D.C. SEMESTER

         LEADERSHIP THROUGH POLICY & GOVERNANCE
Washington Semester, Leadership through Policy and Governance

Spend the Summer in the Nation’s Capital with Virginia Tech as We Learn and Work in the Greatest Political Laboratory in the World!

WHO: All U.S. or International College/University Undergraduate Students

WHAT:  An 11-Week Immersion Program: Internship, Field Study, Coursework

WHERE: Virginia Tech Research Center, Arlington, Virginia

WHEN: May 18 – August 1, 2020

Join the VT School of Public and International Affairs (SPIA) Washington Semester as we experience and practice policy making using the Nation’s Capital as our laboratory. You will learn about and work on challenging public policy issues that shape cities locally and globally while earning credit and engaging with leaders and experts working in public, private and non-profit organizations. Our state-of-the art facility in Arlington, Virginia brings learning to life, providing interactive and vibrant classrooms and study spaces. Our location at the Ballston-MU Metro Stop enables easy access to Washington, D.C. and internship assignments.

VT SPIA DC Metro Campus

SPIA’s Washington, D.C., Metro Area campus is located in the heart of Arlington, a quick Metro ride from the nation’s capital!

You will be surrounded by convenient restaurants and shops, including the newly designed Ballston Quarter.

Ballston Quarter

Photo from ballstonquarter.com.

Eligibility
Applicants must have 60 credits by the start date of the program and possess an overall GPA of 3.0.

Applications
Apply online or download application forms and send to Kelly Crist, 110 Architecture Annex, Blacksburg, VA 24061. Please ask your references to provide letters by the due date (either by email to kcrist@vt.edu, the address above or by campus mail to mail code 0113).

CURRICULUM & PROGRAM OPTIONS

The Washington Semester introduces participants to a variety of perspectives about how public policies are crafted and to the diverse professionals who dedicate their careers to implementing these policies. As such, the program provides a distinctive combination of learning activities around questions of American democracy and governance.

Washington Semester, Leadership through Policy and Governance

Walking Tour of Old Town Alexandria, 2017

Briefing at Department of State, 2018

Briefing at Department of State, 2018

See the full course descriptions: 2020 Washington Semester Course Descriptions

There are two program options for students to choose from: 12-Credit Program or 6-Credit Program.

12‐Credit Program Requirements:

Students work Monday‐Thursday in a 30‐hour week internship in a public, private, or non‐profit organization. Friday morning is UAP/PSCI 4644 and Friday afternoon is UAP/PSCI 4624. Professional Development sessions, including training in career preparation and lectures with experts in various employment sectors, are held on Tuesday or Thursday evenings. All classes and professional development sessions are held at the Arlington campus.

Students enroll for three courses for the 1st summer session:

  • 6 hours – SPIA 4964 – Internship with evening professional development sessions,
  • 3 hours – UAP/PSCI 4644 – Politics, Policy and Administration in a Democracy
  • 3 hours – UAP/PSCI 4624 – Seminar in Politics and Public Policy

The Washington Semester program is designed as an integrative whole and you must register for it in its entirety during the first summer session.

UAP/PSCI 4644

UAP/PSCI 4644

6‐Credit Program Requirements:

Students work Monday‐Thursday in a 30‐hour week internship in a public, private or non‐profit organization. Students participate in visits to Capitol Hill, Department of State, and the U.S. District Court in Alexandria. Professional Development sessions, including training in career preparation and lectures with experts in various employment sectors, are held Tuesday or Thursday evenings at the Arlington campus.

Students enroll for one course for the 1st summer session:

    • 6 hours – SPIA 4964 – Internship
WS Convocation 2016

WS Convocation 2016

HONOR CODE

The Virginia Tech Honor Code applies to all student assignments. Student participation in seminar events requires careful preparation each week, sometimes in collaboration with other students. We encourage this mutual collaboration since we hope that you will learn from each other as well as from professional peers in your internship offices. But all written submissions must be original and conform to all Virginia Tech Honor Code requirements.

INTERNSHIP

All students are placed in a 30-hour week internship with a public, private, or nonprofit organization. Placements are based on each student’s interests and professional goals. The internship experience connects seminar discussions and readings and professional development sessions to broader issues of management and policy. The emphasis placed on incorporating both theory and practice sets the Virginia Tech Washington Semester program apart from other Washington internship programs.

Participating agencies, nonprofits, and organizations must follow the Washington Semester program requirements for employers, which are discussed with perspective employers prior to confirming the internship placement.

Specifically, participating employers complete a WS internship agreement form that specifies the internship supervisor and student workdays/hours and provides a job description. Additionally, employers complete two evaluation forms, one midway through the program and one at the conclusion of the internship. All internships must comply with the Fair Labor Standards Act.

Examples of previous internship placements among many others:

  • U.S. House of Representatives
  • U.S. Senate
  • TSA Special Enforcement Program Office
  • Government Accountability Office
  • HUD
  • EPA
  • FEMA
  • Catholic Charities USA
  • American Red Cross – International Division
  • Human Rights Watch
  • Ecologic Institute
  • World Resources Institute
  • City of Alexandria
  • County of Arlington
  • DC Government

Students will work with the WS Director to initiate the internship placement process. Using the employment preference information from the Washington Semester application, the Director and student will discuss possible work locations to pursue. Once identified, the Director will contact the employer to share the student’s resume. If interest is confirmed, the student will be directed to contact the employer to schedule an interview, which could be by telephone and/or Skype. It is important for the student to maintain constant communication with the Director during this process. Once the student has been accepted by the employer, the Director will work with the employer to complete all necessary documents for the employer’s participation. Part of this documentation is a job description for the work that the student will be responsible for. Before the internship begins, both the student and employer sign off on the work to ensure there is agreement and mutual understanding of the work expectations. This agreement is kept on file for the duration of the internship. Simultaneously, the student should work with the employer to learn any employment details, such as background checks and badge requirements, and follow instructions accordingly. This will make the start of the internship much smoother. To ensure a positive work experience, the Director conducts a mid‐point employer evaluation to learn how the student is performing and to identify any areas of improvement that may be needed. This evaluation is then discussed with the student in their mid‐point evaluation. A final employer evaluation is also conducted to obtain an overall assessment of the student and their work and discussed with the student. Both employer evaluations are used as part of the internship grade.

Important Notes on Internships:

The Employer Agreements entered by the Washington Semester are usually for non-paid positions. However, compensated internships are permissible. Additionally, students must consult with the Director before modifying or ending an internship. Violation of these policies will result in disciplinary actions up to and including termination from the program.

UAP/PSCI 4624 FIELD STUDY

UAP/PSCI 4624 has a “Field Study” component which seeks to expand the experiential learning beyond the internship. On selected Fridays, students will travel to sites that demonstrate the intersection of policy, governance, and collaboration. Sites are chosen based on their topical influence in policy, depth of expertise in a policy area, whether their focus is a timely policy matter and if it supports the identified case study. Students will engage with experts working on real‐world issues and are encouraged to dialogue with them as a means of broadening their understanding and grasp of their place in the policy discourse. Field Study is usually 1:00 pm – 4:00 pm on Fridays but may be shorter/longer or in the morning depending on the site and location.

WS 2017 DC Exploration

WS 2017 DC Exploration

INFORMATION SESSIONS

Upcoming Information Sessions

Dates are still to be determined.

You need not attend an information session to apply.

IMPORTANT DATES

IMPORTANT DATES

Applications beginning: October 14, 2019

Application deadline: January 31, 2020

Orientation: April 28, 2020

Program dates: May 18 – August 1, 2020

Check-in: TBD

Welcome breakfast: May 18, 2020

Internships begin: May 19, 2020

1st class: May 29, 2020

Last class: July 24, 2020

Convocation: August 1, 2020

APPLICATIONS

Apply online or download application forms and send to Kelly Crist, 110 Architecture Annex, Blacksburg, VA 24061. Please ask your references to provide letters by the due date (either by email to kcrist@vt.edu or by campus mail to mail code 0113).

GRADING CRITERIA

UAP/PSCI 4644

Evaluation of student coursework will be based on four course elements – each constituting 25 percent of the final course grade:

  1. Memo #1 (500-750 words)
  2. Memo #1 (500-750 words)

Written work will be evaluated using four equally weighted criteria:

  • Assignment – Does it respond to the question or assignment?
  • Analysis – Does it present a clear thesis or narrative? Are its conclusions supported?
  • Grounding – Does it make effective use of course materials to establish firm theoretical and conceptual grounding?
  • Readability – Is it concise and well‐organized? Is the language clear? Is it free of egregious typos, grammatical errors, and other distractions?
  1. Policy Briefings

Policy Briefings will be evaluated using four equally weighted criteria:

  • Assignment – Does the presentation respond to the assignment?
  • Analysis – Are elements of the presentation organized around a coherent thesis or narrative? Are problems and concepts clearly defined? Is the presentation informative? Is it interesting?
  • Grounding – Does the presentation make effective use of available policy evidence? Is policy evidence accurately described, clearly cited, and critically analyzed?
  • Presentation – Do oral and visual aspects of the presentation contribute to its clarity and effectiveness. Is the presentation free of common stylistic distractions?

UAP/PSCI 4624

Memos, 50% (approximately 25% each)

  1. Memo #1 (500-750 words)
  2. Memo #2 (500-750 words)

Written work will be evaluated using four equally weighted criteria:

  • Assignment – Does it respond to the question or assignment?
  • Analysis – Does it present a clear thesis or narrative? Are its conclusions supported?
  • Grounding – Does it make effective use of course materials to establish firm theoretical and conceptual grounding?
  • Readability – Is it concise and well‐organized? Is the language clear? Is it free of egregious typos, grammatical errors, and other distractions?

Final Project, 30%. Requirements:

Paper

  • Papers must be between 3-5 pages, double-spaced and proofed carefully. Use descriptive words and clear language, not jargon, to describe your experiences. Write to pull your reader into your story.  Follow the criteria for all written work and use section headers as appropriate.

Presentations

  • Presentations are a summary of the paper and should be 7-10 minutes in length. PRACTICE! Audio and/or video tape yourself, paying attention to body movements, hand gestures and fillers such as “um” and “like”.  Presentations may be in PowerPoint or Prezi.

Journal, 20%

  • Weekly entry of at least 250 words.

TUITION & FEES

Below are rates for the 2018 program. New 2019 rates will be posted in the spring 2019 term.  Should anything change, students will be expected to honor the new rates.

Tuition & Fees: Summer 2018 rates are below. If rates increase, participants will be expected to pay the new rates.

(*In-state rate includes tuition, academic fee, technology fee; **Out-of-state rate includes the in-state rate plus out-of-state tuition and the facility & equipment fee).

The summer 2018 rates may be found here.

In-state* Out-of-state** Other Student Fees Program Fee WAAC Activity Fee
see Bursar’s website see Bursar’s website none if submit waiver form $100 – non-refundable N/A

Since the program is off campus, you will not need to pay university on-campus fees, but you will be charged for these fees. To have these fees waived, please work with your department to submit a comprehensive fee waiver form to the Bursar’s office.

Housing Costs: 2018 rates (may be subject to change). For those living in the Gallery Apartments in Alexandria, if any changes are made, students will be expected to honor the new rates.

Rates Per Person Two-Person Three-Person Four Person Parking Fee
For Summer (2 3/4 months) $2244.00 each $1968.00 each $1608.00 each $175.00
Deposit $500.00 each $500.00 each $500.00 each N/A

TRAVEL, HOUSING, & ACCOMMODATION

Travel Requirements
Most students will use the Metro train and bus system to travel to their internships, field study and professional development sessions. It is important for students to familiarize themselves with the Metro network to help determine travel times based on their housing location. Travel times are not an exemption from program requirements. Please visit the WMATA website to learn about the network.

Housing
Many Washington Semester students reside in The Gallery, the Virginia Tech apartment complex located in Old Town Alexandria. Residence in this facility is managed by Virginia Tech Residence Life and follows the same conduct policies as Blacksburg residence halls. Housing is provided on a first‐come, first‐served basis. Information on room set‐up, sizes, and fees can be found here.

Accommodation
Reasonable accommodations are available to students with a disability. Please contact the Services for Students with a Disability Office at www.ssd.vt.edu or via e‐mail at ssd@vt.edu. They can be reached at (540) 231‐3788 Voice / (540) 231‐0853 TTY / (540) 231‐3232 fax.

PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT

One of the tenets of the Washington Semester is exposing students to tools, information, and knowledge that can advance their studies and careers. To that end, the program conducts professional development sessions on career development as well as policy discussions with experts to engage students about the role, responsibility, and challenges of policy and policy making. Participants are encouraged to use this time to ask questions and explore the facets of policy making through the experiences of the experts.

Contacts

Andrea Morris
Washington Semester Director
703-706-8126
andrea.morris@vt.edu

Kelly Crist
Administrator
540-231-5133
kcrist@vt.edu

Location

Washington, D.C.
900 N. Glebe Rd., 6th Floor, VTRC
Arlington, VA  22203

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