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Ad Hoc Externships

Students may, under limited circumstances, seek faculty approval to create an individualized Ad Hoc Externship for academic credit.

What is an Ad Hoc Externship?

An Ad Hoc Externship is intended to provide an experiential learning opportunity for a student who has demonstrated a strong interest in a specific subject area which does not have an experiential offering in the curriculum.  The Ad Hoc Externship Program involves a structured academic course for four (4) or seven (7) credits requiring appropriate supervision, journaling requirements, and bi-weekly meetings with a faculty supervisor, in addition to all placement site responsibilities. Requests for approval of Ad Hoc Externships must be timely submitted to be considered (please see the deadline dates below).

In accordance with faculty policy, Penn Law does not grant academic credit for judicial externships or for externships performed at for-profit organizations or institutions, including law firms and corporate legal departments. The Ad Hoc Externship Program is not intended and may not be used as a means of obtaining academic credit for pro bono hours performed in an external setting which exceed the pro bono requirements of the Toll Public Interest Center.

Each Ad Hoc Externship application is considered on its own merits according to the Law School’s established policies. Past approval of an Ad Hoc Externship is not authority for, and may not be relied upon, when seeking approval for an Ad Hoc Externship.

Ad Hoc Externships may be permitted according to the following guidelines:

Approval Process

  1. Interested students should research possible placement sites and apply directly to the site for the externship.  A list of recent Ad Hoc Externship Placement Sites can be found here , but students can apply to other placement sites. 

  2. In addition to applying directly to the placement site, you must submit a Proposal form to . The deadline for submitting the Proposal Form for Fall 2019 Externships is midnight on July 19, 2019. This Proposal Form must be submitted even if the student has not received an offer yet from the placement site.
  3. Once an offer is received, the student must complete the Statement of Understanding” form that is signed by the student, the faculty supervisor and the externship placement supervisor. Instructions on obtaining the necessary electronic signatures can be found once clicking the link to the form above.  The deadline for submitting the Statement of Understanding Form, signed by all parties, for Fall 2019 Externships is midnight on July 29, 2019.

4.  Proposals will be approved only upon a showing that all three criteria are met:

  • The externship would allow a student to study experientially a subject or subjects, directly related to their legal education, is not covered by a course or seminar offering (including clinical courses and current standing externships with local non profit and government organizations that students bid on during Advance Registration) and, (if distant from Philadelphia), is not available through a comparable placement in the Philadelphia area that might be arranged; 
  • The student requesting approval has demonstrated a professional interest and commitment to the subject or subjects to be studied, and
  • The goals and supervisory requirements applicable to all Penn Law Externships (see above) will be met. Proposals for Ad Hoc Externships based on personal reasons will not be approved.

5.  During the review of the proposal, the Externship Program may request additional information from the student, and/or contact the placement site with any questions. 

Credits Awarded

Except as provided herein below, Ad Hoc Externships are approved solely for four or seven academic credits. A four credit Externship requires that the student work at the placement site on average 12 hours per week. A seven credit Externship requires that the student work at the site on average 21 hours per week. Students are required to start their Externship the week that the semester classes begin, and are required to work until the end of the examination period. Students may start working at their placement site before classes begin if they so desire, but credit will not be awarded for this time, and students will not be permitted to reduce the weekly hourly requirement for any time spent working before the semester begins.

Ad Hoc Externships for twelve academic credits will only be considered if the placement site requires this and  (1) The site of the Externship is so distant that commuting from Philadelphia would not be feasible, or (2) The Ad Hoc Externship is in the Philadelphia area, but is not available on a part-time basis (i.e., it requires full-time participation) and no reasonably equivalent part-time externship is available in or within reasonable commuting distance from Philadelphia.

Reporting Requirements

Students will be required to submit to their faculty supervisor bi-weekly reflective journals of their Externship activities. Students will also be required to attend a bi-weekly tutorial or class with their Penn Law faculty supervisor. If the distance from Philadelphia makes in-person attendance of the supervisory sessions or class impracticable, accommodations shall be arranged through Skype or through other technological means.


The deadlines for submitting Proposals and Statement of Understanding forms for Fall 2019 Externships are as follows:

  • Proposal Forms for Fall 2019 Externships must be submitted by midnight on July 19, 2019. The Proposal Form must be submitted even if the student has not received an offer yet from the placement site. Late Proposal submissions will not be considered.
  • Statement of Understanding Forms, signed by all parties, for Fall 2019 Externships must be submitted by midnight on July 29, 2019.

These deadlines were established in recognition that some placement sites have early deadlines, and that in all cases ample time is needed for the Externship Program’s careful review of all proposals. In addition, these deadlines are consistent with the law school’s Advance Registration period.

Travel Expenses

Students are expected to pay for all travel expenses related to participation in the Ad Hoc Externship. However, the Law School has received limited funding that will be available to help subsidize a portion of reasonable and necessary travel expenses for a limited number of students who are enrolled in domestic Government Externships that are located outside of Philadelphia.  Please note that these payments may be subject to IRS taxation.