The Washington Semester Program

  • Location: USA - Washington, D.C.
  • GPA Requirements: 3.0 GPA
  • Other Requirements: Introductory course within the area that they intend to study
  • Application Deadline: February 20 for fall programs and September 20 for spring programs.
  • Program Term(s): Fall, Spring
  • Official Website: The Washington Semester Program

Program Dates:

Spring 2023: January 11 – May 10

Fall 2023: August 29 – December 9


Washington, DC is a dynamic and cosmopolitan city. It never stops buzzing with activity, a cultural center that impresses people with its beauty, and the focal point of politics and government in the United States.

The Program

The Washington Semester Program was established in 1947 and hosts each semester more than 450 students, who come from every state and from more than 50 countries. The program offers tracks in several distinct areas: American politics; public law; justice; foreign policy; peace and conflict resolution; international business and trade; economic policy; journalism; international environment and development; the arts; education policy and special education; transforming communities; and women and public policy.

Each track consists of an 8-credit seminar (two courses), a 4-credit internship and a 4-credit research project. This allows the students to gain experience in their field and also build contacts for networking once they have graduated. In addition, students participating in specific programs may take national and international trips. For example, International Environment and Development semesters have offered 3-week visits to South Africa, Zimbabwe, or Costa Rica; the Peace and Conflict Resolution program includes a trip to Ireland/ Northern Ireland or the Balkans; and the Arts track takes students to New York City for 3 days. These expeditions are invaluable experiences where students learn to apply ideas they have discussed throughout the semester and have the opportunity to travel to unique places.


The program is open to students who are at least first semester juniors. A minimum GPA of 3.0 is required to participate. Students are also required to have taken an introductory course within the area that they intend to study.

The selection process for the Washington Semester Program is very competitive and only two students per semester will be approved to participate.

Application Process

Allegheny students must first be approved to study off-campus before applying to their chosen program. Deadlines to submit the approval packet are February 20 for the fall and September 20 for the spring program. Applications will be reviewed immediately following the appropriate semester deadline. Access application information on the web at Apply.

Student Life

While studying in Washington, D.C., students live in university leased apartments (Berkshire Apartments) or off campus housing (WISH Housing) near the main campus. The campus is located in upper northwest Washington, next door to homes of senators and other dignitaries. The campus is only one block away from the Metro, the subway system that serves Washington.  While in the Washington Semester Program, students have the opportunity to eat at the American University dining halls or cook their own meals in their apartments. Participants are responsible for paying American University-Washington Semester Program directly for all room and board charges.

In the evenings and on weekends you will have time to enjoy the sights of Washington, many of which are free of charge. They include the monuments on the National Mall, the Smithsonian Museums, the National Zoo, and National Gallery of Art; cultural activities at the Kennedy Center and around the city; and lectures given by nationally and internationally known figures. For those people that enjoy the outdoors, there are bike trails and parks, as well as the Mall.


Students are charged Allegheny tuition, and a $300 off-campus fee for this program.  Students must pay American University-Washington Semester Program directly for all room (estimated double occupancy: $5,750) and board charges (estimated $800-$3,315). Allegheny financial aid, except work/study, is applied to program costs. Allegheny student health insurance is valid on the program, although it may need to be supplemented to meet American University requirements ($913-$1,265). Additional costs include: Technology Fee ($120), Program Fee ($80), (Sports Center Fee ($65) U·Pass Transportation Program (Unlimited Metrorail and Metrobus transportation for one semester. Used for travel to and from internship sites, guest speakers, site visits, classes on campus, and recreational activities: ($136), books ($200), transportation to Washington, D.C., additional meals, personal expenses, health insurance as necessary. If you enroll in a track that entails trips outside of Washington, D.C., whether domestic or international, you will be responsible for all costs associated with the trip (estimated costs $4800 as of Spring 2013). Allegheny students do not have to pay the $200 acceptance deposit requested by the program.

Blog of Allegheny Student Paige Brigham who participated in the Washington DC program in Fall 2017: