Washington Semester Program

The Washington Semester Program is offered by Siena College in a cooperative arrangement with American University. The Program includes special seminars conducted by prominent Washington decision-makers, a research tutorial consisting of working with a mentor to produce a research paper or alternatively (depending on the specific track) a regular course offered by American University, and an internship experience, which could include an assignment to a congressional committee or office, an executive branch agency, an interest group association, a think tank, a private company or firm or to a media group. Area tracks include programs in:

  • American Politics and Policy (General)
  • Foreign Policy
  • International Law and Organization
  • International Environment & Development
  • Justice & Law
  • Global Economics and Business
  • Journalism & New Media
  • Peace Studies & Conflict Resolution
  • Transforming Communities and Public Policy

Depending on the program selected, students accepted into the Washington Semester will receive 15 or 16 credits toward graduation. 

All interested students should contact Dr. Leon Halpert, Department of Political Science, Siena Hall, Room 425 for more information and an application form. (Phone: 2373 or E-mail: Halpert@Siena.edu)

New Website – Our website has been updated and redesigned. It includes more information and visual images from some of our overseas travel components. Please go to https://applyspexs.american.edu/applications/ to review.

Washington Semester Program

Last semester I had the opportunity to be a part of the Washington Semester Program at American University. I could have never imagined the opportunities I would have, the people I would meet or the memories I would make. My focus there was Justice and Law and specifically Criminal Justice. As a student of Criminal Justice, I visited the FBI Training Academy in Quantico, VA, sat in an Oral Argument in the Supreme Court, visited the FBI Headquarters, the Secret Service Headquarters, Superior and Federal Court, met multiple Law Enforcers, went on a police ride along, went to multiple prisons, and walked through the then- Maryland Death Chamber. And this was not even close to everything. I have to admit, I was extremely hesitant going, I had never been away from home for more than a month and now I was going away for an entire semester. But I had the time of my life in Washington, and I could not have made a better decision.

Through the Washington Semester Program you learn to enjoy heated, but respectful discussions. You learn to think in a completely different way and look at the entire picture and not just the small little dot. Before going to D.C. I had never gone to a jail or gotten catcalled, let alone sit down and talk to the prisoners inside. And honestly I didn’t care. That could not be further from the truth today. Those in jail made a bad decision, but they still are human. And the criminal justice system is far more complex than incarceration, and the Washington Semester Program exposed me to this. Every Washington Semester student is required to get an internship. My internship was with the Executive Office of the President, The Office of National Drug Control Policy. My internship allowed to me to learn to engage in the heated national drug debate as well as explore current federal policies regarding issues such as Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs.

As I’m almost a full month into my senior year I would tell anyone thinking about spending a semester in Washington to do it, without hesitation. The experiences I had were unparalleled to anything I’ve ever experienced. I witnessed a Presidential Inauguration, I walked through a death chamber, I had a professor who sits as a D.C. Superior Judge (which means she was nominated by President Obama) has her PhD and her JD, I saw where the opening scene of the “Silence of the Lambs” was filmed, I stood at the cusp of the West Wing, I went to the Pentagon, and I witnessed an Oral Argument in the Supreme Court of the United States. My semester in Washington D.C. was hands down the best semester I’ve ever had, and the best time I have ever had.

Sara Klock Class of 2014


Left to Right: Sara Klock, Layvon Washington, Daniel Browne and Joseph Snyder in Washington, DC