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The History...

In 1947, American University, in conjunction wtih five other institutions, established the Washington Semester Program to bring undergraduate students to the nation's capital to study government through first-hand experience and contact with political, business, and community leaders. Throughout its 50-year history, the program has blended the traditional academic environment with experiential learning. It offers students from throughout the United States and the world a rare opportunity to live, work, and learn in Washington, D.C. From an initial membership of five colleges and universities, the program has expanded to serve students from some 200 member institutions. The first class consisted of 12 students, and now nearly 400 students enroll each semester. Since 1947, more than 20,000 students have completed the program.American University's Tenley Campus was opened in 1987, thus providing students with easy access to mass transportation for commuting to internships and off-campus seminars. In recent years, affiliations with international institutions have increased, providing students from around the world the opportunity to share perspectives on policies made in Washington.


The Seminar

The Internship

The Research Project or Elective Class


Seminar (8 Credits):For three days of each week, you’ll participate in intellectual discussion with professionals who are knee-deep in the field you are studying. You’ll go “behind the scenes”; into the offices of most of the speakers to get a first-hand insider’s view of the week’s topics of discussion. Some of the speakers are big names and some are not, but one thing's certain, they are all major players at the local, national, and international levels who are passionate about their stance, present valid viewpoints and are invited to challenge your point of view. You’ll definitely leave class with a real world perspective.

The Internship (4 Credits):

We provide you with an instant network of organizations to look through. Six to eight weeks before the semester begins, you'll gain access to all of the internships in our database that are relevant to the program you’ve been accepted in to. We'll give you all the information you need about each organization, including descriptions of internship positions and address and phone numbers for our contacts. You can start your search right away, or wait until you arrive in D.C. Either way, you'll have nearly two weeks at the beginning of the semester to attend interviews and make your selection. We suggest you have at least three interviews. Before you arrive, we will also provide you with resources to help you write an effective résumé and cover letter.

Research or Elective Course (3 or 4 Credits):You have the option of choosing to conduct an in-depth research project using Washington, D.C. as a laboratory of information or to take an elective class from AU's hundreds of offerings to fulfill an academic requirement from your home school.

Member school students should check with their member school representative to see if their school requires students to conduct a research project while on the program