Washington D.C. Externship Program

Students who work in government or related entities in Washington, D.C. will ultimately acquire an enhanced perspective and more sophisticated view of the role of government in law and society. Under the program, students work under supervision of an on-site attorney, for a government, public interest agency, non-profit trade association, think tank, corporation or with a judge; students will also be enrolled in a program of graded coursework.

In addition to practical legal training, the program allows students to cement new professional contacts and enhance their professional profile. Students who have participated in the program have most recently worked at:

  • Securities and Exchange Commission
  • Department of Interior
  • Environmental Protection Agency
  • House Subcommittee on Education and Labor
  • Department of State
  • Department of Justice
  • Department of Health and Human Services
  • Center for Constitutional Rights
  • DC Attorney General—Office of Solicitor General
  • American Gas Association
  • Nutritional Products Association

To enroll in USD's Washington, D.C. Externship program, complete the application form. You will be contacted by the Career and Professional Development Office to help coordinate your placement.

Enroll Today


Under the supervision of an on-site attorney, students work in a semester-long externship in D.C. for a government or public interest agency, non-profit trade association, think-tank or with a judge.

Units Fall Semester Spring Semester
Total Units Available in D.C. Up to 15 units Up to 15 units
Externship Units in D.C. Up to 9 pass-fail units available for the semester.
(50 semester hours of work equates to 1 unit)
Up to 9 pass-fail units available for the semester.
(50 semester hours of work equates to 1 unit)

* Individual externships also have internal deadlines. Make sure you are aware of them so you do not miss the deadline for your ideal externship!

Unique Opportunities

While in Washington D.C., students may take advantage of opportunities to attend guest lectures by prominent D.C.-based attorneys, tour federal buildings and the United State Supreme Court, and connect with USD Law Alumni in the D.C. area through the DC Alumni Chapter BoardChapter Board Members, with diverse legal backgrounds which range from practicing law at large law firms to serving as counsel to federal agencies, are eager and willing to meet and mentor students. These important relationships last well after the externship experience ends.


The following locations offer short-term housing options for student interns in Washington, D.C.:


Depending on where you work and live, it may be easier to take the public transportation. Washington's Metro system is one of the most efficient public transportation systems in the world.

To by a Metro pass, see how to obtain your SmarTrip Card online.

What do students say about their semester in D.C.?

"It's great! It's been very busy though. I got to work on two big projects, including our recent Supreme Court case (SEC v. Gabelli) and the SEC Speaks conference. I am loving D.C., and I think it provides an extremely valuable experience for USD students! I would definitely hope this program is made available for future students."
Chuck Zhang, '15 (JD)

Semester at the EPA

"My work is providing great exposure to the enforcement of agency regulations, and of course I am learning much more about environmental law. I also find it really beneficial that we have the opportunity to work 30-40 hours each week, as I think it allows us to really get involved in long term projects and provides greater exposure to different aspects of, and people within, the Agency. I am learning a lot and enjoying my time in the internship, and I think that has been reflected in my work product thus far.

The USD alumni group in D.C. has been great as well, and we have had the opportunity to attend a luncheon and a happy hour with some of the more recent graduates. I also met my alumni mentor for lunch yesterday, and she has been a great contact to have. Overall, I think that they have added to the experience as well, and have offered great advice for adjusting to life in D.C.

Overall, the internship has been a great experience so far, and I very much appreciate the opportunity to spend the semester in D.C."
Danielle Vallone, '16 (JD)

Semester at a National Trade Association

"My externship at a trade association in D.C. has been full of awesome opportunities and excitement. I have been offered a permanent position, or at minimum, help finding a position working within the industry here in D.C. I submitted my first comment to FDA, for which I received praise from the association and our general counsel. My employer has been experiencing leadership changes since I arrived that have provided an excellent opportunity to take the initiative to stand out.
I stayed on in a paid position through the summer."
Amber Littlejohn, '14 (JD)

Semester at the U.S. Department of State

"I am so appreciative of this opportunity and USD's support. Every day here presents invaluable experience, networking opportunities, and exciting events to attend. I am already planning how I can return next summer."
Gwendolyn Holdgreiwe, '15 (JD)