Internship Program

An internship is required for all students who are pursuing a Bachelor of Landscape Architecture (BLA) degree. The internship requirement is completed by enrolling for and completing the course requirements for LA 371, Internship, for three units of credit on a CR/NC basis.

Student Qualifications

Third year (Junior) standing in Landscape Architecture is a prerequisite to enroll in LA 371. Students should complete their internship requirement prior to beginning their fifth year in the program.

Requirements and Duration

A minimum of 90 hours of work experience is required for course credit and students must enroll in LA 371 within 18 months of the completion of the work experience. The work experience should offer the student a "livable wage" for the period of employment, although in some cases volunteer opportunities will be considered. If you are having trouble finding an internship, meet with the Department Head to review your options.

Students should consider completing the work experience during the summer quarter (mid-June to mid-September) although options are available for other times throughout the year.


The purpose of the internship program is to expose students to a broad spectrum of office practice and procedures related to the Landscape Architecture profession. Access to a range of individuals in the firm and to a range of job tasks and project types is heavily encouraged. Exposure to as many areas of practice as possible is desirable, particularly those which are not available in the educational setting, and might include:

Site Visits + Analysis Construction Documents Project Management Office Operations Planting Design
Cost Estimation Budgeting and Estimation Construction Site Observation Marketing and Proposal Development Product and Material Specifications
Design Development Post Occupancy Evaluation Bid Document Review Detail Design Irrigation Design
Presentation Shadowing Client Contacts Contractor Meetings Design Reviews  

Student Responsibilities

The student is responsible for contacting potential employers, providing them with an application for employment and providing a portfolio as required. In addition, the student should present a copy of the Internship Program Guidelines, the Internship Program Introduction Letter from the Department Head, and the Intern Evaluation form. Please see the Ten Steps of LA 371 for additional information.

The intern is expected to be a responsible and productive member of the firm or agency, utilizing his/her employable skills to the highest extent on behalf of the employer while observing and gaining knowledge of office operations. The intern is an employee, rather than a guest, and is expected to conduct him/herself accordingly.

During the internship, the student is expected to work diligently under the direction of the employer and is required to keep a daily journal of experiences, activities and work samples. In order to receive course credit, the student must submit the following to the Department Head by the end of the quarter in which enrolled in LA 371:

  • a copy of the Daily Journal.
  • a two-page essay reflecting on the internship, including relevant work samples, digital photographs and individuals collaborated with.
  • a signed Introduction Letter and Intern Evaluation (these may be faxed or emailed directly to the department).

Once the above has been submitted, students should signup for an interview with the Department Head to discuss the internship experience.

Employer Responsibilities

Employers should sign the Introduction Letter from the Department Head that outlines the internship's educational goals as well as complete the Intern Evaluation (provided by the student) summarizing the student's value to the firm or agency. Employers should include the approximate dates of employment, an outline of the duties and responsibilities performed, and any areas needing improvement.

Department Responsibilities

The LA 371 course is administered and coordinated by the Department Head or a faculty member. At the end of the quarter, the instructor of record for LA 371 will determine, based on the student's summary report, journal, and employer's evaluation form, whether credit will be awarded for the experience.

COVID-19 Updates

Recently, the CSU has instituted a new policy for on-site, credit-bearing forms of experiential learning during the COVID-19 pandemic. The basic principles of the CSU policy are incorporated into the following new guidelines for Cal Poly: 

1. Students enrolled in experiential learning programs should be given a virtual option. If possible, such programs should be performed in a sheltered place under the remote supervision of a professional or disciplinary expert. 

2. Students who choose to participate in on-site experiential learning programs must receive COVID-19 safety training as part of their orientation and prior to participation. This training will be provided by Cal Poly in the form of an online course that is available in Skillsoft. The training is available here

3. As a part of their required paperwork, students must submit a PDF of their Learning Transcript page, which can be accessed on the Skillsoft site by pulling down the My Profile menu and clicking on Learning History. 

4. Students engaged in on-site experiential learning must sign an acknowledgement that they have been informed of and that they understand the risks to their own health presented by COVID-19. Such students will also continue to sign the Release of Liability agreement, in addition to other forms listed below. 

5. If a student will be receiving a higher-risk placement, the campus risk manager, Melissa Bullaro, must be consulted regarding the need for obtaining a COVID-19-specific waiver from the student. A higher-risk placement is defined as one in which it is known that a student will be working or coming into contact with individuals who are known to have been infected with COVID-19. 

6. Guidelines issued by public health agencies as well as federal, state, and local governments must be followed. These guidelines may change as the pandemic develops. 

7. All required paperwork must be completed and signed by the appropriate parties listed below at the required paperwork links. It must then be submitted at least seven days before the student begins the experience. 

8. In addition, all other requirements of Cal Poly’s existing policies on internships and other forms of experiential learning must be met. 

As a reminder, these guidelines only apply to on-site, credit-bearing forms of experiential learning; they do not apply if the experience is entirely virtual and/or it is not being completed for academic credit.

Required Paperwork for In-Person Internships

(For internships starting on or after September 14, 2020)

1. The new Release of Liability, signed by the student. In the case of a higher-risk placement, the student will sign a COVID-19-specific waiver. 

2. The new Site Self-Assessment and Student Acknowledgement of Risks, signed by the student, the site representative, and the on-campus coordinator. 

3. A PDF of the Skillsoft Learning Transcript page verifying that the student has completed the required COVID-19 safety training.

4. The new COVID-19 Health and Safety Guidelines, signed by the student

5. The new COVID-19 Experiential Learning Questionnaire, answered and signed by the student and on-campus coordinator

6. Any other paperwork otherwise required for the specific experience, e.g., an affiliation agreement for certain types of field work (see forms below). 

Internship Forms - For All Internships, Virtual or In-Person

Internship Program Guidelines

Internship Program Introduction Letter

Intern Evaluation

Ten Steps of LA 371

Internship Opportunities

Click here for current opportunities posted on the Department web site.

Career Services can help you explore career options, prepare for your internship search, connect with employers and more. You can visit their site for information on their services here.

Having Trouble Finding an Internship?

Do not wait until your last quarter of study to enroll in LA 371 and begin looking for an opportunity. If you are having trouble finding an internship to satisfy the LA 371 course requirements, keep reading and meet with the Department Head to review your options.

Consider the following:

  • Review the internship requirements and understand their intentions.
  • Review related job sites including Architecture, City and Regional Planning, Mustang Jobs, and Craigslist.
  • Identify with employers that you are looking for a 90-hour internship to satisfy an academic requirement. Ideally this would be a paid position but identify that this is not a request for full-time employment.
  • Consider a volunteer or unpaid position.
  • Consider a compilation of more than one opportunity.
  • If you are having trouble making contact with key personnel, send contact information to the Department Head.
  • Consider "shadowing" a professional or professional project for 90 hours. This option requires personal initiative to: research a project, review public information, review press coverage, meet with key individuals and stakeholders (owners, city employees, architects/planners/landscape architects, community groups on both sides of the project). Create a summary report along the lines of the Internship Journal that documents what you did, who you met with, how many hours you spent, key observations and lessons learned, etc. This option requires approval from the Department Head prior to beginning the project.
  • Propose an alternative that you think meets the program goals and requirements, create a proposed timeline of activities, and submit the solution to the Department Head for review and approval.

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