Skip to main content
Expand AU Menu

A Life-Changing Semester: Program Overview

Take a look inside:

Seminar (8 Credits)

Under the leadership of a Washington Semester professor, for three days each week you'll participate in intellectual, real-world discussions with professionals immersed in your field of study. These pros are all major players at the local, national, and international levels who are passionate about their stance. They'll present valid viewpoints - and welcome your point of view and challenging questions.

Internship (4 Credits)

Six weeks prior to the semester's start we'll supply you with online access to a database of potential organizations for internships, all relevant to your selected program. We'll provide insight on each organization and contact information. Then we'll connect you with the resources you need to write an effective resume and cover letter to land the internship of your dreams. While your internship course professor will be happy to assist you with your search once you arrive, you should start looking for an internship as soon as you have access to the database.

Research or Elective Course (3 or 4 Credits)

At your option, you can choose to conduct an in-depth research project using Washington, DC as a laboratory of information and experience. Or, if you need to fulfill an academic requirement from your home school, you can choose an evening elective class form American University's hundreds of course offerings. 

Our exciting Programs Include: 

American Politics

Study the impact of the two-party system, the relationship between the executive and legislative branches, the role of the courts in decision making, and the management of campaigns and elections.

*Middle East & World Affairs

Experience a rigorous semester of seminars and guest lecturers that provide you with an in-depth investigation of Contemporary Islamic Affairs in American politics. You will develop expertise on Islamic perspectives, strengthen your professional skills and gain valuable political experience from an internship at a key Islamic organization. You will emerge with practical knowledge about effective cross-cultural communication and a better understanding of Islamic approaches to complex policy making. The program includes a field practicum trip to the Middle East.

Foreign Policy

Explore emerging issues such as the war on terrorism, conflict prevention in the post-Cold War era, response to the collapse of states as well as to religious and ethnic conflicts, and NATO, the United Nations in the 21st century, and regional conflict in the Middle East and the Iraq War.

*Global Economics & Business

Discuss business and trade with corporate executives, as well as U.S. and foreign government officials in their corporate offices, government agencies, and embassies. This program offers the option of studying in Washington, DC, or the option of studying in Washington, DC, and traveling to China in the fall semester or Europe in the spring semester. In China, you will visit major political and economic centers, such as Beijing, Shanghai, and Ningbo. In Europe, you will also visit major political and economic centers of the European Union.

*International Environment & Development

Spend time in Washington studying global environmental policy and development issues while visiting a variety of practitioners and their domestic and international organizations. Then travel to Costa Rica (Fall Semester) or Ghana (Spring Semester) to explore those issues at the national and local levels. Discuss sustainable development challenges with World Bank executives one day and then, only a few weeks later, see up close how those issues are being addressed when you travel to Costa Rica or Ghana.

*International Law and Organizations

Explore the nature of international law in interstate relations by studying the activities, and performance of major global organizations in areas such as: security and terrorism, international trade and economic development, the environment, human rights, and humanitarian assistance. In addition to your time in Washington, you will travel to the United Nations in New York City, the International Court of Justice at The Hague, and NATO and the European Union in Brussels.


Meet a diverse pool of national and local media figures, including newspaper and wire-service reporters, magazine editors, television and radio personalities, public relations executives, and political press secretaries. Open to students of all majors, this program attracts many who have studied communications, English, and print/broadcast media.

Justice & Law

Through discussions with policy makers, legal experts, law enforcement officials, psychologists, criminals, and clergy, you'll gain exposure to all sides of the issues facing today's justice community. Topics may include: criminal and civil justice, morality and justice, and the use of the legal system to define and enforce justice. Internships at the U.S. Departments of Justice and Homeland Security are a special feature.

*Peace & Conflict Resolution

Go on field studies in Serbia, Croatia, Bosnia (Fall Semester) or Greece and Turkey (Spring Semester) in addition to spending time in Washington, DC. This once-in-a-lifetime opportunity lets you examine how the theories you've learned work in real-world situations. Explore social and political conflicts around the world, with an emphasis on conflict resolution models and peacemaking initiatives between people, communities, and nations.

Transforming Communities

Washington, D.C. is a distinctive learning laboratory for exploring how leadership, grassroots action, advocacy, litigation, and government programs can improve communities. The program focus is urban political and social change. This is the program for students who want to be change agents


*Denotes Study Abroad component