The Washington Program


Since its establishment in 1974, the CMC Washington Program has been a hallmark of the Claremont McKenna College (CMC) experience. Built around a full-time internship in the nation’s capital combined with a rigorous academic curriculum, the Washington Program has long offered students deep experiential learning illuminated by a liberal arts education. There is no better way to understand the intricacies of American government and politics—and their impact on the globe—than to spend a semester in Washington, D.C. 


Students from all five colleges - Claremont McKenna, Pomona, Scripps, Harvey Mudd, and Pitzer - are welcome to apply to the Washington Program. These internships provide a unique opportunity to become a valued team member at major Washington D.C. institutions, international organizations and foreign embassies. Past participants have interned at the White House, in congressional offices, federal agencies, embassies, major non-profit organizations, and top news outlets. 

Through the Washington Program, students gain work experience interfacing with congressional staffers, lobbyists, non-profit professionals, and other Washington insiders. The city is also a hub for international exchange, the economy, history, arts, and culture,  and Claremont interns dive deep into these aspects of the capital.

For many, the experience is transformative. Alumni of the CMC Washington Program have gone on to hold elected office as well as to become White House correspondents and leaders at federal agencies and think tanks. Many have also become entrepreneurs and business executives thanks to leadership and political skills they gained in the Program.

Program Structure

The Washington Program is built around three major components running in parallel:

  • A professional internship
  • Academic coursework
  • A full calendar of forums, networking events, tours, and excursions  

The professional internship is at the heart of the program. Because our students work five days a week, they are treated as regular junior staff and quickly become trusted team members in their respective institutions or agencies. This full-time presence distinguishes Claremont interns from most others.

Washington Program participants take academic courses alongside their internships. The curriculum consists of two seminars: Government 128: Power, Politics, and Persuasion in Washington; and Government 126(B): Problems in Public Policy. They also receive course credit for the internship (Government 30: Internship in Politics) and complete an independent study (Government 127: Washington Research Project).

Through a series of forums, classroom visits, and networking events organized by Washington Program staff, participants interact with current and former members of Congress, diplomats, federal judges, scholars, media professionals, and high-level government officials. The Washington Program also hosts excursions to historical sites, such as Mount Vernon and Gettysburg, and arranges tours of the Supreme Court, the Library of Congress, the National Archives and various federal agencies. 

Claremont students from all five colleges, regardless of their major, are welcome to apply to the CMC Washington Program.

The DC Athenaeum is a recent addition to the Washington Program. It provides one more opportunity for Claremont students to meet outstanding professionals, scholars, policymakers and influencers. As its model, the Marian Miner Cook Athenaeum on the CMC campus, it also promotes intellectual and social exchange among students, alumni, scholars, Washington insiders and the public at large.

Nathanael Baumann CMC '24

Nathanael Baumann CMC '24

The Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS)

Nathanael: "The D.C. Program allowed me to gain exposure in areas entirely new to me, develop new interests, and experience life in America's most policy-oriented city. I consider the program a formative part of my college experience, and a significant step on my career path."


William Chance '25

Senator John Cornyn's (R-TX) office. F23

Will: "In Washington, I had the opportunity to witness a number of unprecedented events firsthand including: the Speakership battle and Kevin McCarthy's ouster, a potential government shutdown and tense FY2024 Appropriations process, the debate over continued funding for our ally, Ukraine, the outbreak of the Israel-Hamas War, the border crisis, the Biden impeachment inquiry, and the George Santos expulsion. My front seat to our government's response to these crises and irregularities provided me a unique insight into American politics and the mindsets of critical actors."


Lauren Chen, Scripps '24

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission

Lauren: "The Washington DC Program is one of the most valuable things that I participated in during my college career. I learned so much from the program/classes, being in DC itself, my internship at the Securities and Exchange Commission, and through the people I met throughout the semester. I am so grateful for the experience and would definitely recommend Claremont Colleges students to explore the program."


Stephanie Espinoza

The Bipartisan Policy Center. The Housing/Infrastructure Team

Stephanie: "My time in Washington D.C. was the most rewarding experience of my academic career so far. The knowledge and background you gain by being in the city is invaluable."


Brandon Karagozian, Pomona '24

The White House, Office of the Vice President

Brandon: "My time at Washington DC was one of the most transformative experiences; I grew in ways, both professionally and personally, that has served me beyond working at the White House. The network that I have gained in invaluable, and I have been able to leverage this opportunity beyond college. Because of my DC experience, I look forward to furthering my career in public service by receiving a Master’s in Public Policy."


Richa Parikh CMC '24

The White House, Office of the Vice President

Richa: "The CMC in DC program was an incredibly rewarding experience. I came out of the semester with a greater understanding of my professional ambitions and the resources to turn these ambitions into reality. At the Vice President's Office, I worked in the Office of Correspondence, and my main role was as an agency liaison for casework. This experience not only honed my professional skills but also gave me profound insights into the real-world impact of public service."


Colin Scanlon CMC '25

Senator Chuck Schumer

Colin: "Working on Capitol Hill was one of the most unique times of my entire life. To be able to walk throughout the halls of Congress and witness the interworking of our democracy was such a special experience. As a press intern, I was in charge of assisting the most active press team in the entire Senate, for Majority Leader Schumer."


Pieter van Wingerden CMC '24

The U.S. Congress

Pieter: "To those considering the Washington Program: you will not regret it. There is nothing more rewarding than the opportunity to serve the American people."


Internships – The Gateway to Professions


Our 5C interns are impressive! They gain work experience and direct exposure to different careers in DC. Many receive offers of additional internships or full-time positions. Read here what their supervisors say about our young professionals and how interns themselves have experienced the Washington Program.


Program Location & Contact Information

The CMC Washington Program Center is located in the heart of downtown, within blocks of the White House, Farragut Square, and the famed Mayflower Hotel. Students have 24/7 access to our suite where they can study, conduct research, attend courses, meet guest speakers, or simply relax. 


CMC Washington Program Staff

Maija Harkonen Ph.D.

Director, The Washington Program
Claremont McKenna College
1101 17th Street, NW, Suite 604
Washington, D.C. 20036

Office: 202-833-4946
Cell: 240-577-2015



Kristen Mallory

Director of Global Education and Off-Campus Study
Center for Global Education
Claremont McKenna College
500 E. Ninth Street
Claremont, CA 91711

Phone: (909) 621-8267