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The Earth Systems Internship

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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. Students enroll in Earthsys 260 (1 unit) for the internship. 

The Internship is required of and restricted to all declared majors. It is commonly undertaken during the summer between the Junior and Senior years, but can be fulfilled year-round. 

The internship 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, Suki Hoagland as the Internship Director and student advisors, are great resources for finding an internship. Please watch your email for opportunities sent via the esmajors e-mail list. Students may schedule an appointment to meet with Suki Hoagland ( to discuss potential opportunities. Student Advisors are also available to 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. You may also visit our Internship Resources webpage. Internships may also be self-designed or found through other sources outside Stanford. All internships must be approved by the Internship Director, Suki Hoagland. 

Internship Approval

An Earth Systems internship project must be pre-approved by Suki Hoagland to meet the internship requirement. Once an internship is secured, submit the Internship Proposal and Request for Approval Form  via the Internship Database Webform found here: . You will also be asked to upload this to the Earthsys 260 Canvas course page.  

The proposal will be reviewed by the Internship Director. 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.

Enrollment in Earthsys 260

Students must enroll in Earthsys 260 for 1 unit. You may enroll in Earthsys 260 once your internship is approved during the academic year.  You do not need to enroll in this course at the same time you are completing your internship hours (i.e. summer quarter).

Assignments: Final Product, Supervisor and Self Evaluations

Upon completion of the internship, each student must submit a final product by the last day of classes during the quarter immediately following the internship the Earthsys 260 Canvas webpage. This could be a 15 page technical paper or a different kind of deliverable requiring pre-approval from Suki Hoagland (  Comments and final approval will come from Suki Hoagland.

If the student chooses the first option of a technical paper, the paper should be written for an expert audience, by an expert, ie, the intern.  Students who completed science research projects will most likely use a standard research paper format: introduction, methods, data and analysis, discussion including suggestions for future research and conclusions.

The second option for your final product is more flexible than a technical paper, while maintaining the same rigor and substance. The underlying purpose is to create a deliverable tailored to the sponsoring organization, which supports its mission and complements the intern's work. For this option, the assignment could be to write a different kind of paper. For example, a student who conducted policy research might write a brief or a white paper that reviews contending proposals for the issue under debate, analyzes the options, and recommends a new policy. For interns working in government agencies, a decision memo might be the most valuable contribution.  For some internship experiences, perhaps a paper is not the best way to give back to the sponsoring organization. For example, some organizations might benefit from a new website, the establishment of a social media presence, the creation of a blog, or a podcast. These are just some ideas. All students choosing the second option must get pre-approval from Suki Hoagland ( 

Supervisor and self evaluation forms are also due by the last day of classes of the quarter following the internship. Please provide your supervisor with the following form: Internship Supervisor Evaluation.  Self Evaluation Forms will be submitted via the Earthsys 260 Canvas course page. 


To earn academic credit for your internship, please enroll in EARTHSYS 260 under Suki Hoagland's section for 1 unit.

All internships will carry a mandatory S/NC grade option. Earning an “S” grade will be based on the acceptance of the internship final product and the completed evaluations. An “N” grade will be assigned to your internship course until all work is completed (the “N” grade at Stanford designates a "work in progress").  

You will receive an "S" grade once the following is completed and approved: