Department of Education Internships
ED Student Volunteer Unpaid Internship Program

Being An ED Intern

International applicants: please see our updated requirements.

The Department of Education (ED) offers internships for students interested in seeking valuable work experience in government and federal education policy and administration. Volunteers have the opportunity to make meaningful contributions to the Department's mission to promote student achievement and preparation for global competitiveness by fostering educational excellence and ensuring equal access.

ED offers internships in the fall, winter/spring, and summer. Typically interns are with the Department for eight to ten weeks (some can stay shorter or longer depending on circumstances). Read more details about application timelines.

Types of Internships

The Department works to tailor each intern's experience to the interests, and skills of the interns against the needs of Department offices. In the past, students have completed projects focusing on:

  • Policy analysis and evaluation.
  • Research.
  • Finance.
  • Public affairs and communications.
  • Community outreach.
  • Intergovernmental relations.
  • Legislative affairs.
  • News media.
  • Legal work.
  • And a host of other projects.

Candidates should indicate which offices most interest them in their application. See a list of ED's offices. Please note that availability of internships within given offices varies throughout the year, and some offices require specialized subject knowledge to qualify.

Activities for ED Interns

In addition to the opportunities within their offices, students are encouraged to participate in ED-sponsored intern events, such as:

  • Brownbag lunch series with senior ED officials.
  • Tours of D.C. landmarks.
  • Professional development and resume-writing workshops.
  • Social activities.

Interning at ED makes it easy to take advantage of the Department's location in the heart of the nation's capital.

The Application Process

While ED cannot provide compensation or housing for the internship program, all interns are eligible for Metro Transit benefits to cover transportation to and from work. Students receiving outside funding (such as a grant) or school credit for the internship are encouraged to apply.


In order to apply to intern at ED, students must:

  • Be at least 16 years of age.
  • Attend an accredited educational institution, including but not limited to; high school, trade school, technical or vocational institute, junior college, college, university, or graduate school.
    • A recent graduate is ineligible to apply unless he/she can provide confirmed proof of future enrollment.
  • Have permission from the institution at which he/she is currently enrolled to participate in internship program.
  • Be enrolled not less than half time in a course of study related to the work to be performed.

International Applicants: Individuals who are not U.S. citizens, but who reside in the U.S., may volunteer (1) if they are lawful permanent residents; or (2) if they are non-immigrant aliens with F-1 or J-1 visa status, who are bona fide students residing in the U.S. solely to pursue a course of study at a recognized, approved institution of education, or (3) have deferred action (DACA) status.

All foreign national intern applicants will be required to meet the following criteria for consideration:

  • Must have resided in the United States for three (3) out of the last five (5) years. This ensures an adequate background investigation can be completed.

  • Must either be a Lawful Legal Resident of the United States or hold a valid F1 Visa.

  • Must be a citizen from a country that is allied with the United States. A current list of allied nations can be located at: http://www.state.gov/s/l/treaty/collectivedefense/

  • A requisite investigation must be conducted on all non-U.S. citizen interns. All investigation materials must be submitted and approval granted by the OM Personnel Security Office prior to commencing the internship.

  • The following forms will be needed for a complete package: SF-85P, OF-306, Fingerprinting (Digital or Ink), and Fair Credit Release, Resume (if applicable)

  • Additionally, the Cyber Security and Privacy Awareness Training module must be completed, and certificate received, before approval to start will be granted.

  • Meet Homeland Security Presidential Directive 12 (HSPD-12) and Federal Information Processing Standard 201 (FIPS 201-2) pre-employment requirements for PIV ID issuance.

  • Interns must present two (original) forms of identification, prior to badge issuance, for identity proofing. Acceptable documents are listed on Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification (pg.9). At least one submitted document must be a valid State or Federal government-issued picture ID. Identity proofing may be completed at any time, prior to the commencement of work.

How to Apply

Step 1—Students submit intern application
Applicants should apply here: Application Portal specify exactly what term (fall, winter/spring, summer) you are applying for. You may want to have on hand the following:

  • A cover letter, stating which particular offices interest you. Keep in mind that due to the volume of applications received, you may not be assigned to your first-choice office upon acceptance.
  • An up-to-date resume.

Note: For candidates interested in internships with the Office of General Counsel (OGC) please click here. For candidates interested in internships with the Office of Civil Rights (OCR) please click here. If you are also interested in internships outside of OGC or OCR, you will need to submit a separate application following the instructions listed above. All interns, including those selected by OGC and OCR will be included in the internship programming.

Step 2—Eligible students will be interviewed by ED staff.
ED will review application packages, determine eligibility and provide recommended placement into program office for review. ED Employees interested in bringing an intern onboard for the respective cohort will interview perspective interns.

Step 3—Provide Internship paperwork for processing.
If you are tentative selected by an ED staff for an internship you need to be cleared by Office of Management. You will be asked to provide the below paperwork:

  • U.S. Department of Education Student Volunteer Agreement
    PDF (1.1MB) | PDF, printed version (24KB)

  • U.S. Office of Personnel Management Declaration for Federal Employment (OF306)
    Please follow this link to the Office of Personnel Management website to fill out the Declaration for Federal Employment form.

  • U.S. Department of Homeland Security Employment Eligibility Form (I-9)
    A list of acceptable documents to bring your first day of employment can be found here under Instructions for Form I-9 (specifically pages 8-11).

  • U.S. Department of Education Emergency Contact form [PDF, 69KB]

  • U.S. Department of Education Cyber security awareness training [PDF, 1.5MB]

  • U.S. Office of Personnel Management Fair Credit Release form
    Please follow this link to the Drug Enforcement Agencies website to download and complete the Fair Credit Release form here.

  • Transcript
    Please obtain the transcript from your university/high school

  • Letter of good standing from your school (optional)
    Please utilize the online system to request the letter of good standing from your school

Step 4—Initiate background check
Once cleared by Office of Human Resources, we will need to initiate a background check. You will receive an email from ED’s personnel security office where you will be asked to submit fingerprints for the background check and complete a background investigation through ED’s e-QIP (security system).

Step 5—Finalize start date
Once you have been cleared by Office of Management your supervisor will work with you and Office of Human Resources to finalize a start date. On your first day you will go to the ID office and fill out paperwork for your badge and another round of fingerprints to obtain your badge.


Please note that the dates below are approximate. Based on a student's availability and school schedule, internships can begin or end before or after the dates indicated below.

  • Fall
    • Dates of program: September through December
    • Submission Deadline: July 15
  • Winter/Spring
    • Dates of program: January through May
    • Submission Deadline: October 1
  • Summer
    • Dates of program: May/June through July/August
    • Submission Deadline: March 15

Note: Please be aware that you may not receive correspondence from our office until after the submission deadline has expired. You will be contacted via e-mail in regards to the status of your application.

Interns usually work 20 to 40 hours per week during the spring and fall terms and full-time during the summer session. While these timeframes work best for most students, all scheduling, including start/end dates and hours per week, is flexible and negotiated between the candidate and his or her office during the interview stage of the selection process.

If you have any questions, please email StudentInterns@ed.gov

Last Modified: 08/24/2017