Lincoln Memorial

Required Core Courses

Foundations of Public Policy

This seminar addresses the fundamental ideas that organize, describe, and define public policy in the United States. Using a variety of classical and modern texts, students will consider how these fundamental ideas serve to shape both the debate regarding particular policies, as well as the institutions responsible for their implementation. Of special importance to the seminar is the development of critical and analytical skills to understand and evaluate public policy. 

*This course fulfills a University 2nd Philosophy requirement and is also cross-listed with Political Science, Sociology, Philosophy, and the Hesburgh Program in Public Service. 

Public Policy Visits

This graded, three-credit course is the companion to the Foundations of Public Policy. Co-curricular policy visits expose students to institutions, organizations, and decision-makers in Washington.

Washington DC Internship

Students secure an internship of their choosing and work 24+ hours per week. The internship does not need to be politics or policy related. This course is three credits, graded S/U. The Washington Program staff works directly with each student to identify professional objectives, and offers extensive resources to assist them in securing an intellectually-rewarding internship. Internships are a mix of in-person, hybrid, and remote experiences.


To round out their academic schedule, students take two additional three-credit electives from a small selection taught by Notre Dame faculty. Most courses are in Political Science or related fields. Prospective students should know that language and STEM courses are not available. When considering courses, students should consult with their academic advisor(s) to see which courses will allow them to stay on track with academic requirements for their major.

Unique Clinics

The ND Washington Program offers our students unique, 1-credit opportunities to gain hands-on experience in human rights advocacy work.

Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act Clinic  

This course will introduce students to the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act, and Executive Order 13818, and will require students to jointly prepare one case file submission identifying a foreign individual or entity that has engaged in (1) serious human rights abuses, or (2) significant acts of corruption. Students will work in a team, and will present their final work product to Human Rights First (a non-profit, nonpartisan international human rights organization) to be vetted for possible submission to the State Department and Treasury Department requesting that Global Magnitsky Act sanctions be levied against the identified individual or entity.

United Nations Special Procedures/Periodic Review Clinic 

This clinic will introduce students to the Universal Periodic Review of the U.N. Human Rights Council, and will require students to prepare a submission to the United Nations regarding the human rights situation in a U.N. Member State currently under review.  Under U.N. General Assembly resolution 60/251, the  U.N. Human Rights Council is required to "undertake a universal periodic review, based on objective and reliable information, of the fulfillment by each State of its human rights obligations and commitments in a manner which ensures universality of coverage and equal treatment with respect to all States.” Students enrolled in this clinic will engage directly with the United Nations to help ensure that all U.N. Member States respect the human rights enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other international human rights instruments.
  • Fall 2021: students drafted petitions to the U.N. Working Group on Arbitrary Detention on behalf of two Vietnamese human rights defenders serving lengthy prison sentences for criticizing the government. They also provided virtual training to students from Dagon University in Myanmar regarding United Nations human rights mechanisms available to assist in determining the fate or whereabouts of their detained and missing classmates.
  • Spring 2022: students drafted a submission regarding the human rights situation in Bahrain, which will be reviewed by the U.N. Human Rights Council in the Universal Periodic Review during its 41st session.

Independent Study

Students also have the opportunity to pursue (for credit) an independent project related to their interests. Independent study courses must be arranged by the student and on-campus department prior to their arrival in Washington.