Comments or suggestions? Please contact Ellen Hekman

Paul B. Henry Semester in Washington DC

students on the capital steps

As part of its established vision to help undergraduate students integrate Christian faith and public life, the Henry Institute operates the Semester in Washington D.C. (Paul B. Henry Semester), which runs concurrently with Calvin College's spring semester. A wide range of internship experiences are available, depending upon the student's interests and future career plans.


2003 semester in Washington pictures

Washington, D.C.

Students participating in the Semester in Washington, D.C. program typically earn 14 semester hours of credit. The core of the semester consists of a 4-days-per-week internship that earns 8 semester hours of credit. During registration for the appropriate spring semester, students should register for STDC 344: Internship in Washington, D.C. for eight hours of credit.

While in Washington, students will also take two 3-hour courses taught by Calvin faculty, STDC 343: Integrating Faith and Public Life in Washington, D.C., and STDC 342: Special Topics in Public Life. During the 2015 semester, this course (Perspectives on U.S. Relations with Latin America) will survey relations between the U.S. and the nations of Latin America from the end of the colonial era to the present.

Contingent on the type of internship and individual arrangements students make with Calvin's academic departments, academic credit can go toward a variety of majors, minors, and other college requirements, and students should discuss the number of credits that will be applicable to their major field of study. For political science and international relations students, up to 6 semester hours can be applied toward their major or minor in these two fields. However, all 14 semester hours of credit apply toward total semester hour graduation requirements.

All Calvin students are required to take STDC 241: Study in Washington, D.C. during the previous fall semester.

2013 DC Semester Students 2013 Capitol Tour

2013 Semester in Washington D.C. Program student participants

Washington, D.C. is an international city with a wide range of interests that extend well beyond the political world. Internship experiences may be unrelated to the world of politics, focus on domestic politics, or take advantage of the vast resources in the international political arena.

Non-political internships are available in the arts, museums, computer science and technology, criminal justice, environmental studies, social work, urban studies, business, marketing, and even philosophy. For example, intern placements can be obtained in the Smithsonian Institute, the National Archives, the National Gallery of Art, the Kennedy Center for Performing Arts, America Online, Election Data Systems, human service agencies, religious agencies, and much more.

Intern Ryan Struyk and Diane Sawyer Intern Tina Urena
Ryan Struyk (with Diane Sawyer) and Christina Ureña, 2014 Semester in D.C. Participants

If your interest is domestic politics you can intern in Congress or most agencies of the Executive Branch (White House; Departments of Defense, Education, Energy, Justice, State; the FBI, etc.). Internships are also possible in law firms, think tanks, or lobbying firms (e.g., Christian Coalition, Heritage Foundation, Empower America), the national offices of the major political parties, print or broadcast media, and much more.

With regard to international opportunities, one can secure an internship placement in foreign policy agencies. Other opportunities are available in United Nations offices, international human rights agencies, international relief agencies, foreign embassies, or internationally-oriented organizations such as the Organization for American States, the Center for Strategic and International Studies, the Atlantic Council, or the Middle East Institute.

Interns Corrin Timmer and Ben Podnar at UNRWA Flash Mob in NYC
Corrin Timmer and Ben Podnar participate in flash mob rally sponsored by UNRWA in New York City during their 2014 Semester in D.C. Internships

Program costs are approximately equivalent to the cost of tuition and on-campus room and board for one semester. This cost includes the Henry Institute semester tuition, housing, program-related cultural events, and a stipend toward meal expenses and travel inside the city, but does not include transportation to or from Washington. For Calvin students all financial aid, scholarships, and grant monies are applied toward the program just as they would be toward a regular Calvin semester.

Students from Calvin live together in a large renovated mansion known as Greystone House in the Washington D.C. Mt. Vernon Triangle area. The housing is located near the Metro and bus public transportation systems, which provide easy, safe, and inexpensive access to the entire region.


We are now accepting applications for the spring 2015 semester.

There are three separate steps in the application procedure. First, Calvin students must apply to Calvin's Office of Off-Campus Programs (322 Hiemenga Hall) for permission to engage in off-campus study. The forms for this process are available in that office or on their website. Second, after receiving permission to study off-campus, students receive an e-mail with a link to Washington D.C. (Paul B. Henry Semester) application forms which are completed online and submitted to Off Campus Programs and the professor leading the program. the professor will contact the student to set up a personal application interview. Third, once a student is accepted for the program, additional information such as a resume and internship essay are required for use in obtaining internship placement. The precise forms and deadlines for these later requirements are available from Don DeGraaf (Off Campus Programs Director), or the Professor leading the Program.

Students should pay close attention to this time line for applications, deposits and class schedules.

1. Submit your Pre-Application for Off-Campus Study (required of all Calvin students for all off-campus study programs) to the Off-Campus Programs Office, with the Program Application (which is sent to the student by the Off-Campus Programs Office after the Pre-Application is approved) submitted immediately after you receive approval to participate in the program. An application fee is required at this time. Students are encouraged to apply early (in the spring prior to their participation in the program), with early decisions about acceptance beginning at the end of May. Applications will be accepted through mid-September, as space in the program is available.

2. During the Spring Registration for Fall courses, students who plan to participate in the Semester in DC the following spring are required to register for STDC 241: An Introduction to the Washington Semester. This is a one-hour course that students take during the fall term.

3. During the summer, students should begin to consider potential internship sites which meet their individual interests and career plans. Note that participants who are interested in possible internship positions requiring government security clearance will need to submit applications in the late spring or early summer, so these individuals must work with the Program Coordinator for the Semester in DC during the spring semester to finalize their resume, cover letter and application. Students are also required to pay a $400 deposit at this time (which will be credited to tuition) to participate in this off-campus program.

4. Fall Semester: STDC 241 will prepare students for the upcoming Semester in Washington D.C. Resumes, applications essays, cover letters and references appropriate for internship placements will be finalized during the fall semester. The exact deadlines will be determined by the Professor leading the semester.

5. During the Fall Registration for upcoming Spring courses, the registrar's office will enroll participants for STDC 344 (eight hours of internship credit) and STDC 342 and 343, the two three-hour courses most students will take during their semester in Washington D.C.

For more information, contact Ellen Hekman (Program Coordinator for the Semester in Washington DC), Daniel Miller (the professor accompanying the group in 2015), the Henry Institute, or the Office of Off Campus Programs.