Internships and Theses
The Department of Geography requires every student enrolled in the program leading to the Bachelor of Arts to complete either a Co-op/Internship (GEOG 300) or a senior thesis (GEOG 488). Generally, students who plan to go directly into the workforce should follow the co-op/internship option, while students interested in graduate school are encouraged to write a thesis. In some cases, students may benefit from completing both or completing two internships.
Co-ops and internships are intended to give students a real-world work experience in a area related to geography. Geography students have completed co-ops and internships with a wide variety of government agencies and private companies. Students should plan their internships for late in the junior year or in the senior year. A student should start looking for an internship at least a year prior to the intended start date, because some government agencies require an application that far in advance.
During the internship, students are off campus approximately 12-15 hours per week (for a total of 180 hours over the semester). Students often find that internships are most successful when remaining classes are scheduled for MWF or TTh. However, the timing of internships may be very flexible. See the list (at the bottom of this page) in which MU Geography students have gained valuable experience. If you would like to talk to a fellow student about their experience, contact your advisor, or any geography professor, and we will try to arrange it.
What is the difference between a co-op and an internship? Not much. The two terms are used interchangeably.
A student wishing to register for GEOG300 must meet the following conditions:
- Declared a Geography major or minor.
- Transfer and second degree students must first successfully complete at least 12 credits at MU.
- New first-time, undergraduate students must first successfully complete at least 24 credits at MU.
- A minimum CGPA and major/minor GPA of at least 2.0 is required.
- Have approval from the Department Internship Coordinator, Dr. Kathleen Schreiber, and the Department Chair, Dr. Jessica Kelly.
- All credit-bearing internship assignments must be approved by the Dean of the College of Science and Technology.
Choose from the links below to get started.
Senior Thesis and Honors Thesis
GEOG 488 Senior Thesis, GEOG 489 Honors Thesis and GEOG 498 Independent Study in Geography are three courses available to students majoring in geography. They are not offered as scheduled classes because these are specialized and unique learning experiences. Please note that another very different possibility is for a student to take a course on an Individualized Instruction basis, which involves taking a course usually offered as a scheduled class, during a semester in which that class is not offered, by working with the professor who usually teaches that course.
You will have noticed that either GEOG 488 Senior Thesis and GEOG 489 Honors Thesis is an alternative to the co-op/internship experience in the block of capstone experiences required of all majors. While the co-op/internship experience gives you real-world experiences in a working environment, and is the best choice for students who will be seeking employment upon graduation, either the senior thesis or the co-op/internship experiences are well-suited to students intending to pursue graduate studies. Completing a thesis usually appeals to students who want to enter a more academically intensive graduate program and who may have thoughts of eventually pursuing a doctoral degree, while the co-op/internship appeals to students looking for a more practical or “applied” geography master program.
The purpose of completing a thesis is to give you the experience of writing a complete research paper in which a significant part of your background work on the paper involves becoming acquainted with a body of professional literature in geography or a related discipline agreed to by your supervising professor. Your research will involve data collection and analysis, fieldwork or other basic research tasks as well. While the scope of your senior thesis project will not be as broad as the scope of a graduate thesis or dissertation, it will be much more thorough than that involved in writing a research paper for any other course. For these reasons, GEOG488 or GEOG489 may count for Advanced Writing (AW) credits as part of the general education requirement.
For GEOG 488 Senior Thesis, the research should be done over two consecutive terms. During the first term, you should sign up for one credit with a faculty adviser who would supervise your bibliographic research on a thesis topic and your preparation of a detailed proposal for departmental approval. During the second term, you would earn two credits for undertaking the research project and writing the thesis. Department faculty will accept, reject, or call for revisions in the submitted thesis.
To complete GEOG 489 Honors Thesis, you must have a cumulative GPA of at least 3.0 and the endorsement of a faculty member. The program generally consist of two to four semesters of supervised tutorial work, reading, self-instruction, creative inquiry and research, which culminates in the production of a thesis or project. One to four credits may be earned for each of the departmental honors courses (see specific departments’ requirements). Grades in these courses are determined by the faculty supervisor and departmental committee. The honors thesis is examined by and orally defended before the departmental committee. A grade of B- or better must be earned. The honors thesis is then presented to the Honors and Awards Committee for review. Titles of completed works are published in the commencement program.
Internships Held by MU Geography Students
Alphabetical Listing by Employer
Employer Position Adecco-Fairless Hills Advanced Geoservices Corp Aevidum Spatial Manager Alaska State Parks Volunteer Trail Crew Baltimore County Department of Recreation and Parks Berks County Conservancy Berks County Conservation District Berks County Planning Commission (Reading) Intern Biodiversity Group Recruitment and Fund Raising Intern Capital RC&D Area Council Survey Intern Center for Geographic Information Central American Relief Efforts Intern Chesapeake Bay Foundation Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program Chester County GIS Department GIS Intern Chester County Health Department Intern Chuck Powers Intern Church World Service-Prime UAS Reception & Placement Intern City of Key West Planning Intern City of Lancaster Housing & Neighborhood Development Intern Clean Water Action Project (Phila.) Intern Clinton Co. Conservation District Office Conservation Technical Assistant Coalition for Smart Growth Intern Codorus State Park Park Aid Community Action Program Cornell University Research Intern Delaware Co. Office of Housing and Community Development Intern Donnelley GeoSystems, Inc. GIS Intern Dove Christian Fellowship Int'l Intern Earth Engineering Inc. Intern ELA Group Business Development Analyst Elite Coach Tour Group/Operations Intern Ephrata Borough Electrical Utility GIS Technician Funk's Farm Market Assistant to Aquatic Supervisor Gary M Flood, PLS Geographit GIS Technician Greater Plymouth Community Center Arts, Craft, Nature & Science Specialist HACC Arboretum Mapper Harrisburg City Bureau of Planning Planning Intern Hawk Mountain Sanctuary Association Conservation Intern Herbert, Rowland and Grubic, Inc. GIS Intern Housing Development Corp. Intern Hunterdon County Division of GIS (New Jersey) GIS Technician Iron Compass Map Co. GIS Intern James Buchanan Foundation-Wheatland James Street Improvement District Planning & Economic Development Intern KCI Technologies Engineering Intern Kleinschmidt Association Koch's Nursery Company Lancaster Campaign Lancaster County Board of Assessment Appeals Lancaster County Conservancy Stewardship Crew & Special Project Intern Lancaster County Emergency Management Agency Emergency Planning Assistant Lancaster County GIS Department GIS Intern/Mapping Section Intern Lancaster County Parks & Recreation Park Naturalist Intern Lancaster County Parks--Environ Center Environmentalist Lancaster County Planning Commission Historic Pres. Intern Lancaster County Planning Commission Advance Planning Intern Lancaster County Planning Commission Traffic Counting Technician Lancaster County Planning Commission Countywide Planning Intern Lancaster County Planning Commission GIS Technician Lancaster County Planning Commission Transportation Intern Lancaster County Solid Waste Management Authority Intern Lancaster County Wide Communications MSAG/GIS/CAD Intern Lancaster Farmland Trust Farmland Preservation Field Intern Lancaster Inter-Municipal Committee ORI Analyst Inter/GIS Team Leader Landis Valley Museum Landstudies Lebanon County Soil Conservation Service Intern Little Brook Orchids Commercial Greenhouse Asst. Intern LIVE Green Community Service Intern Lower Paxton Township Community Development Manager Lower Pottsgrove Township Intern Manheim Boro Code Compliance Intern Mapquest Marple Township Intern to Building Inspector Martin O'Connell Associates Intern Maryland Nat'l Capitol Park& Plan. Comm. Intern Matthew & Hockley Associates (Lebanon) Draftsperson Mifflin County Department of Public Safety Intern Minder's Nursery Intern Montgomery County Planning Commission MU Development Office GIS Implementer MU Disaster Research Center Research Assistant MU Ganser Library Geographic Information Systems Intern MU Geography Department Field Research Intern MU Geography Department GIS Project Assistant Muddy Run Environmental Education Center Environmental Ed.Intern National Aquarium in Baltimore, MD Aquarium Intern Nature Conservancy-Annville Nature Conservancy-Conshohocken Nolde Forest Environmental Education Center Environmental Ed.Intern North Museum of Natural History and Science Nuteam, Inc Paradise Township Intern/Comp. Plan Penn's Trail Environmental Intern Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture (Harrisburg) Forest Insect Pest Aide Pennsylvania Department of Conservation/Natural Resources State Park Intern Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection Environmental Protection Intern Engineering, Scientific & Technical Intern Pennsylvania Dept. of Environmental Protection, Bureau of Waterways Engineering Intern Pennsylvania Dept. of Environmental Protection, Mapping and GIS division GIS intern Pennsylvania Environmental Resource Consortium Sustainability Information Intern Pennsylvania Parks & Forests Foundation Intern Pennsylvania Dept. of Transportation Intern Pequea Township Planning Intern Perkiomen Waterhead Conservancy Conservation Intern Promised Land Farm Sustainable Agriculture Intern Philadelphia Water Development Intern Promised Land Farm Sustainable Agriculture Intern Schuylkill Haven Borough Intern Shadowlight Group Susquehanna Aquacultures, Inc. (York Haven) Intern Rettew Associates GIS Intern Ten Thousand Villages The Body Shop Sales Leader The Nature Conservancy, Phila. Region (Lanc.) Stewardship Intern Tier De Inc Township of Whitehall Bureau of Planning, Zoning & Development Intern Traffic Planning and Design, Inc Trexler Lehigh County Game Preserve Union County Planning Commission United Water PA GIS Engineer Assistance United Way of York County SecureCorps Volunteer U.S. Army Corp of Engineers Intern US Geological Survey Wayne County Department of Planning West Lampeter Township Community Development Intern Wetlands Institute Wildlife Managers, Inc. Intern Work and Travel Company York County Planning Department Intern York County Rail Trail Authority Trail Development Intern
Internships by Employer Type
Local and County Government
- Baltimore County Department of Recreation and Parks
- Berks County Conservancy
- Berks County Conservation District
- Berks County Planning Commission (Reading)
- Chester County GIS Department
- Chester County Health Department
- City of Lancaster
- Ephrata Borough Electrical Utility
- Harrisburg City Bureau of Planning
- Hunterdon County Division of GIS
- Lancaster County Board of Assessment Appeals
- Lancaster County Conservancy
- Lancaster County Emergency Management Agency
- Lancaster County GIS Department
- Lancaster County Parks & Recreation
- Lancaster County Planning Commission
- Lebanon County Soil Conservation Service
- Lower Pottsgrove Township
- Manheim Boro
- Maryland Nat'l Capitol Park& Plan. Comm.
- Montgomery County Planning Commission
- Paradise Township
- Pequea Township
- Trexler Lehigh County Game Preserve
- Union County Planning Commission
- York County Planning Department
State and Federal Government
- Codorus State Park
- Landis Valley Museum
- Pennsylvania Dept. of Environmental Protection, Bureau of Waterways Engineering
- Pennsylvania Dept. of Environmental Protection, Mapping and GIS division
- Pennsylvania Dept. of Transportation
- US Geological Survey
Nonprofit & Educational
- Clean Water Action Project (Phila.)
- Center for Geographic Information
- Community Action Program
- Dove Christian Fellowship Int'l
- Greater Plymouth Community Center
- Housing Development Corp.
- James Buchanan Foundation-Wheatland
- Lancaster Campaign
- Lancaster Farmland Trust
- MU Disaster Research Center
- Nature Conservancy-Annville
- Nature Conservancy-Conshohocken
- Nolde Forest Environmental Education Center
- North Museum of Natural History and Science
- The Nature Conservancy, Phila. Region (Lanc.)
- Wildlife Managers, Inc.
- Adecco-Fairless Hills
- Advanced Geoservices Corp
- Gary M Flood, PLS
- Iron Compass Map Co.
- Kleinschmidt Association
- Koch's Nursery Company
- Martin O'Connell Associates
- Matthew & Hockley Associates (Lebanon)
- Minder's Nursery
- Nuteam, Inc.
- Shadowlight Group
- Ten Thousand Villages
- Tier De Inc
- Traffic Planning and Design, Inc
- Work and Travel Company