Public Policy Concentration

Students can earn the Public Policy Concentration by completing the Policy Track of the Semester in D.C. Program in the spring semester of your 2L or 3L year.

While law students learn many skills useful for policy-related work, they do not typically learn how to apply those skills in a policy context, for example, by analyzing a government agency report, mapping the stakeholders on a particular issue, preparing questions for a Senate hearing, writing a short policy brief, or developing an advocacy campaign.

The Semester in D.C. Program Policy Track is designed to fill this gap by teaching you how to apply your legal advocacy, research, and writing skills in the policy context so that you can successfully engage in policy-related work after graduation. The Policy Track is offered each spring semester jointly with the Graduate School of Public and International Affairs (GSPIA) at Pitt’s Washington Center in downtown Washington, D.C.

Highlights of the Semester in D.C. Program Policy Track includes:

  • A policy-related externship with a government or nonprofit organization in Washington, D.C.
  • Classes that are focused on learning from policy experts who regularly visit as guest speakers and on attaining pragmatic policy advocacy, analysis, and writing skills
  • Joint classes with GSPIA students, so that both policy and law perspectives are represented in each class
  • An individual alumni mentor for each student, as well as connections with Law and GSPIA’s alumni network of hundreds of attorneys and policy practitioners in the Washington, D.C. area

By completing the Public Policy Concentration, students are expected to achieve the following Learning Outcomes:

  • Students will understand and be able to describe the processes by which law and policy are developed, contested, and implemented. They can identify and explain factors and dynamics affecting these processes.
  • Students will learn how to apply their research, analysis, and writing skills in a policy context by regularly practicing their informal writing skills and by researching and writing a policy issue brief.
  • Students will improve their proficiency in policy skills, such as stakeholder mapping, preparing for and summarizing Congressional hearings, or designing advocacy campaigns.
  • Students will explore and be able to describe the professional roles of lawyers and policymakers in lawmaking and policy development.
  • Through policy-related externships and classroom simulations, students can apply their subject matter expertise, legal knowledge, and professional skills in real-life policy settings. This will benefit them as they enter a policy career or another field in which knowledge of law and policy is important.


  • Students who wish to earn the Public Policy Concentration by participating in the Semester in D.C. Program Policy Track should complete the Certificate/Area of Concentration Registration Form. This form should be filled out by the first week of the semester in which the student participates in the Semester in D.C. Program Policy Track to effectively enable Professor Baylis to oversee the student’s completion of the requirements.

Required Classes

You can earn the Public Policy Concentration by completing the Policy Track of the Semester in D.C. Program after taking the required 1L Legislation and Regulation course.

The Public Policy Concentration requires students to earn 15 credits in the policy-related classes listed below. Students will have completed the 3-credit foundational course in Legislation and Regulation in their 1L year. Students can complete the 12 remaining credits by participating in the Semester in D.C. Program Policy Track, which offers the listed courses. Only the courses listed below may be used to fulfill the requirements of this concentration; other courses may not be substituted.

Foundational Course (3 credits): Legislation and Regulation (3 credits) (required 1L course)

Electives (up to 7 credits):

  1. Public Policy Seminar (3 credits)
  2. Lobbying and Advocacy (2 credits)
  3. Policy Colloquium (1 credit) or D.C. Seminar. If their policy-focused seminar papers are approved in advance, students may apply up to 2 credits from the D.C. Seminar to the Public Policy Concentration.

Skills (up to 6 credits): Policy Externship or D.C. Externship. Students may apply for up to 6 credits from the Policy Externship or the D.C. Externship to the Public Policy Concentration if the externship is approved as policy-focused.