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Internship Courses

University of Houston, 2017 Interns. From left to right, top row: Melina Diaz, Manvitha Katta, Eden Absar, Katie Drews, bottom row: Livia Garza, Puja Javalagi, Rogette Saba

Smithsonian Internship Courses are a unique opportunity for students to experience a once-in-a-lifetime academic and professional learning experience at the Smithsonian. More than a traditional internship, these courses pair academic programming with unprecedented access to all the Smithsonian has to offer!

Smithsonian Internship Courses are offered throughout the academic year (September through May) with flexible start dates and durations. Schools or organizations that bring 8 or more students at a time are eligible to set their own start dates and durations. Don’t have 8 students? No problem! Contact us for more information about joining one of our regularly scheduled courses.


Open Doors Experience

(1-3 weeks)

The Smithsonian Open Doors Experience (SODE) is designed as a one-to-three week experience where students will explore many of the museums and research centers in and around DC (think Jan-terms and May-mesters!). Students will meet curators, educators and administration professionals who will share their stories about working at the world’s largest museum.

In order to fully engage students as they explore the diversity of topics encompassed by the Smithsonian, a professor will join the students on their experience and hold daily seminars. These seminars will highlight selected readings and other material as the students examine topics such as the role of the Smithsonian in popular culture, historical context and national interest.

Professors of this course are affiliated with local DC universities. Or, schools are welcome to bring their own faculty member to lead this course.

Participants of SODE leave their experience with a budding network of contacts in the Smithsonian and a much better idea of future academic and professional opportunities within. We are proud to welcome back alumni of this program as future interns and colleagues.

The University of South Carolina Honors College piloted this course, read more about their experience here.

From left to right, students Alexis Kratzer, Victoria VanZomeren, Olivia Williamson, Kevin O’Brien, Sarah Christenbury, and USC professor Dave Snyder.


Smithsonian Grand Challenge Internship

(10+ weeks)

The Smithsonian Grand Challenge Internship is modeled after a traditional internship but includes additional programming to expose interns to the broader Smithsonian experience. Students are paired with a mentor for the duration of their internship and spend 4 days a week working with them on projects within the mentor’s unit. One day a week the students engage with the rest of their cohort at weekly seminars or other Smithsonian experiences to gain a broader understanding of the Smithsonian and examine how the work they’re doing with their mentor contributes to the larger picture.

Grand Challenges participants leave the program with both a deep and broad Smithsonian experience. They gain valuable knowledge and skills from their mentor and internship while also learning about other elements of the Smithsonian.

Please note: this program is not eligible to begin in May, June or July.

This program was piloted with East Los Angeles College’s Vincent Price Art Museum, read more about their experience here.

ELAC Interns Vanessa Quintero, Gabriella Padilla, Melissa Marinero



The Smithsonian offers competitive pricing for these courses, which can be customized based on the needs of the group. Minimum class size will dictate availability or final costs.

The costs will include:

  • housing: the Smithsonian can arrange housing for you, or recommend local vendors for short-term student housing
  • instruction (Open Doors only): schools can bring their own professor, or the Smithsonian can hire a local instructor
  • administration fees: equivalent to one credit hour per student



Please contact us for more information about these programs.