Thesis and Academic Internship Information

Students are required to complete either a Thesis or Academic Internship as part of the EVSS Program, demonstrating mastery of research design in either an applied (internship) or academic (thesis) setting. In the thesis, the student will conceive, implement, analyze, and report on original research, based on a literature review that informs the research question/hypotheses. The academic internship is similar, except that it is geared towards students seeking research experience within a professional setting, such as for a governmental agency charged with environmental management.

The academic internship therefore requires the student to engage with an off-campus institution to meet the needs of that institution’s work, designing research appropriate to that applied setting, and being informed by existing agency (grey) literature and potential policy applications of the applied research, as well as informed by a review of peerreview literature. While the student’s research question in the Internship is largely guided by the institution’s stated applied research needs, the thesis research question is derived exclusively from a review of scientific literature.

The only difference between the Thesis and Internship options is the context in which the student develops their research question; all stages of the process of creating a research product (literature reviews, research design, public defense of results) are the same for every student project. Thesis and Academic Internship options are developed on an individual basis with a student's committee and academic advisor. Research topics vary widely within the program and students have the flexibility to develop research and academic concentrations based on their interest.

thesis vs internship

Committee Structure

A Research Advisory Committee is made up of four experts willing to contribute their time, on a largely volunteer basis, to cultivate graduate student research. All members of the student’s committee, whether or not affiliated with the College of Charleston, collaborate with graduate students because they are interested in mentoring students, because the work has the potential to contribute to advancing the field, or because they believe that working on graduate projects enriches the local community. The student’s committee for either an internship or thesis project must be composed of a minimum of two Type I faculty members who are employed by the College of Charleston. The other two committee spots may be appropriate to fill with either Type I or Type II faculty: these may be faculty within the College or experts from another institution (such as where students may serve on internships). 

For more detailed information about thesis and academic internship requirements, please refer to the Student Handbook.

EVSS students have completed internships with the following organizations:

ACE Basin National Estuarine Research Reserve
Ashley Cooper Stormwater Education Consortium
Berkeley-Charleston-Dorchester Council of Governments
Board of Architectural Review
Cape Romain National Wildlife Refuge
Charleston County Parks
Charleston County School District
Charleston Waterkeeper
Coastal Conservation League
College of Charleston
East Cooper Land Trust
Edisto Beach State Park
Keep Charleston Beautiful
Kiawah Island
MUSC Environmental Bioscience
NOAA
SC Department of Health and Environmental Control
SC Department of Natural Resources
SC Sea Grant Consortium
South Atlantic Fisheries Management Council
The Nature Conservancy
USDA Vegetable Lab

General Timeline 

Full-time EVSS students will follow this general timeline to complete their Thesis or Academic Internship in two years. Due to the individualistic nature of the Thesis and Internship projects, the second year timeline can vary for some students. Please see the Student Handbook for more information on the time requirements of the Thesis and Academic Internship.

Thesis and internship timeline

Past Projects

Interested in what our students have researched for their thesis and academic internship projects? Check out our list of Thesis and Internship Defenses to find out!