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Program Structure and Course Credits

The program features three 400-level seminars and a 12-week internship with an executive agency, think-tank, or congressional committee. Integrating course work with direct participation, the program provides a balance of academic study, social life, and practical experience. The three graded courses (POSC 410, 412, and 414) count for concentration credit, while the pass/fail internship component (POSC 413) counts toward graduation requirements.

1. Our Changing Constitutional Order (POSC 410, 8 weeks). An inquiry into the enduring principles and changing features of the U.S. constitutional order, this course explores the founding principles of America and major institutions as they evolved from the founding period to the present, focusing on the balance of three branches of government, styles of leadership, and policy debates. It meets twice weekly in seminars combining lecture and group discussion. Taught by Professor Brubaker.

2. Executive Decision Making and Leadership (POSC 412). The first half of this course meets as a weekly seminar, and explores themes relevant to the students’ experience in Washington: why government organizations function (or fail to function) as they do, presidential leadership of the bureaucracy, the formation of political/policy agendas, budget development and execution, executive-congressional relations, the media, and current events. In the second half of this course, students, with personal supervision of the instructor, will research and write a major paper on a topic that draws upon sources unique to our Washington location. Taught by Robert Samuels.
3. Internships in the American Political System (POSC 413, 12 weeks). Students serve a 12-week internship with executive agencies, congressional offices, the Supreme Court, the state department, the media or interest groups. They participate directly in the activities of the political process. The Readings and Research course (POSC 412) is designed to enhance and complement this internship experience. Pass/Fail. Placements and supervision by Robert Samuels.

4. Contemporary Politics and Policy (POSC 414, 7 weeks). This course continues themes developed in POSC 410 and 412. It traces major constitutional developments and policy debates following the New Deal until today focusing on the role of government in people’s lives. Previous topics have included health care, welfare reform, immigration, the national debt, campaign finance, energy policy, social security, and the balancing of civil liberties with security issues. In research papers and class presentations, students will be asked to propose policy reforms and assess their political feasibility. Taught by Professor Brubaker.

Throughout the semester, as part of the academic and experiential components of the program, we will have interviews with leaders in the policy process – media figures, interest group and party spokesmen, politicians, academicians, officials, and high-level civil servants. Students are expected to take full advantage of these opportunities by being active and informed participants.

Eligibility, Basis for Selection, and Prerequisites

The Washington Study Group is open to students who will be juniors, seniors, or mature sophomores in Spring 2016. Stu-dents do not have to concentrate in political science to be eligible for the group (though most participants are political science majors).

Selections are made by the Director in consultation with other members of the Department of Political Science. Criteria for selection include: academic achievement, evidence of interest, and personal qualifications essential to successful participation in the program.

Successful applicants for the Washington Study Group must take one of the following prerequisite courses:
  • POSC 210: Congress and Decision-making in American Government
  • POSC 150: America as a Democracy
  • POSC 211: The Presidency and Executive Leadership


Students in ornate stairwellFor research papers, students may use the Library of Congress and will have checkout privileges at Georgetown University Library.They may also use nearby libraries at American University, Catholic University, and the University of Maryland, or other public libraries located in the Washington area.

Living Arrangements

Students will live in apartments by Colgate University in the Cleveland House located near the Woodley Park/Zoo Metro stop in the District of Columbia. Students take the Red Line from the Woodley Park/Zoo metro stop to Union Station and then walk about two blocks to the Hall of the States, where classes are held. Colgate will make the necessary arrangements for apartment leases and will charge students for housing.

Standards of Conduct

Activities and behavior of the Study Group members in Washington must be consistent with their responsibilities as students of the governmental process, as representatives of Colgate University, and – during internships – as participants in governmental operations. The program is a full-time activity and precludes other work commitments, such as part-time employment. On internship assignments, students maintain the regular work schedule of their offices.


Washington offers an abundance of rich, cultural life, including the Smithsonian Museums, Shakespearean theatre, musical performances at the Kennedy Center and other venues, and a wide variety of sporting events. The study group will attend a variety of educational, cultural, and athletic events. 


For details of student expenses on this study group, please see the Student Cost Estimate Sheet.

Calendar and Deadlines

All students interested in applying should plan on attending one of the informational sessions. The deadline for applications to the spring 2016 Washington D.C. Study Group is Friday, November 7, 2014. Applications are on the Colgate University Off-Campus Study/International Programs’ websites and are submitted online. Only finalists in the selection process will be interviewed. Interviews will be arranged by e-mail. Student notification of selections will take place late December 2014.

Program Dates

 Washington Study Group Program Dates: January 15—May 6, 2016

For More Information

Contact the Director, Stanley Brubaker, 134 Persson Hall; 315-228-7663 or sbrubaker@colgate.edu