The internship program in the Department of Political Science and International Relations offers students the opportunity to integrate learning in academic courses with learning through practical experiences, as well as the opportunity to explore possible career options.  There are two pathways to academic credit for internship experience: one is undertaking an independent internship for which you earn academic credit through separate coursework; the second is participating in an academic-internship program through USD’s affiliation with The Washington Center in Washington, D.C. After reading the following information, please complete an Internship Interest Form and return it to Dr. Karen Shelby, Internship Advisor for the Department of Political Science and International Relations.

Internship Interest Form


Path 1: Academic Credit for Independent Internships through USD Coursework

Students who undertake an independent internship that is in the field of Political Science or International Relations should confirm with Dr. Shelby that the specific internship is eligible for coordination with PS/IR’s academic course. The content and setting need to be substantially related to Political Science or International Relations in order for a student to be eligible to register for and earn course credit that is related to their independent internship experience. With Dr. Shelby’s permission, students may register for the POLS 448 (Political Science) or POLS 498 (International Relations) course and earn one unit of academic credit for every 40 hours of independent internship. For a normal 3-unit course, students should plan to perform 120 hours of independent internship work. Students may earn up to a total of six units of POLS 448/498 credit over the course of completing their degree. The first three units earned count as upper division Political Science or International Relations units. Any units earned above three units count toward general upper division units.

 Students interested in seeking an independent internship should work with USD’s Career Development Center to explore career pathways, to develop a resume and cover letter, and to seek specific internship opportunities through resources the Career Development Center makes available to students.

 Examples of past independent internships include those in elected officials’ offices, legal offices, government offices, and non-profit organizations such as the San Diego Diplomacy Council or the United Nations Association of San Diego. Dr. Shelby is available during scheduled student hours to assist students with questions about coordinating academic credit with independent internship opportunities. Students must meet with Dr. Shelby prior to beginning their independent internship, and their internship supervisor must complete mandatory paperwork confirming their hours worked and evaluating their performance during the internship.

Please confirm with Dr. Shelby your eligibility to earn course credit for your internship and permission to register for POLS 448/498 before submitting the following forms to your internship supervisor:

Organization Agreement form

Evaluation form

If you are interested in earning academic credit for independent internships please speak with Dr. Shelby before

  • April 1st for Summer and Fall independent internships
  • November 1st for Spring independent internships

Path 2: Academic Credit for Programs through The Washington Center

Please see The Washington Center’s website ( for full descriptions of their programs. Programs at The Washington Center (TWC) require both an online application through TWC’s website and registration for academic credit at USD.

 Fall, Spring, and Summer Academic Internships

Students who would like to spend a semester or summer studying and completing an internship in Washington, D.C. may do so through The Washington Center’s Academic Internship Program. Students must apply to TWC through TWC’s website, which provides deadlines for application. To present the strongest application available, please consult Dr. Shelby before applying. Students who participate during the fall and spring semesters will register for 12 units of academic credit through USD. Students may use financial aid and scholarship funds for which they are already eligible. Students pay housing fees to TWC separately.

 Students who participate during the summer Academic Internship Program will earn 6-9 units of credit. Students who participate in the Summer Academic Internship program are generally not eligible to use USD scholarship or financial aid, and must independently pay TWC housing fees as well as USD tuition for academic credit earned through the program. 

 Summer Internship Program for Veterans

TWC has a highly competitive summer internship program specifically directed toward veterans, which includes housing and a stipend. Veterans are eligible to receive academic credit by arrangement with TWC and USD, and are eligible to participate in the program through the summer after graduation.

 Intersession and Summer Courses through TWC Seminars

The Department of Political Science and International Relations offers a two-week intersession course in Washington, D.C. in conjunction with TWC’s Inside Washington seminar. Students earn credit for POLS 400: Political Ideas and Ideologies: The Presidency and the Media, which counts toward upper division Political Science units, and carries the Advanced Integration core attribute. Students pay tuition to USD, and USD pays students’ housing and program fees to TWC (for this program and the political conventions program only). Students must pay to travel to Washington, D.C. and provide for their own meals and transportation while in the D.C. area. For further information, please contact Dr. Shelby.

 In years when political conventions are held, USD may offer course credit in conjunction with TWC’s Democratic National Convention and Republican National Convention two-week seminars, through POLS 444: National Convention. Students spend the first week of the program engaged in academic work concerning the American political system, then spend the second week of the seminar at the convention. Students must pay to travel to the convention and provide for their own meals and transportation during the program. For further information, please contact Dr. Shelby and Dr. Evan Crawford.