Fieldwork and Off-Campus Internship Guidelines
What is Fieldwork?
Students in the Electrical Engineering Department (includes both Electrical and Computer Engineering students) have often been attracted to off-campus part-time internships during the academic year (max of 20 hours/week) and full-time internships during the summer (MINIMUM OF 8 WEEKS). The Electrical Engineering Department offers students the opportunity to participate in internships and receive academic credit pending review and approval by the faculty. To receive academic credit, the internship must provide students with an experience that is relevant and complementary to their Master's course curriculum. If the internship meets this requirement, the student may be eligible to receive academic credit at the department’s discretion. The Career Placement Officer reviews and approves all applications and assigns students to one of the sections of the Fieldwork course (several faculty members from the Electrical Engineering Department oversee the course).
What is Fieldwork for ELEN E6999?
ELEN E6999 is a fieldwork course open to MS students in the Electrical Engineering Department. ELEN E6999 gives students the opportunity to receive academic credit for their internship provided it is directly relevant to the EE/CE curriculum and approved by the department. After receiving approval from the department, international students must then submit an application to ISSO to receive authorization for employment. Please see F-1 CPT (Curricular Practical Training) for application requirements and instructions.
What is Fieldwork for ELEN E3990?
ELEN E3990 is a fieldwork course open to BS students in the Electrical Engineering Department. ELEN E3990 gives students the opportunity to receive academic credit for their internship provided it is directly relevant to the EE/CE curriculum and approved by the department. International students must submit an application to ISSO to receive authorization for employment in order to qualify for an internship and receive academic credit. Please see F-1 CPT (Curricular Practical Training) for application requirements and instructions.
Fieldwork has multiple sections. Which section should I register for?
You must first submit your internship request application (see Internship for Academic Credit) to Jennifer Lee, Career Placement Officer. She or Elsa Sanchez, Director of Student Affairs, will then provide you with the course section call number if your application is approved.
Who is eligible to take the Fieldwork course?
All MS students are eligible to register for ELEN E6999 and BS students are eligible to register for ELEN E3990. If you are a U.S. citizen or a permanent resident, you are eligible to register for the Fieldwork course as soon as you are enrolled in the MS program. If you are a J-1 visa holder, you can register for the Fieldwork course after you have completed one semester. If you are a F-1 visa holder, you must complete one full academic year (nine months) before you can register for the Fieldwork course. Interns should not supervise regular employees or other interns.
Can I take this course P/F?
No, you must take this course for a letter grade.
When is the Fieldwork course offered?
It is offered every semester and during the summer.
I read that the Fieldwork course ELEN E6999 will satisfy my program requirement. How does that work?
Since ELEN E6999 is a 6000-level course, it will count as your general elective or a waiver replacement. Since this is a one-credit course, most students take it as an extra course instead of trying to fit it into the program plan.
Fieldwork for Academic Credit
As mentioned above, the student must submit the Fieldwork Internship request form to Jennifer Lee, Career Placement Officer. To receive approval/academic credit for the internship, it must be relevant and complementary to your Master's course curriculum. A typical internship can be approved for 1.0 or 1.5 credits per fieldwork course per term (there is no 0.5 credit option. In the Electrical Engineering Department). The total number of credits for Curricular Practical Training (CPT), which count towards the EE MS degree, can not exceed 2.0. If a student takes a 1.5 credit CPT course, any additional CPT course credits would not count towards the 30 credits for the MS EE degree. If a student is taking CPT credit during a particular semester (other than the summer), he/she must be taking a class during that semester as well. Students must follow the rules specified by the ISSO and F-1 CPT (Curricular Practical Training).
When submitting the internship request form, you must provide an official written job or internship offer letter from the employer stating the terms of employment. The letter must:
- be on official company letterhead;
- have a specific start date and a specific end date;
- include the location where your work will be performed
- include the number of hours per week you will work;
- include a description of your position duties; and
- be signed and dated by your employer.
I am an international student. How can I get a work authorization? How long does it take for it to be issued?
You can get a Curricular Practical Training work authorization if you meet the requirements as explained above. It takes up to 10 business days for ISSO to process the application once it has been approved by the Electrical Engineering Department.
I am an international student. What is the difference between Curricular Pratical Training (CPT) and Pre-Completion Optional Practical Training (OPT)?
I am an international student. How many hours can I work?
If you are an international student, the CPT work authorization requires you to work at least 100 hours during the semester in which you are on CPT (excluding exams week). You cannot, however, work more than 20 hours per week during the academic year, so please plan accordingly. During the summer, the 100-hour requirement still applies, but you can work more than 20 hours per week.
I am an international student and I received an unpaid internship and/or volunteering offer. Do I need to apply for CPT?
We strongly advise all students to visit and/contact ISSO regarding inquiries about unpaid internships and volunteering. To learn more about this topic you may also visit the ISSO webpage titles unpaid internships and volunteering.
What is the grade for the Fieldwork course based on?
You are required to write and submit a report detailing the work you performed at the end of your internship. The grade will be based on this report, which must be reviewed by your internship supervisor before it is submitted to the CPO/Student Affairs team. This is necessary to confirm the content of your work and to ensure that the report does not include any information the company does not wish to disclose.
In addition to submitting a report you will be required to have a Supervisor Evaluation filled out and submitted. The link will be emailed by the CPO/Student Affairs team to the Supervisor you provided in the application. You will be required to follow up with your employer to make sure this evaluation is submitted.
If you are an international student, please note that ISSO requires that a student must have received a grade from a prior Fieldwork course before they can apply again for CPT (e.g. student cannot apply for Fall CPT unless the grade for the summer Fieldwork course has been submitted). If you have any questions about this, please contact the CPO/Student Affairs team.
What happens if the company does not allow me to release some information about my project in my written report?
You can work with your supervisor to write a report that is acceptable to the company.
How closely aligned with my academic track does the internship need to be?
The internship must be related to your degree and must have educational value, and it must be approved by faculty in the Electrical Engineering Department in order to receive academic credit.
I am an international student and was unexpectedly let go from my internship. What can I do?
Fieldwork duration can be shortened but you cannot drop the course as that would mean that you had worked illegally in the U.S. You must contact your advisor/administrator at ISSO to resolve this issue as this would affect your legal working status.
I am an international MS student, received an offer to do a paid summer research position with Columbia University Faculty and will not be registering for research credits. Therefore do I need to apply to CPT?
If a student will be employed by Columbia then it would be considered on campus employment and they would not need CPT. If the work they would be doing was not paid by Columbia then the student would need to secure CPT authorization in advance.
CPT in the final semester of a student's program.
A student can only be authorized to enroll in a CPT course if it is accompanied by a semester long course. A student will not be allowed CPT if they are only registered in a block week or a session course.