Please Note: Because of the large number of applicants, only those selected for an interview will be contacted directly. The Intern Coordinator can conduct domestic and international phone interviews. Interviewed candidates will be contacted directly within approximately 4-6 weeks or so of the prescribed deadline. Research assistant positions are open until filled, so it is encouraged to apply early. However, we may receive last minute intern requests from scholars.

Research assistants are talented undergraduate or graduate students from universities around the country who combine part-time hours at the Center with their studies and other activities. A research assistant typically works 12-15 hours each week per scholar. (The number of hours can be adjusted accordingly to fulfill academic requirements). A position as a research assistant is particularly appropriate for a student planning to move on to graduate studies, or 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.

The Center has a number of research interns at any one time, many of whom are replaced at the end of each academic term. Internship appointments are generally consistent with academic semesters (i.e. Fall, Spring, Summer). The start and end dates are flexible in order to accommodate varying school schedules. Most research assistants do an internship for academic credit and do not receive a stipend. The Center is willing to coordinate with each student and school in filling out the necessary paperwork. Students are encouraged to apply for independent grants or scholarships through their schools or outside sources to financially support them during their internship appointment. Depending on funding and eligibility, a modest stipend may be available if the student is not receiving academic credit for the internship.


Most scholars who come to the Wilson Center spend their time carrying out research, writing books, and making public presentations. Research assistants 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 public policy debates. Most research assistants at the Center work with university professors who are scholars at the Wilson Center while on leave from their home institutions. Other assistants may be assigned to journalists, current and former government officials (such as diplomats and ambassadors) or occasionally to scholars from the private sector. The list of current scholars is attached at the bottom of this page.

In support of the scholars, research assistants spend much of their time searching for information, using the Wilson Center Library's resources. They often perform other duties, as well, such as proofreading; editing; critiquing; checking references; compiling bibliographies; writing literature reviews; summarizing research materials; locating inter-library loan materials; and helping with software or presentational tasks. There may be some administrative tasks involved like copying or filing, but such tasks will be very limited. 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 go beyond their particular internship responsibilities and to attend our many panel discussions, conferences, symposia, and other meetings. Interns are also welcome to join staff and scholars during social events.


Applicants must have at least a cumulative GPA of 3.0 (on a 4.0 scale) or equivalent from a non-U.S. institution. Furthermore, applicants must be current students, recent graduates (within one calendar year), and/or have been accepted to enter an advanced degree program (within the next year). Non-degree seeking students are ineligible. Most interns are at least seniors in the undergraduate level, though strongly qualified juniors (at the time of application) will be considered. Graduate students are also eligible to apply.

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, especially if they are receiving compensation for the internships. 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 is NOT able to sponsor visas for interns. International students not already studying in the U.S. on a F-1 or J-1 visa must go through a university exchange program or an outside organization (internship placement agency) that will sponsor their visa.

Typical research assistants are students of political science; U.S. government/politics; international relations; history (including US history); foreign languages; international affairs; regional studies; economics; public policy; security studies; journalism and similar disciplines, though students of many other fields of study have sometimes been selected. New scholars are constantly 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.


This web page will reflect the most current or official deadlines:

Internship start date (Priority deadline for application)
January (October 31)
June (March 31)
September (July 15)

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

Incomplete applications will not be considered.

Application Process

To apply, applicants will need to submit ONE COMPLETE application package in a single PDF to our Internship Coordinator by email to (This email address is only for Research Assistant internship applications and NOT for staff internship applications). The application materials include:

  • a completed WWICS Internship Application Form
  • Cover Letter (indicating academic interests or areas of interest)
  • Current Resume (indicating relevant coursework)
  • 3-5 page Writing Sample or excerpt of a recent research paper with separate Works Cited page
  • 2 letters of recommendation (do not have to be sealed by referees/recommenders); if they prefer to seal the letter, then they can sign across the seal and give the letter to the applicant to include in his or her application package. Highlighting the applicant’s writing, research, and/or language skills is useful to reviewers.
  • Transcripts (unofficial copies are acceptable); transcripts will be used to determine if the applicant has taken relevant course work so applicants should submit transcripts from all undergraduate and graduate institutions (if applicable)

If your university prefers to send official recommendations or transcripts separately, then the school may mail or email them to:

Internship Program Coordinator
Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars
One Woodrow Wilson Plaza
1300 Pennsylvania Ave. NW
Washington, DC. 20004-3027
(please no telephone, letter, fax, or email inquiries)

If your recommendations are arriving separately from the rest of your application materials, then please make note of it in your cover letter. Indicate the names of your referees/recommenders and whether the letters of recommendation will be sent by mail, fax, or email.