The Graduate Public Service Internship Program at UIS: A Way to Pay for Your Master’s Degree

Sherrie Elzinga
Sherrie Elzinga, Director of the Graduate Public Service Internship

For over 45 years, the Graduate Public Service Internship Program (GPSI) has offered students a graduate experience that integrates the classroom with a public sector internship.

GPSIs work in government 20 hours a week during the semester and full time in the summer as they complete their master’s requirements. Any master’s degree program will work. The program matches students to a position in their field.

So, let’s talk money. Here’s what the internship program will pay for:

  • Your master’s degree (up to 22 credit hour per academic year*),
  • Your fees (up to $250 per semester),
  • A salary ($1,200/month during the semester and $2,400/month in the summer), and
  • $300/year for professional development.

*Full disclosure: Online classes cost a little more, and you will have to pay any tuition differential, but being a GPSI will still save you lots of money.

Online students are welcome to apply for the GPSI programjust one hitch All GPSI positions are located in Springfield, Illinois, so you will need to be within commuting distance.

Besides the Money, Why You Might Want to be a GPSI 

Sherrie Elzinga, formerly Chief of Staff at Illinois EPA and now Director of GPSI, shares her thoughts on why this competitive program draws so many applicants.

Besides the moneythere’s the networkingStudents in the program make lifelong connections, especially with supervisor-mentors. Sherrie said, “I have known former GPSIs who have kept in touch with their supervisor-mentors throughout their career.”

There’s also an up-close view of how government works. “People in government make an impact every single day,” Sherrie said. “Everybody needs a driver’s license, don’t they? Somebody has to make the infrastructure for that. Turn on the water in the morning. Somebody works to make that water safe. Government impacts everything you do. Whether government service is a career path or just helps you be a good citizen of the world, you can’t get the same experience anywhere else.”

Finally, there’s practice in being a professional. “For many students, this is the first professional position they have had,” Sherrie said. “Professionals have to show up on time, be prepared for meetings, and then think on their feet and be able to explain what they do. All these details matter, and this is a safe place for students to practice.”

The best part of Sherrie’s job (and what it’s all for)? When someone gets a job: “They come to me and say, ‘I have this job in government. This is the job I wanted.’ There’s nothing better than seeing people get a great start in their career.”

How to apply: You can find the Application Process and deadlines here.