Gain hands-on experience working in an organization in your field. 

Two women standing by a table taking notes behind an IOM poster
Kimani DeShields ( right) delivering a financial literacy training in Ranong, Thailand for migrant workers from Myanmar. (Credit: Kimani DeShields )

The Professional Service Semester (PSS) helps students secure graduate-level internships, jobs, or consultancies at organizations in the U.S. and abroad. 

The program is designed for graduate students in the Environmental Policy and Management (EPM) and Nonproliferation and Terrorism Studies (NPTS) graduate programs. 

Students can earn 6 units for the field course during the regular spring, summer or fall semesters. Students should consult their academic advisor regarding additional credits if needed. 

A spin-off version of PSS called “practicum” is also a required course for MA in International Policy Studies (IPD), Master in Public Administration (MPA), and MA in International Trade and Economic Diplomacy students (ITED). 

Get a Head Start on Your Career

For many students, the practicum experience acts as a stepping stone to a future career. The program’s networking possibilities and international exposure are just a few of the benefits students receive through their participation. An practicum assignment complements a student’s degree focus by providing an applied learning environment for students to develop skills and knowledge not covered in traditional classes.

For more information and help planning for your Professional Service Semester, visit the Center for Advising and Career Services and meet with the Director of Experiential Learning

Past Participants and Participating Organizations

View a complete list of past PSS participants and where they served from 2002–2024.

Since 2002, more than 300 Professional Service Fellows have served in more than 200 international organizations. Because of our continued partnerships with these organizations, many practicum students are offered exceptional opportunities that are unavailable to anyone else. Recent opportunities include the following organizations:

United Nations Office for Disarmament Affairs (UNODA)
Conventional Arms Branch (New York City)
Food and Agriculture Organization (Rome, Italy)
North Atlantic Treaty Organization (Romania)
Marine Conservation Institute (Washington, D.C.)
International Atomic Energy Agency (Vienna, Austria)
U.S. Dept. of Treasury Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (Washington, D.C.)
Andean Alliance for Sustainable Development (Calca, Peru)
International Organization for Migration (Bangkok, Thailand)
California Coastal Commission (various CA locations)

Where PSS Alumni Find Careers

U.S. State Department
State of California
Teach for America
American Red Cross
Catholic Relief Services
United Nations
International Organization for Migration
International Labor Organization
The World Bank
International Atomic Energy Agency
Inter-American Development Bank


PSS is open to all EPM and NPTS students in their third or fourth semester. Students should register for the 6-unit course and confirm their position one month before the start of their practicum semester. 


Carolyn Taylor Meyer, PhD

Director of Experiential Learning