff. Student Advisors can also share tips on how they secured internships.
Internships may be found through established Stanford programs such as SESUR, Stanford in Government, Stanford in Washington, Haas Center for Public Service Fellowships, the Bill Lane Center for the American West Fellowships, etc. Internships may also be self-designed or found through other sources outside Stanford. All internships must be approved by Earth Systems in order to count for the internship requirement.

If you need help finding an internship, or are unsure of whether or not an internship you are interested in will count for the requirement, please contact Earth Systems staff. We are here to help!

Back to top

Internship Approval

An internship project must be pre-approved by Earth Systems to meet the internship requirement. Once an internship is secured, submit the internship request for approval form to Kristin Tewksbury. The proposal will be reviewed by Earth Systems leadership. Criteria for approving an internship include relevance to Earth Systems; appropriateness of the internship project, organization, and mentor; and the potential for the student to have a significant learning opportunity through the internship.   

Back to top

Assignments: The Internship Paper, Supervisor and Self Evaluations

Upon completion of the internship, each student must submit a 15-page technical paper. The paper is due by the last day of classes during the quarter following the internship. The paper should be submitted to Kristin Tewksbury (electronically) and to the internship supervisor, if applicable. Formal review of the paper, with comments for revision, will come from Earth Systems leadership (and from the internship supervisor if appropriate).

The internship paper is meant to be a technical paper written for an expert audience by an expert (you) on your internship topic. Papers may take many forms depending on your internship topic, for example, students who have done science research projects will most likely use a standard research paper format: introduction, methods, data and analysis, discussion, conclusions. Students who have done a more policy-focused project may have a format that includes a review of current policies, what is and isn’t working with those policies and why, a presentation of literature review, interviews, and other research discussing new approaches, and, perhaps, a recommendation for a new policy that might work better. Students who have worked for a company or non-profit might use a format that includes background on their organization, its mission and goals; details on their particular project or research within that organization; and how that work fits into the organization itself and also a broader, environmental framework. These are just a few examples - your paper may take a completely different form or be a combination of those listed above. 

Supervisor and self evaluations are also due by the last day of classes of the quarter following the internship. Please use the Earth Systems Internship Supervisor and Self Evaluation Forms.

Internship papers, Supervisor and Self Evaluations must be submitted to:

Kristin Tewksbury
Y2E2, Rm. 127, 473 Via Ortega
Stanford, CA 94305-4215
Email:; Fax: 650.725.0958

Back to top


To earn academic credit for your internship, please enroll in EARTHSYS 260 under the instructor's section for 1 unit. You do not need to enroll in this unit during the summer while you are working on the internship.

All internships will carry a mandatory S/NC grade option. Assignment of the “S” grade will be based on the acceptance of the internship paper and the completed evaluations. An “N” grade will be assigned to your internship units until then (the “N” grade at Stanford designates a work in progress).  

You will not receive an internship grade until all internship components have been completed:

•    Approved initial proposal
•    Final paper approved
•    Supervisor and self evaluations submitted

Back to top