Think Tanks & Public Policy Internships and Fellowships


Opportunities are ordered by nearest application deadline. Each internship and fellowship name is linked to the appropriate application page. Check back often for new opportunities!

To receive periodic email updates about specific internship opportunities, please email

Last page update: September 11, 2018



The Heritage Foundation: Young Leaders Program


  • Fall 2019 Application Deadline: June 3, 2019
  • Full time
  • Unpaid


  • Summer applicants must be at least a rising junior to qualify
  • Recent college graduates, master's students, and law students are also encouraged to apply
  • International students who are authorized to be employed in the United States are eligible for a Heritage internship


Summary: The mission of The Heritage Foundation is to formulate and promote conservative public policies based on the principles of free enterprise, limited government, individual freedom, traditional American values, and a strong national defense.


The Young Leaders Program promotes the mission of The Heritage Foundation to the next generation by developing and implementing outreach to younger audiences. We offer young conservatives from around the country Washington, DC’s best internship program. Working up to 37.5 hours, an intern has the opportunity to learn from experts in a variety of fields by way of policy briefings, in-house mentorship, accountability of work, and a First Principles Series. In addition to the practical experience interns acquire, intern programming offers educational and skill enhancing seminars.


Interns regularly attend events where they can meet and talk with the nation's leading policy-makers and establish friendships and contacts that will last a lifetime.



The Brookings Institution


  • Fall 2019 Application Deadline: June 21, 2019
  • Full time, 10-12 weeks
  • Paid, Academic for Credit, or External Sponsorship


Summary: The Brookings Institution is a nonprofit public policy organization based in Washington, DC. Our mission is to conduct in-depth research that leads to new ideas for solving problems facing society at the local, national and global level.

The Brookings Internship program provides an opportunity for undergraduate and graduate students from diverse backgrounds to engage in career exploration and development as well as a chance to learn new skills. The mission of the Internship program is to provide students and recent graduates with a pre-professional, meaningful and practical work experience related to the student’s field of study or career interest. Interns may work with Brookings staff in our research areas- Economic Studies, Foreign Policy, Global Economy and Development, Governance Studies, and Metropolitan Policy. Brookings also offers students the opportunity to intern in departments such as communications, human resources and central operations management.

Interns will have the opportunity to attend internal meetings, local think tank events, professional development workshops, and public Brookings events as well as participate on Brookings sports teams and network with other interns throughout the Institution.



The American Enterprise Institute

(Current Internship Listings)

(Summer Honors Program)


  • Fall 2019 Internship Application Deadline: Rolling; Applicants are encouraged to apply as soon as possible
  • Full time
  • Summer 2020 Honors Program Application Deadlines: Application not yet posted

Important Notes:

  • AEI internships are available in the Fall, Spring, and Summer to experienced undergraduate students, graduate students, and recent graduates
  • A minimum 3.0 GPA is required; however, most successful candidates have at least a 3.5 GPA
  • We encourage applicants to apply to multiple internships, and to tailor their cover letter to each individual application


Summary: The American Enterprise Institute is a public policy think tank dedicated to defending human dignity, expanding human potential, and building a freer and safer world. The work of our scholars and staff advances ideas rooted in our belief in democracy, free enterprise, American strength and global leadership, solidarity with those at the periphery of our society, and a pluralistic, entrepreneurial culture.

AEI internships provide students with an opportunity to work directly with some of America’s most renowned scholars, economists, political scientists, and foreign policy specialists conducting research on today’s prominent public policy questions. The Institute provides an intellectually stimulating environment, rich with critical thinking, scholarship, and lively debate.

Our internships offer opportunities on the research side of the Institute (Economics, Health Care, Poverty Studies, Foreign and Defense Policy, Education, Politics and Public Opinion, Society and Culture) as well as on the business side (Executive Office, Development, Government Relations, External Affairs, Media Relations, Video Production, Accounting, Academic Programs, and Communications).



The Center for Strategic and International Studies


  • Fall 2019 Application Deadline: Rolling; see website for current offerings
  • Full time
  • Paid


  • Must be at least a college junior in good standing, an advanced student or a recent graduate
  • Must have at least a 3.0 GPA
  • Must be eligible to work in the United States


Summary: Established in Washington, D.C., over 50 years ago, the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) is a bipartisan, nonprofit policy research organization dedicated to providing strategic insights and policy solutions to help decisionmakers chart a course toward a better world.

CSIS offers full and part-time internships in the fall, spring, and summer for undergraduates, advanced students, and recent graduates who are interested in gaining practical experience in public policy. All of our internships are paid. Interns receive a monthly stipend which is determined by the individual CSIS program upon reviewing a candidate’s education and experience. Foreign nationals must have employment authorization and the necessary documents to receive a stipend.

In addition, interns will participate in programs offered by the Abshire-Inamori Leadership Academy (AILA), the in-house leadership development program at CSIS. The Academy’s programming supplements the substantive work of CSIS interns with practical discussions on leadership in international affairs and training in key policy skills. Unique among Washington think tanks, AILA helps CSIS to foster the next generation of foreign policy leaders.



Council on Foreign Relations

Current Internship Listings


  • Fall 2019 Application Deadline: Rolling
  • At least Part Time
  • Most are unpaid

Requirements detailed for each internship opportunity

Summary: The Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) is an independent, nonpartisan membership organization, think tank, and publisher dedicated to being a resource for its members, government officials, business executives, journalists, educators and students, civic and religious leaders, and other interested citizens in order to help them better understand the world and the foreign policy choices facing the United States and other countries. Founded in 1921, CFR takes no institutional positions on matters of policy. CFR carries out its mission by maintaining a diverse membership, including special programs to promote interest and develop expertise in the next generation of foreign policy leaders and publishing "Foreign Affairs," the preeminent journal of international affairs and U.S. foreign policy.

The CFR Volunteer Internship Program offers an exceptional opportunity for talented individuals who are considering a career in international relations. Our volunteer interns have the chance to interact with experts, scholars, and young, upcoming leaders in the foreign policy field.



Center for American Progress


  • Fall 2019 Application Deadline: TBA
  • Full time, 8-10 weeks
  • Paid


  • All high school, undergraduate, master's level, Ph.D., and J.D. students are eligible to apply
  • People are also eligible if they are a veteran or a recent college graduate within six months of graduation
  • All summer interns work full time and a minimum of 8 weeks, although 10 weeks is preferred
  • International students must be able to provide documentation that shows they are allowed to work in the United States
  • Successful applicants will be bright, highly motivated scholars with strong academic records and an interest and aptitude for public policy and/or political communication


Summary: The Center for American Progress is an independent nonpartisan policy institute that is dedicated to improving the lives of all Americans, through bold, progressive ideas, as well as strong leadership and concerted action. Our aim is not just to change the conversation, but to change the country.

One very important goal of American Progress is to inspire, train, and educate the next generation of progressive Americans. Interns will directly engage with the organization's policy experts and participate in a variety of activities, including trainings, research, writing, and web-based projects designed to enhance their professional skills. They will gain hands-on experience by directly participating in the many diverse activities in which progressive nonprofits engage.

Opportunities include internships in: Development/Strategic Planning, Economic Policy, Energy and Environment, Executive Office, External Affairs, Faith and Progressive Policy, Generation Progress, Guns and Crime, Immigration Policy, Legal Progress, LGBT Issues, National Security and International Policy, Poverty to Prosperity Program, Press, Race Policy/Progress 2050, Spanish Language/Ethnic Media, ThinkProgress, Video, the CAP Action War Room, Web Technology Developer, and Women's Health and Rights.



The Hertog Foundation


  • Winter 2019 Weekend Seminar Application Deadline: TBA
  • Paid

Competitive Applicants will have:

  • Undergraduate GPA at least a 3.5
  • Strong letter of recommendation(s) from a professor or another individual who is in a position to comment on the applicant’s academic or professional qualifications
  • A statement of purpose which tells us why the applicant is interested in pursuing study with the Hertog Foundation and how it fits into their aspirations and plans for the future. The personal statement is very important, and deserves careful attention.
  • An academic writing sample that demonstrates the applicant's powers of analysis and independent thought, and not only their ability to do scholarly research or comment on a text.
  • Applicants are not required to be U.S. citizens, nor are they required to have studied in the U.S. International applicants should be highly proficient in the English language, and all application materials, including essays and academic writing samples, must be submitted in English.


Summary: The Hertog Foundation offers several highly competitive and selective educational programs for outstanding individuals who seek to influence the intellectual, civic, and political life of the United States. We offer programs in three main areas: Political Thought & Philosophy; War & Foreign Affairs; and Economics & Domestic Policy.

Political Studies Program (7 weeks / $2,000 stipend + housing): This highly competitive fellowship is designed to reflect the broad curriculum of the Hertog Foundation. Hertog Summer Fellows take courses in a wide variety of subjects, from political philosophy to contemporary public affairs, from economics to foreign policy. Twenty-four exceptional undergraduates and recent grads will be invited to participate.

Summer Courses (1-2 weeks / $500-$1,000 stipend + housing): Students seeking a more specialized experience can apply to the courses within the Political Studies Program that best fit their interests and knowledge level. This option is also ideal for students who have other jobs, internships, or commitments during the summer. Up to 99 undergraduates and recent grads will be selected to participate.

War Studies Program (2 weeks / $1,500 stipend + housing, meals, and subsidized transportation to and within Washington, D.C.): The Hertog War Studies Program is an intensive two-week program run by the Institute for the Study of War in Washington DC. The program aims to educate advanced undergraduate students about the theory, practice, organization, and control of war and military forces. Over the course of two weeks, students will learn from and interact with distinguished senior leaders in the national security and military communities. Students will gain a deeper understanding of specific topics in military history and their intersection with modern warfare and policy. Opportunities to learn about military history in a hands-on environment include participating in a battlefield staff-ride to Gettysburg to explore the relationships between terrain, timing, and decision-making in war. Previous editions of the Hertog War Studies Program have featured topics including the insurgencies in Afghanistan and Iraq, and the ongoing threat of the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham in Syria and Iraq.