Tufts in Washington Program

The Tufts in Washington program allows Tufts undergraduates to study our national government first-hand. We have made special arrangements with American University to provide Tufts students with the best possible learning experience available in a Washington semester. Participating students attend the Washington Semester at American University, and choose one of two tracks: American National Politics or American Foreign Policy.

Each track includes the equivalent of four courses, the cornerstone being an internship of the student's choosing, which is arranged soon after arrival in Washington. Students work three days a week at their internships. The second course is an independent research project supervised by an American University faculty member. This project results in a major paper on a topic selected by the student. Program applicants must have a general idea of their research topic before going to Washington. A more detailed proposal is developed upon arrival in Washington. Tufts students MUST complete the research project with a satisfactory grade in order to get Political Science credit for any of the Tufts-In-Washington courses. The third and fourth courses consist of a double-credit Washington seminar that includes meetings two or three times a week with political elites such as members of Congress, executive branch officials, representatives of interests groups, journalists and the like. Some seminar sessions integrate the work of political scientists with students' observations of the real world.


Students need not be political science majors, but they must have taken political science or international relations courses in the area they intend to pursue in Washington. Applicants may not apply before their second semester of sophomore year; that is, students must be at least a first semester junior by the time they enroll in the program in Washington. As per our agreements with our international partners, including Sciences Po, exchange students will live and study on the Medford campus. They are not permitted, through the exchange agreements within the Tufts Global Education office, to attend Tufts in Washington, even if they are a US citizen.

Admission to the Tufts in Washington Program

Admission to the Tufts in Washington program is competitive. Acceptance to the program is through application to the Department of Political Science at Tufts. The faculty committee that evaluates the applications looks at each student's qualifications in the following areas:

  1. Background: Students should have completed or be taking courses relevant to the area of study they plan to pursue in Washington. 
  2. Performance in social science courses: Applicants should have a good record in the social science courses they have taken.
  3. Grade point average: Although students are not judged strictly on grades, their overall scholastic achievement will be considered.
  4. Research proposal: Students will be asked to provide a brief summary of the individual research project they propose to do in Washington. Review research proposal guidelines and tips.
  5. Faculty Recommendation: Students must supply the committee with the name of one faculty member who is familiar with their work.

Application Procedures

  • All students interested in applying for the Tufts in Washington Program must submit the American University online application.
  • Students must also print and submit a copy of the completed application to the Staff Assistant in the Department of Political Science, Packard Hall. This must include the research proposal mentioned above, which is not required as part of the American University application procedure, but IS required by Tufts.
  • The deadline for the Tufts in Washington application is:
    • March 15th for the following Fall semester
    • October 15th for the following Spring semester

Grades and Credits

  • Political Science majors taking the American National Politics or American Foreign Policy program may count two courses toward their Political Science major.
  • Political Science minors taking the American National Politics or American Foreign Policy program may count two courses toward their Political Science minor.
  • International Relations majors should consult the IR Program. Requirements for IR majors vary across the specific IR thematic concentrations.
  • Tufts-in-Washington program courses contribute to the Tufts' GPA

For additional questions about application procedures and credits, please contact Professor Brian Schaffner.

Billing and Housing While at Tufts in Washington Program

Students are registered at Tufts and are billed all the costs of the program through their Tufts eBill. A comprehensive fee includes tuition, room, board, and fees for one semester in the program. A medical insurance premium will be billed but may be waived if the student is covered by the family's insurance policy. Students are housed at American University in Washington, DC, but all costs are billed by and payable to Tufts by the billing due date. Certain courses at AU may require transportation costs. These costs will be added to the Tufts eBill after Tufts has been notified by AU. Students receiving Tufts financial aid will continue to receive their aid while in Washington. There is no provision, however, for continuation of work-study during the semester in Washington. For billing and financial aid questions contact Student Services at 617-627-2000.

Testimonials for Experiential Learning with the Tufts-in-Washington Semester Program

Going into the Washington Semester, I wasn't sure what to expect. I quickly found out that all the students, faculty, and staff were very friendly. Creating tight friendships has always been hard for me, but within a week I had a great group buddies I could hang out with. The class part of the program was excellent, too. Professor Calabrese (foreign policy program) is easily one of the best teachers I've ever had. He knows what he's talking about and he knows how to get you to understand, too. Lastly, it might be hard to imagine yourself taking tea in the Turkish Embassy or talking with one of Amnesty International's leading gender equality advocates, but trust me, it happens.

Alexander Knapp, International Relations, 2016

The Washington Semester is definitely one of the highlights of my undergraduate career. As a Political Science major, I was able to test-drive for a semester in Washington, seeing the ins and outs of politics in Washington. At the beginning of the program I was given opportunities to explore many different internship and fellowship options in Washington. I was given network opportunities and able to land an internship in the U.S Senate. The program not only gave me excellent career prospects but was academically rigorous. Professor Calabrese is one of the best professors I've ever had. His extensive knowledge of all things ranging from the South China Sea to military coups in Central America were just a small part of his endless wealth of information. He made our classes enjoyable, challenging and memorable. During the program, you can easily find yourself on a Tuesday morning talking to former Ambassador to Ukraine in the morning and a Heritage Foundation fellow in the afternoon. The program is diverse as it is enriching.

Jacqueline Quander, Political Science, 2016

Mario Feola, International Relations, 2015

Tufts in Washington was definitely a highlight of my four years at Tufts. It was a fantastic opportunity to get out of Medford and apply the material I was learning in the classroom to my seminar classes and internship. There are so many exciting events and opportunities to take advantage of, both from WSP and DC more generally. Studying, working, and living in DC was a welcome change of pace.

Mario Feola, International Relations, 2015

Abby Hollenstein, Political Science, 2015

I attended the Washington Semester Program in the Spring of 2014. As a Political Science and History double major, I wanted to gain an in-depth understanding of American politics, as well as experience working in politics. While in the Washington Semester Program, I took the American Politics Seminar. I learned about the operations of the different branches of government from people who actually worked in the White House and Congress, and I was taught public policy issues from policy experts themselves. I was fortunate enough to personally observe the day to day workings of Congress by interning for Senator Johnny Isakson (GA) two days a week. I could never have imagined that I would be able to learn and see so much in just one semester. WSP incredibly furthered my interest in politics. It was a once in a lifetime experience and I am extremely thankful for it.

Abby Hollenstein, Political Science, 2015