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

The Harkin Institute D.C. Experience Scholarship

This scholarship is designed to expose the student 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! Click here to provide information about the type of scholarship you’re looking for and a member of The Harkin Institute staff will follow up to discuss your goals.

Read our frequently asked questions about the D.C. Experience Scholarship.

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 internship must be unpaid or paid at or below the federal minimum wage rate.

The stipend for this scholarship covers the recipient’s housing accommodations for a 12-week period from May to August 2019 with Washington Intern Student Housing (WISH), a non-refundable room deposit, as well as travel expenses up to $500. Funds will be paid directly to the third party.

The recipient 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 fall term as a full-time student at Drake University following the summer D.C. internship.

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
  • Acceptance letter from internship placement

Recipient Selection

The Harkin Institute D.C. Experience Scholarship Advisory Committee will review all application materials and choose one recipient and one alternate. The alternate will be offered the scholarship in the event the recipient does not or is unable to accept the scholarship.

The Harkin Institute D.C. Experience Advisory Committee Members

Members of the Advisory Committee include: Iowa State Representative Zach Nunn; Johnston Mayor, Paula Dierenfeld; Former Senator Harkin staffer, Ray Walton; Susan Ladd, Director of Financial Aid for Drake University; and Retired Senator Tom Harkin.

Recipient selection is based on the following:

  • Financial need
  • The potential for the proposed internship to expose the recipient to policymakers and the policymaking process
  • 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 recipient and the alternate will be notified of their selection by The Harkin Institute mid-to-late April.
  • The recipient 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.


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

Address: 2429 University Avenue, Des Moines, IA 50311

Phone: 515-271-3623

Fax Number: 515-271-3631


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