Live the Change

The Washington Semester program enables students to explore the wealth of political and cultural opportunities available in the Washington, D.C. area. The program includes semester-length internships, courses taught on-site, panel discussions by people in various professions, cultural activities, and networking opportunities with JMU alumni working in the DC area. Recent internships can be found here. Click to read a story about the Washington Semester and its facilities.

University-arranged student housing is available near the Gallery Place/Chinatown Metro Station.  Classrooms and faculty offices are located at the JMU Washington Center, the university’s home in the nation’s capital.

Watch this video about the JMU Washington Center:

Details & Deadlines

The Washington Semester program is open to all majors and is offered every semester. Students not majoring in political science, international affairs, or public administration should consult with their departments about how the internship and coursework fits their academic plans; some departments may be willing to arrange course substitutions.

Semester Options

The fall semester will focus on U.S. politics while the spring semester will focus on global affairs.

Click on the appropriate link below to see a description of each program:

U.S. Politics and Policy for FALL 2020

Global Affairs for SPRING 2021

Join us on Wednesday, October 23 from 5-6:15pm in Miller Hall in room 2170 for an information session about the Washington Semester & its programming.

Application Deadlines for 2020-2021

Early DecisionNovember 15, 2019

Regular AdmissionFebruary 1, 2020

NOTE: Sometimes the program fills up via the Early Decision application process. This means that applications reviewed for the Feb. 1 application deadline are evaluated on a space-available basis. Accordingly, applicants are advised to apply in November to maximize their chances of gaining admission to the Washington Semester program.

Apply Now

Interested in participating in this program? Contact: Dr. David Jones, Program Coordinator (jones3da@jmu.edu).

Reflections of Program Participants

“The JMU Washington Semester Program is hands-down the best way to discover if a career in D.C. is right for you. Immersion in a 9-5 internship, mentor programs with JMU alumni who worked in D.C., and superb outside instruction from career professionals gave me the first-hand experience I needed to dive into my career knowing it was the right choice for me." – Brian James (’09), Bechtel Corporation

“The Washington Semester was invaluable in bridging the gap from college to career. Not only did I gain great experience through my internship, but living in Washington, I learned about so many different careers I didn't even know existed, giving me a better understanding of life after college, all while soaking up the culture and excitement of living in the city. From the opera to the Newseum to exploring random Sunday flea markets, it was all awesome.” – Stephen Gunther (’10), Center for Sustainable Energy

“The Washington Semester was one of the best semesters I had with JMU, hands-down. Interning with the Center for Strategic and International Studies solidified my confidence in turning my experiences as an INTA major into a career, and I had the amazing opportunity to explore DC with people who would turn into lifelong friends.” – Sierra Stanczyk (’09), U.S. Department of Justice

“Without the JMU Washington Semester, I wouldn’t be where I am in my career today. Thanks to the connections and experience developed during my semester in DC, I quickly rose through the ranks of House leadership and landed a dream job as Majority Whip Steve Scalise’s digital strategist. This program gives you the marketable skills to excel (and, as importantly, feel comfortable) in high-stakes environments immediately following graduation. Living and working full-time in the nation’s capital will jumpstart your life as a young professional and set you apart from your peers. That alone is invaluable—but furthermore, the program’s structure and exceptional leadership allows you to explore a variety of careers, learn a ton about politics, life, and yourself, and have a blast in an incredible city.” -- Michael Comer (’17), The Office of the House Minority Whip

“Participating in Washington Semester was the greatest decision I made in my time at JMU. Professionally, I was hired post-grad by the Hill office that I interned with and gained invaluable experience that brought me to my current position. It was an asset to be able to tell hiring managers that my program in college gave me the opportunity to get real work experience while taking classes at night, adding to my base of experience. Personally, Washington Semester brought me so much more, including my closest friends in DC.” – Kelly Waters (’14), Johnson & Johnson

“JMU provided the opportunity to get to know myself as an individual, but Washington Semester opened the door to my future as a professional. This was more than just an internship opportunity for me. I watched and learned from those who were going through the same experience in different institutions. The ability to experience Washington with my peers was almost as valuable as the internship experience itself.” – Kirsten Kazlauskas (’09), Government of Quebec in Washington

“Washington Semester was my favorite JMU experience because it provided the perfect balance of career experience, learning and friendship. I still find myself raving about my internship experience that allowed me to brush shoulders with prominent leaders, such as the Dalai Lama and Condoleezza Rice. Moreover, Washington Semester fostered friendships that still continue to grow stronger despite the increasing physical separation that occurs after graduation." – Lisa Maurer (’09), Eagle Hill Consulting

“Washington Semester was the pivotal moment in my JMU career — it allowed me to gain valuable career experience, meet contacts, and help launch my career. I always cite Washington Semester as one of the best decisions I made at JMU." – John Sutter (’11), FTI Consulting Strategic Communications

“The Washington Semester confirmed for me the desire to work on Capitol Hill. Without having that first-hand experience of an internship and living on Capitol Hill, the legislative process was just something I read about in books. This semester laid the ground work for me to discover how much I enjoy working in the legislative branch. I fell in love with Washington, DC and it has been my home ever since.” – Katie Sendak (’04), U.S. House Armed Services Committee

“With the 'real world' fast approaching, my Washington Semester experience helped me figure out my options and set me on a great career path. It was the perfect capstone to my JMU experience. D.C. makes for an incredibly rich and rewarding learning environment.” – Chris Bast (’04), Virginia Department of Environment Quality

"Participating in the Washington Semester was one of the best decisions I made as a student. My internship experience prepared me for a career in politics, and even directly translated into a job after graduation!" - Jamie Lockhart (’08), Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University

“Washington Semester provided me with a pool of new contacts that helped me obtain my first job after college. Without this opportunity, I would have never had the chance to get started on my career path in politics, and I certainly wouldn't have had the support I was lucky to receive from the staff at my internship.” – Kate Kennedy Wheelbarger (’10), Booz Allen Hamilton

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