University of Pittsburgh

Semester in D.C. Program: A Different Kind of Semester


Learn about the Semester in D.C. Program, its academic requirements, and how to apply. Explore our list of potential externship employers and access other resources.


Your support makes this program truly invaluable to the Semester in D.C. students. Find out about the many ways you can help this year’s Semester in D.C. students make the most of their experience.


Submit your externship opportunity, become familiar with the Semester in D.C. Program requirements, and learn about its advantages.


General Program Information: 

While many law school curricula are standardized, Pitt Law’s flexible program is designed to give the student a solid foundation of both legal theory and practical skills training to achieve his or her personal and professional goals. We place a strong emphasis on experiential learning by offering a variety of opportunities for students to provide legal services while pursuing academic credit through our externship and clinical programs.

A key component of Pitt Law’s experiential learning portfolio is the Semester in D.C. Program. A semester in Washington, D.C. provides an extraordinary opportunity for students to sharpen their legal skills and increase their knowledge of substantive areas of the law by becoming fully immersed in a work setting during law school. The Semester in D.C. Program consists of a semester-long externship placement in a government office or non-profit organization and a corresponding weekly seminar taught by Pitt Law faculty in Washington. 

To ensure the quality of the externship learning experience, the Semester in D.C. Program includes a carefully designed support structure for participating students. Students have an on-site attorney supervisor assigned by their employer, who is responsible for day-to-day supervision and guidance. Students also benefit from the close supervision of a Pitt Law faculty member by attending a 3-credit weekly seminar held at Pitt Law’s Washington Center in downtown D.C. During class, students have the opportunity to actively learn from the challenges they face in their daily legal practice through peer-to-peer discussion with fellow students as well as visiting alumni and practitioners. Each student is also assigned an alumni mentor to provide individual guidance throughout the semester from the perspective of a practicing attorney.

By complementing students’ externships with these experiential learning components, the Semester in D.C. Program offers students a different kind of semester- one where substantive legal knowledge, lawyering skills, and professional identities are honed through practice with the guidance and support of workplace colleagues, Pitt Law faculty, and our Washington area alumni.  Our Alumni Spotlights tell the stories of a few of our recent Semester in D.C. Program students.

Externship placements are principally with federal governmental agencies, Congressional offices and well-established non-profit organizations. Students have also worked in judges’ chambers and in D.C. government offices. Past employers include:

  • U.S. Department of Justice (various offices, including the IP Section, Narcotic and Dangerous Drug Section, Office of Immigration Litigation, and Office of Professional Responsibility)
  • U.S. Department of Commerce (Commercial Law Development Program & Office of Chief Counsel for Import Administration)
  • U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
  • U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission
  • U.S. Department of Agriculture
  • U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
  • U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Civil Rights
  • Federal Communications Commission
  • Offices of Senator Robert “Bob” Casey (Pa.)
  • Offices of Senator Dick Durbin (Ill.)
  • Offices of Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (N.Y.)
  • Offices of Representative David McKinley (W. Va.)
  • Offices of Representative Scott Rigell (Va.)
  • Legal Services Corporation
  • Federal Judicial Center
  • National Center on Homelessness and Poverty
  • Natural Resources Defense Council
  • AARP Legal Counsel for the Elderly
  • National Alliance to End Homelessness
  • Pan-American Health Organization
  • U.S. Attorney's Office
  • D.C. Office of the Attorney General


    Revised 09/28/2011 | Copyright 2011 | Site by UMC