Bio 494 Internship in Biology Syllabus (1-2 credits) Section 1:


JMU Instructors, contact info, office hours


Dr. Marta Bechtel (Biotechnology):                                                    Biosciences 3028A,, 8-5526, TuTh 3:40-5:30;

Dr. Bruce Wiggins (Environmental Sciences, Agriculture):                Biosciences 1028G,, 8-6196,

Dr. Chris Rose (Ecology and Evolution, Bioconservation, others):    Biosciences 2028A,, 8-6666, TuTh 9-9:30.


Internship Supervisor and address: to be supplied by student in proposal


Catalogue description:


BIO 494. Internship in Biology (0, 4-8). 1-2 credits. Offered fall, spring and summer.

Students participate in research or applied biology outside this university. Students must contact and obtain approval of a supervising instructor at the off campus location and the department internship coordinator in the term prior to registration. A proposal must be approved prior to registration and a final paper or presentation will be completed. Prerequisites: Biology or biotechnology major with a minimum of 8 biology credit hours and a GPA of 2.5 or higher.


Course objectives:


The internship allows students to get academic credit for practical hands-on training, skill development and experience in biology-related research, education, outreach or work in a professional setting outside of the university and under the guidance of professionals in a work environment related to biology. Biology-related does not include shadowing health care professionals, rescue squad and EMT work, and any kind of patient care in veterinary clinics, medical clinics, nursing homes, other special care institutions and hospitals, though it can include participating in research done in or in affiliation with hospitals and vet clinics. For veterinary-related internships, the student is referred to BIO 493.


Learning outcomes:


1. hands-on training, skill development and experience in biology-related research, education, outreach or other kinds of work in a professional setting.


2. awareness of the logistic, economic and political realities of functioning in a work environment outside of a university.


3. professional interactions with people other than professors in a work environment related to biology.


Prerequisites and steps to get enrolled:


1. Be a declared Bio or Biotech major and a fulltime student.


2. Have completed 8 credit hours of biology that provide the necessary background for the internship.


3. Have a GPA of 2.5 or greater.


4. Have a class schedule indicating time blocks that can be committed to meet the required half or full-day requirement (4 or 8 hours) per week for 15 weeks at the internship location. If done in the summer, 2 weeks of full workdays merits one credit hour.


5. Be aware that students will not be permitted to participate in any credit-bearing courses, internships and other experiences in a state where JMU is not authorized to operate. To find out which states will allow JMU to provide credit for internships, go to the JMU SARA website at and look for those that have been approved as a SARA state.


6. Have the on-site supervisor complete and submit a description form describing his/her credentials, the nature of the on-site activities that the student will engage in, and the training, skills and/or experience that the student is expected to gain. Whether this form must be completed for summer internship programs like Operation Wallacea and International Student Volunteers or whether their on-line advertisements provide sufficient information will be at the discretion of the biology internship coordinator. Since the biology coordinator must receive this form before registering the student in the course, the student is strongly recommended to request the on-site supervisor to complete this form two months before the earlier of the deadline for registering for the course and the start date for the internship.


7. Complete a 2-3 page proposal that receives the signed approval of both the on-site supervisor and the biology internship coordinator. The proposal must itemize and describe the work activities in detail, estimate the expected time allocation to each activity and specify whether a paper or presentation will be produced at the end of the internship. The proposal must be based on input from both the on-site supervisor and the biology internship coordinator. The proposal must be completed and approved with a signature by both the on-site supervisor and the biology internship coordinator prior to registration for the course.


The internship will be judged for approval by the biology internship coordinator on the basis of information provided by the on-site supervisor and in the proposal using the following three criteria: will the activities as described be sufficiently enriching in terms of academic, professional, and/or educational training, skills and/or experience to qualify for academic credit, are the activities sufficiently connected with biology to qualify for biology credit, and does the student have adequate background in biology at the time of enrollment to accomplish the first criterion. The biology internship coordinator has the final say in approving the internship and has the right to reject an unworthy proposal or to request revisions that must be agreed to by both the student and on-site supervisor before granting his or her approval. The type and amount of financial compensation that might come with an internship has no bearing on the eligibility of the internship for academic credit.


8. Once the biology internship coordinator has approved the internship for credit, the student and coordinator must complete and submit a registration form to the biology office to allow the student to register for Bio 494. If the internship is to be done in fall or spring term, this must be done before the registration deadline for that term. If the internship is to be done in the summer, this must be done before the registration deadline for either the four-week summer term that includes or immediately precedes the start date of the internship or the fall term that immediately follows the termination of the internship.


Statement of JMUÕs liability:


JMU provides this internship course to allow students to receive credit for biology-related training and work experience at numerous, diverse off-campus locations, some of which are abroad and many of which are selected by the student and not advertised or endorsed by JMU. In approving an internship for academic credit, JMU and its employees assume no responsibility for vetting the internship experience beforehand or for any adverse outcomes of the internship experience including injury, illness, harassment, or accident. In pursuing an internship at an off-campus location, the student assumes responsibility for learning about all possible health and safety risks, for following the training and preventative measures provided by the on-site supervisor to minimize these risks, and for covering the full financial costs of any adverse outcomes of the experience. For a paid internship, the on-site supervisor has the authority to terminate the internship at any point before its completion for any reason.


Course place and time: location and meeting times will be scheduled on an individual basis at the start of term by the student and on-site supervisor.


Required texts and materials: none


Adding/dropping class: Policy and deadlines can be found at


Disabilities: Policy and deadlines can be found at


Attendance and missed performance and missed deadline policies: Students are required to put in a minimum of 4 hours per credit hour per week and missed time must be made up in subsequent weeks. Failure to meet this requirement and to meet deadlines will be subject to a grade penalty. If you have a valid excuse (school-recognized religious observation; official school business; job, court or graduate school interview; sickness with doctorÕs note; death or serious illness in family) for failing to meet this requirement or missing a deadline, contact me by email at least three days before the date in question to arrange how to make up the lost time and/or getting an extension for a deadline.


Requirements of the course:


1. Participate in 4-5 hours of supervised activity per week per credit hour at the internship location. If done in the summer, the internship requires the equivalent time commitment, e.g., 10 full workdays per credit hour.


2. Keep a daily log of your visits, describing the activities carried out (including meetings) and any special lessons learned or problems encountered.


3. Complete a 10-page paper or give a 60-minute, Powerpoint-based presentation to the biology internship coordinator after completion of the final day/week of internship activity. This paper or presentation will summarize the activities undertaken and the skills, experience, and expertise acquired from them.




Upon completion of the internship, the biology internship coordinator will ask the on-site supervisor to complete and return an evaluation form documenting the studentÕs performance. The biology internship coordinator will assign a grade of Credit/No Credit based on how well the student met course requirements 1-3, and feedback received from the on-site supervisor. Criteria that the biology coordinator will ask the on-site supervisor to assess might include but not be limited to etiquette or professional behavior; ethical behavior; attendance and punctuality; efficiency in acquiring skills or information; efficiency in accomplishing tasks; participation in meetings; demonstration of initiative; and abilities to communicate, ask questions, trouble shoot, think creatively, and work independently.


Inclement weather policies: Missed meetings and lab time will be made up later in the term or at the request of the instructor.


Religious observation accommodations: Policy and deadlines can be found at


Laboratory policy: Students must wear closed-end shoes (no flip flops, sandals or other shoes with open toes or heels) when attending all labs. Most procedures will require the use of safety glasses, lab coats and gloves. All procedures will be done in accordance with government regulations protecting animal rights and welfare. If any student objects to the subject matter or nature of the work, he or she is strongly requested to bring their concern to the instructor's attention at the start of the course (i.e., in the first week of classes). Depending on the circumstances, the student may be advised to reconsider their enrollment in the course. All students are requested to treat all laboratory and field exercises and materials with the respect and maturity befitting serious scientific inquiry.


Honor Code: All students are expected to be familiar with and abide by the JMU Honor Code. ( Forms of academic dishonesty include cheating on tests or homework, lending your work to another person to submit it as his or her own, reporting false data, selling or uploading unauthorized documents from a class, deliberately creating false information on a works cited or reference page; and plagiarism, presenting another personÕs writing, ideas or results as your own, whether intentional or not. Work submitted for this course must be your own and written for this course. To avoid plagiarism in writing, paraphrased and quoted materials must be properly cited in the text and referenced in the bibliography (see above); unnecessary or excessive use of direct quotations will be penalized.