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Smiling DC intern (left) and US Capitol (right)
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DC is Our Classroom

American University's Gap Year program is a very selective program designed for mature, motivated, and independent students with a strong leadership skills. Gap Year students share classes with high achieving undergraduate students in the Washington Semester Program.

Test drive your dream career with the AU Gap Program! DC is the #1 city for internships for every area of interest. Spend one or two semesters doing substantive work in a professional setting, from congressional offices on Capitol Hill, embassies, businesses, to a wide variety of nonprofit and advocacy organizations.

Coupled with your internship, the AU Gap program offers headline-worthy seminars taught by experienced American University faculty. Your seminar is not just a lecture -- in your class meetings you will learn by engaging with some of the capital’s best and brightest experts.

The AU Gap program is a launchpad for building momentum and confidence as you plan your academic options for the future.

Your AU Gap Experience Includes:


Our faculty and staff guide you every step of the way on finding and securing a life-changing internship at a dynamic DC organization that aligns with your personal and professional goals! We also work with you and your internship supervisor to make sure you get a quality professional experience.

Sample internships include:

  • US Congressional Office
  • Voice of America
  • Millennium Project
  • National Youth Rights Association
  • Naval History Heritage Command
  • Turkish Heritage Organization
  • Recording Industry Association of America
  • US Department of Education

Earned Academic Credit

The AU Gap Program academic experience consists of three core elements:

  • Seminar (4 credits)
    Gap Seminar courses are taught by AU faculty and provide provocative and topical coursework in public policy or international affairs issues. The seminar is guided by your professor, who helps you engage with Washington’s leading experts to get an “on the ground” view of their work and research.
  • Internship + Internship Course (3 credits)
    The Gap Internship course focuses on the key skills you need to land an internship and become a successful employee in today's workplace. This course also allows you to get credit for your internship!
  • Optional AU Elective (3 credits)
    You also have the option to choose from a variety of AU electives.

Career Readiness Training

Because employers value employees who can communicate effectively and act professionally, the AU Gap Program Internship course offers career readiness training to help you develop the skills you need to be successful in your internship and future career. In particular, the course includes a focus on diversity, communication strategies and interpersonal dynamics. With it, we also offer workshops on career management topics such as job searches, resume writing, and interview skills training to prepare you to land your next job.

Life in DC

Your DC adventure awaits! We look forward to you joining the AU community and forming friendships that last lifetime.

  • Housing and Student Services: AU Gap students enjoy access to AU campus housing, plus all university student services, including on-campus dining, health, counseling, and fitness centers, campus transportation, on-campus activities and much more.
  • Social and Community Events: We plan social and community service events throughout the semester to help you connect with students in the program.
  • Museums and Cultural Events: This is your opportunity to discover DC! Visit world-famous museums like the National Museum of African American History and Culture and the National Gallery of Art. Attend cultural events like Adams Morgan Day, Fiesta DC, and Taste of DC.

Where Do AU Gap Alumni Land?

We have designed the AU Gap for college-bound high school graduates who are searching for a meaningful and challenging professional and academic experience before heading to the four-year school of your choice --, including students deferring first-year admission to American University.

Recent Gap alumni have been admitted to:

  • American University
  • Brown University
  • Georgetown University
  • Harvard University
  • Northwestern University
  • Stanford University
  • Swarthmore College
  • University of Chicago
  • University of Exeter
  • University of Notre Dame
  • Villanova University

What's it like to intern in DC?


A day in the life of DC intern Kaycie Goral at NPR's coveted show, 1A.

Gap Program: Publish Today

August Clarke

I have co-written three op-ed articles at age 18!

“My internship has been an unforgettable learning experience. Working at a news agency, I have co-written three op—ed articles: one in the Miami Herald, one in the Independent, and one in the Salt Lake Tribune. I find it unbelievable to be published at age 18. I am beyond excited for what the future has in store for me.”

Top Internship Sites

Government Capitol Hill, US State Department, Department of Education

Social Justice Black Lives Matter, Amnesty International, Bread for the World

Business World Bank, Morgan Stanley Smith Barney, Hera Hub

Gap Year Association College seal

American University's Gap Program is proud to be accredited by the Gap Year Association.