Is Pay Required?

CFS does not require nor do we prohibit pay, however we ask all employers to keep in mind:

  • CFS students pay full Northwestern University tuition the quarter they are interning
  • Most students have jobs and are not able to work at them during the quarter they intern, often losing $600-$900 in income
  • Transportation costs alone are typically over $250 the quarter they intern
  • Students have to pay for their lunches when interning, averaging $5-8 a day 

Compensation may include a travel stipend, Illinois minimum wage, or the prevailing wage for interns (approximately $15 an hour according to the National Association of Colleges and Employers)

"For profit" private sector employers who choose to have unpaid internships should pass the U.S. Department of Labor, Wage and Hour Division six prong test for unpaid internships under the Fair Labor Standards Act. According to Fact Sheet #71: Internship Programs Under The Fair Labor Standards Act “the following six criteria must be applied when making this determination:

  • The internship, even though it includes actual operation of the facilities of the employer, is similar to training which would be given in an educational environment;
  • The internship experience is for the benefit of the intern;
  • The intern does not displace regular employees, but works under close supervision of existing staff;
  • The employer that provides the training derives no immediate advantage from the activities of the intern; and on occasion its operations may actually be impeded;
  • The intern is not necessarily entitled to a job at the conclusion of the internship; and
  • The employer and the intern understand that the intern is not entitled to wages for the time spent in the internship.”

If you are a "for profit" private sector employer considering the issue of compensation, we encourage you to comply with The U.S. Department of Labor.

Any financial assistance that you can offer a CFS student helps offset the additional costs of interning with you. Employers who would like to do more for CFS students can contribute to the Chicago Field Studies Scholars Fund so CFS can continue to help students with financial need cover their expenses while they are interns.

Thank you for helping CFS students explore a field, gain experience, and expand their knowledge of the working world! If you have any questions, please contact Karen Allen at karen-allen@northwestern.edu or 847-467-0549