'A culmination of the coursework'

The internship is a culmination of the core coursework and gives students a chance to see how the skills from these classes apply in a real world context. It also gives students the opportunity to gain exposure to different parts of the policy field and helps them prepare for their eventual job search. Vivian Luo PPPS ’19 lobbied for reproductive health on behalf of a reproductive rights coalition.

Internship FAQs

The core courses teach the skills and critical thinking necessary to gain the most from the internship experience.

The following courses must be completed prior to starting your internship:

  • PUBPOL 155D Introduction to Policy Analysis
  • STA 199L Introduction to Data Science and Statistical Thinking -- ECON 104 may substitute for STA 199L.
  • PUBPOL 301 Political Analysis for Public Policy OR 
    PUBPOL 302 Policy Choice as Value Conflict (GLHLTH 210 may substitute for PUBPOL 302)

This course requirement allows you to complete your internship in the summer after either your sophomore or junior year.  Majors must complete their sophomore year prior to the internship. We still encourage you to take as many public policy core courses before the internship, as you will be a stronger internship applicant.

Please see the Undergraduate Handbook for details.

Timing is everything so START EARLY!

If you plan to do the internship after your sophomore year, we highly recommend that you declare by Fall break of your sophomore year.  

If you wait until February to declare and connect with internship staff, it will be too late to keep key applications in.  Many internship applications are due March 1st or even earlier

Internships do NOT count retroactively:

  1. All internships must be approved by our Careers Services staff.  
  2. You must complete PUBPOL 155D, STA 199L, and PUBPOL 301 or 302 BEFORE any internship hours will count towards the PUBPOL internship requirement.
  3. You must complete your sophomore year prior to the internship.

Step 1: Declare the major.

Step 2: Respond to the Internship TA who will email you within two weeks of your major declaration.

Step 3: Complete your profile in Handshake so you can receive internship alerts that are relevant and info session announcements to learn more about internships and careers in person or via zoom sessions.

Step 4: Once you and your TA refine your resume and they say it is ready, make an appointment in Handshake with either Elise or Suzanne V. to talk about internship ideas and start making your google doc to track application deadlines, ect.

It doesn't matter if it is a publicly or privately-funded enterprise or if it is paid or unpaid.  The important thing is that there is a clear public policy relevant activity and content in the internship.

For example, an internship would qualify if a student was looking at alternative energy sources and dealing with government regulation of environmental policy for a non-profit organization or an Internet start-up. But, it would not qualify if the student worked in consulting, investment banking or marketing.

Duke offers a number of policy-related internship programs that also satisfy the internship requirements. Examples of these programs include the Hart Leadership Program, the Stanback Internship Program, Duke Engage Internships, etc.

It is the substance of the work that matters most.

Finance-related internships do not count for the PUBPOL internship requirement unless they are with a government agency or non-profit/NGO or are in the Government Relations unit of a private company.

So, if you want to pursue a finance internship after your junior year, you should aim to complete your PUBPOL internship after your sophomore year.

According to Professor Emma Rasiel (ECON 256), it doesn't matter what your internship after the sophomore year is focused on. Whether or not it is related to finance will have no bearing on your chances for a finance-related internship after junior year. 

Internships with a .org, .edu, .mil, or .gov will count for the requirement.  

The only private sector internships that will count are in the Government Affairs offices of private corporations or political/campaign communications firms.

There must be an analytical, research, evaluative, or policy-related focus to all internship.

Example: Pure community service like tutoring refugees will not count but if you conduct an evaluation of the tutoring program in addition to doing some tutoring, that might count.

If you receive financial aid from Duke, you can apply to our office for support.

  • A $3,000-$5,000 stipend is awarded based on the cost of living index.
  • Duke limits the total amount they can provide in a summer to $5,000, so double-dipping above that amount is not allowed.
  • You will need to complete a short funding application in Handshake.
  • Application deadline: February 1st at 11:59 PM
  • You can apply for funding even if you haven't accepted an internship.
  • Transferable skills to use in the future
  • Deliverables to talk about in future job interviews
  • A growing professional network, a chance to practice doing informational interviews
  • Opportunities for being mentored by people in areas of your professional interest
  • Experience in an office setting, working on a team, etc.
  • A chance to learn about work environments and what roles you do and don't like

Success in D.C.

"My favorite part of my internship was working with Senator Udall’s staff on the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs on the hearing regarding the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act, legislation that greatly impacts my Navajo tribe ." — Shandiin Herrera PPS'19 Udall Native American Congressional Intern

Read more about Shandiin Herrera


  • US Department of State
  • US Agency for International Development
  • The White House
  • International Union for Conservation of Nature
  • WGBH TV/Radio
  • Asia Society
  • National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism
  • Brady Campaign To Prevent Gun Violence

Full lists of past internships

Look at complete lists of past internships in Handshake in order to find places where Duke already has employer and/or alumni connections. 


Valuable Assistance

“The Career Services staff walked me through every part of the internship search and remained advisors and mentors to me through my time at Duke." - Amulya Vadapalli, PPS'19