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USF in Washington DC

USF in DC is a semester-long program in Washington D.C. that integrates a full-time internship with relevant coursework taught by USF faculty and University of California Washington Program (UC DC) faculty.

DC Lincoln

Participants can choose from a range of elective courses and internship opportunities that meet their interests and skill sets. Students will spend their semester engaging with peers from across the country in the heart of the capital, where they will live, learn, and explore all that DC has to offer.

Program Goals and Objectives

Program Details

  • Apply to spend either Spring or Fall 2016 semester in Washington D.C.
  • Enroll through USF in 16 units of coursework and fulfill core service-learning requirement.
  • Engage in a full-time internship meant to hone your professional skills, extend your academic knowledge into real-world applications, and immerse you in the unique political and social culture of Washington D.C.
  • Take elective courses through the University of California’s Washington Center (UCDC Consortium) with visiting professors from University of Michigan, University of Pennsylvania, Notre Dame, and various UC campuses. Current elective courses offered cover a range of topics including American National Politics, Political Journalism and Media, Campaign Politics, US Foreign Policy, Middle East Studies, International Law and Policy, Consumers and Public Health, Sustainability & Environment, International Relations, Washington Ethics, and more.
  • Live at the UC Washington Center, along with students from other UC campuses, University of Michigan, Notre Dame, and University of Pennsylvania.
  • Access a range of Washington Center programming activities, excursions, and events.
  • Attend the UCDC Monday night "Forum" lecture series, as an opportunity to meet with politicians, policy makers, journalists, and prominent scholars.
  • The program is accessible and relevant to students across a variety of majors.
  • Pay USF tuition, other applicable student fees, and travel costs (contact McCarthy Center to discuss whether your financial aid package will apply).

Past internship sites have included:

  • Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's Office
  • Immigration Equality
  • House Judiciary Committee
  • Members of Congress
  • Federal Agencies
  • United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees
  • Common Cause
  • Sierra Club
  • CBS News
  • White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for African Americans
  • Department of Education
  • Center for American Progress

How to Apply

The application process includes completion of the online application (link below), submission of one reference letter, and participation in an interview with selection committee.

Application Deadline: March 8

To be eligible to apply, students must:

  • Be sophomore standing or higher (undergraduates only)
  • Maintain a 3.0 GPA or provide a compelling explanation for why GPA is below requirement

Click HERE to apply online for USF in DC.

For more information about the USF in DC program, please contact:

Andrea Wise
Assistant Director of Community-Engaged Learning
(415) 422-5205

Program Timeline

Timeline for Spring 2015 Cohort:

  • January 4-5: Students arrive
  • January 6: Courses begin
  • April 17: Courses end
  • April 18: Students depart from D.C.

Timeline for Fall 2015 Cohort:

  • August 23-24: Students arrive
  • August 24: Courses begin
  • December 11: Courses end
  • December 12: Students depart from D.C.

Current Participants

Caleb Banks

Senior, Psychology
Internship site: Center for American Progress

As a fully invested Psychology major I’ve been given the opportunity to develop a strong foundation of knowledge that has equipped me with a greater understanding of human cognition and the underlying psychological components of human development. In addition to the knowledge I’ve gathered from classes, I’ve also engaged in academic psychological research, assisting in the laboratories of Dr. Walker’s Sexuality and Health, Dr. Munnich’s Learning and Reasoning course, and conducting my own independent research as a Psychology Honors Thesis student. My personal research generally investigates the intersection of human development, transcendence, and education. Over my time at USF, I’ve begun to enact my interests of psychology, human development, and education, into public service. To date, I’ve participated in the creation of the university wide campus event, Let’s Talk About Sex, and the Check Your Privilege Campaign, both endeavors to supplement the USF educational experience to optimize student education, and developing them to be more aware and socially conscious learners. My goals moving forward again relate to human/global development, and education as its tool. I aim to first immerse myself in D.C., treating it as an intense learning experience to better understand the global infrastructure, to what extent education is being thought of as a tool to help innovate and optimize the development of a global community, and how I might begin to develop a leadership role in that endeavor. I hope this journey leads me into graduate studies in public policy and human development programs, but we’ll have to “cross that bridge when we get there.”

Taylor Sherrell

Junior, Psychology
Internship site: Congressional Black Caucus

I am currently a junior majoring in Psychology with a minor in Health and Legal Studies. After conducting research at University of California San Francisco under the Psychiatry department and interning with the non-profit organization Girls on the Run of the Bay Area, I will be expressing my dedication, leadership skills, and passion for connecting with the community through the USF in DC program. Not only will this program be such an awarding step towards my educational goals, but the political exposure will stretch the insight I have on world views that will definitely be the highlight of my entire college experience. I hope to gain the skills that will assist my advancement in causes such as helping support and improve my country in terms of health, social justice, and public service, while acquiring the professional development Washington, D.C. has to offer. Awareness of policymaking in the atmosphere of D.C. is something I would also love to gain through this new lifestyle I am delighted to be a part of. With this opportunity through the McCarthy center, I also plan to increase my network with individuals who will contribute to my goal of working towards national issues, as I will be grateful to say that I made a difference during my time in one of the most influential cities our country has to offer.

Juliette Suarez

Senior, International Studies
Internship site: Human Rights First

Presley Attardo

Senior, Media Studies
Internship site: Center for American Progress

As a junior, Media Studies major, I critically analyze media and study how it affects culture and influences social change. Spending a semester in Washington, D.C., the capital of political media, is great opportunity to enhance my studies by exploring a new environment. Last fall, during my internship with The Recording Academy, I observed The Academy’s fight for improved royalty rights legislation in Washington and participated in local programs to improve the lives of musicians in the Bay Area. The internship provided me with an opportunity to serve my community and also gave me insight into the interconnectedness of media, law, and service. In D.C., I will continue exploring the intersection of these entities through my studies, particularly in my Washington Media course, as well as through my internship. I hope that the experience will broaden my perspective and improve my understanding of the dynamic relationship between the media and the U.S. political system.

Letitia Blacksher

Junior, Advertising/Business
Internship site: C-SPAN

I am currently a junior with an Advertising major and a Business minor. My experience of public service includes my past volunteer experience with the City of Oakland and a musical youth program, the Berkeley Stage Door Conservatory. I have completed various internships and involved myself in different campus extracurricular activities. Through USF, I have become a member of different cultural clubs, specifically the Black Student Union, Sister Connection, and the Hawaiian club. Racial issues have always grasped my interest and I enjoy discussing strategies that will create a more socially just society. While this greatly interests me, I have also always wanted to become involved in broadcasting and entertainment as well. For my most recent internship, I was an intern for an advertising firm that was in charge of publicizing and promoting upcoming motion picture films. I believe that this program is not only geared towards students directly interested and involved in politics, but I have learned that it aids students in the field of broadcasting and communications as well. Upon completion of this program, I hope to build professional relationships that I will maintain throughout the remainder of my college career and beyond graduation.

Daniel Shin

Senior, Communication Studies
Internship site: C-SPAN

Amelia McKenna

Junior, English
Internship site: Human Rights Campaign

I am a Junior English major with a minor in Music, and am from Las Vegas, Nevada. I have been interested in American politics for as long as I can remember and hope to pursue a career in journalism or political speech writing. I am a member of the USF Debate Team and a coach at the University of San Francisco Public Speaking Center where I assist my peers in developing and honing their public speaking abilities and organizational skills. Education and literacy are very close to my heart. Last year, I worked at Alvarado Elementary School with the San Francisco area Reading Partners as a volunteer. During the 2014 election, I interned for Joe Heck, Nevada’s representative for the third congressional district. During my time in Washington D.C. I hope to acquire the knowledge and skills necessary to further the causes I care about, while gaining work experience that can assist me in defining my career goals for post-grad. I am greatly looking forward to spending time in my nation’s capital and being in the fast-paced hub of policymaking and legislative action

Julie Duffy

Junior, International Studies

I am currently a junior majoring in International Studies with a concentration in International Economics and a minor in Middle Eastern Studies. During my time at the University of San Francisco I have participated in the Martin-Baro Scholars program which fueled my interest in public service. I continued to grow my curiosity of public service while working as an Advocate for Community Engagement (ACE) with the McCarthy Center. I then took my skills abroad to Amman, Jordan where I continued to learn about community development and intercultural dialogue. While in Amman I had to opportunity to work with Tkiyet Um Ali, a food distribution organization in Jordan. With Tkiyet Um Ali I had to privilege to travel to different villages throughout Jordan and speak with families applying for food assistance. In Washington, DC I look forward to growing the skills I have developed both at USF and abroad. I hope to gain valuable work experience and make meaningful connections. I am excited to spend a semester in our nation's capital!

Frequently Asked Questions

Will I earn credit towards my major core requirement by participating in the USF in DC program?
The USF in DC internship component of our program fulfills core USF Service-Learning requirement for students across all majors. Currently, as other USF in DC courses are offered through the Politics department, these courses typically count as elective credit for other departments. Please contact the McCarthy Center for more information.

Where will I live and how much does housing cost?
The McCarthy Center will assist students in identifying convenient housing options close to the Capitol, internship sites, and the University of California Washington Center. While students are responsible for housing fees, Washington, D.C. housing options are comparable to USF and San Francisco living costs. Students also have access to D.C.’s Metro transportation system for quick and easy travel to their respective internship sites and key destinations in D.C.

I do not have much professional experience so far; how will I secure an internship?
Our program is open to students with a range of professional, campus involvement, and volunteer experiences. Students will have access to USF resources in drafting cover letters and resumes, and will also receive support while identifying possible organizations students will apply to as they search for internship placements. Professor Ken Goldstein (USF Politics faculty member) and McCarthy Center staff will provide ongoing student support throughout the DC experience.