Frequently Asked Questions about Practicums at Carnegie Mellon University-Rwanda
Why sponsor a practicum?
Many times a company will have a pet project that they would like to try out (an idea), and they would like to either test it or do a trial, but the company may not have enough resources to actually test it to see if it's valid. The Master’s Practicum is an opportunity for your company could ‘contract out’ to a consulting team of Carnegie Mellon University master’s students near program completion.
What makes for a good practicum?
If you have an idea for a practicum, contact Bruce H. Krogh, Director of CMU-R. He’ll put you in touch with a faculty advisor who will work with you to see if the idea is feasible as a practicum.
What if my practicum will take longer than a semester?
The student team will negotiate with the client for a reasonable scoping of work for that semester. What remains can be used as a practicum course for a future student team.
Are practicum courses offered year round?
Yes, the MSIT Practicum course is offered in both the fall (August-December) and spring (January-May) semesters.
Can I hand-pick the students on the team?
The student teams are formed by the CMU-R faculty to best balance the skills of the students with the requirements of the selected projects. If there are particular students you know in the master’s program that you would like to recommend for the project, you can do so on the Practicum Project Proposal form. You are also asked to identify any particular skills required to carry out the project. The faculty will take this information into account when forming the student teams.
What is the difference between participating in a practicum and hiring your students as interns?
The practicum is different from an internship in that the sponsor is not responsible for an educational component. Sponsors act purely as the client to the contracted team.
Can I require students to sign Non-Disclosure Agreements and/or Intellectual Property documents prior to the start of a practicum?
Yes, however, these requirements must be made clear prior to the student agreeing to work on the team. Carnegie Mellon is not involved in any of these agreements; the contracts are strictly between the client and students.
Do I need to provide office space for the team?
No. You may want your team to meet you onsite for weekly meetings, but the bulk of the team’s work can be done at CMU-R’s campus.
What time commitment is expected of me as a practicum sponsor?
You, as the client, are expected to provide a representative to work directly with the team on a weekly or more frequent basis. Each student on the team is expected to work 20-24 hours a week on the practicum for the duration of a semester.
What oversight does the university provide for the practicum team?
A faculty member acts as a team advisor, providing guidance when needed.
How much does a practicum cost?
While there is no cost to the client for sponsoring a practicum, there are expenses for us in running an educational program. We appreciate sponsors who are able to make a donation to Carnegie Mellon University-Rwanda in the form of an undirected, monetary gift. Each student will invest roughly 360 hours into your practicum problem over the course of a semester. (A four person team will invest the better part of a person-year into your project.) While any gift is appreciated, sponsors wonder how to value that kind of contribution. Given the limits on discretionary funds in established, for-profit companies, a suggested guideline might be $5,000 per student working on your project. That being said, some of our best projects come from non-profits and new ventures. If you are not in a position to give a donation, we still would love to hear about your project.