A pathway to leadership in public service
6th Semester in Washington, D.C. Program students spend the spring semester living, learning, working and connecting in our nation’s capital. Supported by a large and active network of KU Law alumni in the D.C. metro area, the program opens doors for students in Washington and beyond.
- Live: Spend your final semester of law school immersed in the culture of our nation’s capital with fellow KU Law students.
- Learn: Take courses taught by KU Law faculty on topics essential to working in Washington.
- Work: Gain real-world experience in a nearly full-time field placement with a government agency, nonprofit, advocacy group or international organization.
- Connect: Become part of KU Law’s deep D.C.-area alumni community before you graduate. Meet with attorneys, learn about career paths and create your own network.
Navigate to a career in our nation's capital
Participating students finish law school with D.C.-area work on their resumes, giving them a leg up in a competitive job market. They learn how to practice law in a D.C. setting. And they build a network of accomplished professionals who know them personally and want to see them succeed.
Make a difference
Students combine their legal skills with a passion for public service in offices and organizations that shape our world and impact policy for decades to come. They work at the center of government agencies, in the heart of national nonprofits, and at the nexus of important issues.
6th Semester in D.C. Program Information
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 toward your ideal D.C. field placement.
- Introduction for 1Ls
- Introduction for 2Ls
- Mandatory Planning for 3Ls
Washington, 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:
- American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA)
- National Association of Attorneys General
- Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts
- National Resources Defense Council
- Public Broadcasting Service (PBS)
- Senate Agriculture Committee
- House Judiciary Committee, Subcommittee on Regulatory Reform, Commercial and Antitrust Law
- U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit
- Department of Homeland Security, ICE, Office of the Principal Legal Advisor
Students enroll in 6 to 9 credit hours for the field placement 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 Program page for more details.
In Washington, 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. The field placement program is a 7 to 11 credit hour commitment. Students enroll in 6 to 9 credit hours for the field placement and take a mandatory 1-2 credit hour capstone course.
This year’s courses include:
Asylum and Refugee Law
Professor David Gottlieb teaches Asylum and Refugee Law. 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
6th Semester Capstone
Professor Jennifer Schmidt teaches the 6th Semester Capstone course. This course contains in-depth lectures, readings and discussions on several areas of substantive law and surrounding issues important to practice in Washington, D.C., including recent developments, policy implications and controversies.
KU Law students take their courses a block from the White House at BAU International University.
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:
- U.S. Senate delegation for Kansas
- Alumni attorneys at the U.S. Department of Justice, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, and the Federal Communication Commission
- 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.
David Gottlieb is a professor emeritus of law. He joined the KU Law faculty in 1979 and retired in 2014. In retirement, he continues to teach an Asylum and Refugee Law course. He is nationally recognized for his leadership in clinical legal education and has served as a consultant on clinical legal education in the United States and abroad, most recently in the Ukraine, Bulgaria and Turkey.
Jennifer Schmidt is a clinical associate professor, director of the Field Placement Program and director of the 6th Semester in D.C. and Law & Public Policy Program. Schmidt graduated from KU Law in 1994 and joined the faculty in 2008. Before coming to KU Law, she worked as senior counsel to a U.S. senator, counsel to the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on the Courts, a legislative assistant to U.S. representative and a legislative aide.
6th Semester in D.C. program helped jump-start my legal career
Emory Saucedo, L’19
Field Placement: National Association of Attorneys General
The 6th Semester program offers countless unique experiences that you just cannot get in a traditional classroom setting. D.C. is great way to boost your resume and learn on the job. You will also discover your own abilities and find that it is always an important time to be a leader in compassionate, thoughtful lawyering – the way KU Jayhawk lawyers are taught and trained.
6th Semester in D.C. experience was ‘invaluable’ to professional career
Marissa Hotujac, L’20
Field Placement: U.S. Department of Justice Environment and Natural Resources Division
Spending my 6th Semester in D.C. was one of the best decisions I made in law school. I would never have anticipated the professional and personal growth that I would experience during my time in D.C., and I will forever be grateful for the opportunity and the memories made. It was well worth taking the leap out of my comfort zone.