What is Experiential Learning?

What is Experiential Learning?

Experiential learning is an engaged learning process whereby students "learn by doing" and by reflecting on the experience. Experiential learning activities can include, but are not limited to, hands-on laboratory experiments, internships, practicums, field exercises, study abroad, undergraduate research and studio performances.


An internship is a three-way contract between the department, the sponsoring entity and the student. The department oversees the awarding of credit for appropriate and documented experiences in professional settings related to our fields. The sponsor agrees to provide the student with a meaningful experience and to evaluate the student's participation. It is the student's responsibility to make all arrangements and to provide accurate records of the on-site experience.

Internship Guidelines and Approval Form


  • Only current majors in Cinematic Arts can register for internship credit.
  • Credit can only be awarded to internships that are arranged in advance. There are no retroactive internships. This means that students must register for internships during the session in which they will be completing the internship. All University registration deadlines apply. Internships are graded S/U.
  • A student may earn up to 6 hours of Cinematic Arts internship credit. Only 3 hours of internship credit will count within the 33 hour minimum for the Cinematic Arts majors.
  • The amount of credit varies with the amount of contact: 80 hours of documented contact per hour of credit. Documentation will be in the form of a letter, from the sponsor to the department, that both evaluates the student's performance and certifies the amount of contact.
  • Before registration can be approved, the student must file with the department two documents: (1) a letter from the sponsor accepting the student and outlining the nature of the internship (duties, observation of workplace processes, expected contact hours); and (2) a schedule detailing the where and when of the experience.
  • Internships must be approved by both the head of FVP or Film Studies (as relevant to the position) and the Director of Undergraduate Studies before registering for the internship.
  • The student must also submit to the department a short narrative report evaluating the internship experience before the credit can be awarded. This report and the sponsor's letter of certification will be assessed by a faculty member in the internship area (Production or Film Studies) before credit can be awarded.  These documents will be kept in the student's file.

NOTE: Zero-credit internships can be arranged through the Careers Center, and may appeal to some students because there is no tuition fee and the student is qualified as full-time status for insurance purposes.

University Resources

The University of Iowa provides general information concerning research, internships, studying abroad and experiential learning. For more information about these learning opportunities, please visit the following links:

Undergraduate Researchhttps://research.uiowa.edu/researchers/student-research/undergraduate-student-research
Internships: https://careers.uiowa.edu/internships/finding-your-internship 
Study Abroad: https://international.uiowa.edu/study-abroad 
Experiential Learning: https://careers.uiowa.edu/career-communities
Engaged Learning: https://engagement.uiowa.edu/students