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Washington, D.C. Semester, Leadership through Policy & Governance (WSLG)



  • 6 credit internship
  • 3 credit policy seminar

Applications open: October 15

Deadline: February 15

This Washington Semester in Leadership and Governance (WSLG) is a 9-credit summer program for undergraduates that combines a 10-week Washington, D.C.-area internship, policy seminar, and field study experiences immersing participants in the world of policymakers, public servants, beltway bandits, and others who make the D.C. area a unique place to work and live. 

Washington Semester students participate in 10-week, full-time (Monday-Friday) internships. An internship agreement detailing responsibilities, expectations, and objectives relative to student learning or skill development is prepared and signed by the intern, onsite supervisor, and Washington Semester internship coordinator. In general, the internship experience should be consistent with the student’s professional goals, related to the major program of study, and integrated into the full range of activities and responsibilities of the organization. Supervisors complete two evaluation forms, one midway through the program and one at the conclusion of the internship. Course evaluation will be based on employer evaluations, complete and timely journals, and final internship portfolios including examples of work completed and a final reflective essay. 

Internships offer students opportunities to engage in the policy making world and gain valuable work experience. Washington Semester internship coordinators support students identifying, applying-for, and completing internships. Examples of previous internship placements among many others:

  • Arlington County
  • Catholic Charities USA
  • City of Alexandria
  • Housing & Urban Development (HUD)
  • State Department
  • Treasury Department
  • District of Columbia
  • Ecologic Institute
  • Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
  • Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)
  • Government Accountability Office (GAO)
  • Human Rights Watch
  • U.S. House of Representatives
  • U.S. Senate 
  • Urban Institute
  • Voice of America (VoA)
  • World Resources Institute

Washington semester students participate in a policy seminar, UAP/PSCI 4644 (3 credits), that meets Tuesdays and Thursdays 6:30-8:30 p.m. The policy seminar bridges classroom learning about policy evidence and separated powers with field study experiences exploring the Washington, D.C. area. The classroom seminar is organized around four modules:  

  • Module 1 - Constructing Evidence in Policy Debate explores processes for creating, communicating, and consuming quantitative and visual evidence in policy debate. 

  • Module 2 - Policy Evidence in Urban Governance explores a specific policy issue as a case study of advocacy, collaboration, and problem-solving in local government.  

  • Module 3 - Government Oversight in Action explores how national-level oversight institutions create evidence vital to the constitutional separation of powers.  

  • Module 4 - Final Policy Briefings focuses on the development and delivery of a short briefing examining a policy problem, project, or proposal.   

Evaluation of coursework is based on participation, a series of written memos, participant briefings, and a regular student journal reflecting on course themes and experiences. 

In addition to classroom seminar meetings, Washington semester participants help lead a series of unique Washington, D.C. area experiences, engaging with policy professionals, touring Pennsylvania Avenue, Capitol Hill, Rock Creek Park, Old Town Alexandria, and exploring D.C.-area neighborhoods like Ballston, VA to Petworth, D.C. Participants reflect on field study experiences through student-organized debriefings and written journal narratives.


Matthew Dull


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