For the PIW semester program, you will take 3 courses worth 4 credits. While the coursework remains similar across the Fall and Spring semesters, the faculty teaching will differ. Below are the classes offered each semester. To learn more about the faculty, you can read about them on their page. To learn more about the course and who’s teaching it that semester, visit PennInTouch.

PSCI 2200

Preparing for Policy Work in Washington

Designed to complement a policy internship, this two credit course will focus on content and skills that are likely to be useful in typical Washington offices. Students will develop literacy on the most pressing domestic policy topics and will work on writing and presentation skills. All students will participate in a public policy internship for at least ten hours a week. The course meets for one hour each week online. The remaining time for this course is asynchronous. Open to PIW Semester students only.

PSCI 2210

Balance of Power in American Politics

At a time when our political institutions are being challenged in unprecedented ways, this domestic policy focused course will explore the institutions and other power centers that influence U.S. policy making.  The course will examine the governmental and non-governmental players that make up this constellation, how the different entities exercise their authority, how this power has shifted, and how policymaking happens today. Open to PIW Semester students only.

PSCI 2211

The Mechanics of American Foreign Policy

This course will provide students with an in-depth, practical analysis of foreign policy and foreign policy making, with a view from Washington.  It will also provide a baseline global literacy, through the lens of emerging ideas, institutions, interests, and actors, and focus on a framework for understanding shifts already underway in how Washington views the world. We will utilize less traditional resources, and instead, focus on practical and “real-world” course material as well as less non-traditional instruction methods – utilizing and analyzing the sources and resources that policy makers in Washington rely upon.  These include, long-form journalism, official government documents, hearings and Congressional debate, think tank products, and news sources.  Students will have the opportunity to engage with a variety of guest-speakers, all of whom have held senior official and non-governmental roles in American foreign policy making and influencing.  Guest speakers will provide unique insight into their own experiences at the highest levels of foreign policy making and advocacy, and offer guidance as to how to pursue careers in foreign policy, national security, and international development.

PSCI 3991-301

The Future of Conservatism and the GOP: Radicalization, Renewal or Replacement

This course — the first Penn in Washington course to be delivered on campus — will give students the opportunity to explore both the roots and the evolution of conservative thought by engaging with readings and directly with the prominent leaders on the right. In addition to faculty, a range of guest speakers will be invited to join discussions via Zoom. Regarding assignments, one product might be a platform for a reformed Republican Party or new party that rises on the right to challenge it. In the process, students will explore their own political philosophy and compare and contrast this with the core principles of a principled conservative viewpoint. Students may also construct policy proposals on some of our most pressing problems using the conservative principles they study and develop.


PIW’s classes can count toward the subfield, concentration, and/or elective requirements of the political science major. The classes also fulfill four out of the six credits required for a political science minor. PSCI 330 can also be used in place of PSCI 130, fullfilling that requirement in the major and the minor. In addition to PSCI, some majors will accept PIW courses, but due to changing requirements, we recommend you check with your advisor and respective departments. For example, the PIW foreign policy course counts in history, the core course counts in urban studies, and the PIW courses fill concentrations in COMMS and PPE. Don’t take our word for it! As soon as you start thinking about applying for PIW Semester, make an appointment to discuss how this fits into your major with your major advisor.