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:

  1. Declared a Geography major or minor.
  2. Transfer and second degree students must first successfully complete at least 12 credits at MU.
  3. New first-time, undergraduate students must first successfully complete at least 24 credits at MU.
  4. A minimum CGPA and major/minor GPA of at least 2.0 is required.
  5. Have approval from the Department Internship Coordinator, Dr. Kathleen Schreiber, and the Department Chair, Dr. Jessica Kelly.
  6. 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.

The Harrisburg Internship Semester

If you are interested in public policy, you have the opportunity to see it in action. By taking part in The...

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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.