Below are some of the most frequent questions about IIP and i3.  If your question is not answered here, contact .


  • Who can apply?
  • IIP is open to degree-seeking students, both domestic and international, at the University of Pennsylvania. Current Penn freshmen, sophomores, juniors and first-year graduate students are eligible.

    Students are not eligible to apply to a placement in their home country.

    Note: If you are an exchange student, a senior or graduate student graduating in May or August, or a non degree-seeking student, you are not eligible for internships through IIP. This program is only open to Penn students.

  • Can I study abroad and do IIP?
  • With careful planning, students can extend their time abroad by doing an IIP internship the summer before or after a semester or year abroad. 

    Students that choose to study abroad in the same country they intern in may also be eligible for a Boren scholarship.  See the Penn Abroad scholarships page for more information.

  • Do I have to speak a language besides English?
  • It depends on the placement.  Any placement that requires a language other than English will list it in the placement description.  Some placements do have a language requirement because the office or the nature of the work requires that language to function.   If the placement requires a specific level of fluency, be honest in your assessment of your abilities. 

    Some placements recommend an additional language.  In this case, that language is not required, but it would greatly help with your work and would make your application more competitive.  Most placements do not have a language requirement, so if you don’t speak an additional language you can still apply.  That said, even if the placement has no language requirement, speaking another language may still help you in your work and make daily life in the community easier.

  • I participated in IIP previously. Can I apply for another internship?
  • If you have previously participated in IIP, you are not eligible to apply for IIP again.  If you were offered an internsip previously, and declined the offer before the acceptance deadline, you are eligible to re-apply.  Previous IIP interns are eligible to apply for independent placements through i3.

    Please take into consideration that if you declined the internship offer after the acceptance deadline, you will not be eligible to re-apply for IIP.

  • What is i3? How does it differ from IIP?
  • Independent International Internship Program (i3) is a subprogram in IIP.  For this program, students find their own international internship and apply for funding from IIP.  i3 participants have the same orientations, insurance, and obligations as other IIP participants.  For more information about the types of internships given priority consideration in i3, visit the Independent Placements page.

  • Can I apply to both IIP and i3?
  • Yes, you can apply to both IIP and I3, but please be aware that if you are offered an IIP placement, you will be expected to withdraw your i3 application.

  • I opened an application, but have decided not to apply. What should I do?
  • If you decide not to apply, we appreciate that you withdraw your application.  To withdraw your application:

    1.     Click on the red “Apply Now!” button on the IIP homepage or on the right side of this page.  Log in with your PennKey.

    2.     On your homepage will be a list of your applications.  Click the blue “withdraw” button.

The Application Process

  • Where can I learn more about IIP?
  • Come to an Information Session! Dates, times and the location are located on our website. We will discuss the program and give tips on the application and interview process.  Past participants may also attend and can give you more insight into their placement and IIP experience. If you have additional questions, please email the program manager.  Please note that there are no individual advising appointments for IIP.

  • Where can I find the application?
  • Once the application has opened in late fall, you can start an application online. Please read all the application instructions carefully.  The application, including the recommendation, is submitted entirely online.

  • Who can write a recommendation for me?
  • The IIP application requires one recommendation which can be submitted digitally through the online application. It must be from a Penn professor who has graded you or from an employer or professional reference of your choice.

    • Recommenders will be asked to vouch for your character as well as your academic and professional caliber, so choose recommenders who know you well.
    • If you would like to have a TA write a recommendation for you, you will need to have the Professor grading the class complete the recommendation form, but the TA can provide input and a letter of support.
    • You may also have an advisor write you a recommendation.
  • I want to know more about the placement. Who can I talk to?
  • Contact a past participant.  Everyone listed on our website has volunteered to be there and answer your questions.  They are your best resource for information about the organization and the location.  Even if your placement has no past participants listed, someone who has lived in the same area can likely provide you with excellent advice about housing, visas, and airfare.  IIP applicants may not contact the host organization directly until after they have been accepted.

  • What does the review committee look for in candidates?
  • Strong candidates will be able to meet two or more of the following criteria:

    • Coursework relevant to work in international development
    • Personal or professional experiences in demanding circumstances
    • Work and/or travel time spent abroad
    • Foreign language proficiency
    • Ability to work independently
    • Flexibility, adaptability and resourcefulness
    • Professionalism, reliability, and attention to detail
    • A willingness and desire to go out of your comfort zone!
  • I’m interested in applying to the International Think Tanks. How many can I apply for?
  • International Think Tanks is counted as one placement, so you write one International Think Tank cover letter to go along with your one International Think Tank placement choice.  Remember that the IIP application lets you apply to up to two placements, meaning that you can apply to International Think Tanks and an additional non-Think Tank placement.

    In order to be considered eligible for a Think Tank placement, you must have a public policy research background or have been affiliated with Think Tank program.  You must also speak the language of the Think Tank placement country.

Internship Placements

  • What kind of internship will be best for me?
  • We recommend that you choose an internship that is related to your major or a personal passion or interest, such as communications or marketing, healthcare, education, or international development. If you are studying a foreign language, consider a summer internship requiring you to work in that language. Think about what you want to get out of an internship, what you are willing to put into it, and whether you have the language skills to work day-to-day in another language.

    All IIP internships are outside of the U.S., so you must be comfortable being away from home, and in many cases without modern conveniences such as air conditioning and western toilets.  We will do our best to prepare you for the personal and professional challenges you are likely to encounter while living and working in another country, but expect to be surprised!

  • Will I be doing office work as an intern?
  • IIP offers a wide variety of internships. Some IIP placements require office work, while others require hands-on work at field sites, schools, or clinics. Your internship may require a certain degree of clerical work, but a lot depends on the needs of the host organization, as well as your personal strengths. Be sure that your resume mentions your specific skills, experience, and interests, such as foreign language ability, experience planning and coordinating events for a student club, and computer skills.

  • How long are the internships?
  • IIP internships are at least 8 weeks and up to 12 weeks in duration.  Depending on the host organization’s needs, your internship start and end dates may vary.

Preparing and Going Abroad

  • What do I need to know about my passport?
  • If you don’t have a passport yet, you should apply for a passport now.  All IIP interns will need a valid passport for travel abroad and back to the US. If you are a non-U.S. citizen, you will also need to be certain that you have a valid U.S. visa or other authorization for re-entry into the US.  (Visit ISSS with specific questions).

    Double-check to make certain that your travel documents are in order, and that they will not expire within six months of your return date.

  • How do I get my visa?
  • You are responsible for securing your own visa, if needed, prior to departure.  Please find out as soon as possible whether you will need a visa for travel associated with your internship. The State Department website may be helpful for US citizens and non-US citizens.

    The time it will take to secure your visa will vary by country, so start your visa application early.  Not all visas are the same. Many countries issue different types of visas for tourism, work, study or business. Each Penn IIP intern is responsible for finding out if s/he needs a visa, and if so, what kind of visa is required for his/her position. Penn Abroad can provide a letter or other documentation of your internship if that is needed for your visa application, but cannot obtain a visa for you.

    For help with your visa, you can visit CIBT’s website. For a fee, CIBT will help you figure out what visa you will need.

  • Am I covered by insurance while I’m abroad?
  • International SOS (ISOS), Penn’s Travel Assistance Provider, is made available to all Penn students, staff and faculty who are traveling abroad. It is an invaluable resource providing safety, health, visa, travel and cultural information specific to your region of travel. It also provides emergency assistance in case of crisis. 

    All IIP students will receive an ISOS membership card with Penn’s member number.  You may also print a copy of Penn's ISOS card yourself.  In addition, ISOS counts as medical travel insurance. Interns should check with their personal insurance provider to see if they cover international health insurance and MUST maintain their personal health insurance even while abroad. Interns must also check to see if the country they are going to requires any additional, separate insurance.

  • How do I get housing abroad?
  • Some placements provide housing on-site, while others do not.  If your placement does not offer housing, you are responsible for finding your own accommodations.  Your host organization will have in-country knowledge regarding safe neighborhoods, home-stays, short-term sublets, or hotels/hostels; however, it is ultimately your responsibility to secure and pay for your housing. Past participants are a great resource.

  • Do I have any obligations to Penn Abroad after I return?
  • Each IIP intern is required to complete the following at the conclusion of his/her Internship:  

    • Online survey to evaluate your internship experience. This will be solicited from you in the fall after you return.
    • A summary report of the work you performed during your internship. 
    • Attend the fall re-entry debriefing at Penn to share your experiences, outcomes, and give feedback on the program overall.
    • Volunteer at info sessions for future IIP/i3 students.

Finances & Academic Credit

  • Is the internship paid? Is there an award?
  • IIP placements are unpaid.  However, all students accepted to IIP will receive an award stipend to help offset the cost of this unpaid internship. Stipend money can be applied to your professional expenses, including: international airfare, housing, food, transportation to and from work, and visa fees. These awards are not intended to cover all costs. On average, the award covers up to about 75%, give or take, of your expenses and any costs above the award amount must be covered by the student.  We recommend that you talk to past participants about in-country costs and budgeting for your internship. It is more than likely that you will be paying for some of your internship out of your own pocket. No additional funding will be given other than the award amount you receive.

    Find out more about the award on our About page.

  • Can I receive academic credit for my internship?
  • Penn does not award academic credit for summer internships; however you may want to consider doing an independent study on a topic related to your internship after you return.  Try reaching out to a faculty member in a related department to see if they will sponsor your independent study, and visit the department website to view their independent study policy.

  • Can I use my financial aid for IIP?
  • IIP is a non-credit program, so you cannot use your financial aid to fund your participation.  However, all students participation in IIP will reveice a stipend to offset the costs of interning abroad. Additionally, IIP interns receiving financial aid, but expected to contribute summer wages towards their tuition costs, may be eligible to receive a waiver for the summer contribution.

    Visit our About page for more information on the IIP stipend and summer contribution waivers.

2017 Application Timeline

The application is now open.

Application Close: January 24, 2017 at 11:59PM

Decision Date: Mid March, 2017

Contact Us

Penn Abroad Office
3701 Chestnut Street, Suite 1W
Philadelphia, PA 19104

Phone: 215-898-9073
Fax: 215-898-2622