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Rackham Doctoral Internships

The Rackham Doctoral Internship Program allows doctoral candidates to pursue a fully supported internship as part of their graduate training. Internships offer students a mentored experience in non-academic settings that is tailored to meet the needs of partner organizations. This initiative provides a crucial experiential learning opportunity for students, while demonstrating the value of their advanced abilities and knowledge to employers in a wide array of fields.

The landscape of doctoral education is changing. Graduate training today requires more than exceptional academic preparation. Doctoral students—who conduct research, think, and write at the highest level—possess expertise that is in demand across a broad range of fields in our knowledge-driven world. But today’s careers, both inside the academy and beyond, demand an additional set of skills and experience: students must be able to collaborate within diverse environments, communicate advanced knowledge effectively, and provide leadership that inspires others.

As a national leader in graduate education, Rackham Graduate School is pursuing a historic shift in how doctoral students are trained and prepared for their careers. For decades, students have acquired professional experience as research assistants and teaching assistants. The Rackham Doctoral Internship Program introduces a third approach by giving students the chance to translate their research expertise into practice. Through internship opportunities that are available during the academic year as well as the summer, this program offers students maximal flexibility for incorporating these vital experiences into their doctoral education. Students apply their skills in a range of sectors, from biotechnology and national laboratories to information technology and cultural institutions.

The University of Michigan was among the very first American universities to award the research-based Ph.D. By establishing internships as a new cornerstone of doctoral education, we affirm the university’s commitment to preparing our students as research and scholarship leaders who are ready to meet the challenges ahead.

Why Is Rackham Launching This Program?

  • To prepare students to be successful in a variety of careers.
  • To meet students’ needs for direct experience with practical applications of research, collaborative problem solving, and communication to broader audiences.
  • To establish the value of Ph.D. training for potential employers in a wide variety of organizations and industries.
  • To connect doctoral students with organizations working on projects that address the challenges of communities and societies, locally and globally.
  • To support innovation in advanced, research-based training that is relevant—and even crucial—to the work of diverse industries, organizations, and communities.

What Is Different About This Program?

  • It is geared exclusively to doctoral students. Internships have long been accepted as a part of the educational experience for undergraduates and master’s students. But doctoral professional experience has traditionally focused on research and teaching in the academy, rather than non-academic settings. This program offers doctoral candidates the opportunity to broaden their career horizons through internships, where they apply their academic skills and expertise to real-world problems in nonprofit, government, start-up, and corporate sectors.
  • It expands the traditional model of summer internships to the academic year, providing full fellowship funding for doctoral students to undertake an internship in either fall or winter term (as well as the summer). Such timing provides students with maximal flexibility in incorporating an internship experience when it makes sense during the course of their doctoral training.
  • It provides full semester funding for doctoral internships, thus integrating professional development experience with the student’s academic work, and allowing candidates time for deep career exploration and the application of their skills outside of academia. The internship experience is intended to complement the professional learning students gain through teaching or research positions.
  • It provides a cohort experience for all doctoral student interns in a given term. Rackham has designed a wrap-around program of support (including orientation, check-in meetings, workshops, and final debrief) that enables students to get the most out of their internship and connects them across disciplines. This programming encourages students to treat their internship as a form of experiential learning, helps them grasp the transferable skills they are acquiring, and prepares them to network and conduct informational interviews.
  • It is a campus-wide program that is open to all doctoral candidates.
  • It will broaden students’ perspectives and prepare them equally well for jobs both in the academy and beyond.

Benefits for Doctoral Candidates

  • Provides increased flexibility and alignment of internships with graduate program curricula.
  • Integrates internships into doctoral training so students are not forced to choose between this unique professional development experience and making progress on their degree.
  • Exposes students to and prepares them for a broader set of career possibilities and professional aspirations.
  • Provides access to employer engagement, coaching, mentorship, and a supportive cohort of peers.
  • Legitimizes career exploration beyond academia by tying internships to a major source of graduate education funding.
  • Offers opportunities for social impact through public and community engagement.

Benefits for Graduate Programs and Faculty

  • Offers an important and rare professional development experience that will make doctoral training at U-M distinctive and help attract outstanding prospective students.
  • Provides an additional fellowship-level funding opportunity for their students.
  • Includes a cohort experience, designed and led by Rackham, that accompanies the internship to provide students with professional development expertise and broaden their perspective on possible career pathways.
  • Supports individual programs by helping to maintain partnerships with site partners, make internship opportunities visible to more students, and manage internship logistics.

Benefits for Site Partners

  • Offers streamlined access to a pool of doctoral-level talent from diverse disciplinary backgrounds at the cutting edge of their fields.
  • Opens up new perspectives on work, challenges, and opportunities through the deep content expertise and critical skills that doctoral candidates bring to site partners.
  • Forges connections to highly trained doctoral students who may be interested in pursuing careers at the site partner organization.
  • Demonstrates the benefit of advanced, research-based training to meet the needs of diverse organizations.
  • We are always looking for new employers and professional opportunities for our students. If you are interested in working with Rackham to host a doctoral student intern at your organization or campus unit, please let us know by filling out our Partnership Interest Form!

Rackham Doctoral Internship Programs

Fall and Winter Term Doctoral Internships

Rackham Fall and Winter Term Doctoral Internships  provide doctoral candidates internship opportunities with our partner organizations for 20 hours per week in the fall or winter terms. These positions come with full fellowship support, including a stipend at the current Rackham rate, Grad Care, and tuition/fees.

Spring/Summer Doctoral Internships

Rackham Spring/Summer Doctoral Internships offer doctoral students at any stage in their Rackham program three options for funding full or part time internships between May and August.

Rackham Internship Guide

If you are a doctoral student considering an internship, Rackham’s Internship Guide can help you think about what factors to consider as you plan on making an internship a part of your graduate experience at U-M.

Interested in Hosting an Intern?

If you are interested in working with Rackham to host a doctoral student intern at your organization or campus unit, please let us know!

Partnership Interest Form

Contact Professional and Academic Development

1530 Rackham Building
915 E. Washington St.
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1070
Phone: 734.647.4013
Fax: 734.936.2848


Professional and Academic Development is open Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

The office is closed Saturdays and Sundays and on the following holidays: Thanksgiving (Thursday and the following Friday), Christmas through New Year’s, Memorial Day, Independence Day (July 4), and Labor Day.