MHC Semester in D.C.

Photo of the capital building in Washington D.C.

Mount Holyoke College is excited to announce a pilot program for students to spend a semester in Washington, D.C. 

MHC Semester in D.C. combines an intensive internship with rigorous coursework in government. It’s right for students with strong motivation to pursue their interests — whether in politics, policy research, advocacy, government, or international issues. Students will 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. You will be studying and working alongside motivated students from other schools such as University of California, University of Pennsylvania and University of Michigan.

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 are also available for an insider’s view of the dynamic culture and political vibrancy of the nation’s capital. 

Calvin Chen, Associate Professor of Politics, will serve 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


We are piloting this exciting program in 2018-2019 with a small cohort of students. Students who will be first- or second-semester seniors at the time of the fall 2018 program are eligible. Students who will be second-semester juniors or first-semester seniors at the start of the spring 2019 program are eligible.

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. Domestic students work approximately 32 hours a week. International students work fewer hours, due to visa requirements.

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 Calvin Chen, associate 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 some guidance towards this process. Recent internships have been in congressional offices and the White House, with lobbyists, and in U.S. Cabinets, federal agencies, advocacy groups, think tanks, political news networks and nongovernmental organizations.

Application Process

We are currently accepting applications for the spring 2019 semester in D.C. through October 1, 2018*. Spring 2019 applications are open to students who will be second-semester juniors or first semester seniors at the beginning of the spring 2019 semester. Finalists will be selected for interviews. Students will be notified the week of October 22 on the disposition of their application. Students selected will need to commit to the program by November 5.

* updated deadline

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, 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 $15,848 for tuition and fees; $5,152 for housing (exclusive of food); and $4,000 for transportation, food, and personal expenses.

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 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.