U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS)
Office for Civil Rights (OCR)
The OCR Student Academic Internship Program provides students with the opportunity to learn about the different areas of OCR’s work, while building valuable legal and professional skills. Through technical assistance, investigations, voluntary compliance efforts, enforcement, policy development, and public education, OCR ensures that qualified individuals have access to health care and human services, without discrimination, protects the privacy and security of individuals’ health information, and promotes compliance with Federal laws that collectively protect conscience, prohibit coercion, and protect religious exercise in health and human services.
Civil Rights Division (CRD)
Interns are exposed to a variety of CRD activities which help to ensure that qualified individuals are protected from discrimination in healthcare and human services. CRD enforces a range of civil rights authorities, which include: Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, the Age Discrimination Act of 1975, Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, and Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). By working on a wide range of challenging substantive legal and policy matters, interns gain diverse civil rights experience. For example, interns may review state or Federal legislative proposals; participate in complaint investigations; draft data requests and witness interview questions; or provide written recommendations as to whether OCR should enter into a voluntary compliance agreement or issue a violation letter of finding. The intern may also assist senior staff with special projects. Ideal candidates have a passion for civil rights, strong legal research, analysis and writing skills; the ability to prioritize several projects at once; and a commitment to public service.
Conscience and Religious Freedom Division (CRFD)
Interns with the newly-created CRFD have the opportunity to be a part of a Division that is at the forefront of changing public awareness of, and promoting increased understanding of and tolerance for, Federal laws that collectively protect conscience in beginning-of-life and end-of-life matters (such as abortion, sterilization, or suicide), protect religious exercise in health and human services, and prohibit religious discrimination in certain HHS grant programs. The Federal laws within CRFD’s portfolio include the Weldon, Coats-Snowe, and Church Amendments, provisions of the Affordable Care Act, a number of religious nondiscrimination provisions in statutes authorizing certain HHS grant programs, and the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. Interns conduct research and writing projects, may have the opportunity to participate in the regulatory drafting process, including the review of public comments; and may participate in the investigation of complaints. Key investigative activities in which interns may participate include evaluating complaint allegations to determine if CRFD has jurisdiction; reviewing and analyzing evidence collected in the investigation; participating in interviews of complainants, agents of covered entities, and key witnesses; drafting case materials, such as interview questions; and, assisting with public education and outreach regarding CRFD activities. Ideal intern candidates will be pursuing a graduate-level degree or law degree; have a passion for, or curiosity to understand more about, religious freedom and conscience protections in health and human services; possess the ability to be neutral and objective in pursuit of facts related to investigations; demonstrate strong legal research, analysis, and writing skills; are able to work in a collaborative environment; demonstrate resilience and fidelity to the mission of CRFD; and, have a strong desire to serve the American people.
Health Information Privacy Division (HIP)
The HIP Division has primary responsibility for the administration and enforcement of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) Privacy, Security, and Breach Notification Rules. Among other activities, the Division develops regulations, guidance, and technical assistance concerning the HIPAA Rules, and prepares outreach materials for the public and regulated entities to improve understanding and awareness of HIPAA. The student will have the opportunity to obtain experience in a range of functions performed by programmatic, professional staff, including research, preparation, and drafting of documents such as legal memoranda and policy options papers. The student may also assist with special projects associated with OCR’s outreach activities. Ideal candidates will demonstrate an interest in health information privacy and security law and policy and administrative law. Applicantsshould have strong analytical, research, writing, oral communication, and creative problem-solving skills.
All interns will work at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office for Civil Rights, headquarters in Washington D.C. Interns work full-time in the summer, and full-time or part-time in the spring or fall, in order to accommodate coursework and schedules. This program is for non-paid internship positions. We are happy to work with students institutions to ensure that interns receive academic credit for their internship work.
Please contact OCR's Human Resources for additional information about internship opportunities:
Human Resources Officer
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Office for Civil Rights - 5th FL
200 Independence Avenue, SW
Washington, DC 20201