Academic Programs

Semester-in-Practice Program

Ian Hunter with Barney Frank
Fall '09 SiP participant Ian Hunter and Barney Frank.

The Semester-in-Practice Program is our full-time, full-semester externship program. Placements may be local or outside of Boston. The program is open to 3Ls (fall and spring semesters) and 2Ls (spring semester only).

Placements - Four Unique Opportunities

The Semester-in-Practice Program offers four options:

  • Human Rights Externship in Geneva, Switzerland - Through the Human Rights Externship, students may spend a semester working in Geneva at the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).
  • Government Lawyering in Washington, D.C. - Students in the Government Lawyering Externship may spend a semester working at a government office in Washington. Examples include opportunities with the staff of a Congressional committee or subcommittee, in the legal office of an administrative agency, or with a federal board/commission.
  • Death Penalty Externship in Atlanta, Georgia - Students work at the Southern Center for Human Rights—run by leading death-penalty scholar and attorney Stephen Bright—advocating for improved prison conditions and representing individuals facing the death penalty in all phases of litigation.
  • Independent Proposal Externship (local and away placements) - Under this fourth option, students may develop their own proposal for a full-time externship.

Credits and Hours:

Students earn 12 credits: 10 ungraded credits for working full-time at the field placement, plus 2 graded credits for completing readings, writing a research paper, and for submitting weekly journals. The field placement requirement is 65 days of full-time work.

What you should know:

  • Non-gpa credits: Students may receive a maximum of 16 non-GPA credits during their time at BU Law. The SiP Program counts as 10 non-gpa credits towards the 16-credit limit.
  • Independent Study Credits: Students may receive a maximum of 3 credits for Supervised Research and Writing (aka Independent Study) during their time at BU Law. The academic portion of the SiP counts as 2 Supervised Research and Writing Credits.
  • Professional Responsibility: Students may not take any other classes during their semester away. Therefore, if you are planning to do the SiP your spring 3L semester, you must have fulfilled the Professional Responsibility requirement first. Students may not take professional responsibility during their externship semester.
  • Because the SiP is a 12-credit semester, you will need to plan ahead to make sure you take enough credits during other semesters to satisfy BU Law's 26-credit yearly minimum, and BU Law's 84-credit graduation requirement. Furthermore, please be aware of the ABA's 64 in-class credit minimum (the SiP's 12-credits do NOT count as in-class credits). The 64-credit minimum is most likely to be an issue in the case of dual-degree students. When in doubt, please consult the Academic Regulations, the Registrar's Office, and Associate Dean Gerry Muir, to make sure your academic plan meets all requirements.


Although there are no formal prerequisites, participating students must have a coursework background that supports their fieldwork. For a list of class recommendations, please click here.