Experiential Learning

Find professional experiences and applied learning opportunities.

Full-time and part-time internships, fellowships, applied coursework and client-driven research projects provide opportunities to explore practical applications of topics discussed in class, and allow students to build professional skill sets while exploring career pathways.

Summer and IAP

Summer vacation and winter Independent Activities Period (IAP) provide time when students have extended break from classes and the flexibility to try something new. Students use this time in many different ways, and many choose to take on internships or applied research projects, in the US and abroad.

Explore the Jobs & Internships section to search for opportunities, and the Funding Opportunities section for resources on financial support such as the MIT International Science and Technology Initiative (MISTI), which helps to place students with known partners and funding sources to gain experience internationally, and the DUSP-PKG Summer Fellowship Program - cosponsored by DUSP and the MIT Priscilla King Gray Public Service Center (PKG Center) - to provide fellowships to support students working with government or non-profit organizations who might not otherwise be able to host an intern.

Academic Year Internships

Many students elect to do part-time off-campus internships throughout the academic year. DUSPConnect maintains listings of local public, private, and non-profit organizations interested in hosting DUSP interns throughout the semester.

Interested in hosting DUSP interns? Contact careers@mit.edu

​Planning in Practice

As the department's official off-campus internship program and academic course, Planning in Practice is offered to students with part-time fall or spring term internships, as well as full-time IAP and summer internships, that advance their academic goals. Through this program they receive course credit and a fellowship stipend. The accompanying academic course is a professional development course rooted in experiential learning and reflection, aimed at enhancing students' understanding of the planning profession through a combination of internship, reflection assignments, and in-class discussions.

Applied Coursework and Research

Internships are not the only way to gain professional experiences while at DUSP. Numerous courses, including those that fulfill the practica requirement, work with professional and community partners to ground academic experience and produce applied and impactful deliverables.  Students also have the opportunity to work with established organizations or alumni to conduct thesis research.

Client-Based Thesis

Many students work with a client, conducting thesis research that meets a demonstrated need, and producing client-facing deliverables. As a core component of the DUSP experience, the thesis can take on many forms - from the more traditional piece of academic research, to applied professional-oriented reports or proposals.

The client-based thesis focuses on addressing a professional planning problem with an outside client/sponsor organization. For this type of thesis, the topic definition, planning approach and methods are often developed in the context of a client-focused planning issue or problem rather than being based on a student-defined research question. Consequently, the methods used and thesis format will more closely resemble a professional report than a research-based thesis.

DC Summer Internship Program

The MIT Washington Summer Internship Program lets undergraduates of any major apply their knowledge and problem-solving skills at the highest levels of government. Students participate in the dynamic interplay between science, technology, and US public policy, though hands-on, research-oriented summer work at agencies, advocacy groups, corporations, and legislative and executive offices.


Offered through MIT CAPD, the Micro-internship Program is a short-term opportunity over IAP designed to connect students with alumni mentors in a professional context. Micro-internships can lead to summer internships, full-time employment, and meaningful student-alumni connections.