Mount Holyoke College
Weissman Center for Leadership

MHC Semester in D.C.

Photo of the capital building in Washington D.C.

About the Program

Mount Holyoke College is delighted to announce the continuation of MHC Semester in D.C., an academic and internship program for students to live, study and intern for a semester in the heart of the nation's capital. This program will be available to seniors each fall semester.

MHC Semester in D.C. combines an intensive internship with rigorous coursework in government, policy and advocacy. It’s right for students with strong motivation to pursue their interests — whether in politics, policy research, advocacy, non-profits, government or international issues. Students spend a semester at the Washington D.C. residential and academic campus of the University of California Washington Center (UCDC) in Dupont Circle in the heart of the nation’s capital. They will be studying and working alongside motivated students from other schools such as the University of California, the University of Michigan and the University of Notre Dame.

Selected students will be exposed to the American political process while attaining valuable work experience for academic credit. Enrichment activities include talks by political and policy experts hosted by UCDC. Recent speakers have included members of Congress, Supreme Court justices, and political reporters and columnists. Site visits with accomplished MHC alumnae give students an insider’s view of the dynamic culture and political vibrancy of the nation’s capital. Students are also mentored by esteemed alumnae members who serve on the Advisory Council to MHC Semester in D.C.

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 and coordinated by Associate Director Janet Lansberry.

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


This exciting program is for students who will be seniors during their fall semester. Fall 2020 Semester in D.C. applications will be available next spring.

Program Details

Mount Holyoke students will live and learn alongside students from across the country at the UCDC center. Students will receive a total of 12 course credits that will center around an internship requiring three to four work days a week (approximately 20-25 hours per week).

In addition to the work experience, students are enrolled in:

  • a research seminar
  • an elective course taught by UCDC faculty and Washington area experts
  • an independent study that will be taught by Sohail Hashmi, Professor of International Relations on the Alumnae Foundation and Professor of Politics and faculty director for MHC Semester in D.C.

Students are required to find their own internships. The Weissman Center and the faculty director will offer guidance towards this process. The faculty director and the Weissman Center will approval final internship placements. Recent internships have been in congressional offices, federal agencies, advocacy groups, think tanks, and nongovernmental organizations.

Applications for the fall 2020 semester will be available next spring and open to students who will be seniors at the beginning of the fall 2020 semester. Students will be notified in early March on the disposition of their application and selected students will need to commit to the program later in March.

  • 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, nonprofit or government.
  • Strong letter of recommendation from a faculty advisor that describes the student’s readiness to undertake a rigorous semester in Washington, D.C.

The per student cost for a semester at UCDC is $25,000. This includes $21,000 for tuiton, fees and housing (exclusive of food); and $4,000 for transportation, food, and personal expenses.

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 assistance grants and employment-based aid such as tuition exchange.

However, students eligible for need-based aid, or who would be eligible for need-based aid if they were not receiving a leadership award or other merit or employment-based aid, may apply for need-based scholarship support in their application for MHC Semester in D.C. This is a special fund established by alumnae for this program only.