Internships and Field Experiences

Department of Leadership Studies

An internship is the integration of theory and practice; an opportunity to take what’s been learned, and use this knowledge in more practical ways at an organization of your choosing. The internship experience can be one of the most challenging and rewarding aspects of a graduate program. It’s an opportunity to enhance your technical skills, experiment with a variety of authority relationships, and in some instances even work with others to achieve a common organizational goal. The Department of Leadership Studies is pleased to offer students a wide variety of opportunities for internship and well as the support and encouragement of the faculty and staff.

Student Responsibilities

Students are responsible for finding an appropriate placement with the assistance of the Director of Field Experience and their advisor.  The student is responsible for ensuring that all of the application paperwork is completed in a timely manner.  Students are responsible for corresponding coursework and must keep a log of all hours worked on site.  All paperwork is located on our forms page.

Students are also responsible for enrolling in the internship course and arranging for a triad meeting with the Internship Class Instructor and their site supervisor.  

Site Selection

Selecting a site is the most important step you will take. The director of field experiences (DFE), is the SOLES administrator will assist you in the process with input from your advisor.  To view opportunities go to Current internship opportunities or go to or contact USD's Career Development Office for an appointment.  


The site selection process should occur in the semester PRIOR to the one that you plan to register for your internship. This is important because the 14 week semester moves very quickly, and you want to be sure that you and your field supervisor agree on the goals and objectives for your work together. Students who are not prepared in this way may be asked to defer doing an internship for another semester

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Do I get paid for doing an internship?

This varies according to the internship site. Some internships are paid, most are not. The professional benefits you will gain from the internship experience are often far greater than the small stipend you might receive. You will need to talk to the field supervisor to see if your internship is one that is paid or not. Keep in mind there is a wide range in the amount of pay received for internships.

2. Which course number do I register for?

Students in the masters program register for LEAD 598
Students in the doctoral program register for LEAD 698

These courses are repeatable, so if you wish to enroll in a second internship during your program, you may do so.

3. What if I have not heard back from the person at the site where I want to do an internship?

If you continue to have trouble contacting the person, you should contact Teresa VanHorn, Director of Field Experiences, right away at or (619) 260-4760. She can work with you to either find another contact person at that site or discuss another placement with you.

4. Is there a possibility that my internship will turn into an employment opportunity in the future?

Many interns choose a site because they have an interest in seeking future employment with the organization that they have chosen. On occasion interns have received job offers as a result of the work they have done as interns. We recommend that you work as though you are employed at the site by working collegially and respecting those that you encounter on a daily basis. Even if you do not get future employment at that site, your supervisor could serve as a potential reference for you as you seek employment opportunities in the future.

5. May I do my internship here at USD or at my current workplace?

While neither of these are strictly prohibited, they are both discouraged.  It is our goal to have you gain the most marketable job experience and to receive the best mentoring possible from your internship. Working in a different realm will to increase your network of contact and enhance your resume or vitae. 
You may not use your regular full or part-time employment as an internship.

6. What if I can not finish all of my required internship hours in one semester?

Locate a site, apply, and complete the internship registration form on-line 
Meet with your USD instructor and site supervisor and start your internship hours. 
Enroll in the course the semester that you will be able to complete your hours and take the class.


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