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Internship Information

The HDFS academic internship is the culmination of the student’s college training for a career in the human services.  Most students find the challenging internship experience the most rewarding of their college program.      

The HDFS academic internships combine an on-site supervised work experience with a structured academic learning plan for which a student earns academic credit.  The student’s substantive work and responsibilities within the work organization creates a professional experience that supports academic and career goals.  The faculty internship instructor and the work-site supervisor collaborate to promote the student’s critical thinking, observation and reflection, that foster intellectual, personal and professional growth. 

The internship offers the student the opportunity to apply academic knowledge in real world work situations, to explore a career choice, and to begin to establish a network of professional contacts.

Baccalaureate Internship  -  HDFS 401, 402, 495C Sequence

The baccalaureate internship generally requires the student to complete eight credit hours of HDFS 495C, which consists of at least 32 hours per week at the site over a 15-week semester (40 hours per week at the site over a 12-week summer session).

Students who have completed an associate degree internship, or who have already worked for an extended period of time at a human service agency, may be permitted to take HDFS 495C for six credit hours, spending at least 24 hours per week at the site over a 15-week semester (30 hours per week at the site over a 12-week summer session).  The student, the HDFS 401 instructor, and the Internship Coordinator must agree that a six credit internship is acceptable.

Prior to taking HDFS 495C, the baccalaureate internship, the student must complete HDFS 312W, and HDFS 401.  During HDFS 401, the student has the responsibility to arrange the internship, and complete all documentation.  The student is also required to obtain liability insurance, and complete Penn State Health Insurance Portability and Accountability (HIPAA) training.

Concurrently with taking the internship, HDFS 495C, the student will take HDFS 402, the senior seminar.  HDFS 402 will provide the supervision for the internship.  It is strongly recommended that students do not take any other coursework during their internship semester, and that they keep other paid work to an absolute minimum.

Associate Internship   -  HDFS 395-Field Projects 

This course offers opportunities for independent experience and guided study in a human service setting of the student’s choice.  Evaluative feedback on projects the student undertakes will be provided by a faculty instructor.  Additional evaluations of the field practicum will be contributed by a qualified on-site field supervisor.  A preliminary contract agreed upon by the student, the faculty instructor, and the field supervisor will specify both the quantity of agency participation hours to be served and the selected projects to be completed in order to satisfy the requirements necessary to earn the specified credit hours.  

The associate degree in HDFS requires 6 credits of internship, HDFS 395.  For each credit, the student should work from 37.5 to 40 clock hours, or the equivalent of one full-time work week.  If the student enrolls for 6 credits, he/she must plan on working in an agency between 225 and 240 clock hours. 

The associate degree internship is taken in the student’s last semester, typically the 4th semester.  Other courses may be taken at the same time as the internship, to allow the student to have a full-time course schedule.