What Types of Students Are We Looking for?

TFAS is looking for undergraduate students who want to make a difference in the world and are excited to spend a summer or semester studying and interning in the Nation’s Capital. We welcome students from all majors and backgrounds. Most students attend a TFAS program after their sophomore or junior year, but freshman and graduating seniors are welcome to apply. 

When making admissions and scholarship decisions, the admissions committee looks at the whole individual. We are seeking well-rounded students who demonstrate ambition, strong academic performance, leadership ability, maturity, time management skills as well as campus and community involvement. Applicants with a GPA of 3.0 or higher, relevant professional and volunteer experience, and well-written essays are given the highest scores.

Applicants must be 18 years old, have graduated high school, and have completed at least one semester of undergraduate study at an accredited college or university before applying to attend one of the summer or semester programs.

Admission Timeline

Applications are reviewed on a rolling basis. Students will be notified of their admissions decision via email and mail within 3 weeks of completing an application. Scholarship awards are given at the time of admission. The status of submitted application materials and admissions decisions are accessible within the online application system.

Students accepted to the program are given between 2-3 weeks to accept or decline the offer of admission. At the time of enrollment, a $750 deposit must be paid to confirm participation.

Enrollment Timeline: Summer 2021

In-Person + Virtual Formats: TFAS is planning for both in-person and virtual program formats in summer 2021. As long as we are able to provide housing and in-person class meetings, TFAS will hold an in-person program following public health/university partner guidance on social distancing, group gatherings and mask-wearing.

We will also hold a virtual program that students may enroll in at the beginning of the admissions cycle or transition to as conditions in the summer months become clear.

Application Submission: Applications will be accepted on a rolling basis between October 2020 and March 2021. Students will select one of the following options when submitting an application:

  • Both In-Person + Virtual Formats
  • In-Person Format Only
  • Virtual Format Only

Decision Notification: Decisions will be available two to three weeks after the date of application submission. If a student chooses to apply for both the in-person and virtual formats, they will receive decisions and scholarships for both formats at that time. Students choosing to apply to only one format will receive a decision and scholarship for that format alone.

Enrollment: Students will be asked to enroll in their preferred program format within 2-3 weeks after their admissions decision. This will allow staff to begin planning for both program formats (housing, courses/faculty, internships and events/activities).

Up until early April, enrolled students will have the opportunity to change their program format. If conditions do not allow for an in-person format, enrolled students may either move to the virtual format or receive a full refund.

The comprehensive TFAS program allows students to earn credit while interning. building their professional network and enjoying all that the vibrant capital city has to offer.
The comprehensive TFAS program allows students to earn credit while interning, building their professional network and enjoying all that the vibrant capital city has to offer.

Applications are reviewed and accepted on a rolling basis, so we encourage you to apply as early as possible. Early applicants will receive first consideration for admission and scholarships decisions as well as internship placement. Many internship placements are very competitive, so the earlier you are admitted, the greater your chance of receiving a top internship placement.

The full scholarships available through the Leadership Scholars Program will be awarded on a rolling basis.

To qualify for a deadline, you must submit the online application form by 11:59PM eastern time on the deadline. All supporting materials must also be received by the deadline.

Spring 2021: January 13 – May 4

  • Early + International Student Deadline: Thursday, October 15
  • Final Deadline: Monday, November 16

Summer 2021: June 5 – July 30

  • Early Deadline: Tuesday, December 8
  • International Student Deadline: Monday, January 25 (See below for more information) 
  • Priority Admissions Deadline: Tuesday, February 9
  • Final Admissions Deadline: Tuesday, March 16

Fall 2021: August 25 – December 10

  • Early Deadline: Monday, March 1
  • Priority + International Student Deadline: Thursday, April 15
  • Final Deadline: Tuesday, June 1

All applicants are required to complete the online application. Supplemental materials must be sent in via mail, email or fax using the contact information below. Please keep in mind that your application will not be sent to the admissions committee for review until all of the required materials have been received.

Online Application:

  • One-page Resume
  • Statement of Purpose (250– 500 words): “State your reasons for applying to the program, and what you would gain personally, professionally and academically by attending.”
  • Topical Essay (250 – 500 words)
    • Public Policy + Economics, Journalism + Communications, Business + Government Relations (Summer) and Capital Semester (Spring): “If you were elected president, what three key initiatives would be in your inaugural address?” 
    • International Affairs (Summer): Choose between: 1. “What should be the guiding principles that shape a nation’s foreign policy and international relations, and how should they be applied to current world affairs?” OR 2. “What do you consider the most important threat to American national security and how would you shape U.S. grand strategy to address it?” 
    • Leadership + the American Presidency (Fall + Summer): “If you had to choose any quote (from any person in any time period) that best describes your approach to leadership, which quote would you choose? What life and leadership experiences best illustrate why this quote connects to your thoughts on leadership? As an example, on President Ronald Reagan’s Oval Office desk there were two quotes that described his approach to leadership: “There is no limit to what a man can do or where he can go if he does not mind who gets the credit.” and “It CAN be done.” 
  • 2-4 Samples of Journalistic Writing: (Applicants to the journalism + communications track only) 2-4 articles/work should be either linked to or uploaded into the online application self-service center. Published news articles are strongly preferred, but assignments from a journalism class will be accepted.

Supplemental Materials

  • Official Transcript(s): Transcripts from any university attended must be mailed in a sealed envelope or faxed/emailed directly from the home university’s registrar using the contact information below. This includes community colleges or study abroad experiences. The only exception is if past grades are listed on the current transcript.
  • $25 Application Fee: Must be paid via credit card at the time of submission of the online application or via check mailed to the address listed below.

Scholarship Application

Students wishing to apply for a scholarship MUST do so when submitting their application for admission.

  • Scholarship Statement (200 words): “Write a brief statement describing your need for a scholarship.” Must be uploaded into the online application system. 
  • Personal Financial Materials: Must be uploaded into the online application or sent via fax or mail using the contact information below. 
    • Student Aid Report (SAR): Required if a FAFSA was completed. This document is accessible at with PIN and password.
    • Federal Tax Return (1040 only): Required if a FAFSA was NOT completed. Most recent tax return claiming applicant as dependent. Applicant may send own tax return if they are an independent. 
    • Financial Aid Award Summary + Grant/Scholarship Letters: Documentation of all need-based, merit-based or athletic scholarships, grants, or loans received for the current school year. May be a print-out from university online system.

The Fund for American Studies
D.C. Academic Internship Programs
1621 New Hampshire Ave., NW
Washington, DC 200009
Tel: 202.986.0384
Fax: 202.318.0441

All participants must view and sign The Fund for American Studies program policies upon enrollment. Please click on the link below to view the policies for the summer and semester programs, including terms of final payment, refunds, withdrawals, student participation and code of conduct.

Summer Program Policies
Semester Program Policies

International students may apply for any of the undergraduate programs. Those already studying on a F-1 visa at another U.S. institution may apply at any time throughout the admissions cycle and will be reviewed for admission and scholarship awards as part of the general application cycle.

Applicants coming from outside of the U.S. without a current student visa, must complete the program a J-1 student visa holder through George Mason University. Any student needing to obtain a J-1 visa through GMU must apply by the appropriate international student deadline. 

Application Instructions

International students should complete the normal application procedure outlined above. The only additional requirement is the proof of English proficiency. It is preferred that students submit scores from one of the following tests. A phone interview may be conducted for applicants who have not taken one.

  • Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL): A score of 88 or higher on the internet-based exam, 230 or higher on the computer-based exam, and 570 or higher on the paper-based exam. (Please note that the TOEFL ITP is not a valid form of the test)
  • International English Language Testing System (IELTS): A score of 6.5 on the academic exam.
  • Completion of the Cambridge English Proficiency (CPE) Exam.
  • Pearson Academic Test of English: A minimum score of 59.
  • SAT I Critical Reading/ACT-English: A score of 450 or higher on the SAT I critical reading section or an ACT-English score of 20 or higher.

International applicants who have completed a year of study at a regionally accredited university in the U.S., Canada (excluding province of Quebec), United Kingdom, Ireland, Australia, and New Zealand or another university where classes are conducted in English are considered to have met the level of English proficiency, and do not need submit additional documentation.

Visa Process

Once admitted, international students will need to obtain a student visa through George Mason University. GMU will provide students with the documents needed to obtain a J-1 student visa. The following materials are required to be submitted to GMU staff within two weeks of enrollment:

  • A copy of the biographic (picture page) of the passport.
  • Documentation of the funds necessary to participate in the program. This includes any tuition balance owed as well as estimated living expenses and books. Please note that any scholarship received from TFAS should be deducted from the total funds to be documented.

There are two options for this:

  • Personal Funds – A bank statement or bank letter in English and on official bank letterhead indicating the type of account, the current balance, and the type of currency. Current balance must appear in numeric figures. The student’s name must appear on the bank document.
  • Family Funds – 1. A letter of support in English signed and dated by a family member who intends to provide the student’s expenses. The letter must indicate in U.S. dollars the amount of funds to be provided, the duration of the support, and the individual’s relationship to the student. AND 2. A bank statement or bank letter in English and on official bank letterhead indicating the type of account, the current balance, and type of currency. Current balance must appear in numeric figures. The name of the family member providing support must appear on the bank document.

Applicants are encouraged to gather these materials during the admissions process in order to have them ready in a timely fashion. Students will be responsible for paying all fees associated with the visa application process, including the SEVIS fee, estimated at 200 USD, and charges associated with sending visa documents via DHL, estimated at between 50 – 150 USD. Students are also responsible for funding their own travel to the U.S. unless provided for as part of their scholarship award.

Health Insurance

All students entering the U.S. on a J-1 visa sponsored by George Mason University will be required to purchase health insurance through the GMU student insurance plan. The cost for summer 2020 is estimated at 677 USD. For more information, please visit GMU Student Health Services. Questions may be directed to Melissa Grannetino at