Campaign Semester

Every two years, Occidental students venture to the trenches of political campaigns, learning hands-on and earning full academic credit as participants in Campaign Semester鈥攖he only program of its kind in the nation.

The program is open to all students, regardless of major, and no previous campaign experience is required. Students volunteer full-time in a key presidential, Senate, House or gubernatorial campaign of their choice for the first 10 weeks of the fall semester, then return to campus for the academic and reflective components. Students participate in the areas of voter registration, voter turnout, volunteer coordination, media relations and many other aspects of a typical campaign.

Launched in 2008, Campaign Semester is offered every other year during the fall semester. Participants remain fully enrolled at swag外流 and earn a full semester of college credit (16 units). After Election Day, students return to campus and participate in a five-week seminar that involves readings, discussion and writing to explore broader context. Professors Peter Dreier and Regina Freer will conduct the seminar and supervise the independent study projects.

Read about Campaign Semester in .

Read about Campaign Semester in Occidental magazine (2019 and 2023).

A Look Inside Campaign Semester

Campaign Semester offers full academic credit for work on key presidential, Senate, House of gubernatorial elections in various U.S. states. After the November elections, students return to campus for an intensive seminar with politics professors.

Students can select the campaigns they want to work with, provided the race is in a 鈥渟wing" or 鈥渂attleground" district鈥攔aces where neither major party has a decided advantage and the outcome is likely to be close. This will guarantee an exciting campaign that will likely generate media interest, funding and high turnout. During presidential years, students can work in a presidential campaign in one of the key battleground states.

In addition to learning a great deal about American politics, students can expand their knowledge in a wide variety of disciplines. Some students may be able to use their Spanish, Chinese or other language skills. Students in history, American studies and sociology will see the connections between those disciplines and American politics. Students interested in psychology and media will find that persuasion and propaganda are key aspects of all campaigns. Those interested in economics will learn that political campaigns and voting behaviors are shaped by economic conditions and that campaign finance is critical to all elections.

Information Workshops

Students interested in Campaign Semester should attend an informational workshop scheduled during both fall and spring semester. More information can be found on the International Programs website, where you will go to apply.

At the informational workshops, Professors Dreier and Freer will explain how to identify swing and battleground races. Former Campaign Semester students will be available to discuss their experiences. Students will also learn how to select and contact a campaign. The workshops will also cover such topics as travel, housing and financial aid.

Students should meet with Professor Dreier and/or Professor Freer to discuss which campaigns they want to work for and to get their approval.

Financial Aid, Housing, and Other Administrative Issues

Students who receive financial aid will continue to do so during the Campaign Semester program. Students may also qualify for aid for travel expenses to and from the campaign site.

In most cases, the campaigns will help students with finding housing in the campaign site. Most students have lived in the homes of campaign volunteers and supporters. During the 10-week campaign activities, students are responsible for their own meals. The College will reserve on-campus housing for students when they return to the campus after Election Day. The cost for campus housing will be prorated for the five weeks they are on campus.

Student Testimonials

The hands-on, immersive nature of campaign semester lent itself to a learning experience that cannot possibly be paralleled in any classroom setting. I learned more about myself, about politics, about people, and about America during this semester than I have in the rest of my life combined. The classroom section of the semester provided me with the ability to step back and understand this fact.鈥

I did a lot of phone calls and knocking on doors. When you have that moment when you see someone understand what your candidate is trying to do, it makes every other moment when someone slams their door in your face worth it."

Campaign Semester Faculty

Peter Dreier
Politics and UEP
Regina Freer
Contact Politics
Johnson Hall 317

Administrative support: J 101A