Understanding the Human Development Internship Requirements

The Human Development degree requires you to complete an internship during your senior year. You will be given guidance on expectations of the internship but it is important to know that you will need to make time to complete the internship in order to graduate.

Please note that internship requirements for the Early Childhood Education option are more stringent than the other options because it will allow you to teach in Head Start, ECAP, and other early childhood education programs funded by the state of Washington.

Your Internship:  What to Expect

All students seeking a Human Development degree must complete an internship in a position that matches their career interests in a field related to human development. The internship is a supervised work experience with a professional (mentor) who has a bachelor’s degree or higher and who holds a position in a human services agency. The internship placement must correspond to the student’s HD Option.

During the internship, students apply the knowledge and skills they have acquired in the classroom to the workplace as they interact with professionals in the field. They become familiar with that agency’s philosophy and functions. Students develop and practice skills they will later apply during their careers. They also analyze and evaluate their learning experience through written assignments.

The internship process begins in a professional preparation seminar two semesters before the student intends to graduate. During the seminar, the student initiates contact with potential placement sites and mentors, negotiates work arrangements with agency personnel, develops learning plans, and enrolls in the required courses for the internship:  H_D 498/Field Placement or H_D 446/Practicum (for early childhood education/ECE students).

This process is monitored by the WSU internship coordinator who sets up the structure (contracts) and communicates with the students and mentors during the internship the following semester. The internship coordinator does not find placement for students.

Students complete a minimum of 135 hours in the field for the three-credit H_D 498 but can earn additional credits by completing more hours. This is arranged the prior semester during H_D 497. Each credit corresponds to 45 internship hours, so a four-credit internship would require 180 hours in the field.

Students pursing the ECE option will complete 270 hours for the six-credit H_D 446.

General internship courses: H_D 497 is offered every fall and spring semester (not summer). H_D 498 is offered every spring semester and summer session (not fall).

ECE practicum courses: H_D 445 is offered every fall semester. H_D 446 is offered every spring semester.

Internship Placement

While this is possible, you must do work that is different than your current work duties and your internship mentor must be someone other than your work supervisor. It is preferable, however, to complete an internship in a new agency, as it broadens your knowledge base and scope of experience. Do not assume you will be able to intern at your workplace. Contact the HD internship coordinator for assistance in this matter.

Here are some solutions that have worked for students in the past:

  • Arranging with their current employers to have one or more days off per week for the duration of the internship;
  • Using vacation hours from their current jobs to go to their internship site during those hours;
  • Finding an internship placement with a human service agency that provides services outside of traditional work hours (Non-ECE students only).

Agency Examples: Traditional and Possible Non-Traditional Working Hours

Traditional Working HoursPossible Non-Traditional Working Hours
State agencies and programsCommunity Action Agencies
DSHS/DCFSDomestic Violence Centers
Social Security AdministrationFamily Resource Centers
Early Childhood Centers4-H Programs
Head Start/ECEAP CentersYMCA/YWCA
Department of Early LearningBoys & Girls Clubs
Juvenile JusticeARC (Disability Centers)
Adolescent Residential Treatment Centers
Senior Centers

You will likely have to find an internship placement off-base. In accordance with Department of Defense Instruction (DODI) 1322.19, acquisition of postsecondary education programs overseas must be accomplished via contract and only the schools contracted under the Tri-Services Postsecondary Education Programs Contracts are permitted to conduct any activity on an overseas installation. Non-contracted schools are not permitted access to European installations. Students may take online classes with non-contract schools and military members may even get tuition assistance for online classes, but non-contract schools are not allowed to conduct any business (including internships) on European installations.

Career Paths

  • Head Start, ECEAP
  • Preschool or Child Care Center Teacher
  • Elementary School Teacher’s Aide
  • Early Childhood Program Director/Asst Dir
  • Early Childhood Curriculum Coordinator
  • Early Childhood Teacher Trainer
  • Before/After-School Site Counselor
  • Resource and Referral Counselor
  • DSHS Child Care Licensor

  • YMCA Youth or Teen Program Coordinator
  • Teen Parent Educator
  • Residential Treatment Milieu Counselor
  • Planned Parenthood Counselor
  • Juvenile Justice
    • Probation Officer, Detention Officer
    • Mental Health Children/Youth Case Aide

  • Social Security Administration Claims Rep
  • DSHS Aging & Adult Services
    • Social Worker, Licensor
  • Adult Day Care Manager
  • Council on Aging Case Worker
  • Senior Center Coordinator

  • DSHS Social Worker
    • Child Protective Services, Foster Care, Adoption, Family Reconciliation
  • Community Action Center Programs
    • Parent Educator, Job Trainer, Family Support Worker
  • Domestic Violence
    • Case Worker, Shelter Coordinator, Head Start Family Services Coordinator
  • Developmental Disabilities
    • Case Worker, Job Trainer, Housing Program Coordinator
  • Probation, Diversion, Corrections Officer
  • Social Security Claims Representative
  • Homeless Family Program Case Manager
  • Career Services Coordinator


Options include:

  1. Finding agencies that have funds available to pay interns;
  2. Finding agencies that will have a paid position available during or at the end of the internship; this could lead to the beginning of your human development career or be the career change you have had in mind.
  3. Applying for institutional, state, and federal financial aid (loans and grants), and WSU general scholarships at Financial Aid.
  4. Applying for Global Campus awards (including an internship award)
  5. Finding scholarships within your community (service organizations such as Lions Clubs, Rotary Clubs, etc.). Early Childhood Education students can also consider applying for a ChildCare Aware scholarship through the Washington Early Achievers program.
  6. Inquiring about tuition assistance/reimbursement from your employer.
  7. Setting aside a portion of your funding each preceding semester, saving up for the internship semester.
  8. If you are taking no other classes than your three-credit internship course H_D 498, you could add three additional credits (each equal to 45 internship hours) to the internship OR enroll in an additional three-credit course. You will find information about financial aid for part-time students here.

Additional information about the Early Childhood Education (ECE) Option

In Washington State (and across the country) there is a movement to increase the recognition of the importance of early childhood education (birth to kindergarten). This means teachers of young children in childcare, Head Start (federally funded ECE), state funded preschool, etc. need a specific educational background to be employed by high-quality early learning programs. The ECE option completed as part of the HD degree is recognized in Washington by the Department of Early Learning as that specific educational preparation.

No, this is not teacher licensure.

  • H_D 306 gives you the opportunity to engage in experiential learning in one-hour segments for three separate projects.
  • H_D 342 requires a lab. You will spend four hours per week in an ECE classroom, learning to observe and document observations, and plan curricula based on observations.
  • H_D 482 includes assignments in which you will learn to administer a developmental screening tool and to carry out an environmental rating in a classroom.
  • H_D 446 is a six-credit practicum in which the student is placed in an ECE classroom as the student teacher under the supervision of a master teacher. About 16 hours per week is spent in the classroom carrying out the duties and responsibilities of a teacher in a classroom of preschoolers or infants/toddlers.