Internship, Capstone, Thesis, and Dissertation Information


The purpose of internships is to provide students with the experience of applying the concepts learned in the classroom to workplace settings. Internships generally involve substantive part-time work undertaken during the course of one semester.

Students pursing a bachelor’s degree in the School of Public Affairs are required to complete an internship unless the requirement is waived by the program director. Students pursuing a master’s degree are required to complete an internship if they have not had the equivalent of at least one year of professional full-time experience in the field, following the awarding of their bachelor’s degree. 

Contact your academic advisor if you believe you may be eligible to waive the requirement to complete an internship.

Students can search for internship opportunities by logging in to Handshake and also by directly approaching organizations whose work is related to students’ interests.

Internship sites have included the Governor’s Office, Colorado General Assembly, Denver Mayor’s Office, City of Denver, Denver Police Department, Boulder Crime Lab, Western Governors’ Association, National Conference of State Legislatures, Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment and Denver Center for the Performing Arts.

For more information about internships, contact

Search for internships

Selecting the Capstone or Thesis Option

The requirements for a master’s degree from the School of Public Affairs include the completion of either a capstone or thesis.

A capstone is a client-based research project that synthesizes competencies gained throughout the course of study for the master’s programs of the School of Public Affairs. Students conduct independent research, complete a final written project demonstrating their qualifications and expertise, and orally present findings to a committee of faculty and criminal justice or public affairs professionals.

Additional capstone resources are available in Canvas. Students currently enrolled in a capstone course will automatically have access to the resources when logging in to Canvas. Any students enrolled in the School of Public Affairs who are not currently enrolled in a capstone course can request access to the capstone resources. For assistance with identifying capstone sponsors, contact

The thesis option is suited to graduate students who have an interest in pursuing a topic in-depth or who are planning to pursue a career in research or academia. Students must receive approval from their faculty advisor or their program director to pursue the thesis option instead of the capstone option. Students who choose the thesis option typically complete six credit hours of thesis work, as compared to three credit hours for the capstone, therefore increasing the overall number of credits required to complete the master's program.


Doctoral students must complete all the coursework required of the PhD in Public Affairs program; pass a preliminary exam in the testing cycle or semester immediately following the completion of the core courses; and propose, complete and defend (before a faculty committee) a dissertation that makes a significant contribution to the literature and theory of public administration, management or policy. 

Students are advanced to candidacy for the PhD once they have completed all required coursework and examinations, have successfully presented their research and have been certified for candidacy by a doctoral committee. After students are formally advanced to candidacy, they must complete a total of 30 hours of dissertation research credit to complete the PhD in Public Affairs.

For more information about dissertations, review the program handbook below:

Sample Dissertations

Internship & Capstone Support

Program Directors

School of Public Affairs

CU Denver

Lawrence Street Center

1380 Lawrence Street


Denver, CO 80204


CMS Login