Skip to main content

Please Note: The application cycle for Spring 2022 will open in October 2021.

Research assistant interns are talented undergraduate or graduate students who combine part-time hours at the Center with their studies and other activities. Students in this role typically provide 12-15 hours of research assistance each week, per scholar (the number of hours can be adjusted accordingly to fulfill academic requirements). This experience is invaluable for students wishing to develop a deeper understanding of their field of study. In addition to assisting with their scholars' research projects, interns have the opportunity to network with experts in their chosen fields, attend events on relevant topics, and explore how research and public policy intertwine in Washington.

Research Assistant internship opportunities are offered year-round, and are generally consistent with academic semesters. Most research assistants complete an internship for academic credit. Students are encouraged to apply for independent grants or scholarships through their schools or outside sources to financially support them during their internship appointment. 


Most scholars who come to the Wilson Center spend their time carrying out research, writing books, and making public presentations. Research assistant interns have the unique opportunity to work directly with these experts, as they examine issues of contemporary public policy or explore topics that provide the historical context behind today’s pressing policy debates. The Wilson Center hosts a diverse cohort of scholars each year, including distinguished university professors, journalists, current and former government officials (such as diplomats and ambassadors) or occasionally executives from the private sector. 

In support of the scholars, Research Assistants spend much of their time searching for information using the Wilson Center Library's resources. Other duties include proofreading, editing, compiling bibliographies, writing literature reviews, summarizing research materials, etc. Less than 20% of these tasks are administrative. Consequently, a strong sense of responsibility and the ability to work with a minimum of supervision are strong assets. Foreign language skills are oftentimes useful, and should be noted in the application.

While at the Center, all interns are encouraged to fully assimilate into the Wilson Center's community, and go beyond their particular internship responsibilities and to attend our many panel discussions, conferences, symposia, and social events.


This opportunity is open to highly qualified undergraduate and graduate students. Applicants must have a minimum 3.0 GPA (or equivalent). Applicants must be current students, recent graduates (within one calendar year), and/or have been accepted to enter an advanced degree program. Non-degree seeking students are ineligible.

International students studying in the U.S. are eligible, but they must hold a valid F-1 or J-1 visa and appropriate work authorization. All international students must obtain written permission from their Designated School Official or Responsible Officer for visas at their university stating that they are in valid immigration status and eligible to do an internship at the Center.

The Wilson Center does NOT sponsor visas for interns. International students that are not already studying in the U.S. on a F-1/J-1 visa must go through a university exchange program or an outside organization (internship placement agency) that will sponsor their visa.

New scholars are consistently arriving at the Wilson Center, and it can be difficult to predict what specific projects will be carried out in the future. For that reason, all interested students are encouraged to apply.


Applications are accepted on a rolling basis, so applying early is strongly encouraged. All deadlines are at 5pm EST.

Internship start date (Priority deadline for application)
Spring (October 31) 
Summer (March 31)
Fall (July 23)

*Most scholars arrive at the beginning of a semester (January, June, September). However, the Intern Coordinator can work individually with students or schools on a quarter system schedule.

Incomplete applications will not be considered.

Application Process

To apply, applicants will need to submit one complete application package in a single PDF (with file named as Last Name, First Name_RA Application) to our Internship Coordinator via email to with the subject line: RESEARCH ASSISTANT APPLICATION (This email address is only for Research Assistant internship applications and NOT for staff internship applications). Applications that do not follow these instructions will not be considered.

*An exception to the single PDF rule is made for the submission of letters of recommendation. If a recommender would prefer to maintain confidentiality, they may submit their letter directly to, rather than having the student include it in the PDF containing their other application materials. Please make sure that the student's name and the words "Recommendation Letter" are in both the subject line of the email and the file name of the attachment when submitting.*

Application materials include:

  • Completed Wilson Center Internship Application Form
  • Cover Letter (indicating academic interests or areas of interest)
  • Current Resume (indicating relevant coursework)
  • 3-5 page Writing Sample (excerpts of a research paper are acceptable) with bibliography
  • 2 letters of recommendation, or a brief list of references
  • Transcript(s) (unofficial copies are acceptable)
  • Incomplete applications will not be considered.

Scholars Seeking Assistance for Fall 2021*:

  • Nadia Oweidat, Assistant Professor of History and Security Studies, Kansas State University. “A Million Clicks to Freedom: The Virtual Battlefield of Ideas in the Arab World.” (Arabic language required)
  • Lawrence (Larry) K. Altman, Medical Writer and ‘The Doctor's World’ Columnist, New York Times. “Reporting on the Health of Presidents and other Political Leaders.”
  • Kent Hughes, former Director, Program on America and the Global Economy, Woodrow Wilson Center. “Economic Statecraft in the 21st Century.”
  • David Ottaway, Middle East Specialist and Former Washington Post Correspondent. Co-author with Marina Ottaway of the book “A Tale of Four Worlds: the Arab Region after the Uprisings.”
  • Cesar Zucco, Associate Professor of Political Science and Public Policy, Getulio Vargas Foundation, Brazil. “Mitigating the Volatility Curse: Political Challenges of Commodity Dependency.”
  • Darren Touch, Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Canada China Forum. “Middle Powers Navigating Great Power Rivalry.”
  • Nigel Gould-Davies, Senior Fellow for Russia and Eurasia, International Institute for Strategic Studies, United Kingdom. “The Political Economy of Russian Power.” (Russian language helpful)

*Please note that this list of scholars is incomplete and subject to change. If you do not see a project that aligns with your particular interests on this list, please still apply and indicate your areas of interest on your application form. We will do our best to match you based on interest area and expertise as we continue to receive research assistant requests from our scholars.