Do Online Degrees Require Internships?


More of today’s traditional academic degree programs incorporate internships into their curricula, and many online degrees require internships as well.

Employers in nearly every sector promote the idea of having students perform internships prior to graduation. These hiring managers want junior employees who can make contributions as soon as they start work, and this is usually only possible for new hires who have performed relevant, supervised internships.

Besides providing better value to employers, internships give students opportunities to gain real world experience, evaluate whether or not they have the passion for their chosen career paths and sometimes earn a little extra money in the process.

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While many degree programs encourage students to pursue internship opportunities, there are a few that require students to participate in internships of varying lengths in order to graduate. Students who decide to take these degree programs online can still expect the internship requirement to stand.

Here are a few online degrees that require internships as well as typical ways that students are matched to various opportunities.

Online Associate of Applied Science Physical Therapy Assistant

Over 40 percent of the credit hours that are required to obtain an online Associate of Applied Science (AAS) Physical Therapy Assistant (PTA) degree are dedicated to supervised internships that are also known as clinical field work assignments. PTAs help disabled persons to regain the use of injured limbs and improve overall mobility; they work under the supervision of licensed physical therapists. After they learn theoretical knowledge about the body and its movements through online course topics like kinesiology, aspiring PTAs are required to put their knowledge into practice by helping actual patients in clinical settings. The internships in which they participate can involve rehabilitation sessions with injured athletes or therapeutic care for people who have recently undergone outpatient surgeries.

Online Bachelor of Arts in Education

The academic discipline of education can include a variety of concentration areas like early childhood, elementary and special education. The one thing that these online degree programs have in common is the requirement for students to participate in supervised internships prior to graduation and subsequent state licensing. This requirement for student teaching sessions is standard, but the length of the teaching sessions vary by online degree program. Accredited online education programs match student teachers to schools and day cares in their local areas, and the opportunities are usually directly related to the students’ concentration areas.

Online Bachelor of Science in Dental Hygiene

Schools have recognized the growing need for licensed dental hygiene professionals, and they have expanded their educational options for them in recent years. This includes offering four year undergraduate degree programs in the subject in addition to AAS degrees and providing online degrees for maximum schedule flexibility. Traditional and online dental hygiene degree programs at all levels typically require internships or clinicals as they are sometimes called. Students take science and math related prerequisite courses online as well as core dental hygiene classes that introduce them to patient care and use of oral care equipment. Student hygienists are then assigned to work for a period of time in public health dental facilities that can be nearly anywhere in the world. Their work is performed under the supervision of experienced hygienists and dentists, and underserved populations often benefit from the free or low cost student dental services provided.


Degree completion requirements vary by school and academic programs, and the above described online programs are only a short list of degrees that require students to participate in internships. Gaining experiential education within the context of an actual business, academic or clinical environment is an invaluable benefit for students which is why many schools’ traditional and online degrees require internships.