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Mount Holyoke College
Weissman Center for Leadership

MHC Semester in D.C.

Photo of the capital building in Washington D.C.

About the Program

MHC Semester in D.C., established in 2018, is an exciting program for students to live, study, and intern in Washington., D.C. This program is available to both juniors and seniors to spend a fall semester in the nation’s capital taking courses at American University in its Washington Semester Program.   

MHC Semester in D.C. combines an intensive internship with rigorous coursework in government, policy, advocacy, and related fields. The program is open to students from any academic major with a strong motivation to pursue their interests in politics, policy research, government, nonprofits, or international affairs. Students are mentored by distinguished alumnae who serve on the Advisory Council to MHC Semester in D.C. In addition, site visits with accomplished alums give students an insider’s view of the dynamic culture and political vibrancy of the nation’s capital.

Sohail Hashmi, Professor of International Relations on the Alumnae Foundation and Professor of Politics, serves as the faculty director of MHC Semester in D.C. The program is administered through the Weissman Center for Leadership by the Center’s Director, Amy E. Martin.

Read about students' experiences and the impact of MHC Semester in D.C., from the inaugural class:

Two photos show selfies of five students and a guide dog in Washington, D.C. One is inside the ornately decorated Rayburn Reception Room in the Capitol. In the other, the group poses with their professor in front of the Capitol against a blue sky.

Meet the students of the MHC Semester in D.C.

Five students spend the semester building careers in public policy and advocacy as they work, study and live in the nation’s capital.
Rep. Pelosi with MHC Semester in DC students

In the room where it happens

The five students in the pilot MHC Semester in D.C. program began the term by meeting with Rep. Nita Lowey ’59 and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi.


This exciting program is for students who will be juniors or seniors during the fall semester. International students are eligible to apply.

Program Details

Mount Holyoke students will receive a total of 13 course credits and work at an internship three to four days a week (approximately 20-24 hours per week). 

In addition to work experience, students are enrolled in:

  • Two multidisciplinary seminars (8 credits total) taught by American University faculty and Washington area experts that cover topics such as American politics, foreign policy, global economics and business, public health, international law, journalism and new media, and justice, racial disparity, and law.
  • An independent study (4 credits), taught by the faculty director of MHC Semester in D.C.
  • An internship course (1 credit) to prepare, secure, and support student success at a D.C.-based  internship in an area of interest. Recent internships have been in congressional offices, federal agencies, think tanks, advocacy and social justice organizations, nongovernmental organizations, and consultant firms in areas such as health policy, political communications, and international regulations.

Upcoming Information Sessions

Application Process

The application period will be announced on the events calendar. Completed applications include: faculty recommendations, updated resume, writing sample, and unofficial transcript.

Selection Criteria

  • High academic achievement (3.0 and above)
  • Relevant coursework at the 200/300 levels in departments such as politics, international relations, or courses in the Nexus law, public policy and human rights track.
  • Experience in a public service field through an internship, work, or volunteer experience, or in student government; or a leadership role or active participation in a political or advocacy-related student organization.
  • Interest in a future career in politics, policy, advocacy, government, or nonprofits/NGOs.
  • Strong letter of recommendation from a faculty advisor that describes the student’s readiness to undertake a rigorous semester in Washington, D.C.


Student costs will be the same as if attending Mount Holyoke College.

Financial Aid

Program participants will be able to use most outside aid, including federal direct student loans, parent loans, Pell grants, some state aid, and outside scholarships. Please note: federal work-study and Mount Holyoke aid will not be applicable. This includes need-based aid, leadership awards, other merit awards, town grants, tuition assistant grants an employment-based aid such as tuition exchange.

For those selected to participate in the programs, MHC Semeter in D.C. consults with the Student Financial Office to develop a financial package appropriate to each student based on need and the financial offer they receive.