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Mount Holyoke College
Weissman Center for Leadership

Frequently Asked Questions

MHC Semester in D.C. combines an intensive internship with rigorous coursework in government and policy. It’s right for students with a strong motivation to pursue their interests—whether politic, policy research, advocacy, government, or international affairs. You will be studying at American University and living in Washington D.C. alongside motivated students from other schools throughout the United States and beyond.

Consider applying for the Fall 2021 semester if you will be a junior or senior at the time of the program.

  • The program is an immersion experience into the world of politics, policy, government, advocacy, and international forums and nongovernmental organizations through coursework and an internship.
  • Internships are required. Students work approximately 20-24 hours a week (international students work 20 hours due to visa requirements) in a field of interest that will complement 13 credits of coursework. This includes two seminars for 8 credits, a 1 credit internship course, and a 4 credit independent study in Politics with the faculty director of MHC Semester in D.C. 
  • Seminar courses are taught by scholars and Washington experts such as lobbyists, political journalists, and policy analysts, and include field trip visits to meet with politicians, policy experts, advocates, journalists, and scholars.
  • The program offers opportunities for students to meet, learn from, enjoy and be inspired by Mount Holyoke alums based in Washington D.C., including individual mentoring from esteemed alums on the Advisory Council of MHC Semester in D.C.
  • Through the program, students will be well-positioned to network and interview for future internships, or jobs after graduation.
  • Students will study at American University through the Washington Semester Program alongside a cadre of motivated students interested in government, politics, policy, advocacy, nonprofits, and international work.
  • Students will live either in American University dorms, or off-campus apartment housing secured by American University. More information on housing will be available during the summer.

MHC students can select two of the following interdisciplinary seminars (4 credits each):

Political Transitions and Policy Implications
American Politics, Justice & Law Concentrations
Every two and four years, our nation experiences the departure of mayors, governors, members of Congress, presidential appointees, and many other officials at all levels of government. How are these transitions handled operationally and politically? How have these transitions impacted politics and policy throughout U.S. history? This course will examine U.S. politics, policies, and institutions through the lens of governmental transitions utilizing lectures, simulations, and guest speakers.

Managing the Pandemic in Globalized Societies
Foreign Policy, Global Economics and Business, Public Health Concentrations
Not since the 1918 Flu Pandemic have the fields of international relations, public health, and global business and economics come into such a degree of overlap and interdependency. How did the political and diplomatic actions of China, the U.S., and other world powers influence the spread of COVID-19 across the globe? How has the public understanding of medical science impacted trade and the global economy? How will the innovation of science and industry prepare us to recover from markets and industries thrust into steep depression? This course will explore the complex consequences and intersections brought about by a global pandemic through lectures, guest speakers from the various fields, and critical analysis.

Criminal Legal System: Roots of Mass Incarceration and Racial Disparity
Justice and Law Concentrations
This course will explore the roots of mass incarceration and racial disparity in the Criminal Legal System. The course will critically analyze policing that precedes incarceration, and recent calls for defunding the police. Students will learn the intersections of public law and how it impacts the way society is policed and has led to a massive increase of those incarcerated particularly of underrepresented racial and social identities. Students will discover the foundations of rioting historically and recently that challenge the underpinnings of how our society has its laws enforced.

National Conversations in Times of Crisis
Journalism and New Media Concentrations
The modes of conversation from the individual level to the societal level have undergone swift evolution due to declining print media, the growth of internet forums and social media, and the increasing polarization on how we should live and govern our society. All of these points have now crashed into the upset of daily life due to pandemic and the poignant fight against racial injustice. This course will explore how journalism, public relations, the public health community, and diplomacy are tackling these realities from their various professional lenses. The course will include lectures and guest speakers from these different fields offering insights on the changing communication landscape in 2021 and beyond.

For the Fall 2021 semester, students who will be juniors or seniors at the time of the program are eligible to apply. This includes international students, provided international travel is permitted.

Note that American University requires that all students, domestic and international, must have received a COVID vaccine in order to participate in the program.

Yes, students can be considered for MHC Semester in D.C. if they have previously undertaken a study abroad semester, provided they meet the College’s residency requirements.

A small committee, including the faculty director of MHC Semester in D.C. and Weissman Center staff, will review applications, select students for a remote interview, and establish a waitlist. Selection will be based on the following 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.
  • Volunteer, work, or internship experience in government, politics, policy research, advocacy, nonprofits or nongovernmental organizations.
  • Interest in a future career in one or more of the fields listed above.
  • Strong letter of recommendation from the faculty advisor that informs readiness to undertake a rigorous semester in Washington, D.C.
  • Faculty confirmation that the student can complete their major and all other requirements, including residency requirement, upon return to Mount Holyoke in order to graduate on schedule.

Students will be responsible for securing their own internships, with guidance and support from American University and/or the Weissman Center and the program’s faculty director

Due to the demands of the program, seniors selected for MHC Semester in D.C. are not able to do a senior thesis. Completing a senior thesis is not possible for seniors.

Students' grades in the American University courses need to be a C- or better to be eligible for transfer to MHC. You will receive MHC credits and they will appear on your transcript, but the grades you get in the American University classes will not be recorded on your MHC transcript nor will they factor into your MHC GPA. American University will have a transcript of your AU courses and grades.

Yes, students will need to apply for a Leave of Absence from Mount Holyoke.

The cost for MHC Semester in D.C. will be the same as if attending Mount Holyoke College for fall 2021 semester.

Applications are due Friday, May 14. Students will be notified of the status of their application the week of May by Friday, May 17, and remote interviews conducted the week of May 24.

Questions from students pertaining to the administration of the program, including the application or internship processes, can be directed to Janet Lansberry, director of leadership and public service at the Weissman Center. Questions from faculty can be directed to Sohail Hashmi, Professor of International Relations and Politics and faculty directors of MHC Semester in D.C.