Follow McCombs’ lead and make summer internship courses free

James Treuthardt

It costs $2,304 for students to take a summer internship course at the Moody College of Communication. If you are an out-of-state student it costs $8,150 — more than three times what an in-state student would pay. However, at the McCombs School of Business it costs $0 to take a summer internship course.

According to Heidi Toprac, director of the BBA internship program, McCombs has not charged students to take summer internships in over 15 years. All UT colleges should adopt McCombs’ policy in order to ensure students can receive summer internship credit without unnecessary and unfair spending. 

McCombs has a fairly simple process for how students earn summer internship credit. A student registers for the summer internship course and takes it in the summer, but instead of charging a student summer tuition, fees gets deferred to the fall. The summer internship course will show up on a McCombs students’ fall schedule, but they will have already completed it before the semester begins. Therefore, for any full-time students, the summer internship does not cost any extra money, because it gets included in full-time tuition. 

“Imagine if you had to pay money for an unpaid internship,” Toprac said. “That would be a significant disadvantage to the student financially.”

Unfortunately, that’s a reality for many students outside of McCombs. In the Moody College of Communication, for example, advertising students are required to take an internship to graduate, but McCombs’ policy does not extend to Moody students. According to Kathleen Mabley, director of marketing and communications for Moody College, the policy says that students register for the internship in the term they are taking it. As a result, if an advertising student wants to take an internship during the less demanding summer months, they have to pay thousands of dollars. This isn’t limited to communication studies. Students in multiple colleges have to pay high summer tuition costs to receive internship credit.

Toprac believes that McCombs’ internship policy differs from other colleges because McCombs requires an internship to graduate. However, that’s not exactly true. While students are required to have an internship credit to graduate, there are alternate courses that can fill that requirement such as accounting practicum. McCombs strongly encourages students to do a professional internship, but it is not mandatory. 

McCombs and other colleges are similar in approaching internships. In Moody, journalism majors can use an internship course to graduate or take the Reporting Texas course. However, by allowing students to circumvent summer tuition, McCombs makes valuable internships far more accessible to all students.

For low-income students in particular, not removing these barriers hinders their ability to complete internships. Unpaid internships are already a barrier for low-income students because they have to cover all costs associated with their job. They have to pay for transportation, food and, if they want to intern far from home, housing. Making them pay more in tuition to not get paid reduces their likelihood to sign up for an internship even more. 

Internships are a major predictor of students’ employment six months after graduation, according to the National Association of Colleges and Employers. Colleges outside of McCombs need to work to ensure internships are more accessible and affordable for all students during a time period when they are most likely to pursue it. If McCombs can do this for their students, other colleges should strive to follow suit.  

Treuthardt is a journalism and marketing junior from Allen, Texas.