Frequently Asked Questions

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.

After an applicant is admitted and submits a deposit for the program, they will work with the Director of Experiential Education, who will offer guidance on resumes, cover letters, and the internship search process.

Fall and spring students will additionally have access to our internship database, which has over 4,000 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.

Proactive students may apply to competitive internships prior to arrival in Washington, DC. However, students may start their searches on the first day of classes at the internship fair. All students settle into internships one-two weeks into the semester.

Internships are not guaranteed. However, we have, historically, achieved a nearly 100% hire rate for our students, with nearly every student receiving an internship, if they placed their deposit before the 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.

Internships are available in every sector and provide students career readiness skills. WSP and Gap students have special access to the Intern & Learn Web and a Canvas course with over 4,000 employers.

Review our internship guide for more information on the internship process. View the last page of this guide for a list of sample internships.

The majority of the internships in Washington, DC, are unpaid. However, since Washington Semester Program is an academic internship program, students in the credit-bearing program will receive 4 American University units of academic credit for the internship hours worked and internship class in the fall or spring. Students in the Washington Semester Program Summer will receive 3 American University units of academic credit for the internship hours worked and internship class.

There are a few paid internships in DC, but they are extremely competitive, and it is recommended to apply as early as possible.

Visit our housing page for informatoin on where our students live. 

Washington Semester Program students are encouraged not to bring a car to Washington; just about everything is Metro-accessible. However, if you need to, 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. Additionally, students living in the Frequency Apartments can park on-site at an additional cost.

In the fall and spring semesters, Washington Semester Program students are enrolled in two seminar courses and one internship course. The seminar courses are each held one day per week and feature lecture and discussion from an American University professor, as well as frequent guest speakers and site visits with experts in seminar topic. For example, students in the Foreign Policy concentration will be likely to visit the U.S. State Department, area think tanks, and other sites relevant to both the field of study and current issues.

In the internship course, a Washington Semester faculty member provides professional development instruction in order to enhance the internship experience and to assist students in preparing for a career in the field. Students will spend 20-24 hours per week at the internship.

Washington Semester Summer Internship Program students are required to enroll in 3-credit seminar, which meets once a week. View summer seminars.

Washington Semester Program is an academic internship program, with courses offered through American University. Students can transfer their AU courses and 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.

All fall and spring semester credit-bearing Washington Semester Program students are required to enroll in two 4-credit seminar courses and one 4-credit internship course in their program of study for a minimum of 12 AU credit hours. Students can also take an elective course for 3 AU credits or a 3-credit or 4-credit Washington Semester Program research course, in which they complete an intensive independent research project under the guidance from a Washington Semester faculty member. The Washington Semester Program tuition covers a maximum of 17.5 AU credits; however, we recommend students enroll in 12-16 AU credits.

All fall and spring semester non-credit International Certificate Program students will receive an American University transcript listing the courses completed and grades earned; however, the transcript will note that the courses were non-credit. It will be up to their home school to review the course content and syllabi to process the credit to the home school mark sheet or transcript.

Students in the summer internship program will earn 3 AU academic credits.

Yes, international students attending a Washington Semester Program partner institution are welcome to apply to and enroll in the fall and/or spring credit program or fall and/or spring non-credit program. If you are not sure whether you attend a partner institution, email or call +1 202-895-4900.

Our Admissions team will help international students throughout the application and visa process and will assist with questions regarding about program selection.

International students attending college in the U.S. are also welcome to apply to the Washington Semester Program credit option, as we will consider you a domestic student for most processes at American University.

There is limited flexibility surrounding the start and end dates, provided 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. Please submit a request to start late or leave early to any Washington Semester Program staff member well in advance of the start term.

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