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Overseas and Off-Campus Programs

Washington D.C.

Semester: Fall 2018
Offered: Fall 2018
Estimated Dates: Late August to early December
Program Focus: Regional Area Study with U.S. Politics Emphasis
Prerequisites: Minimum of 2.75 GPA is highly recommended. Junior or senior standing preferred.               
Housing: Student Apartments

Program Design

The program is an interdisciplinary and in-depth study of a broad range of academic subjects examined within a political context. Learning takes place in the classroom, but more importantly, in the rich historical, artistic, cultural and political environment of the nation’s capital. During the semester in D.C., students focus on:

  • The American political process—what are the national political structures and methods, how do they function, and how do numerous stakeholders interact within those structures?

  • The role of the media in various forms of political activity with a focus on political campaigning—differences between “old” and “new” media and how the media affect political outcomes, political forces, and the way we view political life?

  • The history of American art and architecture.

  • Student-selected internships in organizations relevant to the student’s academic major and/or desired career.

Students participate in intensive group interviews with Washington politicians, lobbyists, and other professionals. In addition to the academic program, the group participates in a number of cultural activities over the course of the semester. Past programs have included a visit to Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello, a Monuments by Moonlight tour, a visit to The Phillips Collection museum, an excursion to Philadelphia, a visit to the Philadelphia Museum of Art, a segway tour of Gettysburg, and a Washington Capitals ice hockey game.

About the 2018 Program Leader: Ian McDonald, who earned his Ph.D. from Duke University in 2009, teaches U.S. government and U.S. politics courses, including upper division courses on Congress, the presidency, political parties, public opinion, and the media, along with a graduate level course in research design. He also teaches courses on political transformation in the 1960s. Ian was a visiting faculty member at Portland State University in 2010-11, at Lewis & Clark in 2009-17, and at University of Portland from 2014-15. His dissertation Migration, Sorting, and Polarization in the American Electorate examines the link between geographic mobility and polarization observed among voters and Congress. He was lead author of the 2015 Portland City Club report on minimum wage policy in Oregon. His recent work looks at the effect of rapid population growth and representation in the U.S. House of Representatives and state legislatures. He is a native of Seattle, admires the work of Marilynne Robinson and Alice Munro, and wants to talk about your favorite movie.


Requirements Fulfilled: ART 204 fulfills the 4-credit Creative Arts general education requirements. POLS 309 and POLS 353 may be applied to the Political Science major or minor. Participation in the Washington D.C. program does not fulfill the 8-credit International Studies general education requirement. 

Credits: 16 credits (4 courses)


Political Science 353: The National Policy Process (4 credits)

Theoretical foundations of national government and analysis of its congressional, presidential, administrative, and judicial structures. Specific public policies examined to understand the interaction of interest groups, political parties, research institutes, media, and public opinion with these structures.

Political Science 244: Practicum (4 credits)

Opportunity for students to put academic concepts and techniques to work in the marketplace. Specific activities vary; students will be placed with congressional offices, executive agencies, interest groups, think tanks, etc.

Art 204: History of American Art (4 credits)                                                                          

History of American art and architecture from the colonial period until the Great Depression. How social concerns were represented in the arts, including formative debates about nation, identity, environment, and industrialization. Special emphasis given to art that can be viewed within Washington, D.C., and its environs.

Political Science 309: American Political Thought (4 credits)

The evolution of political ideas from the pre-revolutionary era through the founding period, Civil War, early 20th century, and New Deal, up to present divisions between “liberals,” “conservatives,” and other contemporary political orientations.

Student Life

Housing: The group is housed in student apartments through Washington Intern Student Housing (WISH). The apartments are fully furnished. Amenities in the apartment include: wifi and cable TV, fully stocked kitchens (including dishware, cookware, and appliances), free laundry facilities, and 24-hour access to building management staff for maintenance or emergency needs. Students are responsible for purchasing and preparing their own meals, but the Overseas Office will give them a stipend to cover the cost of their food. Students can use the kitchens in their apartments to prepare their meals, or they can eat at the many historic restaurants and cafes that D.C. has to offer.


2019-2020 Fee Breakdown*

Total Fee (includes Tuition, Program Fee, and Health & Wellness Fee): $33,517

Tuition: $26,173

Program Fee: $7,307

Health & Wellness Fee: $37**

Included in the program fee are room/housing, board/meals, and administrative fees. Not included are airfare, passport and visa expenses, primary insurance coverage, photographs, books, immunizations, and incidentals. 

*Fees are updated every February for the following academic year.

**The Health & Wellness Fee supports the operations of Wellness Services staff in delivering pre-program orientation services, as well as in providing health-related consultation regarding participant health needs. All students in the College of Arts and Sciences pay a mandatory fee of $37 per semester.

Stipend: Students will receive a stipend to cover the cost of meals and transportation costs not covered by the program fee.

Estimated Airfare (Round Trip PDX to DCA or IAD): $500 - $1,000

Estimated Health Insurance Fee: $1,350.50

Students are required to have comprehensive health insurance during their participation in an off-campus program. All students participating in overseas programs, both abroad and domestic, are automatically enrolled in the College’s student health insurance program. Similar to a regular semester on-campus, students participating in off-campus programs may waive enrollment in the student health insurance program if they have other comprehensive health insurance (e.g., through a parent, guardian or employer) that 1) provides coverage for them in the geographic region in which they will be studying and 2) includes mental health benefits. Click here for more information regarding health insurance & off-campus programs.

Program Preparation

Application Process: Applications are due one year before the start of the program. The semester before the program, students who have been accepted will meet regularly for orientation. This orientation is meant to prepare the students for life in Washington D.C. by exploring literature and culture, and provides an opportunity for students to learn more about the logistical details of the program.

For more information about the application process, click here.

Travel: Students usually fly into Ronald Reagan National Airport (DCA) or Dulles International Airport (IAD), and from there they travel to their student apartments.

Washington, DC