Washington Center

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Earn Credits in the Nation's Capital and Gain Valuable Work Experience

The University of California offers qualified students from all majors the opportunity to spend a term in Washington D.C.  Students combine an internship of their choosing with academic courses taught by visiting UC professors and accomplished Washington professionals. Participants receive a full term of course credit in addition to work experience and a front row seat to national policy making.

Students live at the UC Washington Center, an 11-story building located in the Dupont Circle neighborhood, about a five-minute walk from the White House. The center contains classrooms, faculty offices, and apartments for approximately 250 students from nine UC campuses as well as the University of Michigan, University of Pennsylvania and Washington University in St. Louis. 

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UCDC offers a wide range of courses for quarter and semester students, each designed to take advantage of the capital’s vast resources.

Core Seminars. The centerpiece of the academic curriculum is a weekly research seminar aimed at putting the internship in a scholastic framework. Faculty are drawn from a roster of UC professors with particular policy expertise and local professionals ranging from policy analysts to journalists.

The core seminars meet once a week for three hours. Students typically take the day off from their internships on the day their seminar meets. Students are free to choose any seminar which best suits their interests or internship. Some seminars combine research with a focus on Congress, the Media, the Presidency, Elections, Bureaucracy, Sustainability or International Relations. Others focus on pure research and allow students to write an in-depth research paper on a topic of their choice. Depending on the seminar, students may share internship experiences, hold discussions on Washington policy, learn research techniques, take field trips to Washington landmarks, or participate in skill-building workshops.

Electives. UC Washington Center electives typically meet one evening a week. Courses are intended to reflect the capital’s wide range of policy, history, science and arts. Recent offerings include courses on energy, foreign policy, lobbying, political media, theater and food.

For information on the current term’s offerings see UCDC Course Descriptions.

"I can say without a doubt that because of UCDC I have the education that allowed me to have the job that I have now" - Fay Gordon, UCLA


“The experience I had in UCDC in an academic setting was the catalyst that helped me figure out my career and secure a job" -  Cody Gray, UC Berkeley

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“You can do anything you want to whether it be government related, nonprofit, or private sector.  There are really limitless opportunities here" - Perry Yates, UC Irvine


Internships are the highlight of most students’ Washington experience. Typically working three to four days a week, UC students have interned with members of Congress, the White House, cabinet agencies, advocacy groups, scientific organizations, public relation firms, museums, sports teams, television stations, think tanks, lobbyists, public health associations, political parties, and schools.

 Washington offers thousands of internship opportunities. In addition to the federal government, virtually all national advocacy groups maintain a headquarters or office in the capital.

Duties range from responding to constituent inquiries, researching legislation, assisting in laboratories and writing news stories.  Participants gain valuable work experience and firsthand exposure to the capital’s policy and political process, and often leave with stories and acquaintances that last a lifetime.

Students are not assigned internships. Instead they work with program administrators in Washington and on campus to find a position that matches their interests and skills.

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Living in DC

Washington is a lively city, with an endless array of museums, monuments, historical attractions, events, clubs, restaurant and proximity to other cities such as New York and Philadelphia.

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UCDC Center

The Washington Center is centrally located in a vibrant and safe neighborhood. It is within steps of public transportation, historical monuments, museums, restaurants, theater, and nightlife.

Students are able to take advantage of a variety of activities offered through the UC Center, such as tours of the State Department, White House and Pentagon, as well as trips to Philadelphia and Gettysburg.

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Financial Aid & Scholarships

Tuition is the same as remaining on campus and the cost of living in Washington is not much different than in California. However most students spend more money due to travel housing, new wardrobes and the enormous menu of temptations.

Your current financial aid package can be used to attend UCDC, and may be adjusted to reflect the added expenses. Additionally, scholarships are available to help bridge the gap between California and Washington.

Each term the Matsui Foundation grants $2000 (semester) and $1500 (quarter) grants to a select group of students attending UCDC.


"The Robert Matsui fellowship provided me the opportunity to explore public service as a future career path. It gave me the support and training I needed to get the most out of my internship and prepared me with the tools to seek employment upon completion. It was a privilege to be a Robert T. Matsui—UC Congressional Fellow because the Matsui family is genuine in their work to motivate and prepare students to become the future public servants of America." - Guillermina Garcia

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    How To Apply

    Application procedures and deadlines vary campus to campus. To apply to UCDC, please visit your campus UCDC web page or representative.