The Washington Semester Program is a highly competitive, semester-long program offered in Washington, D.C., through Holy Cross. The program welcomes students from all disciplines to connect their academic learning with direct, professional experience in their major fields, providing them with dynamic opportunities for intellectual, personal and professional growth and development. Through the Washington Semester Program students have the opportunity to work with national leaders, engage in independent research, and live in the stimulating environment of Washington, D.C.
The program is made up of three major, integrated components: a weekly seminar that provides a forum for critical analysis of public policy issues; an internship chosen from a vast range of fields; and independent research, which culminates in a substantial academic thesis project. The research is conducted under the guidance of a faculty advisor and serves to greatly enhance the internship experience by encouraging students to analyze, in depth, issues directly related to their work. Students receive a full semester’s academic credit for the program. Learn more in our program handout!
The application date for the 2020-2021 Washington Semester Program will be announced in Fall 2019.
Each student is required to spend four days per week working in a Washington-based agency or office. Over the past 25 years the College has established an extensive and varied list of internship placements for our students throughout Washington. Through consistent oversight and evaluation of all of our internship sites we have been able to ensure that students are offered a substantive learning experience at their chosen placements. As a result of the College’s direct involvement with internship sites, the rigorous academic demands of the program and the excellent track record of former Holy Cross interns our students are usually in great demand.
Since our program is multidisciplinary in nature our placement opportunities cover a wide range of public, private and independent sector organizations concerned with politics, health issues, government, social service, law, communications, education, business, etc. These positions require of the student a great deal of initiative and responsibility.
All Washington Semester students will complete a significant research thesis during their time in DC. The thesis is a minimum of 35 pages long, not to exceed 40 pages. Students are required to compose a paper that reflects their internship assignment or, at least, the work and role of their particular agency. At the end of the semester, students will present their work, via video conference, to their thesis adviser and the Director of the Washington Program. (Note that this is somewhat different from past years, when students were required to return to campus and participate in an oral exam; students are no longer required to come back to campus to present.)
The seminar, which has no prerequisites, meets one evening a week and deals with issues related to the formulation of public policy. Students read and discuss a number of texts related to public policy issues and current events incorporating perspectives from their internships and research. The policies are approached at three levels: through a close examination of the issues themselves, as examples of agenda building and policy making, and as evidence of the dynamics of social change in society.
- ABC News
- American Enterprise Institute
- American Engineers Consulting Council
- Amnesty International
- Brookings Institute
- Business Roundtable
- CBS Evening News
- Center for Strategic and International Studies
- Children’s Defense Fund
- Comptroller of the Currency
- Congressional Offices: House and Senate
- Common Cause
- Corporation Counsel
- Department of Commerce
- Department of Education
- Department of Health and Human Services
- Department of Labor
- Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC)
- Holocaust Memorial Research Center
- House Foreign Relations Committee
- International Sculpture Center
- Law Center for Homelessness and Poverty
- National Catholic Reporter
- National Endowment for the Arts
- National Institute for Justice-Justice Department
- The Pentagon
- Presidents Commission on Mental Health
- Office of the Vice President
- Office of the U.S. Trade Representative
- The Securities and Exchange Commission
- The State Department
- Sierra Club
- Senate Judiciary Committee
- U.S. Chamber of Commerce
- White House
- Women’s Research and Education Institute