Special Opportunities

An Elmhurst education is about much more than teachers and classrooms.

From Mock Trial to the Model U.N. to the Washington Semester, our co-curricular opportunities will stimulate your mind and apply what you learn into practice.

Washington Semester

Each year, one or more Elmhurst political science majors get a first-hand look at the workings of American government through the Washington Semester program, hosted by American University in Washington, D.C., the Washington Internship Institute, or the Washington Center for Internships and Academic Seminars.

As a participant, you’ll join an undergraduate “think tank” where you’ll learn about, debate, and experience how American government and institutions work. You’ll study with faculty exclusively devoted to the program and work as an intern in institutions as varied as Congress, the State Department, the Smithsonian, and the Washington Post.

Seminars that have featured prominent guest speakers such as the late Senator Richard Lugar, Henry Kissinger, and the late U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia test your political understanding. You’ll also write a research paper. Recent papers have analyzed a bill concerning Native American reservations and health care and studied NAFTA’s effect on imports and exports between Mexico and the United States.

In some cases, experience in Washington has led students to more extended internships and jobs in their field of interest. For more information, see the Washington Semester website or talk to the political science department chair or Dr. Wally Lagerwey.


Elmhurst’s political science majors have the opportunity to intern at many agencies in local, state, and federal government, gaining a richer understanding of the American political system while exploring areas that interest them. Recent internship sponsors include:

  • Political candidates
  • The DuPage County planning committee
  • The state’s attorney’s office
  • The public defender’s office
  • Private law firms
  • Environmental groups

The department grants interns full course credit for the equivalent of 15-20 hours of work per week during a three-month period as well as assigned written and oral reports. Half-course credit may be granted for the experience of a shorter duration. An internship is an excellent way to gain professional confidence and a competitive edge.

Model U.N.

Through Elmhurst’s Model United Nations program, you’ll apply and extend your knowledge of current international politics, international relations theory, and international organizations. Students in Model U.N. carefully research their assigned countries, develop policy statements, and travel to cities such as Boston and New York, where they meet with other students, debate, and create U.N. agendas.

Mock Trial

This one-and-one-half (1.5) credit course offers students the opportunity to learn first-hand about the American legal system. Participants work on a nationally assigned case, developing prosecution and defense positions. They then compete with their peers regionally and nationally, learning the ins and outs of the American judicial system. Trials are presided over by working attorneys and judges, who offer expert critiques of students’ work.

Student Organizations

Political science majors at Elmhurst have plenty of opportunities to get involved, practice their leadership skills, make a difference—and have their say. For example:

  • The Student Government Association is an elected organization that makes policy recommendations to University administration, recognizes campus organizations, and reviews matters of importance to the University. The Association is responsible for allocating the student activity fund to the programming board, media organizations, and petitioning student organizations.
  • Pi Sigma Alpha, Elmhurst’s political science honor society, recognizes students’ participation and achievement in political science.

Study Abroad

Studying abroad is a great opportunity to learn first-hand about the political systems and cultures of foreign countries, to gain new perspectives on American cultural and political institutions and world events, and to develop fluency in a foreign language. Students may study abroad for the Fall, January, Spring or Summer terms. Majors may also include internships as part of their study abroad experience. Recent graduates have done internships with members of the European Parliament, the British Parliament and with the Brussels bureau of the Associated Press.

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