The Washington Program is a part of the Hamilton Department of Government, which also includes concentrations in World Politics and Public Policy (the latter two being interdisciplinary). The department staffs the program with a full-time member of its faculty as director, who resides in Washington for the duration of the program. The director designates the theme of the program and its general syllabus, schedules speakers and excursions, and organizes other activities.
Participants take an academic seminar that sets the theme of the term (past programs have covered a wide range of topics including trade policy, civil society and government, budgetary politics and regulatory reform). This seminar usually meets in one session during a weekday morning and counts for one credit toward graduation and the concentration in Government, World Politics or Public Policy. Afternoons of the seminar day are set aside for speakers, visits to important institutions like the U.S. Supreme Court and other nearby sites like George Washington's home at Mount Vernon in Virginia. Several of these afternoons are also left free for students to catch up on work or see other parts of Washington when the city is less crowded.
Another course (that also counts toward graduation, but is not counted toward departmental concentration) is called Intern Participant/Observation (IPO). It meets during a weekday evening and consists of a series of student debates and student lead discussions, based on an issue that is parallel to those raised in the seminar. Several spaces in the IPO schedule are left open so that timely issues on the national agenda can be included. A set of short papers based on the debates is also part of the IPO.
The last and most comprehensive part of the program is the paper due at the end of the term that also counts as a single course (making a total of 4 course credits) toward the Government/World Politics/Public Policy concentrations. This paper also counts as the Government/World Politics/Public Policy senior thesis requirement for senior concentrators in the program. The paper integrates internship experience and on-site research, through interviews and archival materials, with the academic theme of the term. Two or three formal tutorial meetings with the director lead up to the final paper.