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Internship v. Extra coursework

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My ultimate goal is to go to SPEA for energy & environmental policy and I have a few options for next semester. I'm very ahead on credits and will only be taking 9 next semester, two MPA graduate courses, and a final course in my major, Resource Economics. It's cheaper and more would be unnecessary. However the final course in my major could be replaced with internship credits (still factored into GPA).

My internship would either be in international development (my undergrad concentration) in "operations" at a non profit or at an environmentally related organization managing volunteers and event planning- aiming for the second, and I've secured interviews for both next week.

However, I also work 4 days a week on campus so my schedule is tight and I can't have three courses plus a 20 hour internship. My alternative to a graded internship is taking a course in Energy & Environmental Economics, essentially what I'm looking to do in grad school.

Do you think it would be better to have experience in an environmental nonprofit in a small but well-connected city or have that extra course in my field and major?

Oh and my other two courses would be (1) Analytical Tools for Public Problems and (2) Analysis for Management Decision making, if that matters.


Overall GPA: 3.25-3.37 range

Major GPA: 3.4-3.6 depending on the next two weeks

Minor (grad policy classes): 4.0

GREs: 154 each section, studied for two days, planning to retake in September, haven't sent scores to first choice yet. I took it today and I know I can raise my quant significantly with review, maybe verbal but not by a lot.

One internship freshman year but otherwise extracurriculars and work for pay 20+ hours depending on the week and the typical 15 credit courseload. Interning in Guatemala over this summer in the field of social entrepreneurship then studying Spanish in Costa Rica for 3 weeks.

Ultimate decision is internship in field versus relevant coursework. What's the verdict?

Thanks for reading and helping!

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I'm going to say internship.


I had to skip a term due to financial issues and was in a rush to graduate with two majors.

I was juggling a PT job loosely related to my future career as well throughout my UG years, so I felt like I didn't have time and the need for an internship in the actual, specific area of my interest during my UG.


I definitely regret not getting at least one or two relevant internships down, even if it's at a local organization instead of some fancy DC/NY summer internship.


Also seeing as you're well ahead of requirements, I don't think there would too much loss if you forgo couple credits, even if it's specifically related to your future career. In the eyes of employers and a policy school professors, your experiences will shine much more than couple extra courses. Internship experience will also be much more useful if you for some unexpected reason decide to work for some time before applying to grad school. And I would think you'll have more opportunities to take courses in your specific area of interest in your masters program....

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