The academic component of the program is designed to support the professional internship. A total of three academic courses are offered alongside the internship. Two of the courses are taught in the evenings at the CMC Washington Program facility. These courses are led by CMC Washington Program faculty members who have expertise in their subject-matter and years of professional experience working in D.C.

The third course is the Washington Research Project. This opportunity allows students to choose between a structured research project or a customized research experience on a topic of their choice. Both options allow students to hold interviews with Washington, D.C. professionals and conduct original research.

The coursework for the program is as follows:

  • GOVT030: Washington Internship
  • GOVT126B: Problems in Public Policy
  • GOVT 128: Power, Politics, and Persuasion in Washington
  • GOVT127: Washington Research Project 
    • Two options are offered: 
      • Individualized Independent Study
      • Structured Independent Study

The Washington Program integrates practical work and academic study in a four-course credit program. All courses must be completed for a letter grade. Each component of the program is designed to create an academically and professionally robust Washington, D.C. experience.

Government 030: Washington Internship
All participants in the Washington Program will be registered for this 1-unit course. The internship is expected to familiarize students with the Washington, D.C. political ecosystem populated by federal agencies, lobbying firms, think tanks, private companies, non-profit organizations, and other entities associated with policy making. Intern duties vary by organization and assignment. Interns may end up drafting legislation, working on foreign policy issues, planning activities of nonprofit organizations, interacting with visitors and advocacy groups, helping with administrative work, writing press releases, or doing research for companies, scholars and experts. All internships should provide students with experience of an early-career professional staff. Students must inform the program director if their internship does not meet these requirements.

Government 126B: Problems in Public Policy
This course examines the institutions that play major roles in the federal public policy process, including the presidency, the bureaucracy, the Congress, and the courts. Key stages of the policy-making process are analyzed, including agenda-setting, policy formulation, debate and deliberation, and implementation. Particular attention is paid to the external environment, including the political context, outside factors (i.e. interest groups, the media), the motivations of key institutional players, and the aspects of the process where change can be affected.

Government 128: Power, Politics, and Persuasion in DC 
This course examines the mores, folkways, and working styles of the political communities of Washington, D.C. Students analyze the formal and informal “rules of the game” both through scholarly literature and their own experiences as interns. In addition, students’ study historical and current examples of competition of ideas inside the Beltway and the way by which think tanks and the bureaucracy influence policy making. Class discussions also address the role of money and back-room deals in politics and examine the extent to which mechanisms are in place to curb misconduct, waste, and fraud in government agencies. As persuasion and argumentation are essential skills for those working in political communities in Washington, the class also studies and practices various genres of political writing, including speeches, op-eds and policy memos.

Government 127: Washington Research Project
This course is designed to provide an introduction to research in Washington, D.C., and to give students an opportunity to choose the subjects of their research. The class will begin with an overview of a few of the research resources available in Washington, D.C., such as the Library of Congress, the National Archives, Washington-based online resources, and interviews with influential figures. Following this introduction, students will select one of the following independent study options:

  1. Individualized Independent Study

This option is available to anyone in the program, but is particularly suitable for students interested in using their Washington research project as a launching pad for their senior thesis.  For this option, students will choose a research topic which is directly related to their internship. They will then work with the program staff to identify an appropriate research supervisor to oversee their independent study project. Students may choose to work with either a faculty member from one of the Claremont colleges or a CMC Washington Program faculty member.

The availability of faculty to serve as a research advisor varies from semester to semester. Click here to see a list of recent research advisors.

Students wishing for major credit for their research project in Economics, History, International Relations, or Religious Studies may do so with approval of the department chair. Under these circumstances, students will need to choose a supervisor in the appropriate department or program.

  1. Structured Independent Study

For this option, students choose from a selection of structured independent study (SIS) courses developed and supervised by Claremont college professors. SIS courses are usually offered in Government and International Relations and, depending on the semester, they may also be offered in other fields. Recent examples include courses on midterm elections, the abdication of congressional power, the Trump phenomenon, policy dilemmas of World War II, and technology, security, and politics.

The following is a list of research advisors who worked with CMC Washington Program students over the last two years. Research advisors are not limited to the contacts provided here. Students are welcome to choose an advisor from any of the Claremont educational institutions, including the graduate school.

Recent Independent Study Research Advisors

  • William Ascher, Government, CMC
  • Andrew Busch, Government, CMC
  • Roderic Camp, Government, CMC
  • W. Bowman Cutter, Economics, Pomona
  • Matt Glassman, Government, CMC, 
  • Maija Harkonen, Government, CMC, 
  • Eric Helland, Economics, CMC
  • Charles Kesler, Government, CMC
  • Lisa Koch, Government, CMC
  • Wendy Lower, History, CMC
  • Fred Lynch,  Government, CMC
  • Ken Miller, Government, CMC
  • Christopher Nadon, Government, CMC
  • Gilda Ochoa, Chicana/o-Latina/o Studies, Pomona  
  • Emily Pears, Government, CMC
  • John J. Pitney Jr., Government, CMC 
  • Anne Quinley, Public Policy, Pomona 
  • Melissa Rogers, International Studies, CGU
  • Shanna Rose, Professor of Government
  • Andrew Sinclair, Government, CMC
  • Aseema Sinha, Government, CMC
  • Jennifer Taw, Government, CMC
  • Thomas  Willett, Economics, CMC
  • Arely Zimmerman, Chicana/o-Latina/o Studies Program, Pomona

Faculty and Staff

Maija Harkonen.

Maija Harkonen, Ph.D.


Maija Harkonen has lectured at Georgetown University, John Hopkins University, CMC, St. Mary’s College of Maryland, Moscow State Institute for International Relations in Russia and Lahti University of Technology in Finland. Her courses have covered American government, comparative politics, and U.S. foreign policy. She has presented papers at national and international conferences and published articles.  During her employment in the private sector, Dr. Harkonen led multinational projects, including one in Estonia for which she secured funding from the U.S. Trade and Development Agency. In Finland, she managed a European Union funded project, helping Nordic companies establish their operations in China. While working as Director of Strategic Partnerships for FCG International, she focused on mobile healthcare technology and participated in numerous international trade delegations led by the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment. Prior to accepting her current position, she served as Executive Director of the Center for the Study of Democracy at St. Mary’s College of Maryland. There she organized numerous forums and public lectures and hosted members of Congress, scholars, policy experts, and international civil servants. Maija received her B.A. from the University of Texas at Austin and her doctoral and master’s degrees in Government from Georgetown University.

Andrew Busch.

Andrew E. Busch, Ph.D.


Andrew E. Busch is Crown Professor of Government and George R. Roberts Fellow at Claremont McKenna College, where he teaches courses on American politics and government. He is the author or co-author of more than two dozen scholarly chapters and articles as well as twenty-one books, including most recently A Brief History of Public Policy Since the New Deal, The Rules and Politics of American Primaries: A State-by-State Guide to Republican and Democratic Primaries and Caucuses, and Defying the Odds: The 2016 Elections and American Politics. Busch served as Associate Dean of the Faculty at CMC from 2006-2009 and in 2009-2010 was Ann and Herbert W. Vaughan Visiting Fellow in the James Madison Program in American Ideals and Institutions at Princeton University. He is currently Director of the Rose Institute of State and Local Government at CMC. Busch received his B.A. from the University of Colorado and his M.A. and Ph.D. from the University of Virginia. He lives in Rialto, California with his wife Melinda, and has three grown children and two grandchildren.

Zachary Courser.

Zachary Courser, Ph.D.


Zachary Courser is Director of CMC's Policy Lab and a visiting Assistant Professor of Government at Claremont McKenna College. His research agenda focuses on public policy, political parties, democracy and populism. He recently co-authored a report for the American Enterprise Institute on the need for reinstating congressional earmarking, entitled "Restoring the power of the purse: Earmarks and re-empowering legislators to deliver local benefits" (AEI, 2021). He is a contributor and editor of the volume Parchment Barriers: Political Polarization and the Limits of Constitutional Order (University Press of Kansas, 2018), the result of a year-long, multi-disciplinary research project examining the dynamics of polarization through an examination of conflicts over the American constitutional order. Prof. Courser has led several research partnerships for CMC’s Policy Lab with a variety of think tanks, including Bipartisan Policy Center, RAND Corporation, American Enterprise Institute, and the Brookings Institution. He’s a regular commentator on California and national politics on Southern California Public Radio, and has worked on Capitol Hill and for a London-based think tank. He holds a master’s and doctoral degree in government from the University of Virginia, and a bachelor’s in government from Claremont McKenna College.

Matt Glassman.

Matt Glassman, Ph.D.


Matt Glassman is a Senior Fellow at the Government Affairs Institute at Georgetown University. He has taught courses on and off the Hill on American government, congressional process, congressional- presidential relations, and congressional leadership. He has worked in legislative politics in both Washington and New York State, and on local, state, and federal campaigns. Prior to joining GAI, Matt worked on the Hill at the Congressional Research Service for ten years. His portfolio included congressional operations, separation of powers, appropriations, judicial administration, agency design, and congressional history. He was detailed to the House Committee on Appropriations as professional staff for the Legislative Branch Subcommittee in FY2010 and FY2011. Prior to coming to Washington, Matt worked in the New York State Senate. Matt received both his doctoral and master's degrees in political science for Yale University. He also holds a bachelor's from Hamilton College.

John J. Pitney Jr.

John J. Pitney Jr., Ph.D.


John J. Pitney Jr. is the Roy P. Crocker Professor of American Politics at Claremont McKenna College in Claremont, California. He received his B.A. in political science from Union College, where he was co-valedictorian. He earned his Ph.D. in political science at Yale, where he was a National Science Foundation Fellow. From 1978 to 1980, he worked in the New York State Senate. From 1983 to 1984, as a Congressional Fellow of the American Political Science Association, he worked for Senator Alfonse D'Amato of New York and the House Republican Policy Committee, chaired by Representative Dick Cheney of Wyoming. From 1984 to 1986, he was senior domestic policy analyst for the House Republican Research Committee. He joined the Claremont McKenna College faculty in 1986. From 1989 to 1991, during a leave of absence, he worked at the Research Department of the Republican National Committee, first as deputy director, then as acting director. He has written articles for The New Republic, The Weekly Standard, The Wall Street Journal, The Los Angeles Times, and Roll Call, among others. His scholarly works include The Art of Political Warfare, published in 2000 by the University of Oklahoma Press (with Joseph M. Bessette), American Government and Politics: Deliberation, Democracy, and Citizenship (Cengage), and After Reagan: Bush, Dukakis, and the 1988 Election, published in 2019 (the University Press of Kansas).

Paul Manuel

Paul Manuel, Ph.D.


Paul Manuel is a visiting professor of government at Claremont McKenna College’s Washington Program. He is also an affiliated professor at the McCourt School of Public Policy and the government department at Georgetown University. He previously served as the leadership program director and the IR Hurst Senior Professorial Lecturer at the School of Public Affairs at American University. Manuel founded and directed the Leadership Institute at Mount St. Mary’s University in Maryland, and, before that, he was a co-founder and executive director of the New Hampshire Institute of Politics and politics department chair at Saint Anselm College. Manuel was a tenured full professor of politics at both Mount St. Mary’s University and Saint Anselm College. He is an author or co-author of twelve books and numerous scholarly articles, with an interest in leadership, religion and politics, comparative democratization, and comparative public policy. He is a research fellow at the Berkley Center for Religion, Peace, and World Affairs at Georgetown and is a local affiliate at the Minda de Gunzburg Center for European Studies at Harvard University. He has served on the Executive Council of the New England Political Science Association. He holds a Ph.D. in government from Georgetown University and a B.A. /M.A. in political science from Boston University. He divides his time between Massachusetts and Washington, DC.

Academic Credit

The CMC Washington Program offers four course credits. CMC and Pomona government students may count two courses towards the major (not including Government 30, the internship course). Government 30 meets the experiential requirement for the Leadership Sequence. Credit in other majors may also be possible, but this requires advance planning and approval from the applicable department or program.


Obtaining Major Credit for the Research Paper

CMC Students in the following majors may receive major credit for the Research Paper:

  • Economics
  • International Relations
  • Religious Studies
  • History

With advance notice and planning, students may obtain Economics major credit for the research paper. Interested students must select an internship that can support an economics research paper. Examples include, the Federal Reserve, the Council of Economic Advisors, or the General Accounting Office. Students also need the approval of the department chair for permission to register in Economics 199, which must be done no later than the drop/add deadline of the semester in Washington. If approved, the chair will assign students to a reader in the Economics department at CMC.

International Relations
With advance notice and planning, students can obtain IR credit in Washington for the research paper (Government 127). The paper must address an appropriate international topic and students are responsible for obtaining approval for credit from the chair of the International Relations Committee. They must also select an internship that can support an IR research paper. Examples include the State Department, international agencies that specialize in trade issues, or public interest groups that focus on human rights. The research paper will be supervised by a member of the Washington Program faculty. Government 30, the internship course, cannot count towards the major.

Religious Studies
With advance notice and planning, students may obtain religious studies major credit in Washington for the research paper.  Interested students must select an internship that can support a religious studies research paper.  Examples include the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, Religious Action Center, International Justice Mission, or Karamah.  Students also need the approval of the department chair for permission to register in Religious Studies 199, which must be done no later than the drop/add deadline of the semester in Washington.  If approved, the Chair will assign students to a reader in the Religious Studies department at CMC.

With advance notice and planning, students can obtain History major credit in Washington for the research paper.  Interested students must select an internship that can support a history research paper.  Examples would include the Holocaust Museum, Smithsonian National Archives, Library of Congress, Folger Shakespeare Library, National Museum of African American History, Mount Vernon, National Women’s History Museum, Sackler Gallery, or the National Portrait Gallery.  Students also need the approval of the department chair for permission to register HIST 199 which must be done no later than the drop/add deadline of the semester in Washington.  If approved, the Chair will assign students to a reader in the History department at CMC.