UC Washington, D.C. (UCDC)
UCDC Academic Internship Program
The UCDC Program offers qualified undergraduate students from any major an exciting opportunity to combine course work, field research and professional experience during a quarter's residence in our nation's capital.
During the Fall, Winter, and Spring quarters, students enroll in 12 to 16 units comprised of internship units, a seminar, and an optional elective course. All UCDC participants are still considered UCR students.
During the summer, UCDC program only offers an internship course for credit. Students may also choose to participate in the program without enrolling in any academic credit. Students must enroll in at least 6 units during the summer to be eligible for financial aid.
The UCDC program recommends that students contact their departmental academic advisor to determine how a quarter in DC fits into the degree plan as well as larger academic and professional goals.
This course is required of all UCDC participants (Fall, Winter, Spring and Summer quarters). The quarter before leaving for DC, students search for, apply to, and interview for internships with the assistance of the UCDC Program Office. Help is also available through UCR's Career Center. This is a variable unit course and the number of units received is determined in consultation with the faculty member in the student's department who assigns the academic work associated with the internship. The UCDC Program requires that students work at least 24 hours per week at the internship site.
Washington, DC Seminar
(4 units, FWS only)
This course is required of all UCDC participants (fall, winter and spring quarters). The course meets once per week and may include field trips and other outside activities. It serves as a weekly forum for students to share and enhance their knowledge of living and working in Washington, D.C. Students also will read about, experience and analyze key Washington, D.C sites in a multi-disciplinary context. The seminar assignment is specific to a student's major and internship selection and is not campus-specific. Find a list of seminars here!
(4 units graded - optional)
Taught by UC faculty in residence at the Center and Washington, DC area instructors, these courses are offered in many fields of interest including politics, public policy, art history, media, and economics. The courses incorporate institutions and sights of Washington, D.C. and meet one night a week, either Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday, 6:00-9:00PM. Find a list of electives here!
“UCDC prepared me academically by allowing me to engage in research early on my undergraduate level. UCDC provides classes that are discussion-based and more hands-on compared to what you experience on campus. With plenty of think-tanks and organizations around Washington D.C., I learned a lot from other experts on various fields by attending those events and engaging with other people.” –Joseph Christian Agbagala, Political Science/International Affairs
How can you find what internship is right for you? Well, we’re here to help! Here are our online resources and links to point you in the right direction – but don’t worry if you don’t immediately find something that you love. Our Program Coordinator at UCR and the Program Administrators in D.C. are always here to help with your internship process. Take a look!
Download a copy of UCR’s Step-by-Step Guide to Getting an Internship in D.C.
See where some previous UCR UCDC students interned at!
- UC San Diego's Career Center Washington, DC: Access UCSD’s internship listing site. It is divided by discipline/research areas for easy access.
- UCLA Internship Database: This internship database is a very robust list of over 850 potential internships that can be sorted by a variety of criteria.
- www.idealist.org: This website is great! It has a wealth of information from all types of organizations (mainly non-profits) and it is updated daily.
- www.internmatch.com, https://www.wayup.com/: Enter the type of internship you are looking for and put Washington, DC as the location. Internships are categorized and labeled by time frame, whether it is paid or unpaid and the location of the site.
High Profile Internships:
These internships tend to have earlier deadlines than the UCDC application deadline. Some examples are below:
- White House Internship Program: https://www.whitehouse.gov/get-involved/internships/
- FBI: https://www.fbijobs.gov/students/undergrad
- CIA: https://www.cia.gov/careers/student-opportunities/index.html
- Department of State: https://careers.state.gov/intern/
"Students should participate in UCDC if they want to jumpstart their career. UCDC is an opportunity to make connections that will get you further in life and gain some experience of what it is like working a 9-5 job. I would not be as mature and responsible as I am today had I not participated in UCDC." - Serena Alsup, Political Science
UC Washington Center
1608 Rhode Island Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20036
The 11-story, mixed-use UC Washington Center located in the heart of Washington, D.C. serves as residence for almost 300 UC students and the home of the University's academic programs in the Nation's Capital.
In addition, it houses the Office of Federal Governmental Relations as well as other administrative and research units of the University. The Center boasts numerous teaching venues including a 90+ seat auditorium, a 300-person capacity multipurpose room that can be subdivided into three classrooms with moveable partitions, a computer lab, distance learning lab, two seminar rooms and four conference rooms. All venues will have access to the buildings extensive array of multimedia, network and Internet services as well as video-conferencing. The auditorium, located on the first floor, is designed to be a showcase for distance learning technology. It is to be not only a teaching venue but a place for lectures, academic symposia, forums of educators, national policy makers and leaders and virtual town meetings.
Students live in apartments that each house four students. The apartments are two-bedroom, one-bath units with a living room and kitchen Students reside on the 4th through the 11th floors of the UC Washington Center. Laundry rooms are located on floors four, six and ten. The 4th floor has a fitness center, a patio, a lounge with a TV and games, as well as a convenience store located in the center.
For more information about housing, visit UC Washington Center Residential Services
Program Costs and Financial Aid
The following costs are estimates from the UCR Financial Aid website and student surveys from the DC Center. Amounts are based on an 11-week quarter living in an on-campus Residence Hall. The charts are for comparison purposes only.
UCR Campus Expenses
(Per quarter estimates)
(Per quarter estimates)
Tuition* $5,225 $5,225 Books and Supplies $433 $50 Room and Board** $5,666 $3,647 Transportation*** $216 $1,000 Personal $500 $850
*Registration fees listed above are based on estimated costs per the Financial Aid Office. Current amounts may vary. Summer fees are calculated on a per-unit charge. Visit Summer Sessions for more information.
**Students indicate they tend to eat more meals at restaurants and spend more on entertainment while in DC. These costs vary per student and are not part of academic expenses. These costs cannot be figured into the academic budget for the program. Students should be aware of these costs and, if possible, budget for increased costs for personal expenses, meals, and experiences.
***Transportation costs mostly include airfare and DC Metro cards. Starting Winter 2019 the DC Center has funded discounted DC Metro passes via the 'UPass' program, significantly lowering Metro costs.
The UCR Financial Aid Office calculates aid awards to meet the needs of students participating in the UCDC program. The UCDC program recommends that students consult with the financial aid office to determine their individual need and eligibility as it relates to the UCDC program costs. Students participating in the Summer UCDC program who are eligible for financial aid must enroll in at least 6 units in order to qualify for aid.
Scholarships and Other Awards
- Honors Fellowship (available to University Honors students only)
A fellowship is available to support University Honors students in the UCDC program. For more information contact University Honors at 381 Surge Building or visit their website.
- Robert T. Matsui - University of California Congressional Fellowship
The Matsui-UC Congressional Fellowship was created to encourage more UC students to learn about public service by interning in congressional offices during their time in Washington. Five $1,500 awards will be made for each quarter (fall, winter and spring) for students interning in congress. The fellowship is competitive and is not currently offered in the summer term. More information is available by visiting the
- UCDC Presidential Public Service Fellowship
UCDC's Presidential Public Service Fellowship is designed to encourage students to come to Washington, DC to advance their professional goals and deepen their civic engagement and commitment to public service while taking courses at UCDC. The fellowships will provide $2,500 in need-based financial support to select students who apply for and are accepted into the internship program. This is only available during the Fall quarter.
- Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities (HACU)
The HACU program has compiled a list of scholarship resources that is available on their web site. This list is for informational purposes only and does not serve as an endorsement of these organizations by UCDC or HACU.
Other Outside Scholarships
- Hispanic Scholarship Fund
- National Italian American Foundation Scholarship Fund
- United Negro College Fund
- Rotary International
- Shawn Carter Foundation
Other Resources for Financial Assistance
- Honors Fellowship (available to University Honors students only)
How to Apply
Students from all majors are encouraged to apply. Admission is selective. To be eligible for consideration, students must:
- Junior or Senior standing in the participating quarter. Completion of upper-division courses in the major/area of concentration is a plus.
- Have a strong academic record -- recommended 3.0 GPA (an unofficial transcript can be submitted with the application; however, an official copy must be provided upon acceptance).
- Submit a completed application.
Admission will be based on the student's interests, narrative evaluations, letters of recommendation, GPA, and a personal interview.
Applications must be submitted in complete form by the published deadline.
- Cover Letter
- No more than one page
- Write the cover letter as if you are applying to be an intern in the UCDC office here at UCR. If this is your first cover letter, keep it simple, and we will help you personalize it later. What skills and experience do you have that make you qualified to be an office intern? What can you elaborate on from your resume?
- Consider what skills and experience you possess that you will use to market yourself into future internships in Washington, DC.
- Use this website to guide your cover letter writing.
- Two letters of recommendation (Details below)
- Copy of transcripts
- Unofficial copies may be submitted with your application. Transcripts from previous institutions can be accepted as placeholders.
- Official UCR transcript will be requested upon acceptance into the program.
*Incomplete applications will not be evaluated and may be deferred to a future quarter.
Letters of Recommendation
Your two letters of recommendation may be used as a part of your internship applications once admitted to the UCDC Program. Please ask your recommenders to describe your abilities and qualities aimed at potential internship sites as well as admission to the program. It is important that the letters of recommendation include as much detailed information about you as possible. You can provide the form below to your recommenders to provide them with more information about what we are looking for. Please make sure that it is clear to the letter writers that these letters will be used to support your applications to additional internship sites as well and that they are submitted on official letterhead.
Guidelines for obtaining a UCDC Letter of Recommendation.
Letters of Recommendation Criteria
- One of your letters of recommendation MUST be from a UCR faculty member. (i.e., Professor, Associate Professor, Assistant Professor. Please remember that Teaching Assistants, Adjunct Faculty, and Lecturers cannot provide letters).
- Your second letter of recommendation may be from any professional or academic contact. This letter cannot be from friends or family members.
Applications are considered incomplete if letters of recommendation are not included by the deadline posted. If you are unsure that a letter of recommendation will be submitted by the deadline, give yourself more options (i.e., ask another person to write a letter supporting your application). Applications with more than two letters of recommendation will not be penalized. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org if you are having difficulties obtaining letters of recommendation.
Submit Letters of Recommendation via email as a PDF to email@example.com(directly from the writer), mail intracampus to Hinderaker 1100A ATTN: UCDC, or post mail:
900 University Avenue
1100A ATTN: UCDC
Riverside CA 92521
Frequently Asked Questions
Isn’t UCDC only for students interested in law and politics?
Absolutely not! UCDC is open to all majors and interests. There are many opportunities for students interested in journalism, communications, computer science, engineering, physical sciences, biology, arts, and many more.
How competitive is the program?
The UCDC program is selective rather than competitive. UCR has 20 openings each for the fall, winter, and spring quarters with 15 openings for summer. Typically, we get about 25-30 applications for the most popular quarters (spring and summer). This varies every quarter, so apply if you are interested!
How do I find an internship in DC?
Once you are accepted to the program the UCDC staff works closely with you to assist with your resume, cover letter, phone interview techniques and general internship search resources. Additional support is provided from the staff at the UC Washington Center who work with internship sites in D.C.
What happens if I don’t find an internship in D.C.?
It is extremely rare for students to leave Riverside without an internship secured because there are literally thousands of opportunities in D.C. We work closely with you to keep you on track with the search and help you present the strongest application materials to each internship site on your list. The few students who have arrived in D.C. without an internship have found one within the first few days of the program. Your goal of course will be to secure a position BEFORE you arrive in DC.
I’ll be studying abroad during the application period. Can I still apply?
We encourage you to apply, but we caution that as a student abroad you may face obstacles. During the application process we ask applicants to be present for an interview. You'll need to be prepared to conduct this interview via telephone or Skype. In addition, accepted students are expected to attend regular meetings both with the group and individually with program staff. These meetings not only help prepare you for the UCDC experience, but serve as an opportunity for you to get to know your UCDC peers. Because you won't be in Riverside, you'll miss out on these group meetings and you will have to find a way to access the information that you miss. Finally, as a UCDC participant living abroad, you will need to be prepared to conduct interviews with potential internship sites. These interviews most often take place by phone so you'll need to be prepared for extra costs you might incur. All of this is possible and has been done before, but will require more work and dedication on your part.
Can I earn units for my internship?
Yes, all students are required to earn units to go along with their internship experience. You don't earn the units just for working at your internship site. You'll also complete academic work for a faculty member back here at UCR. Visit the courses section of this web site for more information about curriculum.
What is the difference between UCDC during an academic quarter and the summer?
The Academic Internship Program takes place during the fall, winter and spring quarters. Students are expected to enroll in at least 12 units in the academic program.
The summer UCDC program has two different options. Students can enroll in 4 or 8 units of an internship course (6 units of enrollment is required for financial aid for summer UCDC participants). Alternately, students may opt to participate in the summer UCDC program without enrolling in units. Students who do not enroll are not eligible for financial aid.
The summer program costs a bit less than the regular academic year program because students pay fees in summer on a per unit basis. The cost of fees therefore depends on the number of units a student chooses to enroll in. Other costs (housing, food, personal costs, etc.) remain about the same.
Do I have to be accepted into the UCDC program before I can seek internships in DC?
Most students apply to the UCDC program first and then while in the program they seek and secure an internship in DC. Students interested in applying for sites that have early deadlines (i.e. FBI, CIA, White House, State Department, etc.) should apply to those internships prior to applying to the UCDC program. In addition, more motivated students tend to seek and apply to internships before they get accepted into the UCDC program.