Business internships and their relationship with retention, academic performance, and degree completion

Walker, Robert
Major Professor
Larry H. Ebbers
Committee Member
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Educational Leadership and Policy Studies

The purpose of this study was to understand the relationship between internships and grade point average, retention, and persistence to degree completion for business students in a private, not-for-profit, 4-year, liberal arts baccalaureate institution. Research has indicated benefits for students and schools involved in internship programs. Student retention and persistence has become an important measure of institutional efficiency. Student involvement, as well as academic and social integration, have been linked to increased retention and degree completion. A well-structured internship should increase student involvement and academic and social integration leading to increased retention, persistence, and degree completion. This study sought to answer the following research questions:

Does participation in a student internship impact overall, final GPA?

Does participation in a student internship significantly improve GPA for the semesters following an internship compared to prior semesters?

Does participation in a student internship have an impact on GPA for the area of study as opposed to the GPA for other courses?

Does participation in a student internship impact persistence or the probability of completion to graduation?

Does participation in a student internship impact the timeliness of graduation?

If an internship is beneficial, when in a student's academic career is the optimal time to complete an internship?

Studies on the effects of student performance, as measured by grade point average, have been limited and have shown mixed results. If it is determined that internships play a strong role in success for business students, such experiences would give confidence and weight to making internships a requirement in an undergraduate curriculum in business majors.