HESA Practicum Sequence

The HESA Practicum Sequence is intended to provide students with diverse, supervised learning experiences in professional settings to advance pertinent skills and refine Student Affairs competencies. Practicum experiences should cultivate an integration and practical application of theory and methods gained through HESA coursework as well as prepare HESA students for post-graduation employment opportunities.

The Practicum Sequence is designed to provide a space to reflect on one’s own practice as a future Student Affairs practitioner, and aligns with the NASPA/ACPA Professional Competency Areas for Student Affairs Educators.

The HESA Practicum Sequence is comprised of multiple components:

  1. Two different 100-hour practicum site placements within a Higher Education institution or relevant organization
  2. Enrollment in the 1-unit practicum course (O&L 645), based on the philosophy of praxis -- the unity of action and reflection -- this course has been designed to provide a space for collective reflection and discussion about students' experiences

This webpage was last updated on March 3, 2022.

Students completing the HESA Practicum Sequence must enroll in and sequentially complete three practicum units during the program (O&L 645, O&L 646, and O&L 647). The HESA curriculum includes two 100-hour practicum experiences (O&L 646 and O&L 647) in addition to the 1-unit practicum course (O&L 645).

This is a table with a completion timeline for the HESA practicum sequence.
Component Who completes Term of Registration/
O&L 645 All HESA students within the practicum sequence Fall of first year Cohort 12 starts in Fall 2022
O&L 646 All HESA students within the practicum sequence Spring of first year Spring 2023 practicum sites and processes announced in September/October 2022
O&L 647 All HESA students within the practicum sequence Summer between first and second year Summer and Fall 2023 practicum sites and processes announced in March/April 2023

Examples of practicum duties may include: institutional research, document development/review, committee work, departmental meetings, staff development, special projects, event coordination and/or student advising. Practica are not designed to provide departments with clerical assistance as a primary duty of the experience though some clerical duties associated with the practica may be required.

Each of the practicum units feature some similar components, but they each also differ in content and focus.

  • Course Meetings
    O&L 645 has synchronous seat-time (typically completed in the Fall of the student's first year).
  • Practicum Site Documentation
    O&L 646 and O&L 647 correlate with the student's first and second practicum sites, respectively. For documentation, the "Workplan & Goals" document (template provided) is submitted at the start of each practicum experience. A self-evaluation and a supervisor evaluation (templates provided) are also required to be submitted at the end of each practicum experience.
  • Coaching Sessions
    While completing fieldwork in practicum sites, students have the opportunity to schedule one-on-one coaching sessions with the Practicum Coordinator at any point throughout the semester/summer for support (not required).
  • Reflective Assignments
    The O&L 645 practicum unit will require reflective assignments, in a variety of forms and on various topics. Writing is a critically important part of the reflective process, and also provides an important method of feedback from the instructor. Writing assignments for each class will be different, but have been designed specifically to help students analyze and reflect on their practicum experiences as well as engage in critical questions in higher education.

Students who enter the HESA program with significant higher education experience can petition to opt out of the 3-credit practicum sequence and enroll in a 3-credit elective as an alternative. The requirements and process to petition are outlined below.


  • Student is currently in a full-time position in or closely related to higher education (student cannot utilize internships such as those a part of the Student Affairs Internship Program - SAIP)

  • Student has significant full-time work experience in a higher education and/or educational leadership setting

  • Student can demonstrate proficiency in foundational NASPA/ACPA professional competencies

Cohort 12 deadline to submit an opt-out petition: Saturday, October 1, 2022

Submit a current resume and cover letter detailing why you meet the opt out requirements and how an elective class would benefit your professional and/or scholarly development. Cover letters must include specific mention(s) of the NASPA/ACPA professional competencies.

Resume and cover letter should be emailed to the practicum coordinator at HESApracticum@usfca.edu and a team of HESA Faculty will make the final decision collectively. Please make the subject line clear, including your name and purpose of the email (i.e. "practicum sequence opt-out petition").


  • If a student’s petition is denied, they must complete the practicum sequence (O&L 645, 646, and 647).

  • If a student’s petition is approved, they can select any 3-credit course within the School of Education with the approval of their academic advisor.

Questions and inquiries can be sent to the HESA Practicum Coordinator at HESApracticum@usfca.edu.

Additionally, updated each semester, the practicum website serves as a centralized place for HESA Students, Faculty, and Campus Partners to access important information related to the HESA Program's Practicum Sequence.

HESA Practicum website