Intern Program FAQ
WHAT IS THE PERKINS INTERNSHIP?
Satisfactory completion of a supervised internship is a requirement for all candidates for the Master of Divinity (M.Div.) and Master of Arts in Ministry (M.A.M.) degrees. The student does ministry in a church or agency setting under the supervision of a Lay Teaching Committee, a Mentor Pastor, a mental health Consultant, and a member of the Intern Faculty. Students may choose either a full-time or concurrent internship.
The Perkins Internship is designed to help students
- progress in developing the skills necessary to lead the church in its growth in faith and in ministry to the world
- grow in awareness and integration of their own personal/pastoral identity and the contexts in which it has developed while expanding their ability to work constructively with those with whom they differ
- attend to their own physical, emotional, spiritual and professional health so as to be persons who can live the life of a representative minister
- deepen their habitual theological reflection on the life and ministry of the church in light of God's liberating and reconciling Gospel for the world
- and begin to exercise creative leadership in empowering the church for such theological reflection
DOES A STUDENT RECEIVE DEGREE CREDIT FOR INTERNSHIP?
Yes. Successful completion of the internship earns 12 credit hours toward the M.Div. degree or six credit hours toward the M.A.M. degree.
WHEN SHOULD A STUDENT PLAN TO DO INTERNSHIP?
M.Div. students may do internship after 40 hours of foundational course work, though many choose to wait until all of their other course work is completed. M.A.M. students may do internship after 19 hours of foundational course work and at least two semesters at Perkins. In either case, it is important to plan ahead for internship.
HOW LONG IS THE INTERNSHIP?
All internships are nine months long, mid-August to mid-May of one academic year.
MAY A STUDENT HOLD OUTSIDE EMPLOYMENT OR TAKE OTHER CLASSES DURING INTERNSHIP?
Full-time interns may not do any additional course work and may not hold employment outside the internship placement. All full-time interns receive a minimum stipend. Concurrent interns take up to two classes per semester (M.Div.) or up to three classes per semester (M.A.M.) along with the internship course.
MAY AN AGENCY OR EXTENSION MINISTRY SERVE AS AN INTERNSHIP SETTING?
Yes, if the learning and professional goals of the student would be best served in that setting. An agency is simply defined as a place of ministry that is not a congregation, such as a University chaplain’s office or a non-profit providing services to at-risk or underserved persons. In many cases the agency placement is linked with a church to ensure the student’s exposure to the full range of ministry.
MAY STUDENTS DO INTERNSHIP WITHIN THEIR OWN DENOMINATIONS?
Yes. The Intern Faculty is committed to placing students in internships within their own denominations whenever possible and to working with each student’s denominational polity in a way that satisfies its requirements and maintains the standards of the Intern Program.
WHAT IS REQUIRED OF THE CONGREGATION OR AGENCY?
To become a Teaching Congregation or Teaching Agency, the administrative board or other representative governing body:
- Accepts that the intern is a student engaged in a formative learning process rather than a professional staff person, and agrees to join with Perkins School of Theology in its educational mission of preparing the intern for faithful leadership in Christian ministry
- Commits itself to share the congregation’s faith and ministry with the student in ways that encourage and facilitate the student’s personal, spiritual, and professional growth
- Agrees to provide a Lay Teaching Committee to meet regularly with the student throughout the internship to provide support and constructive feedback
- Agrees to honor the pastor’s commitment of time, especially if he/she is the Mentor Pastor, for the supervision of the intern (see following question)
- Agrees to support the intern financially; the amount of the current mandated minimum stipend and allowances is available from the Intern Office
WHAT IS EXPECTED OF THE MENTOR PASTOR?
- To attend the New Mentor Pastor Institute, a three-day orientation to the Perkins Intern Program, before the internship begins
- To attend two daylong Mentor Pastor Colloquies on campus, one during the fall and one during the spring of the internship year
- To observe and evaluate the intern in the performance of acts of ministry
- To meet with the intern on a regular basis during the internship for 1 to 1½ hour supervisory sessions, some of which will be focused around a theological reflection paper submitted in advance by the intern about the student’s ministry experiences during the internship. Full-time M.Div. interns meet with the mentor pastor 12 times per semester, five of which will be for the purpose of processing a paper; concurrent M.Div. interns meet 8 times per semester, 4 focused on a paper; concurrent M.A.M. interns meet 6 times per semester, 3 focused on a paper
- To select individuals to serve on the intern’s Lay Teaching Committee (if the Mentor Pastor is the on-site supervising pastor); and to attend the Lay Teaching Committee Orientation and one other committee meeting per semester
- To participate in all evaluation conferences
WHAT IS EXPECTED OF THE LAY TEACHING COMMITTEE?
The Lay Teaching Committee, usually comprising six to eight persons, should reflect the composition of the congregation or agency and be committed to the mutual learning process of the internship. The committee commits itself:
- To support the student personally, spiritually and professionally during the internship through prayer and thoughtful, constructive feedback
- To attend the Lay Teaching Committee Orientation led by the Intern Faculty
- To meet with the intern at least once a month throughout the internship
- To assist the intern with the completion of a learning covenant
- To participate in all evaluation conferences
WHAT ARE SOME OF THE BASIC REQUIREMENTS FOR THE INTERN?
- Engaging in real pastoral ministry under supervision
- Attending Intern Orientation at the start of the internship
- Attending all Lay Teaching Committee meetings, including the orientation
- Completing a learning covenant (to be revised twice during the internship) detailing learning goals and planned experiences to achieve and demonstrate mastery of the Course Competencies
- Writing a specified number of theological reflection papers on ministry experiences over the course of the internship
- Meeting on a regular basis with the Mentor Pastor for 1 to 1½ hour supervisory sessions, some of which will be for the express purpose of processing the intern’s theological reflection papers
- Participation in the Internship Seminar with an intern peer group, led by a member of the Intern Faculty and a mental health Consultant skilled in human development and behavior; or an equivalent experience if distance precludes such meetings
- Meeting with the Mentor Pastor and the Lay Teaching Committee for a formal evaluation session after the first eight weeks of internship
- Preparation for and participation in the midpoint and final evaluation conferences
WHAT IS THE ROLE OF THE INTERN FACULTY?
The primary responsibility of the Intern Faculty
is to supervise the internships required of all M.Div. and M.A.M. students. Each intern is assigned to work with a particular member of the Intern faculty throughout the internship. The responsibilities of the Intern Faculty include:
- Developing and negotiating intern placements
- Planning and conducting the following training events each year: Intern Orientation, New Mentor Pastor Institute, Lay Teaching Committee Orientation, Consultant Convocation, and two Mentor Pastor Colloquies
- Supervising the Internship Seminar and the mental health Consultants who work with the intern groups
- Being available for unscheduled consultation with the intern or any other member of the internship team as needed
- Organizing and conducting all evaluation conferences
- Making the final decision regarding the satisfactory or unsatisfactory completion of all internships and giving the final grade of Pass, Incomplete, or No Credit
WHAT IS THE INTERNSHIP SEMINAR?
Interns meet regularly with a group of their peers in the Internship Seminar, led by a member of the Intern Faculty and a Consultant who is a mental health professional. The seminar experience is designed to provide (1) a place for interns to discuss their own learning on internship and to learn from ministry specialists and from their peers; (2) a process to help interns integrate their ministerial call and authority with their personal identity; and (3) a place for interns to be able to express strong feelings, confront behavior which could affect their ministry, and learn to give and receive constructive feedback.
If an intern is at too great a geographic distance to attend the Internship Seminar, the Intern Faculty will arrange for the student to join a similar local group or to meet individually with a qualified local mental health professional skilled in human development and behavior.
WHAT IS THE PLACEMENT PROCESS FOR INTERNSHIP?
In September of each academic year, prospective interns are invited to complete an application and interview with the Intern Faculty for an internship to begin the following August. The application and interview help the faculty member to understand the student’s learning and professional goals and what the student considers to be her/his gifts and graces for ministry. The Intern Faculty then works with interested churches and agencies to find an appropriate placement. Before any student is assigned to a particular setting, there is consultation between the Intern Faculty, the student, the prospective Mentor Pastor, and appropriate laypersons, including an on-site interview by the prospective intern. All parties must be agreeable to the proposed assignment. The placement is confirmed through all parties signing a Perkins Intern Program placement agreement.
HOW DOES THE INTERN RECEIVE FEEDBACK?
In addition to informal feedback, the student receives structured feedback from:
- The Mentor Pastor in supervisory sessions
- The Lay Teaching Committee in its meetings
- The participants in the Internship Seminar
- The Perkins Intern Faculty
HOW IS THE STUDENT’S INTERNSHIP EVALUATED?
After the first eight weeks of internship, the student meets individually with the Mentor Pastor and the Lay Teaching Committee for the Ninth Week Evaluation and then writes the first revision of the Learning Covenant to integrate the feedback and add new learning goals. A Midpoint Evaluation conference attended by the Mentor Pastor, Lay Teaching Committee, and Intern Faculty Supervisor is held midway through the internship, and the student again uses that feedback and the Course Competencies to revise the Learning Covenant for the spring semester. Near the end of the internship the entire internship team comes together again for the final evaluation. At these meetings the entire experience is open for review. For both the Midpoint and Final Evaluations, the intern prepares by writing a Self-Evaluation paper in response to a set of Guiding Questions provided by the Intern faculty. The Lay Teaching Committee members and the Mentor Pastor prepare for the Final Evaluation by completing a Ministry Assessment Profile. The Intern Faculty will conduct the conferences and has full responsibility for assigning the student's final grade of Pass, Incomplete, or No Credit.
WHAT IS THE ROLE OF THEOLOGICAL REFLECTION IN THE INTERNSHIP?
The Perkins internship is an ongoing conversation between the work of ministry and theological analysis. It is that portion of the Perkins curriculum in which the theological knowledge the student has gained in the classroom merges with the practical learning of effective leadership skills. In the New Mentor Pastor Institute, the Intern Faculty prepares Mentor Pastors to help their interns make this connection in their regularly scheduled supervisory sessions. The Lay Teaching Committee, Internship Seminar participants, Consultant and Intern Faculty share this responsibility. As students develop a disciplined habit of reflecting theologically on their experience, they are better able to embody God's Gospel in their own ministry and to empower the church to grow in its own faith and ministry.