The Washington Minimester, directed by Dr. Matthew Kerbel, is conducted in Washington, D.C. each May between the end of Spring final exams and the start of Summer Session I. In 2016, it will be held between Sunday May 15 and Friday June 3.
You can earn three credits toward your degree by spending three weeks meeting policy-makers as you travel around Washington and learn how the American political system works. The program consists of roughly 35 seminars with people whose daily decisions make the Federal government run: members of Congress and their staffs, political party committee members, executive branch officials, reporters, lobbyists, and pollsters. Over the last few years, Minimester participants have met, among others: Federal Reserve Board Chairman Ben Barnanke; Senators Rick Santorum and Robert Casey; Congressmen Jim Gerlach and Joe Sestak; RNC Chair Reince Priebus and DNC Chair Howard Dean; New York Times columnist David Brooks and PBS commentator Mark Shields. We regularly meet with speakers at such places as the Departments of Education, Defense and State.
The focus of the program is on understanding the interplay of policymaking and politics in the Federal government. Course requirements include attendance at all seminars, maintaining an interpretive journal, and writing a final essay analysis of politics and policy at the Federal level. The course is listed in the Villanova catalogue as PSC 6160.
Students reside in dormitories at Catholic University of America (CUA), except for those who choose to arrange alternate housing in the D.C. area. Catholic University is located in central Washington, D.C. about ten minutes from downtown. A red line metro stop on campus provides convenient access to all of the seminar locations. The campus setting is very similar to Villanova.
Beyond the seminars, the total Washington experience is an educational one for participants. There’s a lot to do and see on your own, from lunches on Capitol Hill, to Georgetown at night, to hours spent exploring one of Washington’s many monuments and historic museums. The city will be our classroom.
Each participant is responsible for his or her own transportation to and from Washington. The D.C. transit system (METRO and bus) is the ideal way to travel between events, although students are permitted to bring and use their own cars. Parking fees at CUA run roughly $35 per week.
The cost of the program is the same as Villanova's summer school tuition for full-time students, which in 2015 was $2940, plus a $15 general fee. Room costs in 2016 will be $950 per student for the full three-week program.
Scholarship funds are available for students who otherwise would not be able to afford tuition costs in order to make sure students are not turned away from the program because of need. The Washington Minimester Scholarship can support between 50 and 100% of tuition for up to three students depending on the number of applications. Awards are based on demonstrated need. Students may apply for a Washington Minimester Scholarship when applying to the program.