The Semester in D.C. Program provides students the opportunity to gain legal and policy experience in the real-world settings where law and policy are made, applied, and practiced. By employing one of our student externs, you give them the chance to learn from practice – and you gain the advantages of a structured, full-time, intensely supervised externship program that draws some of our most ambitious and focused students.

Advantages of the Semester in D.C. program

  • Full-time law student interns during the spring semester. Rather than being limited to only a few hours of work a week, as they would be in a traditional externship program, our students are able to work full-time for a four-month semester in spring (early January to early May).
  • Highly motivated law students who are committed to ultimately working in Washington. The law students who participate in our program have worked hard to set aside an entire semester to come to D.C. They are conscious of the unique opportunity an externship in your office provides them and are prepared to make the most of that opportunity. 
  • Hands-on supervision & training from a faculty member in Washington. In our D.C. Seminar, students meet weekly with Professor Drew Roberts, the director of the program, and get regular feedback on their externship experiences and performance.

Program Requirements

Qualification Requirements

In order to qualify for the program, externships must meet the following requirements:

  • Externships with non-profit organizations or governmental entities are eligible for the program. Under limited circumstances outlined below,* the Externship and Semester in DC Directors may approve externships with for-profit entities.
  • Student externs must do primarily law- or policy-related work.
  • If the externship is law-related, an attorney must supervise the student extern.  If the externship is policy-focused, an equivalent policy professional may supervise the student extern.
  • Student externs must work a minimum of 42 hours per externship credit during the program dates.
  • Students must work at their externship sites. Telecommuting is not permitted as part of the externship program (except on an occasional basis due to unusual circumstances, e.g., if the office closes temporarily due to weather or a government shutdown).


*For-profit externships:

Whenever possible, for-profit employers should pay law student interns a sufficient salary to enable students to engage in such internships. However, under limited circumstances, the Externship and Semester in DC Directors will approve externship credit for work with for-profit employers. This policy is primarily meant to enable a student to earn credit for an externship that is educationally valuable to the student, but is with a for-profit organization that does not offer paid student internships. These organizations may include small companies, social enterprises, and law firms. In order to qualify for externship credit, a student’s work with a for-profit entity must meet all of the following criteria:

  • The student would not be able to pursue the internship without receiving academic credit. (Examples include: opportunities through the Semester in DC Program; the student needs to earn academic credit for any work due to an employer or visa requirement; or the employer does not offer any paid internships.)
  • Engaging in this internship presents a particularly valuable learning opportunity for the student or fulfills a mandatory external requirement. (Examples include: A fellowship or other external program requires the student to work in an internship; the work closely matches the student’s career goals; or this is an unusual opportunity to gain skills, knowledge, or career connections not available elsewhere.)
  • Process requirements: The student must submit additional for-profit externship information on PittLawWorks to have the externship preapproved. The employer must also complete an additional for-profit externship form in advance confirming that it meets the Pitt Law program requirements and the Department of Labor guidance concerning unpaid internships.

Quality Requirements

During the externship, the employer, the law school, and the student share responsibility for ensuring the educational quality of the externship. Those responsibilities include:

Employer: For a student to receive credit for the externship, the externship site must be approved in advance, and the supervising attorney must verify the student’s hours worked and complete a final evaluation. We request that each externship employer carefully select a supervising attorney who will provide the extern with prospective guidance on the employer’s expectations for the externship and constructive feedback on the extern’s performance throughout the externship.  At the beginning of the semester, each student is asked to develop a set of goals for his/her externship; we ask that the supervisor review these goals with the extern to discuss whether and how they might be met and to propose modifications if appropriate. Throughout the semester, students should be given substantive, law- or policy-related assignments and the opportunity to participate in the regular work of the office to the extent possible.

Law School: Pitt Law provides continual faculty involvement in each externship, through a weekly seminar meeting, a site visit to the student’s workplace, and faculty review of weekly journal entries and a final seminar research paper.

Student:  Each student is expected to perform his or her work with the dedication, quality of judgment and analytical skill, and attention to professional ethics that can reasonably be expected of a future member of the Bar. To receive credit, the student must meet the responsibilities of the externship in a manner that is deemed satisfactory by the supervisor at the site and the faculty member.

How can employers participate?

Students apply directly to employers for their externships. If you are interested in hiring a Pitt Law extern, please submit an externship announcement to pittindc@pitt.edu. We circulate new externship announcements to students via email and maintain an ongoing list of available externship opportunities for our students on the law school’s extranet. You can submit information either by filling out our Externship Announcement Form or by sending an e-mail to Prof. Roberts. You may be contacted to confirm the information provided and/or to obtain additional details.

Thank you for your interest in our Semester in D.C. students. If you would like more information about the program, please contact Professor Roberts at pittindc@pitt.edu.