U of M has a room agreement with the University of California for 20 students fall term and 24 students winter term. If the number of qualified applicants exceeds those limits, we have been able to send a few more students to DC when space permits.
Since Washington is the political center of the country, it is also the policy center and home to organizations that cover everything from the arts and social science to the military, science and technology. While many students enjoy the opportunity to become involved in national politics through internships on The Hill, others prefer to pursue their interests at non-profit organizations (such as the National Women's Law Center) or cultural institutions such as The Smithsonian.
The Program Manager works closely with students and internship providers to ensure that the experience is successful for both. Michigan students are in demand because of the good reputation established by other Michigan students who have served in the capital.
Students who are not Poli Sci majors can arrange credit in their area of concentration with oversight from faculty in that department, whose role will be oversight on the research paper.
It is helpful to get up to speed on key political issues before spending a semester in DC; students from other majors might consider a subscription to a periodical such as The Week, which offers a concise summary of right, left and middle-of-the-road ideas on national and international issues.
A 3.0 grade point average is the baseline recommendation for program participation. Since students will be producing a substantive research paper, working at internships and taking elective classes, it's important that they can manage the academic demands of a semester in Washington. However, other factors are considered in admitting students to the program including:
- Public service interest and experience,
- The essay which outlines how the student plans to use MIW to move toward longer term goals,
- References (minimum of two),
- The personal interview (15 minutes).
Students who have questions about program qualifications are encouraged to make an appointment in the MIW office to discuss any questions about qualifications or the application process.
This is the number one question from students (and many parents with regard to their students) and the answer is that everyone in the program will be placed in an internship. It may not be their first choice, and it may not be until after they arrive in DC, but part of the experience is making sure that everyone is placed appropriately. A few points to keep in mind:
- State department internships require 6 month security clearance (along with FBI, CIA and a few others). Students interested in working for these organizations should apply for early admission to MIW, and work with the graduate instructor to make sure that their internships applications are filed on time. In the event that the student is not offered a position with the state department, there will be plenty of time to pursue other opportunities.
Some students set their heart on an internship at one organization that doesn't materialize. While the faculty, mentors, advisory board and DC alums network extensively to help students get placed in their first choice internships, it isn't always possible.
- White House internships are generally 5 days a week. However, MIW students who intern in the White House MUST attend the Research Course on Friday mornings - NO EXCEPTIONS! Students must make appropriate arrangements with supervisors if they accept an internship at the White House.
- During the prep course students are advised to contact at least 10 organizations for internships. Before students arrive in DC they will receive frequent emails regarding available positions.
- It isn't uncommon for one or two students to arrive in DC without an internship, and within two weeks they are placed. This delay often depends on the internship provider as much as the students; many hire as needed rather than in advance.
- The more common problem is that students receive multiple offers for internships, in which case they are advised on how to appropriately respond. It is essential that students don't accept an internship offer, and then retract it because something better came along; this would not reflect well on the MIW program or the University.
Do my references have to be from professors? At least one reference should be from a professor or GSI.
Since MIW is an academic program, at least one reference should be from a professor or GSI who can speak to your course work and writing ability. Other references can be from supervisors, public service groups that you've been involved in, or contacts at other schools or institutions.
We advise that you have the person writing the letter to write it for program admission as well as your internship search, and send it to the Career Center in the SAB. That way, it will be available to forward as needed for your internship search, and for job searches later on.
While the Michigan in Washington Program does not offer language courses, many students maintain their language skills by attending courses at embassies or local language schools. Course fees for languages are not included in MIW tuition.
Students outside of Political Science can earn credit for their major for the Research Course and Internships while in DC by making arrangements with faculty and advisors in their concentration department. For example, an Art History student might do an internship at the National Gallery and request credit in that department. Another student might decide to do the research paper on Economics, which would require arrangements with an advisor to receive Economics credit and a faculty member to review the paper to ensure that the content is accurate and meets the standards of that department. The Research Course also counts as an upper level writing requirement.