About the DC Semester Program

The DC Semester Program combines academic rigor and real world experience in the heart of the nation's capital. The program is open to students in all majors and disciplines, and financial assistance is available. It is staffed by a Program Director and a Program Manager, as well as one W&M professor in Washington selected after applying to teach on a semester basis. The Program is also supported by the staff of the W&M Washington Center and Washington area alumni, operating during the fall and spring semesters of the academic year.

img_2403.jpgThe Program offers an academically rigorous curriculum built around a semester-by-semester topic, with internships matched to that topic. Students in the Program gain tremendous insight into their field of study and have an incredible opportunity to learn from experts, executives, elected officials, and policy-makers. From the arts to international relations, and everything in between, the varying semester topics allow students with all areas of interest to participate during a semester that appeals to them. 

  • Students receive 6-8 credits for their course work and an additional 6 credits for the academic work they complete in association with their internship.
  • Classes are taught by W&M Professors
  • Classes are held at the W&M Washington Center in Dupont Circle
  • Students spend 30-35 hours per week at their internships
  • Mission of the internship locations will sync with the semester's theme
  • Reinforces lessons learned in the classroom with real world experience
  • Students are required to live in W&M sponsored apartments
  • Located in the center of Washington, DC only 3 Metro stops away from the Center
  • Safe and secure housing complex, complete with fitness center and large common rooms
Life in DCFall 2016 Semester Students at the National Mall

Students enjoy the benefits of a large metropolitan city and the attention of a small community. Through events organized by program administrators, DC Semester Program students have an array of possibilities before them. With opportunities like kayaking on the Potomac, Nationals games, insider’s tours of the capital's hot spots, and networking with alums, students will experience dynamic DC at its best. The DC Semester Program provides the same quality of support to students in Washington, DC as campus provides to students in Williamsburg.

Program History

The DC Semester Program has its earliest origins in the one credit "Washington Program" started in the late 1980s and run by the Thomas Jefferson Program in Public Policy in the mid 1990s. Each semester, the competitive program would bring undergraduate and graduate students to Washington for three or four days to learn about a different issue in public policy.

The establishment of a Washington Center in 2001 led to more serious consideration of a full time semester program, with the office serving as a base for launching the new venture. In 2001, the Center produced a survey of four existing programs in Washington to inform W&M administrators on the critical elements of successful programs. Detailed plans for the DC Semester Program were approved in Fall 2005, allowing for the establishment of a permanent, full time program for the Fall 2006 semester.

A great educational institution helps expose its students to a wide variety of experiences in a rigorous and structured way. Two of the goals of a W&M 2010 Initiative sought to: "emphasize the practical aspects of learning and knowledge by increasing opportunities for internships in business, social services, government, and other ‘real life' laboratories," and "provide an off-campus experience for each undergraduate to contribute the insight and understanding needed for leadership in the new global environment."

Program Mission
  • To offer a challenging, interactive academic program appropriate for qualified students
  • To encourage practical learning in "real life" settings
  • To provide a well-managed, mutually beneficial internship experience
  • To let students sample the intellectual and cultural diversity of our nation's capital