Student Employment and Internships

The MURP program understands the importance of providing opportunities that not only deliver valuable planning-related experience and guidance, but also help students to pay for their graduate education. Below are several avenues, both paid and unpaid, in which CU Denver provides extended learning and employment for its students:

Internships are an important way the MURP program helps students achieve hands-on, experiential learning. The difference between an internship and a part-time job is that an internship is specifically intended to be a learning experience. While getting academic credit for an internship is not required, it is highly recommended. Students earn three elective credits for enrolling in URPL 6805 – Planning Internship but, more importantly, the coursework will enable students to maximize the personal and professional development their internship provides.

Recent Internship Figures
Of MURP students surveyed in 2016, 86% reported they completed an internship or had a planning-related job during the MURP program, 76% of which were paid positions.

43% of the same students surveyed said they had done more than one internship or planning-related job during the program.

Sample of recent internship employers:
Boulder County Transportation Department
City and County of Denver, Community Planning and Development
City of Lakewood
Clarion Associates
Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment
Design Workshop
Metro Denver Homeless Initiative
National Park Service
Progressive Urban Management Associates
Regional Transportation District (RTD)
Urban Ventures
Wildfire Planning International

Here are additional things you should know about internships:

  • Internships may be paid or unpaid (We actively encourage employers to pay students!). Students who are in internships that earn academic credit are covered by the University of Colorado’s Workers’ Compensation provisions.
  • An internship that earns 3 hours of academic credit requires at least 135 hours of work during the semester (9 hours per week during the fall or spring semester; 17 hours per week during the summer semester).
  • A student cannot enroll for more than 3 hours of internship credit (URPL 6805) in any semester, and URPL 6805 may not be taken for less than three credit hours.
  • No more than 6 credit hours of internship may apply to the 54-credit MURP degree requirement.
  • Students may do an internship at any point in their MURP career; however, we recommended that students wait until after they have completed most of their core courses.
  • Students may not get internship credit for an internship that was completed in the past, nor for prior work experience, volunteer activities, or life experience.

The MURP faculty will announce internship opportunities as they are received from employers in the area through our MURP Listserv online message board and through our new online Internship Database. Students are encouraged, however, not to rely solely on the MURP Listserv or the Internship Database for planning internship leads, but to pursue internship opportunities on their own through networking with planning professionals and reaching out directly to planning-related organizations.

Teaching assistants help professors prepare and manage course materials, grade student work, and lead discussion sessions. Teaching assistants typically work 10 hours per week. To be qualified as a teaching assistant, the student needs to have taken the course, mastered the material, and have skill and enthusiasm for training fellow students. Students who are interested in a teaching assistant position should express their interest directly to the course instructor or discuss opportunities with the Department Chair.

Research assistants help professors with research, and the specific activities can include data collection and entry, reviewing literature, conducting analysis and fieldwork, statistical programming, writing and editing manuscripts, and presenting research findings. The appointments carry a workload from about five to 20 hours per week. Qualifications for research assistant positions include academic merit, interest and enthusiasm for doing research, and any specific skill sets required for the project. Students who are interested in a research assistant position should discuss opportunities with their advisor, a research faculty member, and/or the Department Chair. The availability and nature of research assistant positions depends on current faculty work and interests.

Recent Assistantship Figures
Of the 90 MURP students that graduated from the program over the past two years, 73 paid research, department and teaching assistantships were filled during this time.

The APAS chapter at CU Denver maintains a Student Mentorship Program. Due to the structure of the MURP program, interaction between new first-year students and those further along into the program can be limited. The purpose of the APAS Mentoring Program is to facilitate an informal means of communication among MURP students to help answer questions or just to talk about shared interests. Students are assigned a mentor based on interests, skills, and professional goals.

The APAS chapter at CU Denver, along with the APA Colorado chapter, offer a joint Job Shadowing program for planning students in Colorado. The APAS/APA Colorado Job Shadowing Program offers students an opportunity to shadow professionals in planning-related positions of interest to them. The program is simple: each semester, hosts volunteer to have students shadow them for a day and students apply to shadow with the planners or organizations that interest them most. Students then spend anywhere from one to three days with their planner learning about their day-to-day activities, active projects, and the ins and outs of planning.