UC Washington Center (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, Washington D.C. Please visit our UCR events calendar to learn about upcoming information sessions.

Application Deadlines

Summer 2023: January 12, 2023
Fall 2023: April 6, 2023
Winter 2024: September 7, 2023
Spring 2024: November 9, 2023

Apply Here
Program Dates

Summer 2023: June 17 - Aug. 18, 2023
Fall 2023: Sep. 16 - Dec. 1, 2023
Winter 2024: Jan. 6 - Mar. 15, 2024
Spring 2024: Mar. 23 - June 7, 2024


UC Washington Center Tour


  • Courses

    You will participate in a required UCDC prep course, a core seminar of your choice (4 units), and a required 198i internship course (8-10 units). Elective courses (4 units) are optional. Most UCR students only take the 198i and the core seminar, as this is already a decent workload. Please contact your UCR academic advisor to begin discussing how the UCDC courses you plan to take will fit into your overall UCR academic plan.

    Students will be enrolled in 12 units minimum/18 units maximum per quarter. The unit breakdown varies by student.

    During the summer, the 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 8 units during the summer to be eligible for financial aid.

    UCDC Prep Course (0 units P/NP)

    This is a preparatory course you will take before leaving for your UCDC program. It will guide you through all the required steps you will need to find internships of interest, prepare your application materials, hone your interview skills, choose and be prepared for UCDC courses, and get the most out of your internship. It will also inform you about the support services and other programming the DC Center offers to ensure you have a successful UCDC experience.

    Internship Course (8-10 units graded)

    You will be enrolled in a 198i UCR course to receive academic credit for your internship, and there are many factors determining the amount of units enrolled. Most students will enroll in 8-10 units, which equates to 24-30 hours per week of work. The 198i course may count towards academic credit in most academic departments, with a syllabus and approval from an Instructor or Faculty of Record from their respective academic department.

    Core Seminar Course (4 units graded)

    This course is required of all UCDC participants (fall, winter, and spring quarters only). 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 core seminars here!

    Optional Elective Course (4 units graded)

    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, 6:00-9:00 PM. 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

  • Internships

    Once admitted to the UCDC program, the second phase begins of securing an internship! Students apply directly with organizations and are responsible for securing an internship. UCR staff and DC Center staff will support you through the process by helping you to: identify potential internships relevant to your research interests; provide internship search resources; prepare and review professional internship applications, resumes, and cover letters; interview effectively; and sort through offers.

    UCDC participants are eligible for paid, stipend, and academic credit-bearing internships. The availability and type of internships will depend on the organization, so please inquire directly with the organization for more information.

    Note: Please be aware many internship deadlines occur before the UCR campus application deadline for UCDC, so please plan ahead and start your internship research and applications early!

    Please follow our Guide to Getting a D.C. Internship.

    You can see here where UCR students have interned in the past.

    Internship Search Resources

    "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

  • Housing

    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 DC 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 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, each housing 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 Office and student surveys from the DC Center. Amounts are based on an 10-week quarter living in an on-campus residence hall. The charts are for comparison purposes only.

      UCR Campus Expenses
    (per quarter estimates)
      Washington Expenses
    (per quarter estimates)
    Tuition* $5,408 Tuition* $5,408 (Summer $2,232)
    Books/supplies $433 Books/supplies $200
    Room and board** $4,000 Housing cost $3,519-$3,871
    Transportation*** $491 Round-trip airfare $850
    Personal expenses $591 Local transportation*** $1,020
        Groceries/other food $1,650
        Business attire $500
        Household supplies $165-$472
        One-time expenses (bedding, etc.) $130-$437
        Excursions and activities $440
    UCR estimated total $10,923 UCDC estimated total $13,882-$14,848 (Summer $10,706)

    *Registration fees listed above are based on estimated costs per the UCR Financial Aid Office. Current amounts may vary. Summer fees are calculated on a per-unit charge. Visit UCR 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 must be aware of these costs and budget for increased costs for personal expenses, meals, and experiences.
    ***The DC Center has funded discounted DC Metro passes via the 'UPass' program, significantly lowering Metro costs (funding based on availability).

    Financial Aid

    The UCR Financial Aid Office calculates student financial aid awards to meet the needs of students participating in the UCDC program. The UCDC program recommends students consult with Financial Aid to determine their individual need and eligibility as it relates to 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.

    Scholarships and Other Awards

    • UC Presidential Public Service Fellowship
      The award is $1000 and two students are chosen from every cohort. While the UCDC deadline may be later, please submit your application to the UCR UCDC Program Manager one week prior to review your materials. Then, we will forward your submission directly to UCDC. For more information, visit the UCDC website.
    • Honors Fellowship (available to University Honors students only)
      A fellowship is available to support University Honors students in the UCDC program. For more information, visit the University Honors website.
    • Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities (HACU)
      The HACU program has compiled a list of scholarship resources that is available on their website

    Other Outside Scholarships

    Other Resources for Financial Assistance

  • How to Apply

    Selection Criteria

    Students from all majors are encouraged to apply. Admission is selective. To be eligible for consideration, students must:

    • Be in junior or senior standing prior to departure (90+ UC quarter units earned)
    • Complete at least two (2) upper-division courses in the major/area of concentration
    • Have a minimum 3.0 GPA and a strong academic record
    • Submit a complete application

    Admission will be based on the student's interests, narrative evaluations, letter of recommendation, and GPA.

    Application Materials

    Applications must be complete by the published deadline and include the items below:

    1. Application
    2. Cover Letter - Please 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, please 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 from your resume?
    3. Resume
    4. Unofficial Transcript(s). If you are a transfer student, transcripts from your previous institution can be submitted until you have grades to report at UCR.
    5. Letter of recommendation (LOR) 
    6. UCDC Applicant Pre-Survey

    *Incomplete applications will not be evaluated.

  • Letters of Recommendation (LOR)

    Guide to UCDC Letters of Recommendation

    One (1) letter of recommendation (LOR) is required with the UCDC program application, but it is also common when applying to internships, or any job prospects. It is important to consider what types of internships you are applying for. For example:

    • If you are interested in applying for a highly competitive internship, such as Congressional Internships or the State Department, submit a professional letter of recommendation (e.g. advisor, former/current employer). Letters cannot be from friends or family members.
    • If you are interested in interning for a think tank or another type of research-based internship opportunity, submit an academic letter of recommendation (e.g. Professor, Associate Professor, Assistant Professor, Adjunct Faculty, or Lecturer). Letters from TA's are also acceptable. Letters cannot be from friends or family members.

    Please ask your recommenders to describe your abilities and qualities aimed at potential internship sites. It is important your letters 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 it is clear to your recommenders these letters will be used to support your applications to additional internship sites as well and are submitted on official letterhead. Here are guidelines for obtaining a UCDC letter of recommendation.

    It is highly encouraged you submit an LOR by the UCR campus application deadline. If you are unsure one will be submitted by the deadline, please inform the UCR UCDC Program Manager by email (ucdc@ucr.edu) if you are having difficulties.

    Submit letter(s) of recommendation in your UCDC application, or if confidential, send as a PDF to ucdc@ucr.edu on official letterhead (directly from the recommender).

    Need help with your resume and cover letters?

    Visit the UCR Career Center's website for ideas and samples.

  • Frequently Asked Questions

    Isn’t UCDC only for students interested in law and politics?

    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 21 openings each quarter for the fall, winter, and spring with 15 openings for summer. Typically, we receive 25-30 applications for the most popular quarters (spring and summer). This varies every quarter, so please apply if you are interested.

    How do I find an internship in DC?

    Once you are accepted to the program, the UCR Office of Student Engagement and UCDC staff will work closely with you to assist with your resume, cover letter, phone interview techniques, and general internship search resources. Additional support is provided from UCDC staff, who work with D.C. internship sites.

    What happens if I don’t find an internship in D.C.?

    It is extremely rare for students to leave UCR 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 D.C.

    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 studying abroad, you may face obstacles. During the application process, we ask applicants to be present for an interview. You will need to be prepared to conduct this interview virtually or over the phone. 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 also serve as an opportunity for you to get to know your UCDC peers. Otherwise, you will miss out on these group meetings and you will have to find a way to access the information you missed. 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 or virtually, so you will need to be prepared for any extra costs this might incur, ie. international phone calls, etc. All of this is possible and has been done before, but it will require more work and dedication on your part.

    Can I earn UC quarter units for my internship?

    Yes, all UCDC students earn units for their internship experience through a 198i UCR internship course. You will also complete academic work for a UCR faculty member or professor. Visit the Courses section of this website for more information about the curriculum.

    What is the difference between UCDC during an academic quarter and the summer?

    The UCDC 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: 1) students can enroll in 8 units of an internship course, or 2) alternately, students may 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. 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 D.C.?

    Most students apply to the UCDC program first and research/apply for D.C. internships after acceptance. Students interested in the summer term and/or applying for internship sites with early deadlines (i.e. FBI, CIA, White House, State Department, etc.) should apply to those internships prior to applying to the UCDC program. Summer internships in DC is very competitive. In addition, more motivated students tend to seek and apply to internships before they get accepted into the UCDC program.

    Can I apply if I am undocumented?

    Yes! Please see the UCR UCDC Internship Database for "undocufriendly" internship sites you may participate in (not extensive list) as a UCDC student. 

UC Washington DC

"Through my participation in the UCDC program, I learned how important it is to be passionate about the work that you do regardless of the field that you are in. I also learned that by being an active member of our community through voting, researching and having helpful discussions, we can each have a significant impact on society. Washington, D.C. is a place that fosters personal and professional growth and this program allows students to step into this environment and see the endless opportunities it has to offer."

–Daisy Velazco, English, Class of 2019