FAQ for Students

Academic Credit

I want to register for ENEC 393, but it says I need permission to enroll. How do I enroll in ENEC 393? Once you have an internship, have completed an independent study learning contract, uploaded it into the Online Learning Contract Manager system, and it has been approved by your faculty advisor and the internship program coordinator, you will be enrolled automatically in a section taught by your faculty advisor.

Can I earn academic credit for my internship or client-based research? Students who are accepted for an EcoStudio internship/independent research or students who find their own internship can earn academic credit through internship courses (393, 493) in their majors, through research courses (395, 396) in their major, or honors thesis research (692H, 693H) in their majors. Per UNC's credit hour definition, students are expected to devote at least three hours of independent work per week for each unit of credit (e.g., nine hours per week for three credit hours of internship). Over the course of a typical semester (about 15 weeks), that's 45 hours of work on your internship or independent research project per academic credit. Note that since internships are Pass/Fail, they typically will not count towards your major concentration.

Can I get academic credit for my summer internship? Yes! You can: (1) Get the credit in the summer, but you have to pay summer tuition for it. Tuition is about $900 for 3 credit hours. Note that since summer sessions are shorter than the fall and spring semesters, you will need to spend more time at your internship to earn the equivalent academic credits. (2) Get the credit in the following fall semester. You would conduct the on-site internship portion in the summer, and complete the deliverables to the mentor/client and the faculty advisor (final report writing, reflection on the experience) during the fall semester. Fall registration makes you eligible to use financial aid for the academic credit. Students who conduct internships during the summer months will be required to keep a daily journal of their internships activities. For Option #2, we require that you complete your Independent Study Learning Contract (summer version) and submit into the Online Learning Contract Manager before the start of your internship.

What do I need to do to get academic credit for my internship?

  1. Fill out an Independent Study Learning Contract (MS Word). You will need to meet with your mentor/client to flush out how often you will meet, how you will be evaluated, what your deliverable(s) will be, etc. Your contract should be as explicit as possible, and you should make sure to explicitly state on your contract every hour you will work on the project.
  2. Send your form to Brian Naess ( and Megan Lane ( for their review. They'll let you know if any tweaks need to be made.
  3. Find a faculty advisor. If you have one in mind, you can ask them if they are willing to take on that role. If you don't have a faculty advisor in mind, no problem! You will meet weekly in the EcoStudio with EcoStudio staff to discuss your project, ask questions, get help, and interact with your peers.
  4. Visit the Online Learning Contract Manager. You will enter in the course information, select your advisor, and upload the completed Independent Study Learning Contract (MS Word). The online system will then seek approval from your advisor and the department's internship coordinator.
  5. After approval, you will then be manually registered by your department for ENEC 393 or ENEC 493 in a special section taught by your faculty advisor.

Note: Typically, you cannot get academic credit retroactively, i.e. you can't fill out an independent study learning contract for an internship that has already passed. So, please plan ahead and follow the steps above before you start your internship

Does ENEC 493 count as a 400-level course towards your major/minor? ENEC 393 and ENEC 493 are graded as Pass/Fail, so they do not count as a 400-level course towards your major. However, they can count as an elective for the sustainability minor. For more information about this, please see UNC's General Education Curriculum and Degree Requirements page. For BA sustainability track majors, ENEC 393 and 493 fulfill one of the "communication and research" skill slots. Note that you may encounter some resistance to using ENEC 493 to fulfill a slot if you received less than 3 credits for it!

Do ENEC 493 or ENEC 393 count as Experiential Education (EE) credit? Yes! For more information about this, please see UNC's General Education Curriculum and Degree Requirements page.

How can I find a faculty advisor? Students who don't already have a faculty advisor in mind will meet weekly with EcoStudio staff to discuss their projects, ask questions, get help, and interact with peers.

Can I do an EcoStudio internship without seeking academic credit? Yes, you can! While we definitely encourage students to participate fully in the EcoStudio experience, students can choose to do their EcoStudio internship without seeking academic credit. Students will be required to submit a weekly journal summarizing their week's work at the internship or on the independent study. Students will also need to complete the Not-for-credit internship contract.

What are the benefits of getting academic credit for an internship? Internships for academic credit mean that you will have a faculty advisor to help you with your project, advise your professionally, and advocate on your behalf should complications arise. If you choose to work with EcoStudio, weekly EcoStudio meetings are designed to help you develop your professional skills to better prepare you for the work force after you graduate. Plus, EcoStudio weekly meetings offer the opportunity to meet with other peers with internships.

The Basics

Where can I find an internship? The EcoStudio will post positions for the following semester on the Projects page around registration time and open up a window of time (usually a week) when students can apply. We also post opportunties on our Other Interships page. Students should also look for internship opportunties that are posted on the ENEC undergrad listserv. If you would like to join this listserv, contact one of the ENEC undergraduate advisers.

What's the difference between an internship and independent research? Internships offer students an opportunity to gain experience working with a mentor in an organization. Internships typically require a student to spend 10 - 20 hours per week at the organization's location. Sometimes, an organization has a project that is smaller in scope or does not have enough time to commit to an internship. In these cases, projects may be offered as independent research opportunities. In an independent research project, the student will meet periodically with the client, but will spend the bulk of their time working on the project outside of the organization.

What's the difference between a mentor, client, and advisor? In the context of the EcoStudio, a mentor refers to the person at your internship that you interact with most frequently. You can think of them as your employer, and, ideally, they will help you develop professionally over the course of your internship. We use the term client for independent research projects. The client is the person who has requested student assistance with a given project. You will meet with your client from time to time to ensure that you are on track to deliver what was asked of you for your project. A faculty advisor is the person who is ultimately responsible for the academic component of your experience. In an internship, your advisor is there to ensure that things are going smoothly and to assist when needed. In an independent research project, your advisor will be available to help answer technical questions and provide feedback on your deliverables. Note that for your application, you will need to list a faculty reference. This just needs to be a faculty person that knows you well enough to vouch for you.

What are the internship/independent research courses in the ENEC major? Internships are ENEC 393 (sustainability- and outreach-focused, i.e. green architecture, planning, UNC 3 Zeroes initiative, landscape restoration, etc.), and ENEC 493 (environmental sciences/studies, i.e. vegetation surveys, stormwater runoff, cleantech, etc.). Research credits are ENEC 395 (lab-based) and ENEC 396 (readings based). Honors research is through ENEC 693H (research) and ENEC 694H (thesis writing). If your project is going to be independent research or if you are working less than 9 hours per week, you should select ENEC 493. You'll need to consult with your mentor and faculty advisor to determine the appropriate number of academic credits for your project, but you must work at least 3 hours per academic credit. Note that students do not register themselves for ENEC 393 or 493. You will be registered automatically after all of your paperwork has been submitted.

Can non-ENEC majors apply for internships through the EcoStudio? YES! We love students from all majors and from any background, because diversity breeds innovation. Check with your department to see if they have a course listing for internships that you may be able to use. Apply today.

Where is Venable Hall? Venable Hall is part of the Science Complex and is located next to Dey, Gardner, and Carroll Halls. Enter through Murray Hall and go to the 3rd floor where E3P/ENEC and Marine Sciences are located. We are in the Venable wing, room 3302. Campus Map

What resources are available through the EcoStudio? We have three computer workstations for GIS work, Matlab programming, and other data processing. The EcoStudio is set up in an incubator lab style for collaborative learning and project research. White boards are placed strategically around the Studio. A LCD TV monitor with computer are available for videoconferencing, projecting presentations, and group discussion around data. We also have a OneCard keyreader for the door, so that you can use the space after hours. Stop by to visit and see for yourself.

What are the EcoStudio hours each semester? Our regular hours vary by semester, but you can check the calendar posted on the door. EcoStudio staff will be in touch regularly to ensure that things are working smoothly, and to let everyone know about EcoStudio availability. EcoStudio hours will be set at the beginning of the semester at days/times that accommodate the greatest number of students, and we typically have two different meeting days/times. You pick the session that works best for you, and if you need to switch sessions in a given week, no problem!

When will I be working at my internship? You will set up your schedule with your mentor. This allows for flexibility, and you can work with your mentor to make up time when something comes up and you miss your normally-scheduled time. EcoStudio hours will be set at the beginning of the semester at days/times that accommodate the greatest number of students.

Is there any funding available for unpaid internships? While internships provide amazing work experience, they are often unfunded and can force students to choose between a paid part-time position or career-building internship. EcoStudio, from time to time, may be able to offer need-based funding thanks to the generous support of IE, and here are some resources that may help you find some funding from alternate sources:

Potential UNC Funding (depending on your internship)

Potential outside funding:


Send an email to Brian Naess ( or Megan Lane (