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Politics, Policy and Foreign Affairs

In the current politically charged environment, almost all news can be considered political news. Students in Medill’s Politics, Policy and Foreign Affairs specialization relentlessly cover these hot topics from Chicago, Washington and across the globe.

About the specialization

From interviewing ward bosses in Chicago to attending congressional hearings and White House briefings as a credentialed reporter to gathering stories in a foreign country, you’ll have unique opportunities to cover history as it unfolds.

The Politics, Policy and Foreign Affairs specialization starts in the summer quarter. You spend the first quarter (summer) in Chicago, and the remaining three quarters at Medill's campus in Washington.

Why Politics, Policy and Foreign Affairs?

These topics provide plenty of news to cover, even when it’s not campaign season—although you will get the chance to cover elections if the timing works out during your program. For journalists, the stakes are high: An informed electorate is crucial to democracy and journalists are needed to help consumers understand the real issues of the day.

At Medill, you’ll build a solid foundation in reporting that will allow you to cover complex issues such as the deficit, immigration, national security and foreign policy. In fact, almost every issue, from trade to education to housing, has a policy component. You’ll hear from experts in the political, administrative and legislative processes.

For many alumni, the experience has translated into positions at top-tier global news outlets, political organizations, think tanks, nonprofits, congressional offices and the federal government.

What will I learn?

You’ll report for Medill News Service in Chicago and Washington, covering news for print, broadcast and digital native publications. You will start in Chicago and then spend three quarters at Medill’s Washington newsroom, which has trained top journalists for more than 50 years. In Washington, you’ll have the opportunity to report as a credentialed journalist from Capitol Hill, the Pentagon, the White House and even the Supreme Court.

You'll complete an annual reporting trip to a site related to your specialty. Previous locations have included campaign headquarters and military bases. You will participate in a three-month reporting project that will be published or aired in a major news outlet, thanks to Medill’s relationships and connections with the industry.

You’ll be able to compile your published clips and multimedia productions into an impressive portfolio that will showcase your professional, hands-on journalism experience as a journalist for Medill News Service and its clients. This portfolio will be an asset to show your experience when you are interviewing for jobs.

Your Medill Experience

Student interviewing someone on camera.


In class, you’ll analyze how news coverage has influenced election outcomes. You’ll hear directly from top-level current and former U.S. officials and other experts. You’ll also have the opportunity to participate in a professional hostile environment training course.

Learn about the Politics, Policy and Foreign Affairs curriculum
Chicago skyline at sunset.


Our Chicago space in the heart of the Loop provides easy access to City Hall and other political hot spots. Chicago has hosted national political conventions and is known for its Democratic-machine politics and pro-labor union movement. Its tongue-in-cheek political motto is “Vote early and vote often,” a reference to its not-too-distant history of political corruption, making it an ideal place to cover politics.

Learn about Medill’s Chicago campus
Students reporting in DC.


As a credentialed journalist in Washington, you’ll report from Capitol Hill, the White House, the Supreme Court and the Pentagon. You’ll interview elected officials and political operatives and develop relationships with staffers on the Hill. You’ll develop original stories that will be published in the two dozen news outlets that are Medill News Service partners.

Learn about the Medill News Service in Washington, D.C.
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You will take seminars related to the specialization, including Covering the Presidency and Covering Conflicts, Terrorism and National Security. You will choose among elective seminars such as Creating Compelling Podcasts, Data and Demographics, Data Visualization and Reporting with Social Media. You may enroll in a practicum, interning two days a week at the media organization in Washington.

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Specialization Reporting Project

You will participate in a three-month reporting project. Recently, Medill students investigated the national security implications of climate change, and students traveled to the Arctic Circle, Bangladesh, Houston and more. The Washington Post published the series. Another project explored why the Navy is not prepared for the next war. USA Today published the entire series online and featured the final story on its newspaper front page. Students reported from onboard an aircraft carrier in the Pacific Ocean, Guam and Japan.

Read one of the USA Today stories
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Career Services

Medill’s Career Services team provides support to all Medill students for life. From resume development to interviewing skills to salary negotiation techniques, Medill Career Services is available to you while you are in both Chicago and Washington.

Learn about Career Services
Edith Chapin at Washington 50th at NPR.

Medill Network

You’ll be paired with several Medill alumni mentors to offer story feedback and career advice throughout your time as a student. By completing your degree, you will also become part of Medill’s alumni network, with more than 18,000 Medill alumni worldwide. Whether you want to end up in Washington or any number of places where politics is center stage, chances are Medill alumni already are there, willing and able to help you succeed.

Learn about the Medill Network
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Reporting Opportunities

You have the opportunity to interact with newsmakers and see first-hand the subjects of your stories. For example, recently some students covered the court proceedings at the Guantanamo Bay detention center while others covered the special election in Pennsylvania.

A woman speaks on stage to a classroom of students.

Medill Fridays

We welcome top political journalists such as USA Today’s Washington Bureau Chief Susan Page (BSJ73) to speak with students in Evanston, Chicago and Washington as part of our Medill Fridays. In addition, we regularly welcome politicians, authors and foreign affairs experts.

Learn about Medill Fridays

Our Faculty

Ellen Shearer

Headshot of Ellen Shearer.

Shearer directs Medill's National Security Journalism Initiative and has written and taught extensively in the areas of political journalism, national security journalism and watchdog journalism. 

See Shearer's bio page

Peter Slevin

Peter Slevin headshot.

Slevin spent a dozen years as a Washington Post staff writer. Following his reporting on the 2008 presidential campaign and extensive writing on the Obamas, Slevin authored “Michelle Obama: A Life” in 2015.

See Slevin's bio page

Jon Marshall

Headshot of Jon Marshall.

Marshall has written for numerous newspapers and magazines and is author of "Watergate's Legacy and the Press: The Investigative Impulse."

See Marshall's bio page

Ivan Meyers

Ivan Meyers headshot.

In addition to video journalism classes at Medill, Meyers has also taught video courses geared for journalists at other institutions, including the National Press Club, the American Red Cross and Georgetown University.

See Meyer's bio page

Matthew Orr

Matthew Orr headshot.

Orr has reported internationally in China, Japan, Myanmar, Ukraine, Democratic Republic of Congo and the Dominican Republic. He also covered the U.S. presidential elections in 2004, 2008 and 2012.

See Orr's bio page

Our Alumni

Josh Lederman (MSJ11)

Headshot of Josh Lederman.
National Security Reporter
The Associated Press

Lederman covers foreign policy, the White House and the State Department for the AP and has reported from more than 20 countries, including Iraq, Israel, Russia and Cuba.

Kevin Schmidt (MSJ18)

Headshot of Kevin Schmidt.
Associate Producer
CBS Newspath

Schmidt works with CBS affiliates across the country to gather and share content of interest on the national and international levels.

Learn more about Schmidt

Laura McGann (MSJ06)

Headshot of Laura McGann.
Editorial Director

McGann leads the newsroom at Vox, which aims to explain the news, from politics to pop culture to world affairs. 

Tanvi Misra (MSJ14)

Headshot of Tanvi Misra.
Staff Writer

Misra writes about inequality, immigration and urban policy for CityLab, The Atlantic's website about the future of cities. Previously, she contributed to NPR's Code Switch blog and BBC's online news magazine.

Gillian B. White (MSJ12)

Headshot of Gillian B. White.
Senior Associate Editor
The Atlantic

White is a writer and editor for The Atlantic's business and economics section.

David Eggert (BSJ00, MSJ04)

Headshot of David Eggert.
Statehouse Correspondent
The Associated Press

David Eggert has covered Michigan government and politics as a reporter for nearly 11 years, writing about the legislature, governor and state and national elections, among other topics.