The Washington Semester
The Washington Semester allows Temple students to gain valuable career experience in the nation’s capital, while remaining full-time students. If accepted into the program, students register for three courses in the College of Liberal Arts (two for 3 credits each, and one for 9 credits) for a 15-credit semester in the fall and spring. (Summer programs are also available for 12 credits.) The Institute for Public Affairs serves as liaison to The Washington Center (TWC), a well-established and well-regarded internship semester program in Washington, DC through which Temple students receive internships and take classes.
What’s it like to be a student in the program? Watch TWC’s interviews with alumni.
The Washington Center
TWC is a nonprofit, nonpartisan educational organization in Washington, DC which provides integrated academic and work experience to prepare college students and professionals for careers in politics, policy or related professions. The program runs year-round, provides housing and places students in internships that suit their interests. TWC also offers a wide array of courses so undergraduate students are able to maintain full-time status and remain on track to graduation. The program includes training in leadership, professional skills, a lecture series and special events throughout the semester. The semester’s program includes an internship for 9 credits, an academic course chosen from an extensive catalog for 3 credits, and a leadership forum, the LEAD Colloquium, and the completion of a portfolio for three credits. All are required components for each participant in Temple’s TWC-conducted program.
When applying, students indicate their interest in one of TWC’s programs:
- Arts, Education, and Humanities
- Business, Economics, and Trade
- International Relations and Global Studies
- Legal Affairs and Criminal Justice
- Journalism, Media, and Communications
- Government and Politics
- Health, Science, and Environment
Each program contains approximately 25 to 75 students and is overseen by professional program advisors who counsel students, and work with the students to secure internships and evaluate them. Internships are 4 days per week. Temple awards 9 credits for the internship. TWC maintains contact with over 1,000 potential placement sites. Students decide their placement from an initial group of about 7 or 8 sites. A few weeks before beginning the program, students find out their placement.
All students are required to enroll in at least one academic course from a choice of around 50. Usually, courses meet one evening each week for three hours and are taught by TWC’s highly qualified adjunct faculty, often from surrounding universities like American or George Washington. Students select several courses, and are placed in one. Usually, students are able to get their top choice for course selection. Courses cover international affairs and foreign policy; anthropology, the arts and humanities; communications; American politics; law and criminal justice; homeland or national security; leadership; business; research; and science policy.
Students in The Washington Semester choose one academic course each term as part of the program. Courses can be pre-approved for fulfilling Temple requirements, but this should be done so upon acceptance to the program.
Frequently offered courses include:
American Politics and Public Policy:
Campaigning for a Cause: How Advocacy Groups Change the World
Government and Business in the New Economic and Political Reality
Business, Management, and Public Administration:
International Business Case Studies
From Ideas to Action: The Anatomy of Entrepreneurship
Media and the Movies
Mass Media and American Politics
International Affairs and Foreign Policy:
U.S. Foreign Policy
Rising China: U.S.-China Relations in the 20th and 21st Centuries
How Washington Engages the Arab Middle East
Law and Criminal Justice:
Philosophy of Law, the Supreme Court and the U.S. Constitutional Tradition
Introduction to Criminal Law and Criminal Procedure
The LEAD Colloquium
Every Friday, students meet as part of the LEAD Colloquium to hear guest speakers, including such past guests as Secretary Madeleine Albright and Bob Schieffer (of Face the Nation), attend public policy dialogues, work on civic engagement projects or other activities, and complete an internship portfolio. The portfolio includes a week by week analysis of the internship program and results in a final project on the internship experience as a whole completed by the student. You can read extended information on TWC’s LEAD component. This portion of the program is three credits.
Accepted students then register for:
- CLA 2785 – The Washington Center Internship, 9 credits
- CLA 2701 – The Washington Center Seminar, 3 credits
- CLA 1701 – The Washington Center LEAD Colloquium, 3 credits
TOTAL: 15 credits
The summer program is 12 credits, with six awarded for the internship.
Housing and Residential Life
All students accepted into TWC’s program are guaranteed housing. Students do not have to take housing through TWC, however. Approximately 350 students live at the Residential and Academic Facility at NoMa, the Residential Facility at the Flats 130, or the Residential Facility at Elevation. The apartments are all fully furnished, with fully equipped kitchens, high-speed internet, cable and local phone access, and include all utilities in the cost. Students are expected to buy their food and prepare their own meals in the residential units.
View an infographic covering the DC area, internship, program and housing.
Most internships are unpaid, although some internships in the federal sector provide an award to offset costs.
Students will pay Temple tuition and fees for the 15 credit semester and will pay for their own housing. TWC will award PA resident students living in its facilities a $1,250 scholarship, reducing semester room charges to $ 4,740 for each student in the fall and spring terms.
In-state students benefit from a grant from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania to TWC to reduce the program fee. Total student costs include Temple tuition; Temple pays TWC their program fee. All students accepted into the Washington Semester program receive a $2500 scholarship from the Institute for Public Affairs. Students should be mindful that full costs of the program include Temple tuition, housing in D.C., and food plus expenses. We encourage interested students to meet with us to discuss costs and scholarships.
Interested students should note summer programs are very popular, and more often than not, funding from the Commonwealth of PA to offset TWC program fees is limited. Students applying for the summer term should do so as soon as possible in order to receive this funding.
**The Merit Summer Stipend can be applied to The Washington Semester in the summer term.
- Students must be entering their junior or senior years, and maintain a 3.0 GPA.
- The application process includes two letters of recommendation, an issues essay writing sample, statement of professional interest, resume, transcript, and completion of TWC’s application form.
- Students should forward all materials except the application form to the campus liaison for approval before applying online.
- The transcript and letters of recommendation will be forwarded by the liaison to TWC on the student’s behalf. Students accepted by Temple into the program will receive a code to enter in order to waive TWC’s application fee.
The Washington Semester Written Materials
The personal statement
The personal statement should be about 100 words indicating:
- Your internship interests, future career goals, and skills you’re hoping to gain.
- The ways in which you will contribute to your placement site.
- Please do not specify the name(s) of any particular organization in this statement.
- See the guidelines.
The issues essay
Compose an original essay of approximately 500 words to be used as a writing sample.
- Reflect on a key issue related to your professional field of interest.
- Demonstrate your written communication skills to potential placements.
All applicants must have completed PS 1101, or a course judged equivalent. After applying to IPA, students are interviewed. Acceptance is contingent upon approval of the designated campus liaison, see contact information below.
Applying by the early deadline is encouraged for greater chances at securing additional financial aid, and for internship positions requiring security clearances, such as international affairs, law enforcement, and embassies.