Washington, D.C. Semester

Extending the classroom to our nation’s capital

The Washington, D.C. Semester offers Columbia College students an exciting opportunity that combines special academic coursework with a 12-week, custom-designed internship in Washington, DC.

Each spring, select students participate in a semester-long study of women and public policy issues. This unique learning experience is highlighted by a 12-week practicum in the nation’s capital, arranged according to each participant’s area of interest.

The mission of the Columbia College Washington Semester is to extend the classroom to our nation’s capital. Participants engage in the challenges of a full-time internship and full-time academic responsibilities, while taking in the best of what Washington, DC has to offer. As the nation’s capital and the home of the world’s most powerful democratic government, Washington holds a certain place in the world as it represents all the freedoms and ideals that Americans hold dear.

Columbia College’s Washington Semester is a highly competitive academic program that provides an exciting semester-long study of women and public policy issues with an internship experience in Washington. The program is open to students from all academic majors. Internships are arranged according to each participant’s area of interest. The program is held during the fall semester, with up to eight students selected for participation. The internship and the associated course (“Women, Leadership, and Public Policy”) combined are worth 12 academic credit hours. It may be possible to arrange additional academic credit for independent study experiences.


the Washington Semester Program was established during the 1997-1998 academic year to provide Columbia College students from various academic disciplines the opportunity to gain valuable career and networking experience in Washington DC. Secondary goals include educating students in relevant issues of public policy and women’s leadership, and exposing them to the diversity, cultural resources, and landmarks of one of the world’s great cities.

Cost and Eligibility

The cost of the Washington Semester program is the same as the comprehensive fee for tuition, room and board for the Fall semester on the Columbia College campus. This payment covers student expenses for the round trip from Columbia to Washington, tuition, housing, and a breakfast/dinner meal plan. Other living expenses, like transportation and the cost of lunch, are the responsibility of each participant.

Who can participate?

Students from all academic majors will be considered for participation in Columbia College’s Washington Semester program. Final applicant selection is determined by criteria demonstrating evidence of:

  • Strong academic achievement
  • Strong communication and interpersonal skills
  • Initiative in working independently
  • Desire to explore new intellectual, social, and personal challenges
  • Endorsement by student’s academic advisor and department chair
  • Successful completion of the Washington Semester application form

This program is open to sophomores, juniors, and seniors, with preference given to juniors and seniors.


Columbia College upholds the integrity of the all-women’s atmosphere by housing Washington students at the Thomas-Markward Hall, an all-women’s Christian dormitory. The Home, which houses 120 residents in private rooms, is generally filled and usually has a waiting list. The first floor includes a large living room, a library, and an attractive dining room where residents are served two meals a day. On the second floor is a fully equipped laundry room and on the lower level a television and snack room. Since its inception, the Young Woman’s Christian Home has been a haven to thousands of young women and has had a significant impact on the lives of many. Representing numerous cultures and religions, these young women have come from all over the United States and several foreign countries.

Application Procedures

Each applicant must complete the Washington Semester application form, available online and in the Center for Applied Learning in the Institute of Leadership and Professional Excellence at Ariail House. The form requires an essay describing reasons for considering the Washington Semester program, two letters of recommendation from Columbia College faculty, a copy of the student’s Columbia College resume, and the approval of the applicant’s academic advisor and department chairperson.

All applications should be turned in to the Washington Semester Coordinator in the Division of Behavioral Studies and Human Inquiry no later than the first Monday in March. Applicants will be notified of their acceptance into the program in a prompt and timely manner.

For information, contact:

Jen Hunsicker at jhunsicker@nullcolumbiasc.edu or 803.786.3894. If you would like to schedule an appointment to talk more with Ms. Hunsicker about the Washington, DC Semester, you can request an appointment by filling out this form.