As a Human Development and Family Studies (HDFS) student, you will be required to complete an internship during your final year of study. You will work closely with your adviser to plan the path most appropriate for you.

The internship consists of preparatory course work, fieldwork, and reflective assignments and academic projects to help you learn from your experiences and connect your hands-on work with your academic knowledge.

Internships Help Students Meet Career Goals

Internship experiences are essential in most human service fields and can help you:

  • gain practical, hands-on work experience
  • observe professionals
  • connect what you learn in your courses to real-world settings
  • transition more easily from school to your field of interest
  • build a professional network
  • earn the work references you will need to get a high-quality job

Internships can also be valuable to people who already work in the field, by providing opportunities to train in new departments or move up to higher-level responsibilities.

Where to Find Internship Opportunities

Our current students intern at a range of organizations representing the diversity of fields that HDFS graduates enter. Common internship sites include:

  • day care centers
  • schools
  • mental health organizations
  • nonprofit groups
  • human resources departments

HDFS and advising staff are happy to discuss your interests and help you think about appropriate internship sites. Additionally, all students take a "pre-internship" course in which an instructor guides you through the process of negotiating an internship. 

Internship Requirements

During the semester prior to enrolling in an internship, all students must complete a pre-internship course designed to guide them through the process of preparing a résumé, identifying potential internship sites, negotiating internship tasks and expectations, and designing an internship that is approved by the department. Then, during the internship semester, students are required to be on-site at a human service organization each week for a designated number of hours. During this time, students are also enrolled in course work designed to promote reflective learning.

The table below provides an overview of the internship requirements for the associate degree, the bachelor's degree, and the associate-to-bachelor's degree path.

Hours and Courses Required
Degree On-Site Hours Required Courses Required
Associate Degree

160 hours

(11–12 hours per week during the spring or fall, or 13–15 hours per week during the summer)

  • 3 credits of HD FS 395.1 to identify and prepare for the internship (during the second-to-last semester)
  • 3 credits of HD FS 395.2 for the internship (during the last semester)
Bachelor's Degree

480 hours

(32 hours per week during the spring or fall, or 40 hours per week during the summer)

  • 2 credits of HD FS 490 to identify and prepare for the internship (during the second-to-last semester)
  • 9 credits of HD FS 495A for the internship (during the last semester)
  • 3 credits of HD FS 495B for related course work (during the last semester, at the same time as HD FS 495A)
Associate Degree to Bachelor's Degree

480 hours total, split into:

160 hours for the associate internship
(11–12 hours per week during the spring or fall, or 13–15 hours per week during the summer)

and

320 hours for the bachelor's internship
(21–23 hours per week during the spring or fall, or 27–28 hours per week during the summer) 

  • 3 credits of HD FS 395.1 to identify and prepare for the internship 
  • 3 credits of HD FS 395.2 for the internship 

and

  • 2 credits of HD FS 490 to identify and prepare for the internship (during the second-to-last semester)
  • 6 credits of HD FS 495A for the internship (during the last semester)
  • 3 credits of HD FS 495B for related course work (during the last semester, at the same time as HD FS 495A)

How Can an Internship Work for Me?

While many students can fit internships into their lives, for some, doing so poses considerable challenges. If you have significant caregiving responsibilities, long work hours, or unpredictable work schedules, you may find it challenging to complete the internship requirements. You should carefully consider the internship requirements prior to enrolling in an HDFS degree program. As you think about your situation, here are some options to consider. 

  1. Students already working in a human service organization are sometimes able to intern at their workplaces provided that they are completing new or higher-level duties. For instance, a student working as a classroom assistant at a preschool could complete his internship at his school by training for and then moving into a lead teacher position. It is very important that students interested in this option discuss it with the HDFS internship coordinator and with their work supervisors before moving forward. Interested students may contact Ms. Terry Cummins, Director of Internships for HDFS World Campus, at [email protected] to discuss their options.
  2. Bachelor's degree students who are concerned they will be unable to complete the full-semester internship may — with advance planning — meet the requirement by first completing 160 internship hours required for the associate degree early in the bachelor's program (11–13 hours per week). Then, those hours and credits may be applied toward the bachelor's degree internship requirement, leaving 320 internship hours to complete during a student's final semester (22–25 hours per week). This is outlined in the table under the title "Associate Degree to Bachelor's Degree." Note: This can be a step-up sequence to pursue degrees or to complete internship requirements.

If you need more information to evaluate your readiness for completing the internship requirements for an HDFS degree, contact World Campus advising at 814-865-5403 or email Ms. Terry Cummins at [email protected] prior to enrolling in an HDFS program.