Javascript is currently not supported, or is disabled by this browser. Please enable Javascript for full functionality.

    May 17, 2022  
American University Catalog 2017-2018 
American University Catalog 2017-2018 [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Washington Semester Program

Offered by the School of Professional & Extended Studies  and established in 1947, the Washington Semester Program includes several concentrations for which Washington, DC provides a unique perspective. More than 200 colleges and universities are associated with the program and each semester. Students from across the country and around the world come to American University for programs that feature seminars with key figures in the fields of American Politics; Foreign Policy; Global Economics and Business; International Law and Organizations; Journalism and New Media; Justice and Law; Peace and Conflict Resolution; Religion, Politics, Peace, and Security; Sustainable Development; and Transforming Communities.

The Washington Semester Program experience includes 8 credits of seminars, 4 credits of internship, and 3-4 credits of research or elective course.

For more information on the Washington Semester Program, call 202-895-4900, e-mail: or go to:

American Politics

Study the main institutions, processes, and issues of the American political system. Learn about the polarization of the two-party system and its impact on the relationship between the executive and legislative branches. Debate the proper role of the courts in law and politics and learn the inner workings of managing electoral campaigns.

Foreign Policy

Explore emerging international issues and foreign policy challenges such as the global struggle against terrorist organizations, the growing number of failed states, ethnic and regional conflicts in the Middle East and elsewhere, as well as the reshaping of NATO and the United Nations to address the problems of the early 21st century.

Course Requirements

Global Economics and Business

The Washington Global Economics and Business concentration Seminars offer an intensive examination of international trade, global economic policy, and international business practices. The heart of the seminar is on-site discussions with economic, business, and trade policy decision makers and policy analysts. Academic focus is on global economic, business, and trade policy. This program draws on the unique environment of Washington, DC to introduce students to governmental policy making as it relates to international and domestic economic, business, and trade policy. Discuss business and trade with corporate executives, and US and foreign government officials in their offices at corporations and embassies.

International Law and Organizations

Explore the nature of international law in interstate relations and the structure and operations of major global organizations. Study the role that international law and organizations play in areas such as peaceful resolution of disputes, adjudication of international judicial cases, global security and terrorism, international trade and economic development, the environment, human rights, and humanitarian assistance. In addition to time in Washington, students visit the United Nations and New York City.

Course Requirements

Journalism and New Media

Study the theory and practice of print and broadcast journalism in Washington, DC, the news media center of the United States. Meet a diverse pool of national and local media figures, including newspaper and wire-service reporters, magazine editors, television and radio personalities, public relations executives, and political press secretaries. Explore the impacts of online news sources and social media such as blogs, Twitter, and Facebook on the creation and dissemination of news. Open to students of all majors, this program attracts many who have studied communications, English, and print/broadcast media. Note: This program is not open to American University communication majors.

Justice and Law

Through discussions with policy makers, legal experts, law enforcement officials, psychologists, and other specialists in criminal justice, students gain exposure to all sides of the current issues facing the public law, law enforcement, and administration of justice professions. Topics may include the institutions and processes of the legislative branch, the judicial branch, civil liberties and civil rights, criminal and civil justice, morality and justice, and the use of the legal system to define and enforce justice.

Sustainable Development

Spend time in Washington studying global environmental policy issues and the roles of major international organizations.