Practicum For All Graphic Design Students

We require all of our Graphic Design students to conduct a practicum or internship at an approved location, called sponsors.  Practicums provide you with practical and fulfilling experiences, serve as extensions of your education and prepare you for your career.

In your practicum experience, you’ll be a valued member of a design team, gain experience working with clients, participate in concept meetings, apply the design skills you are learning at UT and much more.

What’s the first step?

Students, keep reading to learn how to sign up with an existing or new practicum sponsor.

Sponsors, below is information to help you with the process to become a sponsor and hire interns.

Information for Students: Get Hired

We do not place students into practicum experiences. Rather, it is up to you to research, contact and seek an interview with locations (sponsors) that you find of interest. We have an extensive list of locations with whom we already have working relationships to help you begin your search.

Approved Practicum Sponsors

If you wish to work at a location not listed on our practicum sponsor list, you must receive approval by the practicum coordinator prior to beginning any work at the location, even if you already have an offer to work there and a start date.

To assist a company in becoming an approved practicum sponsor, you must supply the practicum coordinator with the company name, a URL, the person to contact, phone number and email. The coordinator will initiate contact with the sponsor and alert you when the company has been approved. Reasons that locations are not approved include:

  • Students are required to have a design mentor for whom they work in a practicum. Students are not permitted to be the sole designer. Individual projects for family members or personal freelance projects do not count as practicum.
  • Students are required to work on-site. Any location in which students are expected to work on their own outside of the employer’s location is not acceptable.
  • Practicums are required to supply the student a computer to use. Students are not to store files for a sponsor on their personal computer.
  • Practicums at production houses, such as Kinko’s/FedEx, are not permitted; however, opportunities at print shops are encouraged. Cases are reviewed on an individual basis.


You are not eligible to begin a practicum for credit until you have completed 351 and 400 in the fall of your Junior year. Practicums can be done prior to this time; however, they cannot be done for credit, and UT does not facilitate them.

If you wish to conduct a practicum prior to eligibility, it is imperative that you make your sponsor aware that you are not working for class credit. Many companies are not able to hire interns unless the students are registered for courses at UT. Our faculty do not encourage participation in internships prior to eligibility as it can often distract from required coursework before you are ready to take on such a responsibility.


You are expected to complete the number of required credit hours identified in your course catalog.  You must be enrolled in 456 to receive credit. Practicums cannot be backdated to a previous experience.

The formula for translating credit hours to working hours is as follows:

45 working hours = 1 hour of class credit
135 working hours = 3 hours credit
180 working hours = 4 hours of credit
225 working hours = 5 hours of credit
270 working hours = 6 hours of credit
315 working hours = 7 hours of credit
360 working hours = 8 hours of credit

*ADES 444, can count toward a practicum and may need to be petitioned

*Study abroad can also count toward practicum; please consult with your advisor

*These classes can make up some of your total practicum experience but cannot make up the entirety of the hours.

If you have an opportunity to work on a project that demonstrates educational value or service to the community but lacks the required design mentor, you can approach a faculty member to serve as your design mentor. This requires you to meet with the faculty and agree upon a scope of work for what will be an independent study that can be petitioned for practicum credit.

In these positions, you will be expected to develop a contract of work as well as a calendar for production to which you will be held accountable throughout the semester. Taking on such projects is at the discretion of each individual faculty member.

Process + Requirements

At 2-3 months before the semester during which you would like to start your practicum:

  • Review list of sponsors and identify with whom you would like to work
  • Contact sponsor and arrange for an interview
  • Be prepared to share the number of hours you would like to work
  • Bring a portfolio that represents your body of work and an updated resume
  • Accept a position (or request a sponsor to apply to be a sponsor)

During the semester you are working:

  • Apply for practicum hours (ADES 456)
  • Access CANVAS site for the course and download the practicum contract
  • Meet with your sponsor to complete the contract, have it signed and return it to the practicum coordinator for the semester. Be sure to complete the second page that outlines your agreed upon roles and responsibilities. This MUST be submitted by the second week of classes. Students who do not have practicums by the second week of classes will be forced to drop the class.

Complete your practicum experience:

  • Participate in practicum presentation to the class at the end of the term. All students are invited to these presentations to hear about these specific locations. Your presentation should include the following information:
    • Firm, location and supervisor name for whom you worked
    • Outline of types of projects and firm activities in which you were involved
    • At least 2-3 examples of your strongest work completed at this internship with descriptions as to why this was your strongest work
    • Insight into what you have learned about yourself as a designer from this experience
    • Insight into what you will do differently in your next internship or professional design experience
    • Advice you would give to any student who would be considering working at this particular internship

Information for Practicum Sponsors:  Become a Sponsor

We are continually on the lookout for new and exciting internship opportunities for our students. In order to ensure that our students are participating in experiences that are fulfilling and work as an effective extension of their design education, we ask that all interested sponsors review the requirements (below) then complete an application.

Once you have reviewed the following requirements and FAQs and feel your opportunity fits the parameters, please complete the New Sponsor Application.  We will review the application and let you know if you’re approved.

Requirements of a Sponsor

All internship opportunities must…

  • Be located onsite. Students cannot be asked to work from home.  Rather, they need to experience the life of a studio or business practice. Freelance jobs, therefore, do not qualify as an internship.
  • Be supervised by a design professional. Students are not allowed to be the sole designer in a workplace for internship credit. Instead, they need to be provided a role model and mentor who has a graphic design background, such as an art director or creative director, and works as a designer at the location.
  • Offer the student a computer to use. Students are not able to use their own computers for internship activities.
  • Focus on the creative and conceptual aspects of design beyond just production. While students should be expected to conduct production activities, the internship should not solely be about production. Working in copy centers, real estate ad composition, and general paste-up are not allowed. Internships in print facilities that will provide insight to pre-press and production techniques (including bindery, offset press, etc.) are allowed as part of an internship but not for the duration of the experience. Lettershop presses are encouraged so long as the student is generating work in addition to production.
  • Provide students with a stimulating and beneficial workload. Students can be asked to conduct a range of work deemed appropriate by the sponsor. We ask that students have opportunities to experience all aspects of the working culture within your environment but that the sponsor refrain from asking the student to do additional work from home.