Living in DC
Why should I choose studying in DC instead of studying abroad?
The Washington Program provides students with a unique opportunity to study and intern in the Nation’s Capital. Prior students find their experience with the Washington Program to be extremely valuable, helping them to secure even more impressive internships in the summers following the program. Additionally, Washington DC has countess cultural attractions, students love the energy and independence that comes from living in a big city.
Can I participate in both the Washington Program and a traditional study abroad program?
Yes. Participating in the Washington Program does not prohibit you from going abroad through Notre Dame International.
Do I have to be a Political Science major?
No. Students from any major and any college are eligible to participate in the Washington Program. Political Science majors do find the program particularly advantageous and are able to take classes towards the major.
Can I go to Washington as a Sophomore?
Yes. Sophomores and Juniors are eligible to participate in the Washington Program.
When and how do I apply?
See the eligibility and application section of our website. Students should apply the year prior to their desired semester in DC.
Do I need to have an internship before I apply?
No. Students will apply for internships after they have been accepted into the Program.
Is there a minimum GPA?
Students should be doing well academically, Deans and Academic Advisors expect students studying off campus to have a GPA of 3.0 or higher.
How many Notre Dame students participate in the Washington Program?
Up to 16 students participate in the Washington Program each semester. These students come from all majors and colleges, and do not need to be Political Science majors.
What is the cost of the Washington Program?
Participating in the Washington Program is the same cost as a semester on campus. Students are charged ND tuition and a program fee equivalent to 1 semester of room and board on campus.
How should I prepare for my semester in DC?
Meet with advisors from your major(s) and minor(s) to discuss your plan to meet your academic requirements. Begin thinking about what types of organizations you would like to intern with. DC-bound students will have three pre-departure meetings the semester prior to being in DC.
What is covered in the pre-departure meetings?
The pre-departure meetings are mandatory and will review the program, courses, student safety, and your internship search.
What is UCDC? What is the UCDC website?
UCDC stands for University of California Washington Center. The University of Notre Dame is part of the University of California’s consortium. Students take classes and live in the University of California’s building. You can find out more at www.ucdc.edu
What schools are part of the UCDC consortium?
The University of California system, Carnegie Mellon University, the University of Michigan, the University of Pennsylvania, the University of San Francisco, and the University of Notre Dame are part of the UCDC consortium.
Where will I live?/Where is UCDC located?
Notre Dame participates in the University of California’s Washington Program Consortium (UCDC). The building is located at 1608 Rhode Island Ave, NW, Washington DC 20036-3206. This is in the Dupont Circle neighborhood, an area with restaurants, stores, and easy access to the Metro and employers. This location is walking distance to the White House, National Mall, and monuments. Walking these areas is a favorite pastime of past students.
The building has classroom and office space on the lower floors, and student apartments on the upper floors.
How secure is the building?
The building has 24/7 security. All students and staff must show ID to enter the building. The elevator is also secure – only residents are able to access the apartment floors.
Is there a meal plan?
No. Students live in furnished apartments with a kitchen. The Washington Program provides a generous stipend to students to cover the cost of food.
Can I really live off my stipend while in DC?
Yes. Make your own coffee, pack lunch, budget your money and you will be fine.
Can I take a part-time job while in DC?
No, taking a part-time job is prohibited. Due to the demanding schedule of daytime work at your internship and evening classes, there is not enough time for students to pick up part-time work. We want students to focus on getting the most out of their internship, classes, and living in DC, which won’t happen if you have additional work obligations.
What do I need to bring?
Students should bring their own bedding (twin XL) including a pillow, as well as towels and a bathmat. Pack a professional wardrobe, personal care items, and computer. Comfortable shoes are essential.
What does the apartment come furnished with?
Apartments are two-bedrooms, and a shared bath. They are furnished with basic bedroom and living room furniture, as well as essential kitchen items. A complete list of items included in the apartment can be found here.
Do I need to bring a pillow/sheets/towels?
Yes, or plan to buy them when you arrive.
How many students live in each apartment?
Four students share two-bedroom apartments.
Are the apartments single-sex?
Yes, apartments are single-sex.
Will I live with other Notre Dame students?
Not necessarily. There are four students to an apartment, and generally students live with others from their University. However, if there are an odd number of students participating in the Program, they may live with students from other universities in the consortium.
Can I make roommate requests?
Yes. UCDC will email students with a housing/roommate survey where students can make roommate requests. Note: both students must request each other.
Where can I do laundry?
There are coin and credit card operated laundry facilities in the building.
What fun activities do students do while in DC?
Washington DC offers endless cultural opportunities from museums to restaurants. Many museums (Smithsonian, National Gallery, National Zoo, etc.) are free. The Notre Dame Washington Program also covers a historical tour of the lower mall monuments. In addition, past students have found taking advantage of various DC festivals, such as the Kite Festival and Cherry Blossom Festival, to be highlights of their time.
What kind of internship can I have?
Students have an internship of their choosing while in DC. Internships do not need to be political. In the past, students have interned for organizations across DC including federal government/policy work, museums, media, law firms, and private business.
Can I have a paid internship?
Yes, but paid internships are unusual. Expect to have an unpaid internship.
How many hours per week do I need to work at my internship?
You are expected to work a minimum of 24 hours per week (3 full days) at your internship.
What is my availability for an internship?
Students may not work on Thursdays due to the required Foundations of Public Policy seminar and Policy Visits. Most students work Monday – Wednesday and Friday. It will be up to the student and internship supervisor to determine work hours.
How do I find an internship?/Does the Washington Program place me in an internship?
The Washington Program does not “place” students in an internship. The Notre Dame Career Center has numerous resources available to students to help them find their internship – including databases specializing in DC internships. Program staff work closely with the Career Center to mentor and assist students. You can read more about internships, including a selected list of where previous students have interned on our Internships page.
When do I start looking for my internship?
Most organizations in DC post their internships about 3 months prior to the start of the semester. Students that will be in DC during the Fall semester will conduct their internship search over the summer and students that will be in DC during the Spring semester begin applying mid-Fall semester. *Some federal offices that require background checks and/or are highly competitive (i.e. State Department, White House) have deadlines that are much earlier.
How competitive are internships in DC?
Many students from across the country want to intern in DC at some point during their college years. Summer internships are most competitive, followed by Spring and Fall semesters. Students should take their internship search seriously.
What if I don’t get offered an internship?
In over 20 years of running a Washington Program no Notre Dame student has gone without an internship. Some organizations will make their decisions at the last minute. Program staff work closely with all students to make sure they have an engaging internship opportunity while in DC.
What are the required courses?
All students are required to take three courses; Foundations of Public Policy, Public Policy Visits, and their Internship. Foundations of Public Policy and the Public Policy Visits are graded, while the Internship is Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory. Foundations of Public Policy counts as a 2nd Philosophy. You can read more on our Courses page.
What elective courses are available through the Program?
UCDC consortium partners offer several courses each semester. Many courses vary semester to semester. Most tend to be Political Science courses, however, there are occasionally courses in Sociology, Economics, and English. You can see current and past course offerings here (be sure to select a semester from the drop down menu and look at the courses listed under "semester elective.")
What University/College/Major requirements can I meet while participating in the Program?
The required seminar, Foundations of Public Policy, counts as a 2nd Philosophy. There are options that will fulfill social science and fine art requirements. Courses that fulfill major requirements will depend on consortium offerings. Independent Study/Directed Readings are available. Contact the Program for more information or to discuss your needs.
What time are classes held?
Classes are typically held in the evenings and meet once per week from 6:30-9:30 pm. These classes include students from all of the Universities that participate in the UCDC Consortium and they serve as an excellent way to meet students outside of Notre Dame.
Can I take a class at another university while in DC?
No. Courses in the consortium are generally social science courses. Foreign languages and math courses are not offered. You will not be able to take a class at another university while in DC.