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Washington Semester Program FAQs - Application Process

What is the required grade point average?

The Washington Semester Program (WSP) requires applicants to have completed at least two semesters of college course work with a minimum cumulative GPA of 2.5 on a 4.0 point scale. In some cases, we consider students who do not meet the requirement with approval from the student's home institution.

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What scholarship or financial aid options are there?

American University's School of Professional & Extended Studies offers $1 million annually in scholarship funding to qualified students to facilitate their participation in our programs. Scholarship opportunities are open to students from participating partner institutions who have already been admitted to the Washington Semester program.

All eligible students who submit a scholarship application are considered for the following:

  • DEAN'S AMBASSADOR SCHOLARSHIP:
    Students in this category must demonstrate a high level of academic achievement (3.5 GPA or higher), community engagement, extracurricular activities, honors, and potential contribution to their academic field of study while enrolled in the School of Professional & Extended Studies. The recipients of this award are identified through the evaluation of their admission application and supplemental materials.
  • PROGRAM OF STUDY SCHOLARS:
    Students in this category will be deemed scholars within their program of study. Students must have an average to above average GPA (3.0 or higher*). They must demonstrate moderate to high financial need, and should have contributed in some way to their field of study. Students are eligible to receive one or more of the following scholarship awards:
    • Tuition Adjustment- based on member school agreements
    • Tuition Scholarships
    • Room & Board Grant
  • WORK AWARD
    Work awards are a form of financial assistance, which provides students the opportunity to work part-time within the School of Professional & Extended Studies. Please note: a Work Award is not a Federal Work Study grant.
  • SPEXS LEADERSHIP SCHOLARSHIPS:
    The Leadership Scholarships can be awarded in a variety of financial assistance including in the form of Tuition, Room & Board (including meal plan coverage) scholarships, Travel Grants, and/or Work Awards. The dollar amount will vary based on funding and need. The Scholarship Committee expects students to have a 3.0 GPA or higher* and demonstrated leadership experience.
    1. Education Award: Awarded to students that are the first in their immediate family to attend a college or university. Students applying for an Education Award should desire a future career within their program of study.
    2. Advancement Award: Awarded to underrepresented populations. This award is provided to increase diversity and opportunities for students from these populations within the School of Professional & Extended Studies. Students attending specifically designated colleges such as historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs), Tribal Colleges and Universities (TCUs), and Hispanic-serving institutions are encouraged to apply. Students applying for an Advancement Award should desire a future career within the program of study.

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How do I get an internship?

Once a student submits a completed application, we will evaluate the application and notify the student of the admission decision via email. At that point, admitted students must place a $400 deposit to begin the internship advising process. Students will be assigned to our Associate Director for Internships, who will offer extensive guidance to students during the application process. Students will also have access to our internship database which has over 5000 unique, current internship postings. The trademark of our program is the opportunity for students to gain lifelong professional development skills (resume, cover letter, interview advice, writing samples, etc.) via a series of professional development seminars and activities in which students engage during our program orientation, as well as throughout the semester. These skill-building activities enhance the students' ability to connect with internship opportunities and make networking connections that extend beyond the boundaries of participation with our program.

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Does everyone get an internship?

Internships are not guaranteed. However, we have, historically, achieved a nearly 100 percent hire rate for our students, with nearly every student receiving an internship, if they placed their deposit before the priority deadline. As such, it is very important to submit your application, and place your deposit early to ensure that you can apply for multiple internships.

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Can I have an internship at a specific site?

Unfortunately, we cannot guarantee an internship with any organization. We would be happy to help students apply for a position with any agency, but whether or not a student receives an internship depends on the agency’s requirements and their intern hiring needs.

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Are internships paid?

The majority of the internships in this program are unpaid, but students will receive 4 AU units of academic credit for their participation. There are a few paid internships in DC, but they are extremely competitive and it is recommended to apply as possible.

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What housing options are available?

Currently there are two housing options for all students. The first option is Leonard Hall which serves as a traditional dormitory with co-ed floors. Each floor comes with a kitchen and laundry room. Students who wish to live in Leonard are required to have a meal plan and are able to select a roommate based on the housing application. There are options for singles, doubles, and triples for each room.

The other option is the Berkshire Apartments, which is an apartment complex with an approximate 5-minute walk from campus. Students who choose to live in the Berkshire Apartments are able to receive the same benefits as their on-campus counterparts.

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Is there parking on campus?

There are two parking options. At one of our residences, The Berkshire Apartments, parking passes are free to all residents. Or, you can park nearby at the campus Katzen Art Center, Bender Arena, or SIS Parking lot with the purchase of an AU parking permit. This cost will be approximately $506 for the semester.

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What is the Washington Semester Seminar and what will we study?

All Washington Semester Program students are required to enroll in a 12-credit seminar/internship in their program of study. In addition to the internship component of the course, students will take a seminar component, in the subject they have selected which will occur two and a half days of the week. This seminar component will feature lecture and discussion from your American University professor, and, as with all Washington Semester Programs, will also involve guest speakers and site visits. For example, students in Foreign Policy concentration will be likely to visit the US State Department, area think tanks, and other sites relevant to both the field of study and current issues. Additionally, the seminar professor will provide professional development instruction in order to help enhance the internship experience and to assist students in preparing for a career in the field. Students will spend 20 hours per week working in the internship.

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Do I get academic credit for this program? How many credits can I take?

Washington Semester Program Courses are offered through American University and most students are able to transfer their credits back to their home schools. However, it is very important that students talk with their home school advisor and registrar regarding their school's transfer credit policies.

Students are required to take a minimum of 12 credit hours which is comprised of 8 AU academic credits of seminar courses and 4 AU credits from the internship. Students can also take one of our elective courses for 3 AU credits. Each elective course is based on availability of space for each semester. As an alternate, students may select the 4-credit research class, where they will write a research paper of their choice in their respective field. The maximum number of credits based on the combination of the above options is 16 AU credits.

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I am an international student, am I eligible?

Yes, international students are welcome to participate in the program. As an international applicant to the Washington Semester® Program, students can spend a semester or an academic year in the dynamic, cosmopolitan city of Washington, D.C., where you will have access to some of the most influential people and organizations in the world. Upon completion of the program, you will receive an American University transcript with academic credit, which may fit into your degree program at home. Our Admissions team helps international students throughout the visa and application process, and will assist you directly with any questions you may have before deciding to join the program.

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Can I start the program late or leave early?

There is some flexibility surrounding our start and end dates, as long as you are willing to make up time and assignments that you missed with your class. Our housing options may also allow extended stays, for an additional cost, and when available.

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