Please read through the helpful FAQ links to the right.  If you still have questions about the program after reading the FAQs and reading the information on our website, feel free to get in touch with questions and we will be happy to help you.  For general questions about the program, contact Serena Leland.

Eligibility & Application

Who is eligible to participate in the program and how are students evaluated for selection?

To be eligible to participate in the CU in D.C. Program, a student must be enrolled as a full-time student at the University of Colorado; have sophomore standing or have 60 college credits completed; and have a 2.75 GPA.  CU in D.C. seeks to enroll students who are mature, responsible, and who will represent the university and herself/himself in a professional and positive manner.  A strong candidate is ready for the challenges of a first-time professional experience, is a highly motivated person, and has a strong academic record.  On occasion, the CU in D.C. team will make an exception to the outlined eligibility requirements on a case by case basis.

When should I apply to the program?

You can apply to the program at any time and we have a rolling application process.  It is never too soon to inquire about participation in the program and we encourage you to begin planning early.  If you want to participate in CU in D.C., you should plan ahead and get the process started about one or two semesters in advance.  This will provide you with adequate time to fill out the application, gather needed information, get set up for an internship, and to consult with and plan your academic goals with your advisor.  You can submit an application up to the application deadline for a particular semester.  The application deadlines are listed under the “Important Dates” section on the Application Process page.  It’s helpful to the student and to the program to get applications in as early as possible.

I am scheduled to graduate in May. Can I participate in the program the summer after my graduation?

If you would like to plan so that you “walk” in the graduation ceremony in May, but actually have a formal graduation date of August, that will be fine.  In order to be deemed eligible for the program however, you must be enrolled as a full-time CU student with a graduation date that follows your participation in the program.  So you can participate in the program if you delay your official graduation date until August, but you cannot have an official graduation date in May and then participate in the program the subsequent summer as a recently graduated student.

Is this program only for Political Science or International Affairs majors?

No, this program is not just for Political Science or International Affairs majors.  Of course a D.C. internship experience is relevant and useful for students with these majors, but a hands-on professional experience in the nation’s capital is a valuable and relevant experience for a student with any major.  For example, if you are interested in art history, social studies education, or anthropology, you could explore internship opportunities with the Smithsonian.  If you are interested in a career in the environmental sciences, you could look at internship possibilities with the Environmental Protection Agency, National Institutes of Health, or with Conservation International.  And if you want to pursue a career in media studies or journalism, you could explore internship opportunities at the Washington Post, National Geographic, National Public Radio, or the Associated Press.  And for students who are science majors or interested in science policy, we have two science course offerings.  No matter what your major, participating in CU in D.C. will provide you with the practical experience, confidence, and connections to get you where you want to go in your career.

Financial

Can I apply my financial aid toward participation in the program?

Yes.  Like with all other Education Abroad programs, financial aid and scholarships apply to CU in D.C. The aid package that you typically receive each semester will be awarded and disbursed in the same way it would be if you were present on the CU campus in Colorado.  We notify the Office of Financial Aid that you will be participating in the program, and they adjust your aid package accordingly.

If you participate in CU in D.C. during summer session or over Maymester, you may be eligible to receive financial aid, but you need to check in with a financial aid advisor and fill out an application for summer financial aid.  If you have already filled out a FAFSA form for the previous fall and spring, that FAFSA can be used for/apply to that subsequent summer (and if you haven’t filled out a recent FAFSA, you must complete one for summer).  In addition to having an active FAFSA application filled out, you must fill out a summer financial aid application.  Oftentimes, students use up their financial aid funds by summertime and do not have funds available for summer.  But if students plan ahead and contact Financial Aid in advance, they can actually “reserve” some of their awarded money from the academic school year and save it for summer use.  If you would like to make this arrangement, we suggest that you see a financial aid counselor early so that you can plan ahead.

Can I do work-study while I am in Washington D.C.?

No.  While participating in the CU in D.C. program, you will be very busy with your internship and with coursework.  You will not have time to put in work-study hours in Washington D.C., nor are you permitted to put in work-study hours in D.C.  If you are a work-study student and want to participate in CU in D.C., you should notify the financial aid office in advance that you will participating in the program and they will put your work study hours ‘on hold’ for a later semester.  If you do not notify the financial aid office in advance, the work-study hours will be cancelled.  If you want to participate in CU in D.C. during the academic year (fall & spring), but you depend on work-study earnings to make ends meet financially, then we suggest that you try to work and save for the program during the summer prior to your participation.  Then you can use your savings during your semester of participation in Washington D.C.

Are there any scholarships available to participate in the program?

Yes, through the generous donations of faculty, alumni, and program friends, there are some limited funds available for scholarships.  When you apply to the program, you will be asked if you would like to be considered for a scholarship. The awards are based on one or several of the following factors: major, GPA, financial need, and professional interests.  Most scholarships are awarded to students with high financial need. The program receives unmet financial need data for students from the Office of Financial Aid and can see which students have the highest financial need. Students are typically notified about scholarship awards about a month before departure to Washington D.C.

Does it cost more to participate in the CU in D.C. Program than it does to do a regular semester on campus?

Participating in CU in D.C. will cost you roughly the same as if you were spending a semester on campus. Full financial aid and scholarships apply. Like other Education Abroad programs, CU in D.C. has a program fee. The program fee includes housing, classes, internship support services, emergency evacuation insurance, a Metro card, and special social and professional programming in D.C. It does not include airfare, food, or personal expenses. The CU in D.C. budgets are built to roughly match what an in-state and out-of-state student would pay if they were in Boulder. You can find specific budget information on the Education Abroad Program Costs page

How much, on average, do students spend on living expenses while living in D.C. for a semester?

While living in Washington D.C., the typical student can expect to spend about $50 to $150 per week on groceries and incidentals.  The amount you need to budget depends on your spending habits, like how much you spend on dining out or how much you spend on coffee each morning. So it all just depends.  But past CU in D.C. participants report that a realistic budget for basic living expenses is somewhere between $50-$150 per week.

Do I pay for the usual campus fees on my bill at the Bursar’s Office when I’m participating in the CU in D.C. Program?

No. Campus-related fees, in the amount of about $450, are waived for CU in D.C. participants in fall and spring, and will be removed from your bill after the census date for the semester.

Internship

What types of internships are available in Washington D.C.?

Washington D.C. is the ideal place to find a professional internship.  There are abundant opportunities to work inside top nonprofit organizations, think tanks, Federal government agencies, arts and cultural organizations, and leading companies.  Whatever your field of study is, there is sure to be an ideal internship opportunity for you in the nation’s capital.  Examples of possible internship placements are: Voice of America, the Department of State, kGlobal, the White House, Congressman Cory Gardener’s office, Congressman Jared Polis’ office, the U.S. Institute for Peace, the Department of Defense, Meet the Press/NBC, the International Trade Commission, Human Rights First, WJLA Radio, the Environmental Law Institute, the Smithsonian Institution, the International Labor Organization, the U.S. Department of Education, CNN/The Situation Room, the Red Cross, Senator Michael Bennet’s office, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, etc.  This is just a sampling.  The possibilities are endless!  To see a list of even more possibilities, check out our Internship Experience page.

How many days a week do I intern with an organization?

It depends.  Students typically intern five days per week, for about 20-40 hours per week.  Most students intern full-time, but the work days and hours really depend on the needs and requirements of the specific office.  Students should discuss the weekly schedule with their supervisors and confirm which days and hours they’ll be needed.  It is fine for students to negotiate their schedule so that they have some breathing room to balance work with evening classes.  The employer will likely tell the intern what days and hours they are needed for work, and the intern should communicate her/his availability to the employer.  Students should also let their supervisors know that they are participating in a comprehensive academic program, one that involves taking classes and getting to class at a certain time in the evening.  Employers are usually flexible and understanding when it comes to creating schedules that are manageable for students.

What do interns do on a day-to-day basis?

Your daily work will depend on the nature of your internship organization, agency, or company.  An internship will likely have a combination of substantive and administrative duties.  Your daily internship responsibilities might include: research, report writing, attending and reporting on Congressional hearings, planning activities, policy analysis, general administrative tasks, and attending meetings.  We encourage students to be proactive about seeking out work assignments that interest them, and to not be shy about communicating their interests and desire to be involved in specific projects.  We want students to maximize their learning while in D.C. and to get as much exposure and experience as they can.

Do I get paid for my internship work?

You will probably not be paid for your internship work.  Paid internships are rare in Washington D.C., although some organizations may offer a small stipend, such as payment for a Metro card that covers your transportation to and from work.  What you do earn for internship work is college credit and invaluable hands-on professional experience.  Some internships, about 10%, are paid, but these are typically internships in the technology and science sectors.  If you get lucky and secure a paid internship opportunity, you can also earn academic simultaneously (the two are not mutually exclusive).

Can I change my internship if I don’t like it and I’ve already started it?

You should approach your internship with the same seriousness and commitment that you would approach a paid professional job.  Hopefully, through careful research and consideration, you will identify an internship that is a great match for your professional interests, academic pursuits, and personality.  And once you commit to working for a particular organization, you should honor your commitment and complete your service to that organization.  If, however, you find yourself in an unexpectedly difficult situation and you believe it is not in your best interest to continue interning in a particular workplace, then the CU in D.C. team will do everything we can to support you, remove you from the environment, and to identify an alternate internship placement for you.  We expect you to be committed, but we also support you and encourage you to speak up if you are experiencing any serious challenges.

If I take the Maymester Science Policy course, do I need to get an internship?

No.  The Maymester is a short, condensed coursework-only experience.  CU in D.C. currently offers two science courses over the Maymester.

Living in D.C.

Where do CU students live in Washington D.C.?

CU in D.C. students live together, build community, and have a shared experience.  They live in The Washington Center (TWC) apartment building together. The TWC residential facility is located near a Metro stop and public transportation, and is near a grocery store and other conveniences.  The building is near Capitol Hill, Union Station, and the Supreme Court.

I have family members who live in northern Virginia and I’d like to live with them for the semester. Do I have to live in CU housing while I participate in the program? Can I rent my own place?

We encourage students to live together in CU housing so that they can build a sense of community with other participants and so that they share in the full group experience.  But you are permitted to make alternative housing arrangements if you would really like to live with family nearby or rent your own place.  You will, however, need to demonstrate that the housing is within a reasonable distance from your internship and classes and that you have reliable transportation available.  You will also be required to provide the program will full contact information that specifies your location and housing arrangement.  

Can I bring a car to Washington D.C.?

Washington D.C. has an excellent and convenient public transportation system that makes travel by car unnecessary.  So bringing a car to Washington D.C. is not prohibited, but it is strongly discouraged.  As with most major cities, driving and parking in D.C. is not for the faint-at-heart and can be a harrowing experience.  Fortunately, the city is designed to move the masses via public transportation and there are several options for getting to where you want to go.  The Washington Metro, a light rail subway system, has stops throughout the city and runs lines to outlying areas in Virginia and Maryland.  The Metro is convenient, safe, inexpensive, easy to navigate, and it operates from early in the morning until late at night.  Becoming a Metro rider and expert is part of the quintessential D.C. experience!

In addition to traveling by Metro train, there are numerous other transportation options in Washington D.C.  To travel within the city limits and surrounding areas, you can ride the extensive bus system or find a taxi on any corner.  Over the past decade, the city has become increasingly bike-friendly through the creation of new bike lanes; increased access to bike racks and storage centers; a new bike-share program; and by linking up biking infrastructure with public transit.  For biking enthusiasts, Washington D.C. offers a widespread network of bike paths for commuting within the city and to the surrounding areas.  If you would like to venture outside the city to destinations like New York City or Boston, you can take the Amtrak train from historic Union Station.  The Greyhound bus is also an option and has routes that link D.C. to several east coast cities.

Is Washington D.C. safe?

Yes.  In recent decades, crime rates have substantially decreased in Washington D.C., and the D.C. Metro area is regarded as a safe region.  Most crime in D.C. is highly concentrated in specific neighborhoods and a large percentage of crimes committed occur in only a handful of city blocks.  The district map is divided into four quadrants, and the Northwest (NW) and Southwest (SW) quadrants are generally considered safe areas, while the Northeast (NE) and Southeast (SE) quadrants are considered unsafe (although, the SE is changing and is fast becoming a hip area, with new apartment buildings and retail shops).  The heavily trafficked parts of NW and SW D.C. (where you find most museums, restaurants, hotels, shops, Federal agencies, and memorials) have low crime-rates and are lovely, secure areas.

When staying in Washington D.C., visitors should take the normal precautions they would take in any big-city environment.  Some standard safeguards are: travel in groups; do not walk home alone at night; avoid high-crime neighborhoods; be discreet with money; always be aware of your surroundings/the people around you; exude confidence/look like you know what you’re doing; lock your doors; program your cell phone with emergency phone numbers; and stay in well-lit and highly trafficked areas.  Please see our health and safety section of the website for further information.

Miscellaneous

What are the participation dates for CU in D.C.?

The CU in D.C. Program follows the exact same academic dates that you would ordinarily follow on campus.  Classes begin and end on the same days they would if you were on campus, for fall, spring, Maymester, and summer session D.  You can plan to arrive in D.C. the Friday or Saturday before classes begin and depart D.C. the Saturday after classes end.  To find specific semester/session start and end dates, visit the CU Boulder Academic Calendar page.

How is the CU in D.C. academic-year (fall and spring) program different from the CU in D.C. summer session D program? How is Maymester different?

There are some differences between the CU in D.C. summer experience and the CU in D.C. fall and spring/academic-year experience.  In the summertime, the duration of the session and the experience is shorter (10 weeks) and in the fall and spring semesters, the duration of the experience is longer (14 weeks).  Because the experience is 14 weeks long in the fall and spring, students usually earn 12-15 credits for their participation in the program, and they usually earn 6 credits for the summer experience.  Another difference between the academic-year semesters and the summer semester is the competitiveness of internship opportunities.  In the summertime, thousands of college interns descend on Washington D.C. (some put the estimate between 20,000 and 40,000), whereas during the academic-year, the volume of interns in the city is significantly lower.  Therefore, landing a coveted internship spot during the summer can be highly competitive and challenging.  You may have better luck landing your dream internship placement during an academic-year semester, especially if you’re eyeing a popular internship placement, like an opportunity at the White House or the Department of State.  A benefit of participating during the summer is that you have the chance to meet and interact with many like-minded college students from across the United States.  But an advantage of participating in the fall or spring is that you stand out more as an intern; your colleagues are more likely to remember you because you’re not just another face in the crowd; and you may be given more substantial work assignments because you’re in the office for a longer period of time.  When deciding which semester to participate in the program, you should consult with your academic advisor to make sure your plans keep you on track with your academic goals, requirements, and timelines.  Be thoughtful in your planning and examine your own specific needs and circumstances when making a choice about your semester of participation.

The Maymester Science Policy offering is a short, three-week, intensive course.  The course covers the intersection between a variety of science fields and policy-making.  Students earn 3 credits for the course in either ARSC, MCDB, PHYS, ENVS, ATOC, or PRLC.  Students go to D.C. as a group for the Maymester (session M) and live together in shared housing.  Each day, they attend class and participate in site visits to various science institutions.  The main difference between the Maymester offering and the other CU in D.C. offerings is that for the Maymester, students do not have an internship.

How many credit hours will I take when I’m in D.C.?

In fall or spring, students earn 12 credits; in the summer, they earn 6; and in Maymester, they earn 3. 

How many students are in the program?

During the fall, spring, and summer there are up to 20 students enrolled in the program, and for Maymester, the group size is up to 10 students.  The program deliberately keeps the group size small in order to provide a high-quality experience.  On average, participation in the program is highest in the summertime, when there can be up to 40 students in the program.

What should I do about my Boulder housing situation while I’m in D.C. and when I return from D.C.?

If you are planning ahead, you may want to consider living on campus or in Bear Creek the semester before or after your semester in Washington D.C.  These housing options allow you to leave your contract without penalties if you are participating in the CU in D.C. program (you must provide Bear Creek/on-campus housing with official documentation from CU in D.C. to verify your participation in the program).  For more information, visit the Main Campus Housing site or the Bear Creek Housing.  If you have not planned ahead and are bound by a lease that runs through the semester you will be in D.C., you may want to advertise your housing to returning CU in D.C. students, returning study abroad students, visiting international students, and other CU students.  You can post your sublet on Ralphie’s List, an online housing advertisement service offered by the Off-Campus Housing office. You can also advertise your sublet on the social media websites that you use regularly.  Another way that students work around housing challenges is by studying abroad for a semester that is back-to-back with the semester they participate in the CU in D.C. program.  That way, they do not have to secure housing for the entire school year because they'll be living in other locations.

Can I still participate in study abroad if I participate in the CU in D.C. Program? Will I have time and be able to manage both?

Yes.  Many students who want to pursue study abroad also participate in the CU in D.C. Program.  And oftentimes, they do the two experiences back to back.  You can do both.  So long as you plan ahead and stay in contact with the CU in D.C. Program Director while abroad, there should not be a problem.  All of the logistical procedures and program processes can be done by email, and so you can prepare for a CU in D.C. semester while living overseas.  If you live overseas and do not have access to reliable Internet/email, you can still plan for future participation in the CU in D.C. Program.  In that case, you would just need to plan far in advance and make sure that you have completed all program steps before departure.

Can I take the LSAT while I’m in Washington D.C.?

Yes.  Many students have taken the LSAT (Law School Admission Test) while participating in the CU in D.C. Program.  The LSAT exam is offered regularly at several locations in the D.C. Metro Area (i.e.: Arlington, VA; Baltimore, MD; Georgetown University; Howard University; American University; etc).  Studying and sitting for the LSAT takes extra time and energy, and so students just need to plan ahead.