D.C. Experience Scholarship

The Harkin Institute D.C. Experience Scholarship was established in 2014 to honor Senator Harkin’s legacy by providing financial assistance to Drake undergraduate students with financial need who have secured a summer internship in a non-profit organization, congressional office, or government agency in Washington, D.C.

The Harkin Institute D.C. Experience Scholarship

This scholarship is designed to expose students to policymakers and the policymaking process, much as Senator Harkin experienced as an intern for Congressman Neal Smith in the summer of 1969, an experience that inspired Senator Harkin to pursue a career in public service. This scholarship is funded in large part through the generosity of the Senator’s former staff members, many of whom benefitted from their exposure to policymakers and policymaking in our nation’s capital. The Harkin Institute D.C. Experience Scholarship is administered by The Harkin Institute for Public Policy & Citizen Engagement at Drake University.

Are you interested in pursuing a summer internship in Washington D.C. but unsure where to begin? The staff at The Harkin Institute can help!

This scholarship program is nonpartisan and is open to all undergraduate students regardless of political party affiliation, area of study, and internship placement.

Financial Information

Scholarship Coverage and Compensation

The stipend for this scholarship covers the recipient’s housing accommodations for the Summer, Spring, or Fall semester with Washington Intern Student Housing (WISH), a non-refundable room deposit, as well as travel expenses as outlined by Drake’s travel expense policies. Funds will be paid directly to the third party.

Recipients will be responsible for any room damages incurred during their stay.

Under extreme circumstances, an applicant may apply for additional funding by providing:

  • Budget and documentation to support the request for additional funding (i.e., past bills and contracts)
  • Financial aid package for the current school year
  • Personal statement explaining the special circumstances


The following qualifications are required for The Harkin Institute D.C. Experience Scholarship:

  • The applicant must be an undergraduate student at Drake University
  • The applicant must have a cumulative GPA of 2.75 or greater
  • The applicant must complete an application form and submit the required documents by the stated deadline
  • The recipient must complete the following term* as a full-time student at Drake University following the summer D.C. internship

*If completing a Spring internship, recipient must be enrolled at Drake for either the following Summer or Fall term

How To Apply

The following documents are required for The Harkin Institute D.C. Experience Scholarship application submission 

  • Completed Scholarship Application
  • Signed financial aid statement form
  • Typed 500-word essay, as described in the application form
  • Resume
  • Unofficial Drake University transcript
  • One faculty recommendation

Recipient Selection

The Harkin Institute D.C. Experience Scholarship Advisory Committee will review all application materials and choose recipients during the spring semester.

The Harkin Institute D.C. Experience Advisory Committee Members

Members of the Advisory Committee include: Johnston Mayor, Paula Dierenfeld; Former Senator Harkin staffer, Ray Walton; Denise Stowman, Assistant Director of Financial Aid for Drake University; and Retired Senator Tom Harkin.

Recipient selection is based on the following:

  • Financial need
  • Previous work/volunteer experiences and extracurricular activities
  • Grade point average
  • Applicant’s written essay
  • Faculty recommendation

Timeline for the selection of The Harkin Institute D.C. Experience Scholarship

  • The deadline to apply for a Summer 2024 scholarship is March 1, the Fall 2024 deadline is June 1, and the Spring 2025 deadline is October 1.
  • Recipients will be selected by the date enrollment begins for the following semester.
  • Recipients will be provided a deadline following that notification in which they must accept the scholarship offer and return the formal acceptance letter to The Harkin Institute.
  • If selected, the scholarship will be contingent upon the recipient securing an internship and providing an offer letter. You may apply for the scholarship before accepting an internship.


Please contact us for any questions regarding the scholarship or the application process at:


Address: 2800 University Avenue, Des Moines, IA 50311

Phone: (515) 271-3623

Email: harkininstitute@drake.edu

Office Hours: Monday to Friday 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.