Carnegie Mellon University


Carnegie Mellon students who participate in the CMU/WSP will earn a total of 48 units through the Institute for Politics and Strategy. All courses are taught by Carnegie Mellon faculty. Students intern approximately twenty-four hours per week and take classes three to four afternoons/evenings per week. Each class meets only once per week. The academic program consists of the following:

Core Courses (24 units total)
• 84-450 Policy Seminar (12 units)
• 84-360 Internship Seminar (12 units)

Elective Seminars (24 units total)
Below is a list of possible elective courses.  Offerings vary by semester. CMU/WSP course descriptions may be found in the undergraduate course catalog.

84-330 The Shading of Democracy: The Influence of Race on American Politics
84-331 Money, Media, and the Power of Data in Decisionmaking
84-332 Effects of US Policy on Businesses: Perspectives of Asian Americans
84-333 Power and Levers for Change in Washington, DC
84-334 Presidential Power in a Constitutional System
84-335 Intelligence and Policy
84-336 Implementing Public Policy: From Good Idea to Reality
84-337 Biomedical Science Research, Policy, and Governance
84-338 Media and Politics
84-339 Seminar in Public Policy Research
84-340 Making Change: How Organized Interests Work in Washington
84-343 Language and Power: How to Understand and Use Political Speech
84-346 Legal Issues in Public Administration
84-348 Advocacy, Policy, and Practice

The Fall 2021 anticipated elective seminars are:

84-330 The Shading of Democracy: The Influence of Race on American Politics
84-331 Money, Media, and the Power of Data in Decisionmaking
84-339 Seminar in Public Policy Research

Policy Seminar
The Policy Seminar course takes a critical look at decision making in domestic politics and US foreign policy. It does so through weekly roundtable discussions with a diverse set of thought leaders. Based on intellectually significant essays that students are expected to read in advance of each class, these discussions give students an opportunity to ask probing questions about the three branches of the US government, media, embassies, advocacy groups, international organizations, and nongovernmental organizations. This course seeks to help students understand the responsibilities and activities that leaders and decision makers carry out on behalf of their organizations. Students are instructed in how to confidently and respectfully ask critical questions of those shaping policy.

The term "roundtabling" is used to describe submitting an issue for critical discussion among relevant stakeholders. Knowing how to direct a roundtable is a significant element in the professional development of anyone interested in taking part in the policy arena, and this course helps students hone this important skill. In requiring students to read important essays related to each class session and then step back from discussions with leaders to write analytical essays, this course teaches students how to develop strong arguments based on solid logic and credible evidence, an essential component in making democracy work.

Internship Seminar
The internship is the experiential "core" of the Washington Semester Program. Students intern approximately twenty-four hours per week, in offices from Capitol Hill to the White House and including opportunities in cabinet agencies, nonprofit institutions, museums, advocacy groups, policy think tanks, cultural institutions, and news organizations. Through the internship, students gain professional experience and make long-lasting professional and personal contacts. In addition, students meet once a week with the CMU internship faculty for a two-hour seminar to report and reflect on their internship experiences, and address pressing current issues from the perspective of their internship organization. In addition, the weekly seminar typically includes a couple CMU alumni from the Washington, DC, area. Their personal and professional experiences become part of the seminar conversation, and they make themselves available to students as ongoing sources of information and advice.