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Washington Semester

"The program allows students to interact with some of the most interesting and influential people in the country. There can be no substitute for exposure to individuals of this caliber."

Jeremy Putman History Major, Class of '99

About the Program

Administered for the state of South Carolina by the University of South Carolina Honors College, the Washington Semester Program gives selected students an opportunity to gain valuable work experience while earning academic credit toward their degrees. In Washington, DC, you will see how the political process works and sharpen analytical skills that will help you prepare for a professional career in government, law, medicine, business, or the nonprofit sector.

You will meet interesting and influential people, establish contacts for personal and professional networking, respond to constituent needs from your home district, and research one of several hot topics being considered by Congress. You will attend important events, like a Rose Garden reception for a visiting head of state or a joint session of Congress, hear oral arguments at the Supreme Court, and participate in dynamic leadership seminars that will give you firsthand knowledge of how the federal government operates. Recent seminars have featured cabinet secretaries, key White House officials, a Supreme Court justice, and other national leaders.


To be eligible, you must be in an Honors Program in a South Carolina institution of higher education and be a degree-seeking student at the time of the fellowship. You must demonstrate an awareness of how government works and of major issues facing our nation.

The program seeks applicants from across South Carolina. Students majoring in engineering, journalism, business, biology, English, French, and history, as well as political science and international relations, have benefited from the program.

A completed online application, as well as supplemental materials (personal statement, resume, transcript, and two letters of recommendation) and an interview, are required in order to be considered. Deadlines are in October for the following Spring semester and then in February for the following Fall semester.

Internship and Coursework

All students enroll in three courses for a total of 15 credits. Each course is designed specifically for Washington Semester Program Fellows and stresses experiential, hands-on learning.

  • Honors Fellowship (9 credits).  Fellows work full-time in a congressional, executive, judicial, or private sector office. Students also are expected to participate in a range of activities designed to help them experience DC. Activities may include a Nationals baseball game, a live taping of a CNN program, performing arts events, museum visits, and meetings with important political and media leaders. Fellows are asked to reflect on these experiences through a series of seminars and blog entries.
  • Experiencing Theatre in Washington, DC (3 credits).  Washington, DC is second only to New York as a theatre market in the United States. For this course, students attend professional theatre productions in DC and meet working theatre professionals to learn what happens “behind the scenes.” Students respond to the productions with short reviews and seminar discussions.
  • Contemporary Washington Issues- (3 credits).  Students attend seminars designed to deepen their knowledge of politics and current events. 

Click here for more information on the South Carolina Washington Semester Internship Program.

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