Biobehavioral Health (BBH) Internship Program

The Biobehavioral Health Internship Program is designed to provide experiential learning that integrates knowledge and theory learned in the classroom with practical application and skills development in a professional setting within the field of Biobehavioral Health. The summer Internship Program provides real world career experience to those looking to explore or gain the relevant knowledge and skills vital to establishing a professional identity, preparing for future job placement and/or enabling competitive applications for entry into post baccalaureate programs in medical fields or graduate school. The internship is an opportunity to receive work experience and to be a professional in a setting that meets your individualized learning goals. The internship process begins in the junior or senior year. (see the The Biobehavioral Health Internship Program Handbookfor more information)

Biobehavioral Health Internship Application Requirements

Student Applicants:

  • Must have a minimum 3rd semester standing
  • Must have completed BB H 311 and/or other 300-level BB H course
  • Are recommended to have a 3.0 GPA
  • Must attend a BB H Internship Information Meeting
  • Must Complete a BB H Internship Application and be accepted into the program

Once selected, you must take the introductory course, BB H 490, one semester before enrollment in the internship. The Internship Program consists of two courses (6 or 9 credits) listed below.

Internship Courses

BB H 490: Introduction to Internship Experience (3 credits, spring)

The primary goal of the course is to provide integrative learning experiences preparing you to be successful in your internship, while learning practical skills beneficial to flourish in future career choices. Course topics include: professional self-assessment and critical reflection, experiential learning, person/environment fit, resume creation and professional writing criteria, practical skills related to securing an internship consistent with professional goals, interviewing skills, professionalism and ethics within the BBH field, effective communication and internship agreement guidelines. Interactive presentations, readings, case studies, group discussion, role playing and assignments will help students apply concepts learned in the classroom to “real-world” settings. You will gain helpful proficiencies and awareness of professional settings, protocols and contexts under which BBH specialists work and/or prepare for future educational opportunities.

In BB H 490, you will work toward completing a site application to receive approval for a prospective site and an internship agreement. The agreement will guide learning experiences for you during the internship. This agreement outlines specific professional expectations for you and your site supervisor, as well as summarizes particular tasks and job responsibilities to be performed by you and supervised by the site preceptor. Approved intern responsibilities are crafted to meet individualized goals and skills based on future careers or educational paths. Progress toward these goals will be evaluated at the mid-point and conclusion of the internship. You must complete BB H 490 with a minimum grade of "C" and have the instructor's approval before you can continue with the internship program.

BB H 495: Internship Experience in Biobehavioral Health (3 or 6 credits, summer)

BB H 495 represents a one semester internship experience. Its focus is experiential learning accompanied by intensive supervision, provided by on-site personnel, as well as University based mentoring. The BBH major is an interdisciplinary program enabling you to explore many factors influencing individual health—biological, behavioral, social/cultural, and environmental. This course places our students in numerous workplace and/or research settings that relate to these respective factors with the expectation that these experiences will allow students the opportunity to apply and integrate theoretical course work within professional settings to prepare for future job placement and/or enable students to prepare more competitive applications for entry into post baccalaureate programs in medical fields or graduate school. You will learn the “day-to-day” requirements of being in the field, including professional behavior, practices and ethical considerations. You will be asked to critically reflect on new, challenging and unexpected encounters that occur during the internship period so as to draw personal and professional lesson from them. In addition, internship activities and assignments are designed to meet individualized learning goals and skills, and to evaluate progress toward those competencies. Internship work will be evaluated on an ongoing basis with you, your work place supervisor, and/or the faculty member involved in the process.

Even though BBH 490 focuses on the development of internship arrangements, it is important to be thinking about the internship prior to BB H 490. If possible, try to volunteer at an agency before the internship or try to get a summer job in a related field. Then you will be ready to contemplate the following questions:

  • What kinds of problems am I interested in resolving?
  • What type of agency or organization do I want to work for during my internship?
  • What kind of professional experience do I want?
  • How will this internship experience fit into my short-term plans after I earn my degree?
  • Do I want to do my internship in a particular geographical area?

It is your responsibility to identify an internship site. It is possible to choose internship agencies or organizations from among those previously used by the department or new sites may be identified. Although most students will complete their internships in agencies within Pennsylvania and surrounding states, requests for completing an internship anywhere within the United States may be approved. Under special circumstances, the department may also approve internship sites abroad.

All internship sites must be approved and must have completed an affiliation agreement. Of primary concern in granting approval will be the appropriateness and suitability of the internship site and the ability of the host organization to provide the desired experiences and supervision of the student. It is recommended that students purchase professional liability insurance for their internships.

The internship is taken during the summer semester and is approximately 240 – 320 hours over the course of 6 – 10 weeks depending on the needs of the internship site. Generally students work as full-time professionals for the semester. Even though the internship semester is spent away from the University, students will be enrolled and expected to pay full tuition. The internship is one of the most valuable and exciting educational experiences at Penn State.

Students can ask for advice regarding internship choices. For further questions regarding the Internship Program, contact the Internship Coordinator at (814) 863-7256. Your faculty adviser, academic adviser, or a trusted faculty member can also help you.

The BB H Internship Program office is located in 227 Biobehavioral Health Building.