Curriculum | Selection Process

Together with the Washington-Hillsdale Internship Program (WHIP), the George Washington Fellowship is the chief component of Hillsdale's undergraduate education programs in Washington, D.C. Launched in 2008, the program prepares outstanding students for public service by focusing their studies on America’s founding documents and on leading statesmen and thinkers who have upheld the enduring principles of American constitutionalism. It has four components: a strong core curriculum focusing on American political thought and constitutional history; monthly group discussions with professors and visiting scholars; research and writing that serve as preparation for civic deliberation; and the opportunity to live, study, and intern in Washington, D.C. for an academic semester through WHIP.

George Washington Fellows receive a generous annual scholarship, and the program includes a paid research component.


All Hillsdale College students are required to take three core courses in history and politics: HST 104, “Western Heritage;” HST 105, “American Heritage;” and POL 101, “The U.S. Constitution.” In addition to these, Washington Fellows will take the following courses:

All students will take the following course:

POL 202: American Political Thought

This course focuses on the political thought of the late 19th century through today with a special emphasis on the Progressive movement, New Deal, Great Society, and contemporary politics. (3 Credits)

Students will choose one of the following:

POL 302: The American Congress

This course is a study of the legislative power in the American regime. It focuses on the nature of the legislative power, and how that power was institutionalized in the Constitution. Emphasis is also placed upon the way the theory of the modern progressive administrative state has altered our conceptions of Congress and the legislative power, and how that change is manifested in the delegation of legislative power to administrative agencies. The course also introduces the student to contemporary functions and procedures of Congress. (3 Credits)

POL 303: The American Presidency

This course is an intensive study of the American presidency. It seeks to understand the structure and function of executive power in the American constitutional order. It will begin with the place of the President in the constitutionalism of the Founding Fathers, and then examine how that role has been altered by the modern progressive administrative state, along with the implications of that alteration for constitutional government. (3 Credits)

POL 304: Constitutional Law

Survey of the Constitution and leading decisions of the Supreme Court concerning the separation and distribution of power within the national government and between the national government and the state governments. Specific topics covered, among others, include judicial interpretation, judicial review, federalism and the nature and scope of executive, legislative and judicial powers. (3 Credits)

POL 305: Civil Rights

A study of civil rights in the American regime, with a view to this question: what are the rights of the individual, and how does government protect them? Supreme Court and other court cases will be studied, along with other sources in the American tradition. Topics include freedom of speech and press, religious liberty, freedom of association, gun rights, rights of persons in judicial proceedings, equal protection of the laws, due process of law, and privileges and immunities of citizenship. For each topic, the current liberal and conservative approach will be contrasted with that of the Founders. (3 Credits)

POL 306: Political Parties and Elections

This course begins with an overview of the role of elections in a constitutional republic. The course then traces the development of American political parties from the founding period to the present day, with a special focus on presidential elections and the Electoral College. (3 Credits)

POL 307: Administrative Law

The course focuses on the legal framework within which national policy and regulations are promulgated by administrative agencies, and on the role played by federal courts in supervising the process of making regulatory policy. A central theme of the course will be the connection between the principles of administrative law today and the original principles of the U.S. Constitution. The course will take a case-law approach. (3 Credits)

Students will choose one of the following:

POL 401: Statesmanship of Lincoln

This course focuses on the political thought and actions of Abraham Lincoln and his contemporaries, including Stephen Douglas, John C. Calhoun and Roger Taney, and the political controversies of the antebellum and Civil War periods. (3 Credits)

POL 403: American Progressivism and Liberalism

An examination of the Progressive political thought that was integral to the new direction undertaken in American politics in the 20th century. The course addresses the most important national Progressive thinkers and their arguments, and also aims to understand the Progressives in light of the sources in the tradition of political philosophy from which they drew their principles. The course examines how progressivism has impacted contemporary American politics, and focuses on Woodrow Wilson, Herbert Croly, Theodore Roosevelt and John Dewey, among others. (3 Credits)

POL 406: The American Founding

A thorough study of the political theory of the American founding. Topics include natural law and social compact theory, the purpose and structure of national and state governments, the relation of the American Revolution to the British political tradition and Enlightenment thought, foreign and domestic policy, and the character of religion in America. The doctrines of the founding will be contrasted with Progressive and later liberal and conservative views of justice. (3 Credits)

POL 407: The Federalist

This course examines the political teaching of The Federalist in order to discover the distinctive features of American constitutionalism, to explore theory and practice in the American Founding, and to see how Publius meets the challenges of its critics. This course will be based upon an explication of each paper in the text and will address the argument of Publius in light of his Anti-Federalist adversaries. (3 Credits)

And one of the following during the WHIP semester:

HST 483: Constitutional History of the United States to 1865

The origins of American constitutional concepts, the writing of the Constitution, American federalism in operation, and legal issues caused by sectionalism and the Civil War. (3 Credits)

HST 484: Constitutional History of the United States since 1865

Constitutional problems of Reconstruction, labor and trust issues, expansions of governmental operations, controversies of the New Deal, civil liberties during the world wars and the Cold War, the struggle of minority groups for legal equality, the Warren Court, and the legal issues of the Nixon Administration. (3 Credits)


Every spring semester a class of six rising sophomores is selected as George Washington Fellows. Selection is based on three criteria: outstanding academic achievement and dedication to scholarly excellence; initiative and leadership in extracurricular activities relating to civic life; and demonstrated interest in public service. Students considering majors in any field of study may apply for the Program, and applications are evaluated by a faculty selection committee.

Application requirements include the submission of a resume; high school transcript; a three-to four-page writing sample from a paper submitted during the student’s freshman year; one letter of recommendation from a Hillsdale College professor; one letter of recommendation from a teacher, employer, or other non-family member; and a two-page essay on an assigned topic. Applicants must have a first semester GPA of 3.5 or higher. A cumulative GPA of 3.5 or greater is required for maintenance of the scholarship.

This Section including the application was hidden 1/18/2017 as requested by Soren Geiger. Download the application here. Applications for the program will be due February 27, and selection for the class of six fellows will be made by the beginning of April.