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Departments & Programs


The Earth Systems Internship

The Earth Systems Internship/Research requirement is a 9 unit (270 hour) supervised field, laboratory, or private sector project. The internship may consist of 1) directed research under the direct supervision of a Stanford faculty member, 2) participation in one of several off campus Stanford programs, or 3) an approved non-Stanford program relevant to the student’s interdisciplinary Earth Systems studies. The Internship is required of (and restricted to) all declared majors. It is commonly undertaken between the Junior and Senior years.

It is each student’s obligation to find an academically rigorous project relevant to his or her course of study. There are abundant resources in the Earth Systems office to help with this process.

  • Please start by meeting with and reviewing relevant emails from Kristin Tewksbury. ES Student Advisors can also share tips on how they secured internships. 
  • To initiate the internship a student must submit a brief written proposal to Julie Kennedy, Kevin Arrigo, or Katie Phillips and meet to discuss the proposed work (see proposal details below). 
  • An internship or research project must be approved by Julie, Kevin, or Katie to meet the ES requirement. 

Some examples of prior ES internships include supervised independent research; policy analysis with local, state or federal government departments; environmental consulting; and curriculum development in environmental education. Please note: advocacy or lobbying work, public surveys, canvassing, trail maintenance, or work as a laboratory technician or office assistant cannot be used to meet the ES internship requirement.

Internship Approval
In order to get approval from Julie, Kevin, or Katie for an internship, please schedule an appointment with one of them and submit a written proposal describing the work you will be doing. Include the following in your brief (1- 2 paragraph) proposal:
1. The problem or question you will investigate and its relevance to Earth Systems areas of concern, especially your track
2. Your particular role in the asking and answering of the question
3. The name of your mentor and background information about the group with whom you will work
4. The methods you will use for your analysis

The work must be academically rigorous, mentored by someone who is qualified to lend expertise when needed, interdisciplinary in perspective, and engage you in multiple aspects of the project (the formation of the research question, the identification and use of appropriate methods, the collection and analysis of data, and an interdisciplinary analysis/discussion of the results you interpret from the work).  

Assignments: The Internship Paper, Supervisor, and Student Evaluations
Upon completion of the internship or research work, each student must submit a 15-page paper. This technical paper (i.e. written by an expert for other experts in the field) should include the following elements: clear introduction to the motivation for the work (premise and hypothesis statements; policy question analyzed, etc.); discussion of tasks or contributions if part of a group effort; concise explanation of research methods; thorough and technical presentation of data; discussion of results; and conclusions.

The paper must be submitted to Kristin Tewksbury (electronically and hard copy) and to the internship supervisor before the end of the quarter following the internship. Formal review of the paper, with comments for revision, will come from Julie, Kevin, or Katie (and from the internship supervisor if appropriate).

A letter of evaluation from the internship supervisor MUST be requested by the student during the internship and submitted to Kristin Tewksbury at the end of the internship. Please use the Earth Systems Internship Supervisor Evaluation Form when requesting an evaluation from your supervisor. The Student Internship Evaluation Form is also due at the end of the internship. The forms are also available in the Earth Systems office (Y2E2, 131).

Supervisor and Student Evaluations can be mailed, faxed, emailed, or delivered in person to:
Kristin Tewksbury
Earth Systems Program
Y2E2, Rm. 127
473 Via Ortega
Stanford, CA 94305-4215
Fax: 650.725.0958

To earn internship credit on your record, please enroll in EARTHSYS 260 for 9 units. If you choose to do so, you can enroll in these units by distributing them over multiple quarters. All internships and research projects will carry a mandatory S/NC grade option. Assignment of the “S” grade will be based on the acceptance of the internship paper and the completed evaluations. You will not receive an internship grade until all internship components have been completed: approved initial proposal, final paper, supervisor and self evaluations.  An “N” grade will be assigned to your internship units until then (the “N” grade at Stanford designates a work in progress).  


For more information, view the 2012-13 Internship Informational Presentation.  Contact Kristin Tewksbury at with further questions.