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Business & Government Relations


The comprehensive nature of the program gives you the academic background necessary to develop into a future policymaker or business leader of tomorrow.

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The academic courses are designed to complement your DC internship experience by offering a thorough examination of public policy and free market economics.

The program includes one required three credit course in economics. You can also earn up to an additional 6 credits by enrolling in your choice of elective courses.

The recommended elective class for business and government relations students is Ethics and Leadership, but students are encouraged to select the elective(s) that best fit their career interests and course load at their home university. An internship seminar is offered to give students the chance to earn credit for their internship.

Students may earn credit for all courses through George Mason University and the classes held in their state-of-the-art-facilities, conveniently located a few metro stops away from student housing in nearby Arlington, Virginia.  GMU was recently named one of the top 100 research universities in the U.S. by the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education.

Students should consult with their academic advisor to determine how the courses can be transferred back to their home university.

“The coursework has been very rewarding and helped me to develop an expanded framework for viewing practical ethical dilemmas.  It was an eye opening curriculum, and the course’s strong focus on personal integrity provided me with a more enlightened view of many of the government’s inner workings.”

Zachary Esau, United States Air Force Academy
Intern, Association of Old Crows


Course Descriptions


Public Choice Economics
ECON 410 (3 credits)
Meets 2 times a week for 2.5 hours

Public choice economics uses the tools of economic analysis to better understand policy, politics, and collective decision making. This course will provide an overview of the insights and limitations of the public choice perspective in the context of electoral politics, legislation, bureaucracy and regulation, and constitutional rule-making. An understanding of public choice economics will enable students to critically evaluate political actions and outcomes in a way that goes beyond ideological or ‘great man’ theories of politics. Instead, by focusing on the incentive structures within which political decisions are made, public choice economics facilitates the development of a more nuanced understanding of the behavior of voters, legislators, judges, and other political agents. A sample syllabus will be available very soon.

If you have not previously taken micro or macro economics and are interested in enrolling in a lower level course, or if you have already taken ECON 470 and would like to choose an alternative economics course, please click here to review descriptions of all economics courses offered. Please email Mary Stankus at to discuss your interest in enrolling in an alternative economics course.


Students may enroll in up to 2 elective courses, but please note that some elective courses run concurrently, so be sure to review the course schedule before making your selections. Click here for the Elective Course Schedule. 

Ethics and Leadership
INTS 375-3 (3 credits)
Meets 2 times a week for 2 hours; includes a 2 day leadership workshop
Recommended for Business and Government Relations Students

Identified by some alumni as "the best college course they ever took,” this course is team-taught by professionals who specialize in the relationship between business and personal ethics. The course involves a hands-on learning process, including group activities, to demonstrate how power is defined in the professional world and how individual beliefs apply. Students work on creative team projects to analyze their moral beliefs and how they apply in the workplace. The course includes a two-day workshop designed to help students make the coursework personally meaningful and discover sources of their own empowerment through games and power exercises. Please click here for this summer's syllabus.

American Foreign Policy
GOVT 344 (3 credits)
Meets 2 times a week for 2.5 hours

This course is a must for any student wanting to closely examine U.S. foreign policy while they are living and working in the seat of our nation’s government. The discussion-based class provides historical and present-day perspectives on American foreign policy.  It will examine how these views will influence the future of American diplomacy and global perception of the Unites States. During the course, students will be engaged in a series of “great episodes” in American foreign policy, aiming at relating them to current problems.  The course will also examine national security policy since 9/11.  The class will conclude with a “think-tank” exercise where students will consider major schools of thought about American “grand strategy” and relate them to a major policy problem which any new American administration is likely to face.  This course is open to all students with an interest in foreign policy or international affairs. Please click here for this summer's syllabus.

American Political Thought
GOVT 420 (3 credits)
Meets 2 times a week for 2.5 hours

This course is the perfect complement to any internship in the nation’s capital - where politics and the federal government are front page news every day. This interactive course will explore the development of the American political tradition from the New England Puritan settlement to the Founding Era and the conclusion of the Civil War. The class will also examine how the role of government has changed, how people’s relationship to the government has evolved, and what this means for the future.  Students will discuss the many ways in which Enlightenment liberalism developed alongside alternatives such as classical republicanism and Christianity. Students will explore these contradictory impulses in American political culture and discuss ways that they can be reconciled. Please click here for this summer's syllabus.

Internship Seminar – Public Policy and International Affairs
ECON 496 (3 credits)
Meets 1 time a week for 2 hours; includes internship hours

Students will meet once a week for an interactive seminar that will examine the practical side of the workplace. Led by a former Congressional Chief of Staff and senior advisor at the Department of Labor, this course will explore current policy  issues affecting professionals working in your field. High level guest speakers will cover pressing issues such as national security, Supreme Court cases and pending federal legislation. Students have priority access to professional development trainings that are designed to give you the tools to succeed in today’s workplace. Students also participate in one service project that addresses a pressing issue in order to see first hand the needs of an urban community and to discuss the policy implications and possible solutions. The seminar is a graded course that incorporates required readings, written assignments, tests/quizzes, and group projects. All students are eligible to enroll in this optional course; enrollment is not required to participate in the Institute or an internship. Please click here for this summer's syllabus.

Internship Seminar – Politics and the Press
ECON 496 (3 credits)
Meets 1 time a week for 2 hours; includes internship hours

Students will meet once a week for an interactive seminar that will examine the media’s relationship to politics in the nation’s capital. Led by the founding White House correspondent for USA Today, this course will analyze current legal and ethical issues facing journalists and the people they report on. Students will discuss coverage of election campaigns and government institutions, primarily the presidency and Congress. Students have priority access to professional development trainings that are designed to give you the tools to succeed in today’s workplace. Students also participate in one service project that addresses a pressing issue in order to see first hand the needs of an urban community and to discuss the policy implications. The seminar is a graded course that incorporates required readings, written assignments, tests/quizzes, and group projects. All students are eligible to enroll in this optional course; enrollment is not required to participate in the Institute or an internship. Please click here for this summer's syllabus.

“The Business and Government Relations program was an amazing opportunity for me. I finally feel like I have taken political science classes that can be applied to current events in Washington.”

Erin Kennedy, St. John’s University
Intern, Visa, Inc.


Jayme Lemke, Mercatus Center at George Mason University
Professor, Economics of Regulation

Jayme Lemke (Ph.D., Economics, George Mason University) is a Senior Research Fellow and Associate Director of Academic and Student Programs at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University and a Senior Fellow in the F.A. Hayek Program for Advanced Study in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics. Her specialization is in public choice economics, constitutional political economy, and the political economy of women’s rights. Her research on these and other topics has appeared in outlets such as the Journal of Institutional Economics, Public Choice, the Review of Austrian Economics, and Studies in Emergent Order. She was recently awarded the Gordon Tullock Prize for the best article published in Public Choice by a junior scholar in 2016. In addition, she is co-editor with Virgil H. Storr of Economy, Polity, and Society, an interdisciplinary book series in political economy published by Rowman & Littlefield International.


Stefanie Haeffele, Mercatus Center, George Mason University
Professor, Economics of Regulation

Stefanie Haeffele (Ph.D., Economics, George Mason University) is a Senior Research Fellow, the Deputy Director of Academic and Student Programs, and a Senior Fellow in the F. A. Hayek Program for Advanced Study in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University. She is an alumna of the Mercatus Center MA Fellowship program. Stefanie earned her PhD in economics at George Mason University in 2016. After receiving an MA in economics at George Mason University in 2010, she completed a Presidential Management Fellowship where she worked in emergency and disaster management at both the Federal Emergency Management Agency and then the US Forest Service. Her specialization is in Austrian economics, post-disaster community recovery, and the political economy of nonprofits. She is the coauthor of Community Revival in the Wake of Disaster: Lessons in Local Entrepreneurship (2015, Palgrave Macmillan) with Virgil Henry Storr and Laura E. Grube.

Michael J. Collins, Georgetown University
Professor, Ethics and Leadership

Dr. Collins began his tenure at Georgetown University in August 1981 as Dean of the School for Summer and Continuing Education. As Dean, Dr. Collins was responsible for administering the graduate and undergraduate courses offered each summer at Georgetown and locations abroad. He was also responsible for the various academic and residential programs at Villa Le Balze, Georgetown's study center in Fiesole, Italy, and, for several years, the Office of International Programs.

In 2003, Dr. Collins was appointed Distinguished Professor in the Department of English and Dean Emeritus. He teaches courses on such subjects such as Shakespeare, the American Idea, and Modern British Theater in Georgetown College and the Liberal Studies Program. He also continues his responsibilities for the Villa Le Balze. He lectures frequently in American studies and on Shakespeare in performance, and he co-directs the annual alumni study tour to Florence and Assisi. He has published many articles on Shakespeare, modern poetry, and teaching and has edited two collections of essays: Text and Teaching (with Francis J. Ambrosio) and Shakespeare’s Sweet Thunder: Essays on the Early Comedies. Collins earned a Ph.D. (1973) and M.A. (1964) from New York University and a B.S. degree from Fordham College (1963). He served as a Captain in the United States Army from 1965 to 1968.

Frank A. Ciatto, Venable LLP
Professor, Ethics and Leadership

Frank Ciatto helps entrepreneurs succeed in new and existing business ventures.  His legal knowledge and practical experience help ensure that owners and investors realize the full value of their ideas and investments. With nearly 20 years’ experience launching new ventures, Mr. Ciatto focuses on corporate and partnership structuring, mergers and acquisitions, limited liability companies, private equity investments, tax and accounting issues, business divorces and succession planning. In addition to his legal skills, Mr. Ciatto is a Certified Public Accountant, formerly with Coopers & Lybrand (now PricewaterhouseCoopers) in New York—experience he often uses to add value to his clients’ transactions. He serves as corporate counsel to entrepreneurs and individual investors in a number of industries, including hedge funds, financial services providers, auto dealerships, publishing, securities companies, professional consulting firms, software and technology providers, law firms and other professional service providers.

Mr. Ciatto formerly served as the Hiring Partner of Venable’s Washington, DC office and is a member of the Firm’s New York Expansion Committee. He was recently elected to a second term as Treasurer of the Georgetown University Alumni Association. He has served as a member of the Executive Committee and as the Chair of the Class Advancement and Awards Committee of the Board of Governors of the GUAA.  Bringing many years of practical legal and accounting experience, Mr. Ciatto will be teaching Ethics and Leadership for the second straight year. Until recently when the sporting activities of his three daughters took precedence, Mr. Ciatto played in the Maryland division of the Ponce de Leon 30-and-Over Baseball League. He is now coaching his daughters' softball and girls' basketball teams.

Gary T. Armstrong, William Jewell College
Professor, American Foreign Policy

Gary T. Armstrong is Professor of Political Science at William Jewell College in Liberty, Missouri.  He graduated summa cum laude with at BA from the University of Oklahoma and with a Ph.D. from Georgetown University.  He has served as Research Assistant to Francis Fukuyama and Teaching Assistant to former US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright.  At William Jewell College, Armstrong served as the Chair of the Political Science Department from 1997-2001 and 2004-2007and will be resuming his post in the fall of 2010. He has been voted Professor of the Year by the student body four times during his tenure at William Jewell and is also an alumnus of the ICPES program.

Richard Benedetto, American University 
Professor, Internship Seminar - Politics and the Press

Richard Benedetto was the White House and national political correspondent for USA TODAY as well as a political columnist for Gannett News Service. He has reported on government and politics on the local, state and national levels for the past 34 years.

As a native of Utica, N.Y., Benedetto began his journalism career with the Buffalo, (N.Y.) Evening News, and held government reporting positions with the Utica Daily Press and Observer-Dispatch.

He also worked in the Albany bureau of Gannett News Service, covering state and government politics during the Governor Hugh Carey administration. He is a founding member of USA TODAY, joining the newspaper in Washington, D.C. in 1982, prior to its debut. He wrote the paper’s first front-page cover story on its initial day of publication. USA TODAY is now the nation’s largest newspaper. In addition to reporting on the White House and national politics, he writes a weekly political column for the Gannett News Service which serves the Gannett Company Inc.’s 102 daily newspapers. The column also appears on the website.

He has covered the administrations of Ronald Reagan, George H. W. Bush, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush. He also has covered the presidential campaigns of 1984, 1988, 1992, 1996, 2000 and 2004.

Benedetto received his B.A. from Utica College of Syracuse University and holds an M.A. in Journalism from Syracuse University’s Newhouse School of Public Communication. Syracuse University awarded him an honorary doctorate in 1992.

Benedetto has lectured at colleges and universities across the country and has received numerous journalism awards. In 2005, he served as a visiting professor at the University of Colorado and St. Bonaventure University. He also taught news writing and reporting as an adjunct professor at Utica College. He was honored in 1998 with the National Italian-American Foundation Media Award for his projection of a positive image for Italian-Americans. Benedetto wrote a memoir of his long reporting career, “Politicians Are People, Too,” that was published in 2005 by University Press of America.

Richard Boyd, Georgetown University
Professor, American Political Thought

Richard Boyd is an associate professor of government at Georgetown University. His research interests include the intellectual history of liberalism, civil society and pluralism, economic and sociological theory, post-colonialism, and the theory and practice of immigration and citizenship policies in the United States. Before coming to Georgetown in 2007, Boyd taught at the University of Chicago, University of Pennsylvania, University of Wisconsin-Madison, and Deep Springs College.

Boyd is author of Uncivil Society: The Perils of Pluralism and the Making of Modern Liberalism. His articles have appeared in Review of Politics, Journal of PoliticsPolitical Theory, History of Political Thought, Polity, European Journal of Political Theory, Urban Studies, Social Philosophy & Policy, and other journals. He is currently completing a book-length manuscript titled “Membership and Belonging: On the Boundaries of Liberal Political Theory."

Karen M. Czarnecki, George Mason School of Law
Professor, Internship Seminar - Public Policy and International Affairs

Karen M. Czarnecki currently serves as the director of education at the Law and Economics Center at George Mason School of Law. Previously she served as the Chief of Staff to Rep. Mike Kelly and as a senior advisor to U.S. Secretary of Labor Elaine L. Chao. She joined the Labor Department in June of 2001, and in June 2003 she was appointed Director of the Office of the 21st Century Workforce. In addition, she served as Deputy Assistant Secretary of Labor for Intergovernmental Affairs, giving her responsibility for outreach to state and locally-elected officials. Czarnecki received her BA and juris doctorate degrees from Catholic University of America and is also an alumna of the ICPES program.

Lecture Series

As part of our comprehensive program, weekly guest lectures give you a chance to learn, question, and more often than not, exchange business cards with distinguished lobbyists and policy experts on major issues in business and free enterprise.

These lectures are designed to complement what you are learning in your classes and internship. Covering a wide variety of topics, the events are lively, interactive, and challenging.

See below for a list of the type of top Washington, DC policy makers and industry experts you’ll hear from as part of the weekly lecture series.

  • Tim Carney, Senior Political Columnist for the Washington Examiner and visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute
  • Brian Donohue, Director, Virginia Government Relations, American Cancer Society Action Network, Inc.
  • Colleen Shogan, Deputy Director, National and International Outreach, Library of Congress
  • Julie Alsup, Manager, Government Relations, International Paper
  • Joel Hoellerer, Manager, Government Relations, Security Industry Association

“I have met so many inspiring individuals from CEOs to Senators. This program has opened up a world of possibilities for me and I am grateful for each life lesson I have learned and will take back with me.”
Summer Sagram, Florida State University
Intern, CSX Corporation