Graduate Internships

The internship is one of many experiences that students have while pursuing a degree in Leadership Studies. It is an opportunity for students to get “real life / real time” experience in an organizational setting that is of interest to them. Students should select a site that gives them the opportunity to be challenged, and to learn as much as possible about their particular field of interest.

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.  Please review the Internship Handbook to learn more about the internship goals, expectations, how to find, select and have your internship approved.

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. 


Internship related forms are available online for your convenience.

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 our internship opportunities (sites) page or go to or visit USD's Career Development Office for more resources or to make 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.
  1. 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.
  1. 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. 
  1. 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. 
  1. 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. 
  1. What if I can not finish all of my required internship hours in one semester?
    There is flexibility in stretching your 150 across semesters.  You must make this decision in consultation with the course instructor, who will help you determine which semester to register for the class in (normally you want to be enrolled in the class during the semester where you will complete the bulk of your hours).  Always have your internship approved formally through the internship application and have your triad meeting before starting your hours regardless of when you'll enroll in the course.