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Washington, D.C. Semester in Global Engagement (WSGE)

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  • 9 credit internship
  • 3 credit seminar on international politics
  • 3 credit State Department Diplomacy Lab policy simulation

Deadline: November 5

  • Explore a semester in Washington, D.C.
  • Experience the nation’s capital while furthering your studies
  • Engage with the global and national policy making world

Washington, D.C. is at the center of global affairs. It is home to government agencies, many of the world’s leading think-tanks, numerous international organizations, and a range of non-governmental organizations. Here, the most significant policy decisions are debated and made, holding both domestic and international importance.

The Washington Semester in Global Engagement is a unique 15 credit program open to all interested students. The Washington Semester consists of a combination of courses on global affairs, internship opportunities, workshops, seminars and networking opportunities with D.C. professionals and policy makers. It offers students the opportunity to experience policy-making firsthand, and explore the wealth of political and cultural opportunities available in the Washington, D.C. area.

Stay on track for graduation whilst obtaining skills which will help your career opportunities in virtually any sphere.

  • Open for Sophomores (by year not credit), Juniors and Seniors in all majors
  • Minimum 3.00 GPA
  • Housing is available in Old Town Alexandria, Virginia

The Washington Semester in Global Engagement is a competitive program. Applications are reviewed on a rolling basis. Preference will be given to early applications. Apply early to avoid disappointment.

Students take two taught courses (6 credits) and 9 credit hours of an internship or externship program. 

Students interested in applying to the Washington Semester in Global Engagement will be enrolled in the following courses:

IS/PSCI 3624: Foreign Policy and Diplomacy (3 credits): Examines theoretical and historical perspectives on foreign policy analysis. Investigates the national security, foreign policy, and diplomatic nexus through case study analyses. 

IS/PSCI 4034: Topics in Diplomacy Lab (3 credits): A hands-on course where students develop a policy-project designated by the U.S. State Department to be presented at that agency by the end of the semester.

Internship* (9 credits): Students secure their own internships, yet WSGE instructors guide them through the process. The WSGE Internship Handbook provides students with information on how to secure an internship, and shares helpful recommendations for networking opportunities and building a resume.
*PSCI/SOC/CRIM 4754 or other approved department internship/field study option.

Note to Political Science and International Studies majors: Only 6 Internship credit hours can be applied towards your major. An additional 3 credits can count towards your overall number of credits for graduation. It is important that you consult with your academic/program adviser about the number of internship credit hours you can sign up for before registering.

The Internship program offers students the chance to engage in the policy making world and gain valuable work experience. It comprises working 30-40 hours/week at a government agency/research institute/think-tank/NGO in the Washington, D.C. area. (The minimum requirement for academic credit is at least 20 hours per week).

Upon selection into the Washington Semester Program, each participant will work with the Washington Semester Internship coordinators to determine the best course(s) of action to obtain an internship. Students will receive a copy of the WSGE Internship Handbook which will offer a variety of internship options, and in some cases, will refer students to potential internship sites, as well as advise on how to apply to internships in the Washington, D.C. area. While the internship coordinators help students determine internship opportunities, the Washington Semester does not guarantee placement in an internship. Students determine the internship opportunity they would like based on their personal, political, academic, or career interests and take the necessary steps to apply to the various institutes offering internship opportunities.

In order to participate in the Washington Semester Program, the internship must meet specific guidelines outlined by the program and be approved by the Washington Semester Director, so as to insure the student has a substantive experience.

Recent Internships for Washington Semester students include:

  • 3.14 Action 
  • Alexandria City Government
  • American Enterprise Institute
  • American Red Cross
  • American Task Force for Lebanon
  • Arlington County Government
  • Atlantic Council
  • Democratic Attorney Generals Association 
  • District of Columbia Government
  • Embassy of the Republic of Ecuador
  • Embassy of the Republic of France
  • Embassy of the Republic of Iraq
  • Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
  • Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)
  • Foundation for Defense of Democracies
  • Heritage Foundation 
  • Human Rights Watch
  • Industrial Technologies Investment Corporation (ITIC)
  • International Institute for Strategic Studies 
  • Learning Life
  • National Defense University
  • National Rifle Association
  • Represent Women
  • U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)
  • U.S. Department of State
  • U.S. Department of the Treasury
  • U.S. House of Representatives (various offices)
  • U.S. Senate (various offices)
  • Voice of America
  • Washington Institute for Near East Policy

The Gallery in Old Town Alexandria is Virginia Tech’s housing option for students participating in the Washington semester program. The Gallery is located one half block from the Prince Street VT campus and a 10-minute walk from the King Street Metro Station. The majority of units (apartments) consist of a living/dining room, a kitchen, a bedroom, and bath, and are expected to hold two students. The units are furnished with beds, dresser, sofa, coffee table, end tables, and a dining room table & chairs.

On acceptance to the program, students will receive information on how to apply for housing in the Gallery.  Students are free to make their own housing arrangements.

Acceptance to the Washington Semester in Global Engagement is based on academic performance, potential for successful participation, and motivation.

Along with the application form, you need to provide: i) an up-to-date resume; ii) a copy of your current transcript; iii) a statement of interest; and iv) the names and contact details of two academic referees.

Statement of Interest: On a separate sheet, type a statement of approximately 500 words maximum. How does the Washington Semester on Global Engagement relate to your present academic program and professional goals? Also, describe the personal benefits you expect to receive from the program.

Academic Referees (include references contact information on the application form)
All applicants are required to have faculty members with whom they have taken a course serve as a reference.  Please select someone who is familiar with your academic work and plan of study.  You will need to identify your referees the application form and provide their email address. We will contact them to complete a short form electronically. You do not need to request any forms or letters from them, but you must ask them if they are willing to serve as a reference for you before you include their contact information in your application.

The Washington Semester in Global Engagement is a highly competitive program with limited availability. Applicants will be processed on a rolling basis. Early applications will receive preference.

Applications must include the following:

  • Completed application form
  • Copy of your current transcript
  • Copy of your current resume
  • Statement (500 words maximum) addressing:
    • How does the Washington Semester on Global Engagement relate to your present academic program and professional goals?
    • Describe the personal benefits you expect to receive from the program and how you will incorporate this program into your future goals.
    • Please include any additional information that may be useful in evaluating your application.

Application Deadlines:

Spring: November 1

Please submit the application online.

For further inquiries email:

Online Application


Ariel Ahram
Director, Washington Semester in Global Engagement


Washington D.C.
900 N Glebe Rd., 6th Floor VTRC
Arlington, VA 22203