Practicum Vs. Internship

Understanding the difference between practicum vs. internship can better prepare students for the future demands of their degree programs. While these two have some things in common, such as making students ready for the upcoming jobs, by implementing the skills they’ve learned so far, they also have a couple of differences as well.

By acknowledging these differences, you can plan your education more effectively while pursuing a career path after earning your degree. For that reason, we are going to disclose some pros and cons, and help you decide between these two.


The practicum is an on-the-job training course that is specifically designed to improve the skills and competency of the students. It is basically a supervised application of studied theories, so during a practicum, students will manage tasks, while professors or staff supervise them. But, the staff’s level of participation is limited.


The students will assist the personnel while working, but also observe and record data. Additionally, the professor will appoint some tasks that students will have to complete on their own.


On the other hand, an internship provides an altogether different experience than practicum. In this case, students have an opportunity to test their skills in the real working environment. In most cases, the student will work under the direct supervision of on-site personnel.

This person will set up daily tasks and then rate the student’s performance and level of skills. On top of that, the professor in charge of the student may review his progress by visiting him regularly.

Also, during the internship, the student will perform advanced tasks, which is not the case with the practicum.

Know the difference

So, how are internship and practicum different? Even though they both promote learning skills in students, they certainly have significant differences.

First of all, let’s start with the working hours since they vary greatly. For instance, practicum only lasts for a couple of hours within a regular school week, while the internship requires up to 40 hours per week. Additionally, the student will complete the practicum within one semester, while the internship lasts for a year.

Secondly, internships are designed for seniors, and students under this program are given more challenging responsibilities and tasks. However, they may receive better guidance and supervision than regular employees. But, compared to students under practicum, interns are more independent and are appointed to complete more advanced tasks.

For instance, practicum for student nurses usually involves following senior nurses, observing their work, and recording vital signs, while interns have more duties to complete, such as evaluating patients.

When it comes to supervision, on-site professionals handle interns, while professors mostly supervise students who complete practicums.

Last but not least, practicums will provide you the necessary skills and knowledge, and it’s unpaid. However, an internship can either be unpaid or paid.

What is an externship?

Externship can offer plenty of new opportunities and ideas to students. While an internship is more focused on a specific job, an externship is designed to deliver a sneak-peek into the day-to-day nuance of career professionals.

On top of that, externships allow students to observe and monitor daily tasks, as well as mechanisms surrounding a particular professional. In this case, students can decide whether to pursue a specific career path or not.

Additionally, externship allows students to expand their network by asking questions, commenting, and observing they can create a rapport, as well as the relationship with the career professionals. These connections can benefit you later on when you need recommendations or introductions into the industry when you graduate and are ready to assume a full-time position.