Washington, DC

Washington Semester Program at American University

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Academic Program

Students are required to complete a minimum of 15 semester units on the program which includes seminars related to the concentration theme (totaling 8 semester units), a credit-bearing internship (4 semester units) and either an independent research project, an on-campus elective, or one of the American University classes available in the evenings on the D.C. campus ( 3 -4 semester units). The travel elective courses are not approved and Scripps does not cover the travel fees associated with such electives.

  • Reviewed by: Professors Nancy Neiman Auerbach and Roberto Pedace
  • Fields of study: Scripps students may choose from any of the thematic concentration options based in Washington, D.C. and are expected to complete a minimum of 15 semester units (3.75 courses at Scripps). The travel electives are not approved course options.
  • Eligibility: 7.5 cumulative GPA; completion of course work related to the concentration theme
  • Size of the student body: The American University Washington Semester draws visiting students from around the world. Students will share classes with many international students, providing a wide range of perspectives in the classroom.
  • Number of program participants: Approximately 375 participants with each concentration ranging from 25-40 students.

Living Arrangements

Students have a roommate, typically sharing a dorm room or as one of four students sharing a two bedroom apartment, arranged by the program. Scripps provides a meal stipend allowance and recommends students choose the partial meal plan level they prefer in the university cafeteria. That would free up the remainder of the stipend for lunches at the internship location so that students don't have to return to campus midday.

Term Dates

  • Fall: Mid August to mid-December
  • Spring: Early February to mid-May


  • Advising Tips: A faculty reference is only required of applicants with a GPA below 7.5. As soon as a student is accepted by American University they should start looking into the options in the American University internship database. Some internships require significant lead time due to the need to obtain security clearance. Because of the part-time arrangement for the internships (typically 2 days per week), interns may not be given a wide range of responsibility that is common with a full-time internship. Scripps students may choose to take one American University class from the options offered in the evenings in place of the research project course. This helps to provide integration with the wider American University student population.
  • Budget Planning: Washington D.C. has a high cost of living so students should plan their budget carefully, particularly for local transportation costs to get to their internship placement.