What’s the Difference Between Practicum Experiences, Internships, and Fellowships?
Practicums, internships, and fellowships bridge the gap between classroom learning and real-world experience. They provide a realistic sense of what a particular field of work actually looks like, offering the kind of training and experience that a classroom cannot. After completing any of these applied learning experiences, you’ll hopefully have a better idea of whether or not a career path is a good fit for you.
While both practicums and internships entail participating in off-campus work, they differ in their structure and involvement level. Fellowships, while in the same general category as internships and practicums, have some key differences.
What is an internship? What is a practicum? And what are the defining characteristics of a fellowship? Read on to find out.
What is a Practicum?
Practicums are structured learning experiences that many career fields require, like education and medicine. A practicum experience is generally hands-off. While a student may offer assistance to their supervisor, practicums emphasize shadowing and observation rather than active participation in a job.
For instance, a nursing major may complete their practicum experience, or clinical, in a local hospital. They may shadow a nurse and participate in less-involved duties, like filling out paperwork or preparing hospital rooms. Under supervision, they may also aid patients by taking vitals or administering medication. However, they do not have a defined role that they are expected to perform in. Because practicum experiences are largely hands-off, they’re usually unpaid.
What is an Internship?
Internships are hands-on learning experiences that students complete for academic credit. Most majors require students to complete an internship rather than a practicum. This is because internships allow students to actively apply to the workplace what they’ve learned in the classroom. Internships prioritize active participation, inviting students to complete legitimate projects for a company.
Unlike practicums, internships are less structured. An intern’s role and responsibilities depend on the nature of the job and company they intern for. Most students opt to work in person, but many companies offer remote internships as well. Internship pay is wide-ranging – some internships are unpaid, while others pay a livable wage.
What is a Fellowship?
Unlike practicums and internships, fellowships are designed for graduate and post-graduate students. Fellowships are merit-based academic programs offered to students, also known as “fellows,” who wish to continue specialized research in their field of study. Typically, students participate in fellowships to further research in areas of medicine, science, mathematics, and literature.
Unlike practicums and internships, which are required for academic credit, fellowships are not required to earn a degree. Rather, they provide a monetary means to pursue further education, gain expertise within a particular company, or complete a research project.
Fellowships are paid, but not through hourly wages like paid internships. Fellowship programs provide fellows with a stipend, a set sum of money that differs from program to program. Some stipends only cover the cost of living, while others include assets like insurance and travel opportunities.
Practicums, Internships, and Fellowships at Grace College
At Grace College, we understand how crucial real-world experience is in preparing you for your career. Without having experience or training, it’s difficult to determine whether or not a position is for you. That’s why Grace requires an internship or practicum experience for every major, and we have launched several graduates into fellowship positions.
Through an internship as a Grace College student, you’ll gain essential career experience and build a valuable professional network — all before graduation. Because we’re strongly connected to businesses and organizations in Kosciusko County, you can come to Grace knowing you’ll have valuable experiences in any career path you choose!