How Long Do Internships Last? - Intern Program Tips

When setting up an internship program, many employers wonder: How long do internships last? Like most issues in the internship arena, there is more than one answer.

Typical Internship Seasons

  • Fall internship dates typically start in September.
  • Winter internship dates typically start in November or December.
  • Spring internship dates typically start in January or February.
  • Summer internship dates typically start in June.

Internship Duration

Summer internships are about 10 to 12 weeks long, or the duration of one semester or quarter. However, internship duration can also be dictated by the length of a school break. For instance, winter internships typically take place over the course of a winter vacation. If your interns are college students, be prepared to work around their academic schedule. It may be helpful to review the academic calendars of colleges in your area as you plan your internship duration. The University of Washington suggests that the ideal period of internship is one that allows the intern to complete projects that are valuable to both the intern and the employer. It should also allow the intern to get into the rhythm of the job, creating a more realistic experience. The university cites 3-4 months as reasonable, with the intern completing 20-35 hours weekly. Of course, you can also recruit interns for longer periods. Some internships last for an entire year, or for two semesters. In many of these internships, the first semester is unpaid, while the second semester is paid. Ultimately, the period of internship is your decision. What are your goals for the internship? Select a length of time that will reasonably allow your organization and interns to accomplish these goals. While an internship is traditionally a one-time experience, it is not uncommon for a student to take part in more than one internship at the same company. In this case, the internships may be during back-to-back semesters or even over the course of consecutive summers. It is also possible that a student might complete an internship, only to be rehired during a later semester or quarter.

Benefits and Drawbacks of Different Internship Lengths

There are several advantages and disadvantages associated with varying the length of internships. These may differ depending on the nature of your industry, the specific roles you offer, and the goals of the internship program.

Short-term internships (10-12 weeks)


  • Higher Turnover: Short-term internships allow for higher turnover of interns, which can mean fresh ideas and perspectives entering your organization more frequently.
  • Lower Commitment: A shorter commitment can make the internship more attractive to potential candidates who are seeking to gain experience in various sectors or roles.
  • Convenient for Students: They typically align with semester breaks, making it convenient for students who constitute a large portion of the intern pool.


  • Short Learning Curve: There may not be sufficient time for the intern to learn and contribute significantly. Much of the internship could be taken up by the onboarding process.
  • Administrative Overhead: The increased turnover could mean more time and resources spent on recruitment, selection, onboarding, and offboarding.

Long-term internships (six months to a year)


  • Significant Contribution: Long-term interns have more time to understand your organization, learn the ropes, and contribute to substantial projects.
  • Retention Potential: If the intern proves to be a valuable asset to the team, there's a possibility of transitioning them into a full-time role, saving on future recruitment efforts.


  • Higher Commitment: A longer commitment might deter some candidates who are looking to explore different industries or roles.
  • Potential for Stagnation: Without proper management, long-term internships can sometimes turn into routine work without significant learning opportunities, defeating the primary purpose of internships.

Part-time internships (spread over a longer period)


  • Flexibility: This setup can be more flexible for interns, fitting around other commitments such as studies or part-time jobs.
  • Extended Support: Part-time internships can provide extended support to teams over a longer period.


  • Less Immersive: Part-time internships might not offer the same immersive experience as a full-time role, which could affect the intern's learning and the value they bring to your organization.
Remember, the length of your internship program should ultimately align with the goals of both the intern and your organization. Whether short-term, long-term, or part-time, the key to a successful internship lies in planning a meaningful and enriching experience for all involved.

Consideration of Remote Internships

In recent years, and particularly with the shift toward remote work driven by global events, the landscape of internships has been dramatically reshaped. More and more organizations are offering remote internships, which present their own unique considerations when it comes to determining the duration. Remote internships, unlike traditional internships, are not tied to a specific geographic location. This means that the intern does not need to relocate or commute to an office, and potentially could fit the internship more flexibly around their schedule. As a result, the duration of remote internships can be more flexible and extend beyond the typical dates bound by a traditional semester or quarter system. Remote internships also open up the possibility of part-time work that stretches over a longer period. For instance, instead of a full-time internship lasting for 10-12 weeks, an intern could potentially work part-time over the course of several months. This flexibility could benefit both the intern, by reducing the intensity of the workload, and the organization, by having a longer period of support and input from the intern. However, bear in mind that remote internships also come with challenges like ensuring effective communication, providing adequate training and guidance, and building a sense of connection to the team and the company culture. As an employer, you'll need to think about how these factors may influence the optimal duration for a remote internship. Lastly, when it comes to remote internships, it's even more critical to specify the expected work hours clearly, considering potential differences in time zones. It’s essential to establish these expectations upfront to avoid misunderstandings down the line. Remember, whether remote or in-person, the main goal of the internship should always be creating a valuable learning experience for the intern while adding value to your organization.

When Should I Post an Internship Position?

The decision about when to post your internship position depends on when you would like your intern(s) to start. According to the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE), employers begin recruiting interns an average of eight months in advance of the start date. An average of 23.6 days elapse between the interview and the offer. Additionally, you should allow prospective interns five days to respond to your offer. Keep these statistics in mind as you decide when to post your internship. Set a start date, then ensure that you allow adequate time for recruiting, interviewing, and hiring candidates. After you’ve determined your start date and duration, post your internship position on Chegg Internships. As the world’s largest internship marketplace, the site will connect you with qualified students seeking internships. It’s also free of charge and provides helpful resources and guidance throughout the process. When you post your internship, be sure to specify the start date (you can indicate whether it’s flexible) and the anticipated length. Employer takeaway: The average internship is 10-14 weeks long. However, the best internship duration for your program is one that allows your intern and organization to fulfill the goals of the internship.