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Frequently Asked Questions

Applying for UCDC

Which majors can participate in UCDC?

All majors are welcome! While many Political Science majors participate in UCDC, there are internship opportunities available for students from any major. Arts majors and STEM majors are welcome year-round at UCDC, but are especially encouraged to apply to special Arts and Science focused quarters.

How competitive is the program?

Every quarter during the academic year we have 24-27 openings for students from UC San Diego to go to Washington, DC. Typically we get about 30-40 applications. Summer quarter is the most competitive, as we have 15 spots. Summer Internships in DC are also the most competitive.

What selection criteria are used for acceptance?

The selection committee weighs an applicant's GPA, resume, letters of recommendation and full academic record at UC San Diego. Admitted students' average GPA is about 3.3.

I'm a sophomore now but will have 90 units by the time the quarter I want to go. Am I still eligible to apply?

This depends on how close to 90 units you are. Typically we don't allow students who are more than 12 units away from junior status to apply because we can't be sure that you will have the units you need by the time you leave for DC. Also, as a sophomore you have third priority after the seniors and juniors applying.

I'm a transfer student and this is my first quarter here at UCSD, so I don't have a UC GPA yet. Can I still apply?

Ideally, you should apply after completing at least one full-time quarter at UCSD, as you must have a UC GPA to be eligible. You may submit an application during your first quarter at UCSD, but your application will only be considered after grades have posted, and priority will be given to students whose eligibility has already been established.  This situation most frequently arises for students applying in Fall quarter for the Spring program.

I'll be studying abroad during the application period. Can I still apply?

Yes. Since the application is online, it will be easy to apply. We can make sure to send orientation materials over email.

Who can I ask to write a letter of recommendation?

For your application, you need two letters of recommendation. The letters can be written by anyone who knows you academically or professionally. This could be a professor, TA, advisor, employer, internship supervisor, volunteer coordinator, athletic coach, etc. We recommend that one letter of recommendation be written by a faculty member, but it is not required. Keep in mind that some internship organizations in Washington, DC will ask you to submit a letter of recommendation from a professor as part of their internship application.

How do I submit my letters of recommendation?

Letters of recommendation can be uploaded directly to the application portal or emailed to

Do I have to get an official transcript for my application?

No, you do not need to submit your transcripts.

When will I hear whether I've been accepted to UCDC?

We usually notify applicants by email within 2 weeks of the application deadline.

I am on the waitlist for UCDC. What are my chances of being admitted?

Students who are on the waitlist usually hear an update regarding their status within a month of their waitlist notice. If a waitlisted student attends the UCDC Orientation (for admitted students) and a space does not eventually become available, the student will be allowed to participate in the UCDC Program on any subsequent quarter as long as the student comes forward in a timely manner while space for the desired quarter is still available. Waitlisted students should inform the UCDC Coordinator immediately when they have identified and are prepared to commit to a subsequent quarter. You can always ask to have your application materials held and be included in the next quarter's application process.

Securing an Internship

How soon should I start applying for internships?

We recommend that you start applying as soon as you get accepted to the program. Earlier applicants usually get their top internship choices. If you are planning to apply for an internship you know has an earlier deadline than the date you will find out about your status in the program, you should go ahead and apply to be sure you meet the deadline. You can start your internship search on our website.

I am not a U.S. citizen, am I still eligible for the UCDC program?

Yes, you may apply to the program as an international student, DACA/AB540/undocumented student or any other status. However, some internship organizations may require you to be a U.S. citizen so be sure to check the citizenship requirements of the internships you apply to.

Can I secure an internship in Washington, D.C as an international student?

Some internships may require you to be a U.S. citizen so be sure to check the citizenship requirements of the internships you apply to.

If you are an international student, please contact the International Student Programs Office (ISPO) to help with understanding how you can intern as an international student. Look into this information as early as possible as some documents might take weeks or months to process.

Can I secure an internship in Washington, D.C without work authorization?

Some internships may require you to be a U.S. citizen so be sure to check the citizenship requirements of the internships you apply to.

DACAmented and undocumented students are highly encouraged to meet with Undocumented Student Services Center prior to their travel to Washington D.C. to discuss their travel itinerary as well as traveling tips particular to undocumented students. Make an appointment with them here:


How many internships should I apply for?

It is recommended that you apply to at least 15-20 organizations to start with. Usually students have 2 or 3 top choices -and then some alternates that they'd still like to intern with. Some students don't get any of their top internships and end up applying for more, but 15-20 is a good number to start with. More applications may be necessary during the summer -quarter due to the high competitiveness of applicants.

Are there many paid internships in DC?

There are some paid internships to choose from, though that shouldn't be your main criteria for choosing one. Some of the best internships are unpaid. Wages or stipends can range from $70 a month to cover your metro pass to $1500 a month, depending on the career field.

The deadline has already passed for an internship I want. Should I still apply?

Some deadlines are strict but others are flexible. You should always contact the organization directly and ask if they are still accepting applications.

The internship start and end dates listed on the organizations website are different than our school's quarter dates. Is this a problem?

Not usually. Most organizations are more familiar with semester students and therefore list their internship opportunities as starting and ending according to those dates. However, most of the time, they are open to quarter students schedules as well.

Some organizations are asking for the name of my academic advisor. Who do I tell them it is?

Seth Hill is your Faculty Advisor for the program. He is the Director of the UCDC program here at UC San Diego.

How can I get a confirmation that I will gain academic credit for my internship?

Contact the UCDC Coordinator about getting confirmation of credit. Be sure to note any particular specifications indicated by the organization (whether they have a form to fill out, want a letter on letterhead, etc.), and be ready to provide contact information for the individual to whom the form or letter must be sent.

I've been asked for a writing sample, what do I give?

A good writing sample is clearly written, presents your thoughts logically and orderly, and has no spelling or grammar mistakes. Most writing samples are 2-3 pages in length. Unless specified, you can use an excerpt from a paper, published article, or similar work. Most organizations as not as concerned about the topic as they are about your writing skills

What dates should I tell my employer I can start working and stop working?

We recommend that you begin working the day after the academic orientation in DC. We also recommend that, if possible, you give yourself adequate time to arrive and get settled before starting your internship, and that you leave yourself adequate time to pack and check out at the end of your internship. Since move-out dates and times are strict, be sure to allow enough time to pack before your flight.

What should I do if I get offered an internship but I'm still waiting to hear from other organizations that I'd rather work with?

Organizations in DC know that internship applicants are applying to multiple organizations. If you get offered something and you're waiting to hear from another organization you prefer, first thank the organization for the offer and then ask them for time to consider. Make sure to ask what the latest possible date is that you can let them know and remember to follow-up by that date whether you accept the offer or not. It is extremely unprofessional to accept an internship offer and then later tell the organization that you have found another internship.

What do I do if I get to DC and start my internship and end up not liking it?

You should contact the Academic Internship Team at the UC Washington Center to discuss your situation as soon as possible. Our first step will usually be to connect with the supervisor and see if the unsatisfactory situation can be rectified. If the situation cannot be improved, we will work with you to look at other options. Finding another internship on such short notice can be difficult, but is not impossible. It is not acceptable to quit an internship without notifying the UC Washington Center and first discussing your dissatisfaction with your supervisor, who may be able to change your duties to make the internship more rewarding. 

About DC and The Washington Center

Are we required to live at the Washington Center?

Yes, all UCDC participants from all UC's live at the Washington Center.

How are roommates assigned?

Students usually room with other UC San Diego students and are matched up based on answers to a roommate questionnaire. Students can request a specific roommate, but requests cannot be guaranteed. If you are requesting any special accomodation or consideration, please notify the UCDC Coordinator as soon as possible. Students seeking disability accommodations must be registered with the UC San Diego Office for Students with Disabilities.

How do students get around in DC?

Students use the Metro or subway system to get to their internships and to travel around DC. There are several Metro stops within walking distance of the UC Washington Center. DC also has a bus system that students can use. During Orientation in DC, students get a reloadable Smartrip card to use on the Metro and on city buses.

If I participated in UCDC in the Spring, can I continue living in the UC Washington Center through the summer?

This may be an option. Please notify the UC Washington Center Housing Team of your desire to stay as early as possible to ensure space is available and you are aware of all necessary information regarding costs, housing contracts, and timelines.