Congressional Fellowship Program Orientation

Orientation Overview

The main fellowship year begins in November with a month-long orientation conducted at APSA headquarters, on the nearby campus of the John Hopkins University Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies, and at locations on Capitol Hill. Orientation sessions are held daily for full- and half days throughout the month. There are no orientation events on Veterans Day and Thanksgiving week.

The objective of the orientation is to provide all fellows with a common-ground understanding of Congress and the political process. The orientation lectures, seminars, and talks held during this time provide fellows with an opportunity to engage with a diverse range of experts, including congressional scholars, congressional staff, journalists, policy experts, and Congressional Fellowship Program alumni. During orientation, fellows also take a tour of the U.S. Capitol, engage with leading think tanks and media outlets, and hear oral arguments at the Supreme Court. 

Recent orientation sessions have addressed topics such as the following. 

  • Bicameralism in the 114th Congress
  • Where are the Most Likely Avenues for Bipartisanship?
  • Legislating in Polarized Times
  • Covering Politics in the Nation’s Capital—How has it Changed?
  • The Role of House and Senate Staff
  • Women in Congress
  • Congress and Foreign Policy
  • Congress: As Seen from a Federal Agency
  • Understanding Congressional Oversight
  • Interest Group Influence in the Congress
  • The Role of the Office of the Legislative Counsel
  • Race and Representation in Congress
  • The Role of the Senate Historical Office
  • History and the House of Representatives
  • Key Issues for the Coming Congress
  • Court-Congress relations
  • Health Issues in Congress

The orientation also is supplemented by several full-day training sessions at the Library of Congress, taught by staff experts at the Congressional Research Service. These sessions provide fellows with hands-on instruction on the institution of Congress and intricacies of the legislative process. 

In addition, the orientation guides fellows through the process of searching for a fellowship placement. Learn more about the fellowship placement process here.