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USF in Washington DC

USF in DC is a semester-long program in Washington D.C. thatintegrates 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.

“Working inside the Capitol is an incredible experience. This internship in Senator Harry Reid’s office has been such a great learning experience that I wish I worked five days a week!” - Maria Madara, ‘13

Program Goals and Objectives

Program Details

  • Apply to spend either fall or spring semester in Washington D.C.
  • Enroll through USF in 16 units of coursework, including a 4 unit internship, 4 unit research seminar, and up to two 4 unit electives.
  • 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.
  • Opt to 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.
  • Connect with a mentor (and USF alum), who will provide you with ongoing personal support and professional guidance throughout the semester.
  • McCarthy Center staff assist in securing housing for program participants.
  • The program is accessible and relevant to students across a variety of majors.
  • Fulfill core service-learning requirement.
  • 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
  • Congressional Committee Staff
  • Members of Congress
  • White House Offices
  • Federal Agencies
  • Human Rights Watch
  • Common Cause
  • Sierra Club
  • CBS News

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 18

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
  • Commit to participating in the pre-departure program orientation and meetings. Orientation for Fall 2014 cohort will take place Saturday, April 26.

Click HERE to apply online for USF in DC.

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

Fernando Enciso-Márquez
Coordinator of Community-Based Learning
(415) 422-2033

Program Timeline

Timeline for Spring 2014 Cohort:

  • November 16, 2013: Pre-Departure Orientation and Training
  • January 5-6: Students Arrive
  • January 7: Courses begin
  • March 24-28: Spring Break
  • April 18: Courses end
  • April 19: Students depart from D.C.

Timeline for Fall 2014 Cohort:

  • April 26, 2014: Pre-Departure Orientation and Training
  • August 24-25: Students Arrive
  • August 26: Courses begin
  • December 12: Courses end
  • December 12: Students depart from D.C.

Current Participants

Anna Marie Ivery
Major: International Studies
Internship site: Department of Education
I am an International Studies major and double minor in Latin American Studies and Cultural Anthropology. Though I have always wanted to work with underserved populations, my interest was directed towards education from studying welfare programs and after completing a casework and counseling internship during my semester abroad in Australia. While at USF I have been a member of the co-ed, community service fraternity, Alpha Phi Omega and I was enrolled in several service-learning classes. In addition, I took on internship experiences as a summer school teacher with Breakthrough Sacramento and in Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi's San Francisco office. Aside from the great things I heard from friends who were previous program participants, my decision to apply for the USF in DC program was greatly based on the opportunity to network and grow professionally, before graduating in May 2014. Academically, the program's classes were able to make my last semester unique from the course loads I took on in previous years. For example, an elective I am taking is called Spies: Politics of Intelligence. In addition, the range of think tanks and government offices in DC offer a variety of ways to explore the different levels of education policy research.

Alexandra Cannarella
Major: International Studies
Internship site: United States Congress, Representative Earl Blumenauer (Oregon)
My name is Alexandra Cannarella and I am an International Studies major with a focus on Global Politics and Societies, and a minor in European Studies. I am also in the St. Ignatius Institute at USF. Last semester I studied in Florence, Italy. Between Portland (where I grew up), San Francisco, Florence, and Washington, where I have lived has influenced my outlook both politically and with regards to my education. My previous classes, such as International Politics, International Laws and Organization, and Environmental Law inspired me to pursue politics both domestically and internationally. My goals for the DC program academically are to learn both in the classroom, and in the workplace through the professional internship experience. My goals to support my career plans are to develop networks and see how different fields work and function during my internship. In DC, I hope to discover a new passion that will lead me to a career decision while networking and developing my knowledge culturally and academically.

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 Joel Clark (UCDC, Research Seminar) will provide ongoing support throughout their DC experience. McCarthy Center staff teach the internship course, which entails pre-departure orientation, remote support, and two in-person trainings in D.C. throughout the semester.