Adult and Higher Education Internships


Internship Experience

The purpose of the internship requirement is to provide you with a career experience and to help you develop skills appropriate to work and the work environment. In some cases you will receive a basic introduction, and in others you will receive an in-depth understanding and/or working knowledge of a specific employment area in adult and higher education. The CAHA 586- Internship in Adult and Higher Education course is a requirement for the Adult and Higher Education program.  It is a three credit course and requires 120 hours of field experience. 

The primary focus of the internship is to provide you with a professional experience. To achieve this goal it is recommended that you engage in an internship situation that will provide you:

  • the opportunity to develop a working knowledge of the overall structure and function of the program or department in which the internship takes place
  • participation in some of the day to day activities
  • specific employment responsibilities and/or projects to complete which will be not only beneficial to you but will also benefit the cooperating institution

General Internship Guidelines

  • It is the responsibility of the student to secure an appropriate internship site that is in the adult and higher education related field and meets the 120 hours of field experience.
  • Internships can be completed during fall, spring or summer terms.
  • The internship supervisor will need to have a master’s degree in adult and higher education or related field and have at least two years of full-time professional experience.
  • Graduate assistantships or full-time employment cannot be used for the 120 hours of field experience.
  • An internship requirement waiver can be requested if a student holds a full-time position within the area of adult and higher education, please complete the Internship Requirement Waiver Form


After preliminary discussions with your NIU Academic Counselor and Internship Supervisor, you should complete your Internship Approval Form.  You will also be required to complete the Learning Objectives and Activities Form which will outline your learning objectives for the internship. Be as specific as possible. The learning objectives will be reviewed by your Internship Supervisor and NIU CAHA586/786 Instructor. After negotiation and adjustments, if any, these learning objectives will guide your total internship experience.

It is the responsibility of your internship supervisor to guide you in achieving these objectives, to provide a context for significant learning, and to act as professional mentor.  It is your responsibility to arrange meetings, make regular journal entries, have forms completed, and request evaluations and letters of recommendation. Arranging a time frame within which the internship will be pursued will be a concern for you, your internship supervisor and your academic counselor alike.

Typical Internship Experiences

Internships must be in the area of adult and higher education and often further develop skills in:

  • Assessment / evaluation
  • Leadership / administration
  • Policy analysis / policy development
  • Program planning
  • Research 
  • Strategic planning
  • Training and development

So, whether it is leadership, program development, administration, or marketing, the internship requirement offers you an experiential learning opportunity that reinforces the academic foundation you have gained in graduate study.

Internship Site Selection

Students should consult with their academic counselor when selecting an internship site to determine which experiential experiences will help support their career goals. There are internship opportunities throughout the Northern Illinois University campus, regional community colleges and universities, and national internship programs like NODA and ACUHO-I

            NACA Student Activities Internship Program
            NODA  Orientation Internship Program 
            ACUHO-I Housing Internship Program

For a list of internships currently available, please visit our Internships Opportunities page. In some cases, students want to create an entirely new internship with a department at NIU or another campus or organization and should consult with their academic counselor.

Internship Objectives should reflect a desire to:

  • become familiar with the overall structure and function of the program and or organization in which the internship will take place
  • participate in some of the day to day activities
  • assume some specific responsibilities or project(s) as the appropriate medium for realizing personal and organizational goals

Examples of internships undertaken by students in the Graduate Internship Program in Adult and Higher Education at Northern Illinois University include:

  • development of a continuing professional education program
  • administration of an office for continuing education
  • preparation of training modules for a human resource development program in industry
  • internationalization of a curriculum area
  • production of a television program
  • application of functional literacy materials to new areas of work
  • evaluation of a vocational education activity
  • creation of a public health or higher education program within a health care delivery system


This course is graded on an Unsatisfactory or Satisfactory grading scale. If all requirements are met then you will receive an S for the course. No letter grades are awarded for internship.

Ed.D. Students

Individuals should work with their faculty advisor to determine if completing the CAHA786 internship course is appropriate when developing their Program of Study.