GIA’S Washington Semester in Global Engagement (WSGE)

Explore a semester in Washington DC
Experience the nation’s capital while furthering your studies
Engage with the global and national policy making world

Washington, D.C. is at the center of global affairs. It is home to government agencies, many of the world’s leading think-tanks, numerous international organizations and a range of non-governmental organizations. Here, the most significant policy decisions are debated and made, holding both domestic and international importance.

The Washington Semester in Global Engagement is a unique 15 credit program open to all interested students. The Washington Semester consists of a combination of courses on global affairs, internships opportunities, workshops, seminars and networking opportunities with DC professionals and policy makers. It offers students the opportunity to experience policy-making firsthand, and explore the wealth of political and cultural opportunities available in Washington D.C area.

Stay on track for graduation whilst obtaining skills which will help your career opportunities in virtually any sphere.

– Open for sophomores (by year not credit), Juniors and Seniors in all majors

– Minimum 3.00 GPA.

– Housing is available in Old Town Alexandria, Virginia

The Washington Semester in Global Engagement is a competitive program. Applications are reviewed on a rolling basis. Preference will be given to early applications.  Apply early to avoid disappointment.

Application Deadlines:

Spring 2020: The final deadline to apply is November 10, 2019.

Further inquires contact: Director, Washington Semester in Global Engagement: email

Program Curriculum

Students take two taught courses (6 credits) and 9 credit hours of an internship or externship program. 

Students interested in applying to the Washington Semester in Global Engagement will be enrolled in the following courses:

IS/PSCI 3624: Foreign Policy and Diplomacy

PSCI 4034: Diplomacy Lab

IS/PSCI 4754: Internship (*3)  {students enrolled in Public Affairs and Urban Affairs major should  register for SPIA 4964}

Note: Political Science and International Studies Majors: Only 6 Internship credit hours can be applied towards your major – additional 3 credits can count towards your overall number credits for graduation. It is important that you consult with your academic/program adviser about the number of internship credit hours you can sign up for before registering.

Internship Program (6-9 credits)
The Internship program offers students the chance to engage in the policy making world and gain valuable work experience. It comprises working 30-40 hours/week at a government agency/research institute/think-tank/NGO in the Washington D.C. area. (The minimum requirement for academic credit is at least 20 hours per week).

Upon selection into the Washington Semester Program, each participant will work with the Washington Semester Internship coordinators to determine the best course(s) of action to obtain an internship. Students will receive an “internship Guide” which will offer a variety of internship options, and in some cases, will refer students to potential internship sites, as well as advise on how to apply to internships in the Washington D.C. area. While the internship coordinators help students determine internship opportunities, the Washington Semester does not guarantee placement in an internship. Students determine the internship opportunity they would like based on their personal, political, academic, or career interests and take the necessary steps to apply to the various institutes offering internship opportunities.

In order to participate in the Washington Semester Program, the internship must meet specific guidelines outlined by the program and be approved by the Washington Semester Director, so as to insure the student has a substantive experience.

Externship Program (6-9 credits)
As an alternative to the internship program, students can sign up for the externship program (*students should register for IS/PSCI 4754 – students who fail to secure an internship will be automatically enrolled in the externship program)

The externship program is a guided 12 week program whereby students will experience and learn firsthand about the policy making world in Washington D.C.  Students will inter alia:  attend Congressional hearings on various international topics, attend lectures at the State Department, meet with diplomats and security officials, participate in conferences and lectures at leading think-tanks, meet with representative of international NGOs, and learn to write policy briefs.

The Gallery in Old Town Alexandria is Virginia Tech’s housing option for students participating in the Washington semester program. The Gallery is located one half block from the Prince Street VT campus where classes are held, and a 10-minute walk from the King Street Metro Station. The majority of units (apartments) consist of a living/dining room, a kitchen, a bedroom, and bath, and are expected to hold two students. The units are furnished with beds, dresser, sofa, coffee table, end tables, and a dining room table & chairs.

On acceptance to the program, students will receive information on how to apply for housing in the Gallery.  Students are free to make their own housing arrangements.

How to Apply

Acceptance to the Washington Semester in Global Engagement is based on academic performance, potential for successful participation, and motivation.

Along with the application form, you need to provide: i) an up-to-date resume; ii) a copy of your current transcript; iii) a statement of interest; and iv) the names and contact details of two academic referees.

Statement of Interest: On a separate sheet, type a statement of approximately 500 max words. How does the Washington Semester on Global Engagement relate to your present academic program and professional goals? Also, describe the personal benefits you expect to receive from the program.

Academic Referees (include references contact information on the application form)
All applicants are required to have faculty members with whom they have taken a course serve as a reference.  Please select someone who is familiar with your academic work and plan of study.  You will need to identify your referees the application form and provide their email address. We will contact them to complete a short form electronically. You do not need to request any forms or letters from them, but you must ask them if they are willing to serve as a reference for you before you include their contact information in your application.

The Washington Semester in Global Engagement is a highly competitive program with limited availability. Applicants will be processed on a rolling basis. Early applications will receive preference.

Applications must include the following:

  • Completed Application Form
  • Copy of your current Transcript
  • Copy of your current Resume
  • Statement (500 words max) addressing:
    • How does the Washington Semester on Global Engagement relate to your present academic program and professional goals?
    • Describe the personal benefits you expect to receive from the program and how you will incorporate this program into your future goals.
    • Please include any additional information that may be useful in evaluating your application.

Application Deadlines:

Spring 2020: The final deadline to apply is November 10, 2019.

Please submit the application online.

For further inquiries email:


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W.S.G.E. Students – SPRING 2018
Calvin is a junior student pursuing a political science degree along with minors in peace studies and violence prevention and public and urban affairs. Calvin is interning with the U.S. Department of State Office of Global Change during his WSGE semester. Calvin’s academic interests include international and environmental affairs, and he is seeking to work in the public sector and international organizations after graduation.
Luca is a sophomore at Virginia Tech studying National Security and Foreign Affairs, as well as Economics. He is currently an intern at The Eisenhower School, the National War College focused on National Resources Strategy. His responsibilities include conducting research for faculty, helping plan conferences and events, and intern outreach. His background is international, having moved around the world during his youth, and he hopes to continue this by pursuing a career in the Foreign Service.
Ira is junior at Virginia Tech. Majoring in political science and minoring in Arabic. He is a Bipartisan Intern on the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee. He plans to continue his graduate education upon graduation.
Ryan is a senior at Virginia Tech studying political science. He participated in the Spring 2018 Washington Semester in Global Engagement where he worked at the Iraqi Embassy during the semester.
Gentry Aiken is a senior at Virginia Tech. This Spring, he will be serving as an intern at the House of Representatives. Gentry’s areas of interest are, National Security, Middle East relations, Military, History, and Technology.
Tinsae is a senior majoring in International Studies with a concentration in foreign policy and security and a minor in global engagement. Currently, he is an intern in the Military and Security Studies Program at The Washington Institute for Near East Policy.
Monique is an International Public Policy and Spanish major. She is a spring 2018 Governmental Affairs Intern at Citizens’ Climate Lobby and works in Patron Services at the Moss Arts Center at Virginia Tech. Monique hopes to utilize her Spanish speaking skills and work in global development in her future career.
Megan is a junior at Virginia Tech with a double major in political science and professional and technical writing. This semester, she is excited to intern for Lutheran Social Services of the National Capitol Area. As a reception and placement intern, Megan explores refugee and immigrant services and the daily work of non-governmental organizations.
Evan is a junior at Virginia Tech pursuing a bachelor’s degree in political science with a concentration in national security and foreign policy. After completing his undergraduate degree, Evan plans to attend graduate school in Washington, D.C. and dedicate a career within the public sector. In the past, Evan has worked as a restaurant manager, and on the political campaigns of Virginia Governor Ralph Northam and Virginia House of Delegates Representative Chris Hurst. Through his experience with Virginia Tech’s Washington Semester in Global Engagement, he has gained a more worldly perspective that has bolstered both his academic and professional careers. Originally from Hampton Roads, VA, Evan spends his free time with his dog, traveling, and experiencing new foods and films.
Aida is an exchange at student at Virginia Tech from Spain. The first two years of her degree in Universidad de Oviedo (Spain) she studied the basis of economics. Last year her studies took her to the Université de Montpellier (France), where she focused on economics, management and international relations. This year at Virginia Tech (U.S.) her focus has been on International Affairs with subjects such as Global Development, Environmental Economics or Global Aspects of Intellectual Property Law. Aida is currently interning with the Center of Excellence of the French Embassy in the United States.
Alex Earley Is a junior at Virginia Tech studying International Studies: National Security & Foreign Affairs with a minor in Spanish. For the spring semester of 2018, he is interning at the U.S. Department of State: Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. Following graduation, he plans on attending graduate school and pursuing a career in the State Department as a Foreign Service Officer.
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