Carnegie Mellon University

CMU Climbs to No. 11 in US News and World Report Internship/Co-op Rankings

September 23, 2020

CMU Climbs to No. 11 in US News and World Report Internship/Co-op Rankings

By Bill Brink

US News and World Report ranked Carnegie Mellon University at No. 11 in the category of internships and co-ops in its 2021 Best Colleges rankings, an increase of eight spots from the previous year. 

The Institute for Politics and Strategy, with its Carnegie Mellon University Washington Semester Program (CMU/WSP) and Friedman Fellowship program, contributes to CMU's success in this department. 

US News asked college presidents, chief academic officers, deans of students, and deans of admissions from more than 1,500 schools to nominate up to fifteen schools that they felt offered exceptional internship programs. The publication ranked institutions that received ten or more nominations.


Students in the CMU/WSP, which is open to undergraduates from any course of study at Carnegie Mellon, participate in internships during the day and take classes at night while spending the semester in Washington, DC. Students have interned at the Department of State, The Heritage Foundation, in the offices of Representatives and Senators, at the Brookings Institution, and with the National Women's History Museum.

Suzanna Seltzer’s experience with the Washington Semester Program in 2014 threw her into Middle East analysis. She interned at the International Center for Terrorism Studies right as ISIS captured large swaths of territory in Iraq.

“A lot of people were like, is it ISIS, is it ISIL, what’s going on, is this a big deal?” Seltzer said. “And I could answer that, and that felt very big-picture. I got to understand a lot of great research skills that still apply today.”

Some of her work became part of a book, “The Islamic State: Combating the Caliphate Without Borders.”

“That did a lot of confidence building,” Seltzer said. “OK, I’m not just some kid reading the news. I can contribute to a sophisticated output.”


Lucy Truschel was an early childhood policy intern at the Center for American Progress during the spring of her junior year.

“I was the first intern that they had [on] just their team, so they were excited, and gave me a lot of substantive work to do,” Truschel said. “It was fairly research-heavy in looking at how states had implemented universal preschool programs and looking at their effectiveness. I was exposed to the media side of things, too, building their press list. I had the opportunity to write a column on Native American maternal and infant health, which was really great.”

The Milton and Cynthia Friedman Internships in Washington, DC, were created in 2000 through a generous gift from Cynthia Friedman, currently a trustee of the university, in memory of her husband, an alumnus of Carnegie Mellon. The grants support the participation of undergraduate and graduate students in policy-related internships located in the nation’s capital. This year, the Fellows participated in their internships remotely due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“My internship is not something I’d be able to pursue without [the Friedman Fellowship's] support and external funding,” said David Robusto, who is pursuing his Master’s degree in Public Policy and Management and Data Analytics. Robusto, who this fall entered his second year of graduate school, interned in the office of the Chief Technology Officer for Public Diplomacy at the State Department.


Students in both the Master of Science in International Relations and Politics program and its accelerated version, which allows participants to earn both a Bachelor's and Master's degree in five years, must complete an internship between their first and second year in the program, or their fourth and fifth years in the accelerated version. 

Gabriella Bettino comes from a military family and would like to work in the defense sector. She had never considered lobbying or advocacy. When her current boss contacted IPS Deputy Director Emily Half looking for interns, Bettino sent her resume on a whim, and landed an internship this past summer with The McKeon Group, a lobbying and consulting firm.

“I’ll do anything from getting draft copies of bills, getting contact information, or actually doing outreach on bills that we’re trying to get passed for our clients,” said Bettino, who is currently in the accelerated program. “No two days are exactly the same, and that’s been very exciting to move through, especially with the appropriations process happening right now.”

The Dietrich College of of Humanities and Social Sciences, one of IPS' parent institutions, offers Dietrich College Internship Opportunity Grants, designed to offset the cost of unpaid or low-paying internships. The College offers these grants in two categories: cost-offset grants, and Federal Community Service Work Study grants for qualifying positions.