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The Pennsylvania Capital Semester

Started in fall 2009, The Institute for Public Affairs sponsors an internship semester each fall and spring semester in Harrisburg in association with Temple’s Harrisburg campus. Students have the opportunity to explore government affairs, policymaking and implementation first-hand while being full-time students and staying on track to graduation. Applications are being accepted on a rolling basis. We encourage students from schools other than Temple University to apply as well.

Watch a video on the program below.

The Internship

  • This program is open to students of any major and college at Temple University as well as students of other colleges or universities, and is modeled on a study abroad placement. Students will experience total immersion in state institutions and state politics in Harrisburg.
  • Past students in the program were majors in: Economics, Finance, Social Work, Public Relations, Journalism, Broadcast Journalism, Criminal Justice, Sociology, Philosophy, and Political Science, but students from any major can apply.
  • Placements include executive branch agencies, the state legislature, and government related private and non-profit employers. Placements are also individualized to each student, as Temple establishes the initial contacts and sets up interviews, if need be. See a partial list of internship placement options.
  • Some internships are paid, but some are not. Given the current budget crisis, the state has suspended most paid internships. Still, there are some paid internships out there.
  • Depending on placement, interns will work on specific legislation, legislative analysis, constituent service, policy research, organizing meetings, public relations, grassroots campaigns, special events, press releases, writing newsletters, economic development projects, writing news stories, reporting on legislative hearings, lobbying, advocacy for particular policies/groups, information systems or web design & maintenance, or placement in the Capitol newsroom.

Margaret and Rep SternTemple intern Margaret Durkin and Rep. Jerry Stern in Fall 2013


Requirements and Application

  • Students must be juniors or seniors by the beginning of the internship semester and possess a minimum 3.0 GPA.
  • Applicants must complete PS 1101, The American Political System, or a course judged equivalent, before starting the internship semester.
  • All interested students must complete an application, including a resume, transcript, writing sample and two faculty recommendations (form for recommendations available here).
  • Students are encouraged to submit any piece of writing 3-10 pages in length that demonstrates their abilities. It is also highly recommended for students to polish their resumes with aid of Temple’s Career Center, or their own institution’s career center.
  • Applications are available here. Please email to Michelle J. Atherton, Associate Director, Institute for Public Affairs, at
  • Spring 2019 applications are due by November 26, but possible fellowship deadlines require earlier submissions. Applications are always being accepted. Please submit the application as early as possible. It is best to apply early, as internship placements are competitive. The competitive deadline for a possible fellowship from the state is April 20 for fall enrollment, and September 25 for spring.
  • Non-Temple students must also submit an approval form from their home institution to validate eligibility, and to assure proper credit transfer. That form is available here.
  • Temple tuition rates for full-time students per semester currently stand at $8,040 for in-state students, and $14,088 for out-of-state. On a per credit basis, tuition is $670 for in-state students, and $1,174 for out-of-state. These rates are for the 2018-19 school year.

LtGovCawleyTemple interns Fall 2014Class of Fall 2014 with Lieutenant Governor Cawley

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Academic Program

  • The full semester consists of the internship of 3-9 credits (generally 10 to 30 hours of internship experience) an internship seminar (3 credits) and State Politics and Policy (3 credits). Both are political science courses. Most students take 9 credits of an internship, plus the two courses, for a full semester of 15 credits. Students can also sign up for an additional course, or courses, in their respective departments, most likely as independent study.
  • PS 2107: Internship Seminar: Public-Private Cooperation in Public Policymaking and Program Implementation. This course includes strategies for getting the most out of an internship, a context for the internship experience –the basic interactions between the public and private sectors at the state and local level, a special focus on interaction between the state executive branch; legislature and the legislative process; nonprofits, advocacy organizations, lobbying or trade associations; and local economic development organizations. The syllabus will include a block of instruction on public policy analysis, and students will complete a policy analysis project related to their internships. Instructor: Michael Cassidy, M.A., former Executive Director, Human Services Committee (D), Pennsylvania House of Representatives.
  • PS 3550: State Politics and Policy. This course examines the institutions, politics and policy making of American state governments with special emphasis on the Commonwealth of PA. It also examines the state’s special place in the structure of American federalism and how this has changed over time, and explores why state governments often produce different solutions to similar problems. This course counts as a pre-capstone in political science. Instructor: Roy Wells, M.A., is president & managing director of Triad Strategies, one of the largest public affairs firms in Pennsylvania, taught in the political science department at Penn State – University Park, and has served as a research analyst with a nonpartisan research office, computer programmer designing constituent service and analytical software for the Pennsylvania State Senate, budget analyst for the Pennsylvania Majority House Appropriations Committee, and a Pennsylvania deputy state treasurer.

Lt.Governor Stack and studentsStudents from the Spring 2017 Class with Lieutenant Governor Stack

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Housing and Transportation

  • The academic program will run on a Monday through Thursday schedule, allowing students ample time to travel back and forth between Philadelphia and Harrisburg, if need be. Some internships might require students to be in Harrisburg on Fridays.
  • Temple can arrange housing at the International House in downtown Harrisburg (within three blocks of the Capitol and Temple Harrisburg). General information is available here:
    • Interested students should notify Temple no later than May 1, as a reduced rate is available. (Rates range from about $600 to $850 per month. Rates include all utilities. All rooms have kitchenettes.)
  • Temple Harrisburg is located across the street from the Capitol building and within three blocks of the Amtrak train station.See this map of downtown Harrisburg.


The Pennsylvania Capital Semester launched its inaugural semester in September 2009 and will have its fifteenth intern class in Harrisburg in fall 2018. View more news.

The PA Capital Semester in the Temple Review

Further Information: The PA Capital Semester: Prezi Presentation


Michelle J. Atherton, Associate Director
Institute for Public Affairs
840 Anderson Hall