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 will intern three days a week or approximately 24-25 hours and take classes the remaining days and some evenings. The academic program consists of the following:
Core Courses (24 units total)
• 84-450 Policy Forum (12 units)
• 84-360 Internship Seminar (12 units)
Elective Seminars (24 units total)
Offerings vary each semester. CMU/WSP course descriptions may be found in the undergraduate course catalog.
The fall 2018 elective seminars are:
84-340 Making Change: How Organized Interests Work in Washington (12 units)
84-330 The Shading of Democracy: The Influence of Race on American Politics (6 units)
84-334 Presidential Power in a Constitutional System (6 units)
The spring 2019 elective seminars are:
84-336 Implementing Public Policy: From Good Idea to Reality (12 units)
84-331 Money, Media, and the Power of Data in Decisionmaking (6 units)
84-348 Advocacy, Policy, and Practice (6 units)
The Policy Forum 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.
The internship is the experiential "core" of the Washington Semester Program. Students intern three days per week, for approximately 24-25 hours, 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 2-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 1-2 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.