Skip to main content
Danforth Educational Leadership Program


Internships are an essential element of the Danforth Educational Leadership Program, offering students the chance to engage in the practical application of theory and learn about the problems, opportunities and dilemmas of educational leadership.

All Danforth students must intern with at least one site during their time in the program. If possible, students are encouraged to serve as an intern in two different districts, community settings or school levels.

Internship Requirements

The Danforth internship is an intensive, year-long experience that occurs at the same time the student is attending classes with their cohort. All internships are supervised by an experienced mentor principal/program administrator and a UW Advocate.

The internship consists of 1,000 cumulative hours of tasks and responsibilities, with a minimum of 400 hours documented in instructional leadership. Students seeking both principal and program administrator certification must have a minimum of 1,360 hours of internship experience (1,000 school-based hours and 360 district-based hours). 

For any certificate, a minimum of 400 hours must be documented in instructional leadership areas, as described in ISLLC Standard 2.

Learn more about Danforth's mandatory internship experiences.

Time Commitment

Successful completion of the Danforth internship requires an ongoing commitment equal to about 40 percent of the workweek. Many participants accomplish this by serving full-time in a non-classroom role, such as dean of students, instructional coach, academic dean or — in the case of program administrator candidates — in a district-level position.

It is not possible to complete the internship while working as a full-time classroom teacher. Danforth students who are teaching must reduce their teaching load to no more than 60 percent.

Finding an Internship

Locating an internship site is the first act of personal leadership that a Danforth student takes on. Some students arrange for an internship within their current school or district, possibly with a mentor they already know and work with. Others seek to gain an internship in a separate district or school site.

Many area districts offer assistance to employees seeking internship opportunities, and we recommend students reach out to their district to see what opportunities may be available. If necessary, the Danforth program help students connect with potential internship sites and mentors.

Mentors and Advocates

Danforth interns and their on-site mentors receive guidance on internship practices and requirements from a UW advocate, an individual who helps craft a rigorous, relevant internship aligned to the student's career goals. Frequent discussion and interaction between the intern, mentor, UW advocate and Danforth program faculty provide opportunities for professional growth and renewal for all participants. See the Mentors & Advocates page for more details.