A Home Away from Home

The University of California Washington Center Program is designed to provide University of California undergraduate students and graduate students the opportunity to live and work in Washington, D.C. for one quarter though students can participate in multiple quarters.

Each UC campus has a UCDC program office and at least one coordinator/director who is responsible for recruiting students to participate in the program. There is an academic quarter program and a summer program.

The academic quarter program consists of:

  • One elective course taught by a graduate student/visiting faculty member from any one of the nine schools in the UC system. These courses usually meet once or twice a week for several hours and coursework varies by instructor. Each course is about 4 units for quarter schools and 2.6 for UC Berkeley students. Students can opt to take this course pass/no pass but this option is not available for the research seminar/paper.
  • The internship itself which is approximately 7 units and requires students to work at least 3-4 days a week for up to 35 hours per week.
  • Research paper seminar/research paper: The seminar is generally led by a graduate student and is designed to guide students in the process of writing a research paper. According to the UCD program director, the minimum length is around 35 double spaced pages. At the end of the quarter, students present their papers at a type of conference attended by other students, an expert in students' paper topic and others. A failing grade in the research paper seminar/paper, will result in automatic failing grade of the internship because the internship should ideally help students research their paper topic.

The summer program consists of:

  • The internship and that is it. There is no paper requirement, though students can elect to take one elective course.

Competition for space in the program depends on the number of qualified applicants in a given quarter but the summer session is usually pretty competitive since each school can only send around 30 students each. During the academic year, schools can send up to 45 students.

Application materials:

  • Two letters of recommendation, preferably one from a current/former work/internship supervisor and one from a TA or professor.
  • Official transcripts
  • Application itself
  • Personal statement

Be aware that acceptance into this program does not mean automatic assignment to an internship. With the help of the campus program coordinator(s), students research, apply and interview for the internships on their own. There have been quarters where students were unable to find an internship before arriving in Washington, DC though I was told that it is not that bad since finding an internship can be somewhat easier once a student is in DC because that allows a student to interview in person whereas most students have to interview by phone due to distance constraints.

Every quarter, ucdc kids get all excited and start a celebratory facebook group. Take a look:

2005-2006: Spring, Winter, Fall, Summer

2004-2005: [ Spring], Winter, Fall, [ Summer]

There is a similar program for the state capitol, UCCS.


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2006-05-07 12:32:08   the ucdc program was probably one of the greatest times of my four years in college. the program is great and well run. the building and facilities are beautiful. there are just a few things to remember before committing yourself to it. the most important decision you make in the program isnt what your internship is, but rather who your roommates are. after a few weeks of working for someone for free, even someone cool like npr, you will begin to hate your job - its just the way it is. rarely do people last all quarter with the same love and enthusiasm for their internship that they started with. therefore, when you go home every day to your appt, make sure that the people you are coming home to are the kind of people you get along with. i made the right choice with my roommates and they were the best part of the whole quarter. oh, and dont even consider going on the program unless your 21. —AdamGerber

2006-05-07 13:00:46   Why 21? —JosephBleckman

  • dc is a city full of young professionals, hence the bar scene is very popular. you will most likely get asked out by your co workers to join them for a after work drink and if your not 21, you will have a hard time even getting into places. also, since most of the people in the program are upperclassmen, a very large percentage are over 21. going out to the bars was a regular part of our weekley entertainment. it doesnt mean that you have to drink, but being able to go out to bars is a pretty big part of the socializing that you will do out side of the building.

2006-05-14 22:49:27   I totally agree with everything Adam said. DC was the best experience I had at Davis. I am glad I was over 21 when I went. —JenniferChu

2008-07-25 10:35:20   Yeah, I have to agree with everyone. This was without a doubt the best quarter of my undergraduate career. Washington is an amazing city and I had a great time exploring it. The possibilities for networking are endless and almost anything that you do there looks great on a resume. Plus, the staff was really responsive and always willing to help me out no matter what. Sara Lombardo is the Davis representative in DC and I am firm in my belief that she is eligible for sainthood for everything that she does for us. Plus, the neighborhood, Dupont Circle, is the hippest part of DC. If you are even remotely considering going, I suggest that you do it. It's an eye opening experience. —SMCareBare