The Department of Political Science and International Relations believes that internships are an important component of the major and we offer students many different opportunities to find interesting and rewarding internships. Not only do internships allow you to put your interest in politics or international relations to work in a practical setting, but you can also learn about career opportunities and develop contacts with people who can help you decide how to get the type of job you seek – all while you earn academic credit. Whether you want to work as an intern in the San Diego area or whether you want to pursue an internship in Washington, D.C., we have established a set of programs and affiliations that will allow you to pursue your individual interests and goals.

For those of you interested in an internship in Washington, D.C., we encourage you to utilize the Washington Center program. Because we have established an official affiliation with the Washington Center, students are able to intern in Washington, D.C. for the Fall, Spring, or Summer terms and still earn USD academic credit. Students who intern in the Fall or Spring will earn 12 units of academic credit and those who intern in the Summer will earn 6-9 units of academic credit.

If you are interested in an internship through the Washington Center program or other internship possibilities, please email Dr. Karen Shelby at or call the department office at (619) 260-6870.

Regardless of what you think you may want to do, take advantage of these many opportunities and plan early with your advisor to make an internship a part of your academic experience.

Internship Requirements

  • Be at least a second semester sophomore in good class standing 
  • Contact Dr. Karen Shelby, Internship Advisor for the Department of Political Science & International Relations
  • Complete the Internship Approval Form and Placement Agreement before the deadline 
    • Fall Deadline: September 7
    • Spring Deadline: January 31
  • Enroll in POLS 448/498 for academic credit after receiving permission from Dr. Karen Shelby or complete the Washington Center Internship application (please see the Washington Center website).

Internship Details

Many questions regarding our internship program can be found in the Internship Description Resource

Any non-Washington Center internship is offered for variable credit (1-6) units. The number of units which will be assigned to an internship will depend upon the amount of time and effort required by the specific internship and will be approved by the internship coordinator. The normal internship would be for 3 units, which requires a minimum of 120 hours of field work. The maximum number of internship units that a student may take is 6 units. Specific internship assignments vary each semester depending upon availability. Possibilities range widely and might include working in a local Congressional office, a Senatorial office, etc. 

List of Most Recent Internship Placements

Washington Center Internship Details

Students can participate in the Washington Center Internship Program during the fall, spring or summer terms. For the fall or spring semesters, students will earn 12 units of academic credit and for the summer term students will earn 6-9 units of academic credit (example academic schedule while interning in Washington, D.C.

Because the University of San Diego is officially affiliated with the Washington Center, students enroll for classes through the University of San Diego and are able to utilize their financial aid and/or scholarship funds. In addition, the Washington Center offers a variety of scholarships for students who meet the eligibility requirements. While in Washington, D.C. students will spend approximately 30-35 hours a week at their internship and will earn 6 units of internship credit. Students will also enroll in a course offered by the Washington Center, and approved by the Washington Center Campus Advisor, for 3 units of credit. This course meets once a week for three hours during the course of the term. Finally, for those students participating during the Fall or Spring semesters, you will enroll in an additional 3 unit independent study course with the Washington Center Campus Advisor. For political science and international relations majors, a majority of the units you earn while in Washington, D.C. can count towards your major.

For more information on this program, please email Dr. Karen Shelby or call the department office at (619) 260-6870 or visit The Washington Center's website.

For students who are not political science or international relations majors, it is possible to arrange your schedule to meet your specific academic needs with the approval of your department and advisor.

If you are interested in participating in the Washington Center Internship Program, you need to plan ahead and contact department for deadlines. 

Washington Center Academic Seminar

The Washington Center Academic Seminar takes place each January in Washington, DC. The Department of Political Science and International Relations offers an intersession course (PS 434) which enables students to earn 3 units of credit for attending this seminar. Over the last ten years, hundreds of USD students have taken advantage of this opportunity and have come back to USD with a better appreciation of American politics and history. During the two-week seminar, students hear from a host of politicians, journalists, lobbyists, political consultants and academics who focus on contemporary political issues. In addition, each day of the seminar students visit specific sites in DC where they can learn more about different career opportunities and the political process. To participate in this seminar students must be at least a second semester sophomore in good class standing, complete the Washington Center Academic Seminar Application (see Dr. Karen Shelby or e-mail her at, and enroll in the course after receiving faculty permission. Housing is provided free of charge by the Washington Center but students are responsible for any additional travel expenses.