Graduate Internships

Introduction to CHS 798: Field Studies in Public Health

The purpose of the Internship requirement is to provide each MPH graduate with significant practical public health experience in a community-based agency outside of the University. While CEPH specifically mentions state and local health departments above, there are a wide variety of local organizations that would qualify for internship sites.

Students must register for a total of three credit hours of CHS 798, and complete 200 total work hours. This course should not be taken until the student has completed and passed the core courses in public health. Students must complete all applicable documentation and assignments at least one week prior to the last day of the semester.

All Master of Public Health students are required to complete an internship to earn their degree from the University of Nevada, Reno. The purpose of this internship is to provide students with real-world experience working in a community-based setting outside of the University.

Student Learning Objectives

  • After completion of this course, students will understand the characteristics and skills needed to succeed as future public health practitioners, researchers, educators, and leaders.
  • After completion of this course, students will be able to articulate the knowledge base for public health through research.
  • After completion of this course, students will be competent in applying key skills to engage with multiple communities through professional and scholarly service.
  • After completion of this course, students will be able to articulate the importance of diversity in multiple public health venues.
  • After completion of this course, students will be able to apply their knowledge to develop innovative and effective solutions to public health problems.


Students are responsible for finding their own internships. As such, the School of Community Health Sciences has invested in a web-based internship management system called Sonia. Through this system, students will be able to find internships, sign up for interviews, submit their student forms, get enhanced resources, develop their Project Management Plan, and submit timesheets. Once you enroll into CHS 798, you should have access to Sonia and can log in using your NetId and University password. If you are having trouble accessing Sonia Online, contact Melanie Flores ( located in the Field Office within the Nevada Public Health Training Center.

For more information on navigating Sonia:

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. Prepare - Update your resume, tailor your cover letter, prepare for the interview, etc. Watch the Career Studio professional development videos in Canvas.
  2. Research - Think about the career you hope to pursue and the experience you will need to get there and then start looking for an internship.
    • The first place to start will be in Sonia. For more information, see Step 3 of your Sonia Student User Guide.
    • Try Career Studio and their internship board.
    • Try the Office of Service Learning and Civic Engagement to get some ideas.
    • A good old fashioned Google search can go a long way! Feel free to go outside the box, but be sure to follow instruction on getting a site approved if you do.
  3. Site Approval - You don't want to line-up an internship and find out later that the site is not an approved UNR internship site. Get ahead of the game and find out if the sites you have chosen are approved sites.
    • Note: If you can see the site in Sonia, the site is approved. If you don't you will have to submit the Site through Sonia for approval. See Step 4 of your Sonia Student User Guide. Also, contact your instructor immediately to let them know your site potentially needs to be vetted for approval so they can move this process along as quickly as possible.
  4. Contact the Site - Now that you have identified your top 3-5 sites, now it's time to reach out and line-up some interviews. It sounds old-fashioned, but phone calls can go a long way and be sure to follow-up with an email if possible. Treat it as if you were trying to get a job. Who knows, this could turn into a job if you play your cards right.
    • Be sure to send a cover letter unique to you and your skillsets.
    • Make sure you're sending your resume with any email correspondence you have with potential sites.
    • Have your "elevator speech" prepared
    • Be able to tell your potential Preceptor who you are, your affiliation with the University, the class you will be taking as part of this internship, the internship timeline, the experience you hope to gain and highlight your strengths and added value to their organization.
    • Prepare for that interview
  1. Choose - You chose five great internship sites, interviewed at three, and were accepted to two. Now what? Well, now you choose which site will ultimately be the most rewarding for you and your career goals.
    • Don't waste anybody's time, once you narrowed it down to the best internship for you, call them and accept the opportunity. Be sure to thank them and line-up a time to meet to talk about your internship project, expectations, and timeline of activities.
  2. Thank You - Be sure to send thank you emails or letters to every site you interviewed at and inform the sites you didn't choose of your final decision. This will allow that site to move on to the next person on their list.

You will not be able to start your internship immediately. There are a series of "checks" you must complete before you can begin your internship. Here are six checks required before you can begin your internship:


  1. You cannot begin your internship until after the semester in which you are enrolled begins.
  2. You have completed the Title IX Sexual Harassment training emailed to you by the University (you will receive this email after the semester begins).
  3. You have read, signed and uploaded your student forms into Sonia (i.e. Student Agreement, Student Waiver and MPH Attestation)
  4. You have submitted your internship placement in Sonia (see Step 4 of Sonia Student User Guide) and it was approved by your instructor.
  5. You have completed your draft Student Learning Contract, held a Contracts Meeting with your Internship Team, made appropriate revisions, and it was approved by all members of your Internship Team.

  • MPH Internship Attestation: This document is an agreement between the School of Community Health Sciences (CHS) and you. You attest to certain internship requirements for the course.
  • Student Learning Agreement : In this agreement, you are agreeing to all the academic requirements for CHS 798. It also covers expectations of student conduct, ensures you will comply with all host site rules and regulations. It covers disciplinary procedures in the event you do not comply with this agreement and covers expectations around safety and transportation. Lastly, this agreement covers insurance and liability terms.
  • Student Waiver, Release, and Indemnification Agreement : Upon signature, you understand the internship may involve certain risks. It states an informed consent will be given to all students for internships that may include any dangers, hazards, and inherent activity risk. This is a release and waiver of liability. Risks may include but are not limited to:
    • Traveling to and from the activity. It is important to note, transportation is not provided by UNR.
    • Manual labor, including lifting, reaching, stretching, and moving objects. Students should be aware of their own physical limitations.
    • Inclement weather that can impact safety, such as rain, cold, wind or heat.
    • Physical environment, such as steep slopes, uneven terrain, loose rocks, and gravel, or slippery conditions.
    • And working with other volunteers from organizations outside of UNR.
  • Student Learning Contract: Prior to starting your internship, you will complete a draft Student Learning Contract (SLC). The SLC outlines the details of the student internship, including internship contact information, student goals and objectives, project management plan, methodology, and a description of how the student will adress six public health competencies during the course. This document is a collaborative effort between you, your Preceptor, your faculty advisor and the Field Office.

Just because you found an internship, doesn't mean it is an approved internship site. According to UNR policy, all internship sites must be must be vetted every three years with a Community Site Visit, proof of liability insurance, a sexual harassment policy, and a signed organizational agreement on file. If your internship site doesn't have these things on file, you will not be able to start your internship until they are.

This process can be very time consuming depending on the organization, so the earlier you can find out if your site is approved, the better. Below are some Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) to find out if your site is approved or not.


  • I found my internship through Sonia, are those approved sites?
    • Yes. All the sites you see in Sonia have been vetted and approved.
  • What is the procedure to find out whether my internship site is approved or not?
    • Although all sites in Sonia are approved, that doesn't mean all approved sites are reflected in Sonia. We are still in the process of populating all of our sites into the system, so even if you don't see your site in Sonia, it could potentially still be approved.
    • Go ahead and submit your site through Sonia, this will be a catalyst to seek approval. See Step 4 of your Sonia Student User Guide on how to do this.
    • Since Sonia is a new system and we are all learning to use it, I would still email Gerold Dermid at asap. She can look-up in the UNR system to see if your site has been thoroughly vetted.
  • What if my internship is not an approved site?
    • If you started looking for your internship early enough before the semester, there may be time to get your site vetted before you need to begin your internship.
    • Submit your site manually through Sonia. Go to Step 4 of your Sonia Student User Guide.
    • You will need the following information to do so:
      • Name and address of the organization
      • Full name of the contact
      • Contact email address
      • Contact phone number
    • This information will then be sent to your instructor to begin the vetting process.
    • Because Sonia is new to CHS, I would also follow-up with an email to Gerold Dermid at to ensure the process for approval is in motion.
  • How long does it take to vet an organization thoroughly?
    • It depends on the organizational structure and how big/small it is. If it is a large organization or is outside the state, it can take anywhere from 3-12 months.
    • Mid-size organizations such as non-profit agencies are usually quick and can take 1-2 months if they have general liability insurance.
    • A start-up agency can be difficult to vet because they might not have a site or have liability insurance. It tends to be very difficult to get these type of sites approved.
    • Government agencies, especially non-local government agencies and large hospital systems are the most difficult and can take up to a year to be fully vetted.
  • What if my internship is not vetted in time to begin my internship?
    • Unfortunately, if your site is not thoroughly vetted per UNR policy, you will not be able to do your internship at your desired site.
    • It is our recommendation that you always have 2-3 sites lined up in the event your first choice does not get approved in time.
    • Also, start finding your internship site early! The earlier you begin your search, the more prepared you'll be to start your internship on time.
  • Is it my responsibility to conduct the Community Site Visit and get the paperwork on file?
    • No. It is the responsibility of the Field Education Coordinator for the School of Community Health Sciences, which is Melanie Flores.
    • However, it is your responsibility to make sure the site has been approved by following the instructions above.
  • Am I guaranteed an internship for this course?
    • No. It is your responsibility to find your own internship and to make sure it is an approved UNR site so you may begin your internship for CHS 798.

Background Checks Policy for University Programs

Some state, as well as federal laws, now require that any individual who regularly provides services to certain segments of the population (generally, those deemed "vulnerable" or "special," including but not limited to children and the sick) must submit to a criminal background check in order to obtain and maintain privileges in clinical and/or educational settings. Additionally, many sites affiliated with the UNR for educational purposes have adopted this requirement.

It is not UNR policy to perform background checks on all UNR students, and UNR does not certify or vouch for the background of the students who participate in an internship. Accordingly, an organization must conduct its own background check or require the student to obtain a background check, if the organization wants to determine fitness for duty using that information. It shall be the organization's responsibility to evaluate the results of such background check and determine the student's fitness for duty.

Disclosure: Background Check Requirements

As a student in Community Health Sciences, you may be required to submit to a background check before being assigned to a clinical facility. The clinical facility will review your background and either accept or reject you for clinical placement. If you receive an adverse action notice from the agency conducting the background check, you have the right to contact the director of human resources at the clinical facility where you are being placed. You may explain the adverse action to the clinical facility and request to be accepted for placement at the facility. If the facility rejects you for placement after review and discussion with you, the clinical facility will notify your program and your field education coordinator for your program will attempt to place you at another facility. If you cannot be placed at a clinical facility and failure to have a clinical rotations or internship will prevent you from completing your program, you will be advised to withdraw from the program.

Students must be aware that:

  1. If a criminal background check is required for placement at any internship or clinical facility, the expense for the check will be borne by the student or requesting
  2. Student's responsibilities: Each student required to provide a criminal background check must provide documentation that they have completed the fingerprinting and criminal background check as required by the clinical facility. Students may need to provide this information prior to beginning a clinical or educational Students need to be aware of the requirements of their program and provide this information in compliance with the stated due date.
  3. Results of a criminal background check will not be the property of The University and will not require the submission of results to the School of Community Health Sciences or the University.
  4. If a student fails to pass a criminal background check they may be ineligible for enrollment and/or participation in the course/activity being
  5. The School of Community Health Sciences or the University does not accept responsibility for any student being ineligible for coursework or continued enrollment in the Community Health Sciences for any reason, including failure to pass a criminal background

Washoe County Health District

If you have already solidified an internship at Washoe County Health District (WCHD), you must attest that you have read and understood the terms of your field study agreement between UNR and WCHD. The terms of your internship as agreed upon for CHS 798 include the following:

  • Students shall carry and have evidence of adequate group medical insurance prior to the participation in any educational experience at WCHD.
  • Students will meet all vaccine and TB screening requirements prior to beginning an educational experience on-site at WCHD.
  • Students will have obtained a background check prior to the participation in any educational experience at WCHD. Students are responsible for any costs associated with the background check. The results of these background checks may result in the removal of a participant from the program at the agency's discretion.
  • Students are responsible for adhering to the policies and procedures of the agency including, but not limited to, Internet use, photography waivers, confidentiality of personal health records and/or research.

PLEASE DO NOT send any detailed documentation, records, or lab results directly to the School of Community Health Sciences or the Field Program Office. Signing the attestation form is proof you completed these activities. Be prepared to produce such documentation in the event WCHD asks for it.

To show you have met these prerequisites, you must also submit a signed WCHD Attestation Form claiming you understand the terms of the agreement. Submit one copy into Sonia and one copy to WCHD Human Resources.

Your HR representative at WCHD is Laurie Griffey,, (775) 328-2403.

Renown Health

If you have already solidified an internship at Renown Health, you must have the following prerequisites completed before you can begin your internship:

Immunity, Vaccines and Drug Screen:

  • Proof of immunity to mumps, rubella and rubeola. This requires two (2) doses of MMR vaccine or serological testing for immunity to mumps, rubella and rubeola.
  • Proof of varicella immunity be verbal or written history obtained from the student, or titers.
  • Hepatitis B series initiation OR declination and/or testing to document serologic response.
  • Two-step TB Skin test or Quantiferon testing within the last 12 months.
  • Completion of flu shot during flu season (as indicated by state regulatory agency).
  • Proof of a negative drug screen.

Students in the past have used Concentra for the drug test, they just need to specify it needs to be a 9-panel drug screen. Backgrounds can be taken through this website -

Criminal Background Check:

  • Completion of Criminal Background Check.
    • Student: a. Has not been sanctioned or investigated by federal or state regulatory agencies
    • Is not under investigation or pending investigation be a federal or state regulatory agency
    • Has not been the subject of disciplinary action, probation or adverse action by Institution and is of good standing
    • Has not been convicted of a felony, a crime of moral turpitude, assault or battery or a crime involving a minor

PLEASE DO NOT send any documentation, records, or results directly to the School of Community Health Sciences or the Field Program Office.To show you have met these prerequisites, you must submit a signed Renown Attestation Form claiming you have completed the above requirements through Sonia.

In addition, Renown will ask you to submit a formal externship application. This should only be completed if you have already solidified a preceptor and internship.

Once these two things are completed, you should be able to begin your internship. Your HR representative at Renown to ensure you have completed all the requirements is Jenna Martineau,, (775) 982-5298.

Internship Milestones


MPH Internship Orientation

Attend MPH internship orientation meeting

Fall prior to internship

Pre-Internship Academic Modules

Complete all pre-internship academic modules and associated assessments

By January 1

Internship Search

Students will independently search for a viable internship project. Past project exampes and internship resources will be provided by your instructor. Internships must meet CEPH internship criteria and be approved by Faculty Advisor and Internship Coordinator.

At least 12 week prior to internship

Contracts Meeting

Once a suitable internship is identified, students will use doodle to schedule a virtual internship contracts meeting with the Student, Preceptor, Advisor, and Internship Coordinator.

At least 8 weeks prior to start of internship

Internship Documentation

Final Student Learning Contract with signature submitted, risk/legal paperwork submitted

A least 8 weeks prior to start of internship

Begin Internship

Students must complete all pre-requisite courses with a C or better to begin internship

First day of internship

Midterm Internship

Timesheets, Internship MIdterm Report, Midterm Student Evaluation, Midterm Virtual Site Visit with Student Presentation

At 100 hours completed

Internship Completed

Timesheets, Internship Final Report, Final Student Evaluation, Site Assessment, Internship Presentation

At 200 hours completed

To identify and arrange for an internship requires the work of a team. In the MPH program that team includes you, as the student, the internship coordinator, and the faculty advisor. Once a site is approved and selected, the preceptor joins the team. This team will serve as your support system through the process of identifying, preparing for, and successfully completing the internship. Active communication is imperative in this process. It is important for you to include the entire team on all communications related to the internship to help ensure their active engagement.

Internship Coordinator

The MPH internship coordinator will be your key contact in this process. The internship coordinator assists you in identifying internship sites and preceptors. Throughout the internship, the coordinator will stay in contact with your team to discuss your progress. The internship coordinator determines what grade you will receive at the completion of the internship.

Faculty Advisor

Your faculty advisor discusses internship opportunities with you that match your goals and identified competencies. The advisor will approve your project and stay in contact with you to discuss internship progress and to resolve challenges that may arise.

Internship Preceptor

Preceptors play an important role in the overall success of the internship project. Your preceptor will serve as your day-to-day manager and supervisor of the overall project. The preceptor is also responsible for a significant portion of the internship grade. It is important that you feel comfortable with and supported by the preceptor.

Your preceptor also must meet the requirements of the program. Qualified preceptors will:

  • Hold a minimum of a graduate-level degree
  • Possess a minimum of two years of full-time public health experience
  • Have the ability to provide a training experience that meets the needs of both the student's career goals as well as the academic requirements

Final approval of the internship preceptor is at the discretion of the internship coordinator and faculty advisor and must be in alignment with accreditation (CEPH) standards.

CEPH competencies set a baseline for skills that master students should be competent in upon graduation. The MPH Core Competency Model includes competencies in the five traditional core areas of public health and seven interdisciplinary/cross-cutting areas and applies to students upon graduation from a CEPH-accredited school or program of public health:

  • Biostatistics
  • Environmental Health Sciences
  • Epidemiology
  • Health Policy and Management
  • Social and Behavioral Sciences
  • Communication and Informatics
  • Diversity and Culture
  • Leadership
  • Public Health Biology
  • Professionalism
  • Program Planning
  • Systems Thinking