IVHQ and Independent Volunteer, Internship, or Service-Learning Programs

Interested in participating in an independent international volunteer, internship, or service-learning program over winter or summer break? Complete an approved program and earn 1 or 3 units of SDSU credit through the College of Health & Human Services!

There are 3 mandatory Steps to Participate that need to be completed prior to the deadlines in order to fulfill the CHHS International Experience requirement and/or receive CHHS credit for your program. The steps are explained in detail below. Please follow the directions carefully. 

General Information

  • All SDSU majors may earn credit through our College, if they follow the guidelines outlined below. If you are a major outside of the CHHS, please check with your international coordinator or academic advisor to ensure this credit will fulfill your international experience graduation requirement.

Here are the details required of CHHS students to participate in an independent volunteer or internship program and fulfill their CHHS International Experience Graduation Requirement:

  • Information about International Volunteer HQ (IVHQ) programs can be found in Aztecs Abroad
  • Students are REQUIRED to participate in an INTERNATIONAL (non US-based) program related to Health & Human Services. Wildlife/Animal Conservation or Care, Scuba Diving, and IT projects are not approved. If you are unsure if a project is approved, email for confirmation. 
  • Students are REQUIRED to complete a program for a minimum of 2 weeks (longer projects are encouraged!!)  
  • For the following IVHQ locations, students must select the 1-day orientation as part of a 2-week volunteer project. While IVHQ offers an Introduction Week with cultural activities, this CANNOT count toward a 2-week volunteer program:
    • Sri Lanka
    • Vietnam
    • Laos
    • Philippines
    • Fiji
    • Bali 
  • Students MUST be in the host country for a minimum of 14 days (or longer, depending on program). Proof will be submitted to the CHHS Dean’s office prior to departure. Typically, projects run Monday through Friday. Students are required to arrive to the approved program site location NO LATER than the Sunday before their program start date and depart NO EARLIER than the Saturday after their 2-week project. No exceptions!
  • CHHS students wishing to fulfill their International Experience Graduation Requirement MUST earn academic credit in conjunction with these programs. More details about earning academic credit can be found below.
  • For-credit placements must be approved through the CHHS International Coordinator and may be limited to a fixed number for each term: Summer or Winter Break only. Email for more details.
  • Examples of Independent International Volunteer, Internship, or Service-Learning programs:
  • International Volunteer HQ (IVHQ) – SDSU Application Process & Planning
    Students should plan in advance to partake in a winter break or summer international experience via the IVHQ program. There are no open SDSU application cycles for fall or spring semester travel opportunities via the IVHQ program.
    • Winter Break  Travel Dates: Between mid-December to late-January only. 
    • Summer Break Travel Travel Dates: Between mid-May to late-August only. 
    If you need to arrange travel outside of these standard dates, please see a study abroad advisor in advance. Any exceptions to the standard timelines must be confirmed and approved by both your department AND a study abroad advisor so that an application can be created manually.

3 Steps to Participate

Step 1: Complete the Independent Program Agreement in order to earn academic credit (3-units or 1-unit)

  • For Summer Break 2019 Participants ONLY:
    • Deadlines to complete the Steps to Participate for a Summer 2019 independent program have passed. Please refer to guidelines for Winter break 2019-2020 independent programs.a
  • For Winter Break 2019/2020 Participants ONLY:
    • Review the IVHQ Winter 2019/2020 Program Options for CHHS Students
    • Fill out the Winter 2019/2020 Independent Program Agreement by 10 a.m., October 15, 2019. Earlier is better!!
    • CHHS International Coordinator will be in touch with registration details for the 1 unit Fall 2019 or Spring 2020 course and 3 unit course for Spring 2020 during the registration periods
    • Please note that students are GUARANTEED to get a spot in the HHS course they select (upon successful completion of the 3 Steps to Participate), so it is not necessary to register exactly during your registration time.

Step 2: Apply through the independent program, such as International Volunteer HQ (IVHQ), Intern Abroad HQ, AIESEC, or ISA, directly.

  • Independent program deadlines vary by organization and destination. 
  • NOTE REGARDING INTERNATIONAL INSURANCE: SDSU Students are required to be enrolled in the CSU’s Foreign Travel Insurance Program (FTIP) typically 30-days prior to departure. For students that are registered through Aztecs Abroad for an approved international program, they will be automatically enrolled in this coverage and billed on their student account. Students do not need to take any additional steps to receive this insurance. As you complete all of the required steps in Aztecs Abroad to confirm your participation, you will receive an email from the ISC’s Study Abroad Office confirming your FTIP enrollment and expected billing date. Details about coverage, including the policy number, can be found here

Step 3: Register (“Apply”) through Aztecs Abroad(Internship)/Aztecs Abroad(Volunteer)  when application opens. 

  • Winter Aztecs Abroad Registration/”Application” deadline: November 1 (recommend completing by October 15th or earlier!!) 
  • Summer Aztecs Abroad Registration/”Application” deadline: TBD

Failure to complete any of the three steps listed above, before the deadline, may result in your ineligibility to participate in the program and/or result in your ineligibility to earn credit for the program and fulfill the CHHS International Experience Graduation Requirement. 

3-units of Credit through the College of Health & Human Services

The 3-unit online course (HHS 350: International Experience) will satisfy SDSU’s GE Explorations Area B (Social and Behavioral Sciences), Cultural Diversity and the CHHS International Experience requirements. Offered the semester AFTER your independent international volunteer or internship program. Summer participants will enroll in the Fall 3-unit class. Winter participants will enroll in the Spring 3-unit class. Students must be at least a Junior to enroll.

1-unit of Credit through the College of Health & Human Services

The 1-unit course (HHS 290: International Experience) will satisfy the CHHS International Experience requirement only. There are no class meetings and students will complete several assignments related to their international program. Offered the semester before (for graduating seniors only), during, or after your independent volunteer or internship program.


Program fees will vary by organization and destination

  • Additional fees include SDSU tuition, CSU mandatory international health insurance, airfare, and personal expenses. Some programs may require a visa and background check as well. Check with the independent provider for details.

Fun Facts About IVHQ!

SDSU Annual Summary 2016-2017

SDSU Annual Summary 2018