All students in the public health major complete a 6 unit (250 contact hour) internship as part of the degree requirements. We hear from alumni that the internship was one of the most rewarding and valuable components of their undergraduate experience. This is a chance for students to gain professional public health experience, start networking, and determine post-graduation plans.
Enrollment Options & Eligibility
As part of the Bachelor of Science degree requirements, all public health students complete at least one credit-based internship prior to graduation. HPS 493A/H is the 6 unit (250 contact hours) required internship experience. Students can elect to complete these six units in one semester or over the course of two semesters (for 125 contact hours/3 units of enrollment each semester). Enrollment in HPS 493A is the usual enrollment for students. Enrollment in HPS 493H is reserved for Honors students.
Prerequisites for enrollment in HPS 493A/H:
• Acceptance into the professional Public Health major
• Completion of HPS 350
Because the experience is so valuable, some students elect to complete additional internship for public health elective credit as early as the second semester of their sophomore year. Talk to your advisor if you would like to learn more about this option! HPS 493B is the internship for public health elective credit. This internship can be completed for 3 (125 contact hours) or 6 units (250 contact hours).
Prerequisites for enrollment in HPS 493B:
• Completion of HPS 178, HPS 200 and six other public health units
Getting Started & Internship Prep Orientation
Though students are responsible for finding and negotiating the specifics of your own internship (because the career path beyond public health degree is so varied), we offer guidance and support every step of the way. The Internship Director provides a fully online internship orientation that you complete before beginning the search process.
- Before beginning your internship search, watch the Internship Prep Orientation Video. This video lets you know what steps you have to take to find and secure your internship and you learn the deadlines and forms for internship enrollment. Do this orientation now even if you have no idea what you want to do with your internship experience or if you've had it planned for a year! Watch the 50 minute Public Health Internship Orientation Video: via Panopto or YouTube (closed captioning available)
- For students planning an internship in the upcoming summer or fall semester, there is an accompanying Internship Prep Worksheet to complete. This worksheet verifies that you have watched the prep video and completing it gives you access to the forms needed for your next steps. The worksheet is NOT detailing the specifics of your internship so no need to have your internship figured out to complete it!
- For those planning a summer internship, complete the worksheet by March 18
- For those planning a fall internship, complete the worksheet by March 31
- After the submission of the worksheet, students gain access to the Public Health Internship Prep D2L course site, where they find the required forms for internship unit enrollment. Students use this D2L site to submit the internship work plan and preceptor agreement. Deadlines for these forms are shared in the Internship Prep Orientation Video.
We recommend that public health students complete the required internship units during their senior year. Students can complete all six units in one semester or over the summer. You can also consider spreading the six units out over two semesters. Feedback from alumni and site supervisors indicate that spreading the internship out over two semesters is an ideal choice for many reasons:
- You get a more in-depth view of the agency's impact
- You get to know your site supervisor better, which may lead to a stronger reference.
- Staying longer may give you more opportunities for growth and leadership. For example, the opportunity to help interview, select, and train new interns.
- The stability of a longer-term internship could lead to fewer daily stressors.
- You will have more time to recognize and resolve your own on the job challenges and more effectively grow your strengths.
- You will have more time to schedule your other coursework and other commitments (8.5-10 hours per week on-site as opposed to 17-20 hours per week).
- You are able to balance the internship class assignments better in your schedule.
- Showing longevity at your internship site looks appealing to future employers.
- You expand your network by selecting the option to explore two different projects and sites.
Tips for Securing an Internship
Students are responsible for finding and negotiating the specifics of their own internships. Students have had success in securing a public health internship by taking the following action.
- View the Internship Orientation Video early in the semester before you want to complete your internship. The Orientation includes strategies for searching for and securing an internship.
- Google your preferred location and health topics that interest you. For example, “Tucson” or “Peru” matched with your personal and career interests (for example, “environmental health” or "HIV"). As needed, expand your search to include a broader or more specific location and/or use different key words for your interests (for example, subbing "gestational diabetes" for "maternal health").
- Examine the search results to learn more about potential organizations and opportunities. Review each organization’s website and consider the organization's mission, programs, and services.
- Contact each organization that you are interested in to connect with someone (this could be someone in Human Resources, the Volunteer Coordinator, or someone in the department that you would like to intern with). Share with the contact that you are interested in exploring internship opportunities and that you have specific skills related to their work (those skills are team-based problem solving, communication, etc., and/or specific relevant skills related to their work, such as health promotion, epidemiology research, addressing health disparities, etc.). If the contact reports that they don't have internship opportunities, ask them if they could refer you to someone at their organization or field of work. Don't forget to also thank them for their time.
- If your initial discussion seems promising, ask about next steps to secure an internship experience at their organization. In addition, work with the preceptor to fill out the required University/College internship paperwork (found on the Public Health Internship Prep D2L site).