Emma Ernst '20 and Sofia Cuadra '20 biking in Washington D.C.
Since 1987, Washington Term has sent over 500 W&L students to DC for internships in politics and government across Washington. During the six-week Spring Term program, students live in Washington, DC, while working on Capitol Hill, in non-profits, think tanks, lobbying organizations, advocacy groups, and news organizations - any place where politics happens. The program includes a six-credit college course, a guest speaker series, meetings with W&L alumni and other DC notables, and regular group outings.
Embodying the interdisciplinary spirit of the liberal arts, the program is open to all majors and all interests. Although not required, many students continue in their positions in DC for the summer and each is eligible to apply for the John Warner Public Service Award. Washington, DC, is home to one of the largest W&L alumni communities and W&L students have used Washington Term to launch careers in every branch of government and in positions of politics and public policy.
The Washington Term Program includes three components: an academic course, an experience working in a government office, think tank, or other organization in Washington, and a lecture series. Students spend four days working, and on Fridays, they attend a morning class led by Professor Alexander and afternoon guest lectures by some of the most prominent people in Washington. At least one weekday evening is also set aside for class activities.
Participants receive six credit hours for successful completion of the course. Grading is based on the student's performance in class, a research paper, evaluations from the student's place of work, and an analytical journal in which students write about their observations and experiences.
Each year, Washington and Lee University secures a block of apartment suites in a good location in or near the District. The suites are always located close to public transportation. Students can expect to live in a double-occupancy room with shared living space. The university works to keep housing costs as low as possible.
All of Washington Term activities are deeply enhanced through the generosity and spirit of the W&L alumni community. The networking and job opportunities provided by alumni is integral to the students' success, while the camaraderie and social opportunities alumni provide make the whole Washington Term experience even more joyful and rewarding — both during college and in successful careers beyond.
The program was established by Bill Connelly, John K. Boardman Professor of Politics (Emeritus) and is now directed by Brian Alexander, Associate Professor of Politics, following Prof. Connelly's retirement in 2018.
Planning for Washington Term is a year-round activity. If you want to help our students or you will be in DC in the Spring, contact Professor Alexander. He would love to involve you with the students and our programming.