6th Semester in D.C. Program
A pathway to leadership in public service
The KU School of Law and KU Law alumni have deep connections to the Washington, D.C. region. More than 250 of the school's graduates live and work there, many of them drawn by a deep dedication to public service. Building on that strong tradition, the 6th Semester in Washington, D.C. Program invests in its students. Through this program, you can:
|Work in D.C. in a field placement with an agency, nonprofit or other qualifying entity during your final semester of law school.||Attend courses taught in D.C. by KU Law faculty members on topics essential to the unique challenges of public sector practice.||Develop a network of contacts in the D.C. region critical to launching your career, then rise to become a leader in public service.|
Maslyn Locke, L'18
"My 6th Semester in D.C. was a wonderful and unexpected adventure filled with monuments, comedy clubs, museums, concerts, marches, cherry blossoms, occasional legal research, and, while it wasn’t always easy, I wouldn’t trade it for anything."
Wesley Williams, L'19
"My time spent in Washington was incredible. I made new friends and learned many important lessons on how to survive in the working world. The 6th Semester Program has helped me bridge the gap between student and professional, and I have no doubt that I will be able to take what I’ve learned at KU and become a successful Jayhawk lawyer."
D.C. provides a wealth of opportunities for field placements (externships) with government agencies, think tanks and nonprofit organizations. Our students have found placements in organizations as diverse as the:
- American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals
- National Association of Attorneys General
- Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts
- Senate Agriculture Committee
- U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit
Students may earn up to 9 hours of credit through work at approved organizations. If you are a current KU Law student interested in the 6th Semester in D.C. Program, visit the Field Placement page for more details.
In D.C., you will take classes taught by KU Law faculty that address topics pertinent to D.C. and public service or incorporate local speakers and resources. Courses are offered on a schedule that allows students to balance study and work obligations. Students enroll in 6 credit hours.
Courses change every year. This year’s courses include:
United States Legislative Process
Professor Richard Levy. This course provides an overview of the legislative process in the United States, including (1) the representational structure of Congress; (2) the deliberative processes through which laws are enacted; and (3) the regulation of campaign finance and lobbying. Primary focus will be on the legal issues surrounding these aspects of the legislative process, but the course will also consider various theoretical frameworks through which the legislative process can be analyzed.
Asylum and Refugee Law
Professor David Gottlieb. This course will cover the law applying to the treatment by the international communities of the millions of migrants who are forced to leave their countries of origin as a result of persecution, war or other disruptions. Although the primary focus will be on the treatment of refugees in the United States, the course will also speak about current issues in places such as the European Union and Turkey. Topics will include:
- The International Conventions on the treatment of refugees
- Protections in the United States: Asylum and Non-Refoulement
- Who is a “refugee” and what is “persecution”?
- Limitation on refugee protection such as criminal behavior and security dangers
- The Convention Against Torture
- Resettlement and other solutions
Global Challenges in Law, Agriculture, Development and Ecology
Professor John Head. This course examines a cluster of particularly important global challenges. These involve (1) the rule (and role) of law in international relations, (2) the economic, environmental, and social aspects of modern agriculture, (3) the quest and prospects for human development, and (4) the existential threats posed to the ecosphere through climate change, soil degradation, water conflicts, and species extinctions.
KU Law courses are taught a block from the White House at BAU International University.
Networking & Culture
Through the 6th Semester in D.C. Program, you will build connections within the D.C. legal, political and public interest communities. As part of the program, you will meet with U.S. senators, members of Congress and their staffs, senior lobbyists, U.S. Supreme Court practitioners and others in small-group settings organized by the KU Law Program Director.
Participants in the program have met the U.S. Senate delegation for Kansas (Pat Roberts and Kevin Yoder, L'02); alumni attorneys at the U.S. Department of Justice, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, and the Federal Communication Commission; and alumni attorneys at AMARA Legal Services and Prime Policy Group. They got a behind-the-scenes tour of the U.S. Capitol from Krisann Pearce, L'95, general counsel for the U.S. House Committee on Education and the Workforce, and met legendary former Kansas Sen. Bob Dole.
When work and study demands aren’t calling, you will be able to take advantage of the city’s wealth of cultural amenities. You can quickly get from the National Mall to locations in Maryland and Virginia, or anywhere around the Beltway. You’ll have time to tour the city, enjoying extraordinary monuments, museums and historic sites; catching a Nationals baseball game; or watching the cherry trees blossom in the spring.
There are many wonderful neighborhoods in D.C. where you can live. Due to the high cost of housing in D.C., the University of Kansas has arranged a more affordable option for students in the 6th Semester in D.C. Program: the Summit Hills Apartment Complex in Silver Spring, Maryland. Silver Spring is just outside the District line and very close to a Metro stop. Apartment costs run approximately $2,900 for the semester with utilities included. Commuting by the Metro system averages $150 per month.
There are no additional tuition costs or program fees for the 6th Semester in D.C. Program. Students are responsible for housing and living expenses.
Apply for the Program
Students who are interested in participating in this program should make an appointment with Professor Jennifer Schmidt as early in their law school career as possible — even first semester 1Ls. This will allow us to work together throughout your law school career to help you prepare for your D.C. semester, and work towards your ideal D.C. field placement.
- Introduction for 1Ls
- Introduction for 2Ls
- Mandatory Planning for 3Ls