Guidance – The Washington Center

The Washington Center (TWC) is an educational organization in Washington DC that provides internships, training, and courses for college students. Students from across the country intern in DC through The Washington Center. At UT, this opportunity is available only to Honors students in good standing, ideally Honors students who are entering the second semester of their Junior year or during their Senior year.

How You Apply

As with many of the opportunities in the Honors Program, there is a two-stage application process. First, you must apply through submittable.com (here) to the UT Honors Program. That application will be evaluated by the Honors Program Directors and potentially your department chair. If your application is deemed meritorious, you will then apply through TWC’s website. Because we pre-screen our Honors students before they apply to TWC, students are typically accepted at The Washington Center; we don’t know of any Honors students being rejected, but that is a possibility.

Once students complete the online application to TWC, the Honors Program Director will receive an email notifying them that the application has been submitted. The Director will then have the chance to review the application before recommending changes or approving it. Once the Director approves the application, it is submitted for review at TWC. Applicants can expect to hear back from TWC within a few weeks as to whether or not they were accepted.

When You Can Go

The Honors Program can send up to 3 students to TWC per semester, including over the summer. Honors students can intern at TWC during the fall or spring semesters at UT and can also intern during the summer.

How Credits Work

While at TWC, students will take two courses. One is a subject matter course (e.g., Political Psychology, Middle East Politics, etc.) and is referred to as the “Evening Course.” The other course is the LEAD colloquium, which focuses on professional development and internship success.

Of course, students will also be completing an internship. The internships vary widely and are tied to students’ interests and majors.

While all of this work (the two courses and the internship) is done at TWC, Honors students have to sign up for courses here at UT in order for the credit to transfer back to UT. Precisely what courses and credits students sign up for at UT has varied in the past. Here are some examples of what students have done in the past:

  • One student who interned at TWC during the spring semester signed up for 8 internship credit hours in their department (PSC 440) and also signed up for two sections of the independent study course in their department (PSC 450). That meant the student received 16 credits for the semester spent at TWC.
  • A student who interned through TWC during the summer signed up for 10 credit hours of internship in their major (CRM 401) and nothing else.
  • A student who interned through TWC during a different spring semester signed up for just 8 internship credits and one independent study course.

In short, there is some variability in how students sign up for courses at UT and how much credit transfers back as a result. Regardless of precisely how students transfer the credit back, they must work with their faculty advisor and the chair of their department to sign up for courses at UT before they head to DC for their internship and courses at TWC.

At the end of the internship, students at TWC will receive grades for their Evening Course, for the LEAD Colloquium, and for their internship. Those grades are sent to the Honors Program Director who forwards them to the students’ department chair. The department chair will determine what grades the students should receive for the courses they signed up for at UT.

How The Finances Work

Interning through The Washington Center is not free. Below is an explanation of what students will pay and what UT’s Honors Program pays.

  • Students will still pay their UT tuition since the credit hours will transfer back to UT.
  • If students want TWC to arrange their housing, TWC will send UT a bill. The student will be informed about the expense and will pay UT that amount and UT will pay the bill.
  • Finally, the Program Fee at TWC varies by semester but is between $6,900 and $8,420 (as of 2018; see here for the most current information). The Honors Program pays that fee.

Thus, students will pay only their regular UT tuition and the housing fee if they will be using TWC housing (students have the option of finding their own housing) while the program fee is covered by UT.

It is also important to note that students typically do not pay any money directly to TWC. Students will pay UT tuition and the housing fee and UT will pay all of the TWC expenses and fees. If students receive a bill from TWC, they should take the bill to the Bursar’s Office (or the Honors Program Office).

The Washington Center – Troy Schneider

Troy Schneider at the US Capitol

My time here at The Washington Center, arranged and funded with the help of UT’s Honors Program, has been incredible so far. I am working at a lobbying firm in Alexandria, Virginia right outside of D.C. At the firm, I am a research assistant. I compile research for whatever project my boss needs me to and then write up briefs and packets to inform my boss of what he needs to know to present it to his clients. Some of the clients my research has been sent to include the Electronic Security Association, which is the largest home and business security trade association in the country, the top weather companies in the country, including the National Weather Service and NOAA, and the National Association of State Agencies for Surplus Property (NASASP), which deals with government surplus property issues. It has been awesome knowing that the work I have been doing these past few weeks is actually being received by the top people in these companies for lobbying purposes. I have learned so much from my supervisor and have even been given the chance to go to Capitol Hill (see photo above) to help in the lobbying process of Representatives and Senators as well as to attend congressional hearings. Being in Washington, D.C. this summer has been one of the best experiences of my life.

The Washington Center – Michael Harder

Michael Harder at The Washington Center

Michael Harder (Political Science, Class of 2017) sent the following update on his internship at The Washington Center in Spring 2017:

The Washington Center program comprises an internship, an academic seminar, and a LEAD colloquium, all in the heart of Washington, D.C. The program has been both intellectually demanding and remarkably rewarding. My internship as an analyst with Izar Capital Group, a merchant bank located one block north of the White House, has called upon the financial and political knowledge obtained inside UT classrooms. I am also enrolled in an academic seminar titled “The Anatomy of Entrepreneurship” in which I am creating a business with other young professionals from around the world. In addition, The Washington Center has provided a large and diverse group of guest speakers and workshops in order to maximize the networking effect so prevalent in Washington, D.C. Ultimately, The Washington Center has established a bridge between academic knowledge and real-world application of such knowledge.