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  • Trend Is Toward Paid Internships

    BETHLEHEM, PA—College students taking part in internships are increasingly getting paid for their efforts, according to a report from the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE).

    Results from NACE’s Class of 2017 Student Survey show that 61 percent of graduating seniors took part in an internship or co-op experience during their college careers; among that group, nearly 57 percent of the experiences were paid, up from approximately 51 percent in 2011, when NACE began tracking compensation status. (See Figure 1.)

    Pay for interns is most common in the private sector. In fact, paid internships at for-profit companies accounted for nearly 38 percent of all internships; in comparison, paid internships at nonprofits made up less than 11 percent of all internships.

    Whether the trend toward paid internships will continue, however, remains to be seen. In January, the U.S. Department of Labor scrapped its six-part test and issued new guidance around compensation for internships; under the new test, if the intern is determined to be the primary beneficiary of the internship experience, he or she may be unpaid.

    Figure 1: Trends in Paid Status of Internships/Co-ops

    Class Year Percent Paid Percent Unpaid
    2011 51.3% 48.7%
    2012 51.1 48.9
    2013 51.2 48.8
    2014 53.7 46.3
    2015 53.9 46.1
    2016 55.8 44.2
    2017 56.7 43.3
    Source: Class of 2017 Student Survey Report, National Association of Colleges and Employers,  Data are for bachelor’s degree graduates.

    About the Class of 2017 Student Survey Report: The survey was distributed through NACE-member colleges and universities nationwide, and garnered responses from 21,194 college students across all degree and year levels; the focus of the report—and of this release—is on the responses from 4,213 bachelor’s degree students who were graduating as part of the Class of 2107 (academic year: July 1, 2016 - June 30, 2017). Data were collected from February 15, 2017, to April 30, 2017.

    An executive summary of the report is available on the NACE website.

    About NACE: Since 1956, the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) has been the leading source of information about the employment of college graduates. For more information, visit NACE maintains a virtual press room for the media.