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Department ofPublic Health

Internship Approval

Internship Requirement

The Public Health major includes a 100 hour internship (approved volunteer or work experience) for students to integrate their academics with current professional interests and professional practice.

Internship Approval

The Public Health internship experience is intended for students to gain practical experience by applying their education to real-world problems. PHSC majors must commit to a minimum of 100 hours to an internship. Internships are typically with organizations outside of SCU, such as public health departments, health clinics, community health agencies, and non-profit organizations. Students interested in research are encouraged to speak with their faculty advisor or Sarah Hays, faculty director of the PHSC 139/197 courses, to ensure the parameters of the experience meet the objectives of the internship.

Enrollment in PHSC 139 is recommended for sophomore year, prior to seeking approval of the Public Health Internship. Email Sarah Hays ( with questions.

Internship Criteria

The following criteria must be met:
  • The work must be relevant to understanding and/or improving human health at the population level. This could include any dimension of community health, health care delivery, health education, or health policy.
  • Internship activities must include opportunities for active engagement and intellectual creativity. Passive observation or repetitive tasks are not sufficient. Note: shadowing of medical professionals will not satisfy the PHSC Internship requirement.
  • Internship activities must provide insight into human health at the community or population level. Working with health care providers dealing with individual patients is not sufficient. Students and mentors must make a conscious effort to broaden insights gained from clinical experiences to the community and population level.
  • Supervisors of interns must have appropriate training and expertise.
  • Students must participate in a minimum of 100 hours of activities.

Internship Process:

Step One: Students must have successfully completed PHSC 1 before the internship; additional public health courses beforehand are recommended for a more meaningful internship experience.

Step Two: Students should enroll in PHSC 139 prior to beginning the 100 hour internship. PHSC 139 is designed to help students identify internship opportunities, set expectations, and develop important skills for the work world including communication skills and team collaboration.

Step Three: Obtain internship approval through 1) PHSC 139 or 2) meeting with Sarah Hays or 3) meeting with another public health faculty member. Students will not receive retroactive credit for internship hours worked without official approval.

Step Four: Complete a minimum of 100 hours of approved internship activities. Students are expected to maintain a log of time spent in the internship as well as notes on overall experience. Students completing their internship during the academic year should enroll in PHSC 197 during their internship. Students who complete their internship during the summer should enroll in PHSC 197 the following Fall.

Step Five: Have your internship supervisor email to verify you have satisfactorily completed >100 hours.

Internship Essay Instructions

  • For students entering SCU Fall 2020 or later: You will receive the essay prompts during your PHSC 197 coursework.

  • For students entering SCU before Fall 2020:

The internship reflection essay should include the following:

Section 1: 1) position held; 2) the organization and community context you worked in; 3) the goals of the internship; 4) the activities you engaged in and 5) your major accomplishments. 

Section 2: Reflection on how the internship addressed the learning objectives of the PHSC major: “Students will actively engage with real-world public health problems in order to: 1) develop critical thinking capacity for the analysis of complex problems that require created, integrative salutations; 2) nurture ethical awareness and sensitivity to social justice issues inherent in the health disparities facing underserved populations and communities; and 3) develop communication and leadership skills that will enable students to productively address pressing public health issues in their community.”

Section 3: Reflection on how the work meshed with personal values and how the student’s work values evolved during the internship process. Students will also offer their observations of the leadership and supervision in the internship and if/how the internship aided in building their networking skills.

Internship essays should be submitted to the PHSC Program ( by the end of Week 2 of the quarter following the end of the internship (for example - an internship completed in the summer will have an essay due date of the end of Week 2 of Fall quarter).

Valeriote Goldman Symposium: Public Health & Social Justice