Back to top

Practicum Overview

You are here

The Practicum is a means of gaining relevant, professional work experience. The Practicum gives SIS students an opportunity to “try out” a job and type of workplace, gain professional work experience, earn academic credit and valuable professional contacts. The Practicum experience:

  • Integrates the classroom with the “real world” under the supervision and instruction of an experienced information professional;
  • Puts technique and technologies in context;
  • Strengthens one’s accomplishments portfolio and resume through validating skills and knowledge;
  • Provides oversight, context, and feedback from skilled and established practitioners;
  • Can be done in any location;
  • Allows students an extended opportunity to “interview” an employer they are interested in working for;
  • Confirms interest in a possible career path and develops familiarity with culture and values of a specific type of organizational climate.

Overview and Rationale

The practicum is an elective curriculum option available to any student who wants field experience as a part of his or her specific program of study. It is available to those who:

  1. Meet the necessary prerequisites (in course description, above),
  2. Identify a career goal or information work area outside the scope of available courses, or
  3. Want to gain work experience, expand his/her knowledge base, and/or enhance a portfolio with a work product (e.g., student-created websites, system documentation, training materials, computer programs, etc).

IS 599: Practicum (3 hrs.) Opportunity to translate theory into practice under guidance of qualified information professionals. Prerequisite: completion of required and pertinent advanced courses relevant to student's practicum design. Minimum 3.0 GPA. Written permission of advisor and approval of practicum coordinator. May be repeated with written permission. Maximum 6 hours. S/NC only. Fall, Spring, Summer. See Course Syllabi for recent syllabus.

Credit Hour Options

Typically, a practicum experience is three hours of academic credit (150 clock hours), which translates to an average of 10 hours per week of on-site practicum activity (e.g., instruction, work, consultation, supervision, review, evaluation) for one 15-week semester during the regular academic year (i.e., fall and spring semesters). This is equivalent to a quarter-time job.

The summer term is only 10 weeks long, but the 150 hour requirement still applies. With the practicum supervisor's consent and availability, the practicum may start during the break between spring and summer terms.

The flexibility of the practicum affords the student a range of possible options. Under circumstances agreed to by the student's advisor and the practicum coordinator, a student may engage in:

  1. One additional 3-credit-hour practicum experience (i.e., a total of two separate three-hour practicums in two separate semesters), or
  2. Two 3-hour practicums (six credit-hours) in different areas/sites during a single semester, or
  3. One 6-hour practicum in one semester–in special circumstances.

The time format for the practicum also affords some flexibility. As needed and agreed to by the supervisor, a practicum can begin before the beginning of that term in which the student wishes to receive credit for the practicum.


Practicums can be completed at a variety of locations across the state of Tennessee, as well as across the nation. Students are also able to complete practicums at international locations. Some opportunities are listed in SIS Practicum Opportunities. You can also speak with your faculty advisor and the practicum coordinator for ideas.

Roles and Responsibilities:

There are four roles related to a SIS Practicum:

  • Student
  • Faculty Advisor
  • Practicum Coordinator 
  • Site Supervisor


  • Primarily responsible for initiating the practicum process.
  • Creates a list of learning objectives by working with the SIS Faculty Advisor.
  • Identifies practicum site and supervisor. The Practicum Coordinator can help with site selection.
  • Completes 150 hours of work and keeps a log of their work hours and activities.

Faculty Advisor:

  • Assists student in developing a list of learning objectives for the practicum.
  • Reviews and approves the proposed practicum as being relevant to the student's program and career interests.

Practicum Coordinator:

  • Assists student with identifying the practicum site and placement.
  • Supervises the practicum experience once the faculty advisor and site supervisor have approved the student's practicum application.
  • Coordinates communications between the site supervisor, faculty advisor, and student if needed.

Practicum Supervisor:

Setup Procedures

  1. Interested students discuss their interests with their Faculty Advisor, contact the Practicum Coordinator, and identify a practicum location and Practicum Supervisor, during the semester prior to the term in which they wish to do a practicum.Practicum objectives are developed by working with the Faculty Advisor.
  2. Students then discuss their practicum objectives with the Practicum Supervisor, and negotiate the terms of the practicum, including the actual duties expected, and a mutually-approved work schedule.
  3. The online SIS Student Practicum Application Form is then submitted by the student, which is automatically sent by email to the Practicum Coordinator, the Faculty Advisor, and the Practicum Supervisor, for review.The Supervisor and Advisor will each indicate to the Coordinator their acceptance of, modifications to, or rejection of the practicum objectives, by completing the Practicum Application Approval Form. If the Advisor and/or Supervisor indicate a change is necessary, or that the objectives as presented in the application are unacceptable, the Coordinator will contact the student to ensure that the specified changes are made, or if rejected, that the student contacts the Advisor. The student would then resubmit the application with the revised objectives.
  4. >After the Practicum Coordinator has received the Practicum Application Approval forms submissions from the Advisor and Supervisor indicating their approval of the application, the Practicum Coordinator will email the student and the SIS Student Services Coordinator of the practicum's approval and activation. At this time, the student will be able to register for 3 or 6 units of INSC 599.

The following guidelines apply:

  • All required courses relevant to the practicum will have been completed.
  • The student must not be on Academic Probation during the semester prior to the beginning of the practicum.
  • Because students cannot do practicum work identical to that for which they are paid, a student does not normally do a practicum in an information organization where he/she is employed. With consent of the practicum coordinator, however, a student may undertake a practicum in a department/unit within the organization other than the one in which he/she normally works. But this should be done only (1) when there is real need—not merely for convenience--and (2) does not violate federal or state wage and hour guidelines.
  • A student may not take a practicum for more than three credit hours of IS 599 if employed more than 20 hours per week.
  • While every reasonable effort will be made to facilitate provision of a practicum experience for a student meeting all qualifications and following all necessary procedures, availability of a practicum cannot be guaranteed.