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What externship opportunities does Villanova Law support?

Villanova Law supports externship opportunities in a wide range of judicial chambers, government offices, and non-profit and for-profit organizations.  Please click here for a list of approved externship placements.  If you do not see what you are interested in on our list of approved externships, you may propose your own externship.

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When may a student participate in an externship?

Second-year and third-year students (including "rising 2Ls" during their first summer) may participate in an externship during the Fall semester, the Spring semester, both semesters, or during the summer.

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How does one secure an externship?

The process for securing an externship varies by placement. Students may register for a few externships on Novasis without obtaining any prior approval.  Most externships are secured through job fairs, on-campus interviews, and postings on Symplicity, the electronic job posting system maintained by the Career Strategy Office.  Specific requirements concerning some externship placements are explained in the course descriptions available here.

Many, but not all, judicial externships are filled through a lottery matching process that takes place in February for summer judicial externships, in June for judicial externships in the following fall, and in October for judicial externships the following spring. Some judicial externship placements, however, require that you apply directly to the judge’s chambers. Please click here for more information about judicial externships.

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After I secure an externship, how do I enroll for academic credit?

Once you have secured an externship, whether by applying directly to the externship placement or applying through Novasis, you must submit the Externship and Practicum Enrollment Application for approval to become academically enrolled. If approved, you should make any necessary adjustments to your course schedule after the Registrar adds the externship to your registration.

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How many externships may a student participate in?

Experiential credit limits that are consistent with ABA accreditation have been set by the school.  Please review these credit limits, as listed in the Student Handbook, carefully.  If you have any questions, please contact Matthew McGovern, Director of Experiential Learning.

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When should a student begin planning for an externship?

The earlier you begin planning the better. Many externships have prerequisites. Therefore, to make sure that you are eligible for the externship you want, it is best to review the externship offerings when you register for your second year classes. If your externship has prerequisites, you can be sure to take the pre-requisites as early as possible. If you have any questions, please make an appointment to speak with Matthew McGovern, Director of Experiential Learning.   

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What are the requirements a student must fulfill to receive academic credit for an externship?

To be eligible to receive academic credit, you must:

  • work the required minimum hours of experiential learning on-site (3 credits, 135 hours; 4 credits, 180 hours; 6 credits, 270 hours; 6 credits over two semesters, 270 hours);
  • keep an hours log and submit it at the end of your externship;
  • complete and submit an Experiential Learning  Objectives Worksheet;
  • keep a reflection journal based upon what you are learning in your externship;
  • externs in non-judicial placements participate in four common classroom sessions and meet with their faculty advisors at least four times during the semester
  • externs in judicial placements attend a bi-weekly classroom sessions;
  • for judicial externships, you must complete at least one significant written assignment, such as a bench memorandum or a draft opinion;
  • complete an evaluation of your externship experience at the conclusion of the externship;
  • submit a Field Supervisor's Final Reports as completed by your supervising attorney;
  • any other assignment as given to you by your Advising Faculty Member.

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Does Villanova Law charge any additional tuition for summer externship experiences?


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Who is responsible for ensuring that a student is registered for an externship?

It is the student's responsibility to ensure that the student is registered for the externship.

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May a student decline an externship?

It is not uncommon for students to apply to more than one externship placement in a given semester or summer.  Villanova Law asks that, should a student accept one externship, that he or she promptly notify any other externship placements of this decision. In the case of the judicial externship lottery, each student who is matched with a judge will be contacted to confirm their acceptance before yhe match is finalized. Once a student accepts an externship placement, the student is expected to follow through and will be permitted to withdraw only in extraordinary circumstances.

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May a student withdraw from an externship?

Because externship placements, faculty, and fellow students rely upon commitments made by students, once a student affirmatively accepts an externship, the student is committed to participate in that externship and may not withdraw except under extraordinary circumstances and with the approval of the Academic Dean or the Director of Experiential Learning.  Additionally, once the student accepts an externship placement, the student commits that he, she or they will not transfer to another school, attend a different school as a visiting student, or study abroad during the summer or semester of the externship.  Poor class scheduling is not an “extraordinary circumstance” justifying a withdrawal from an externship because students who accept an externship are expected to schedule their course load to accommodate the externship.

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May a student participate in a clinic and an externship in the same semester?

No. Villanova Law’s externship policy prohibits a student from participating in a clinic and an externship in the same semester.

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May a student work and also participate in an externship during the same semester/ summer?

Villanova Law generally does not prohibit holding a job while enrolled in an externship, provided that it does not pose an ethical or time management conflict. It is important that you notify your employer, Field Instructor and Advising Faculty Member so that they may check for potential conflicts of interest. Please note that you may not hold a legal work position while participating in a judicial externship. The externship must be your first priority when it comes to time-commitments. Therefore, you should carefully consider your workload before committing to a job and an externship at the same time.

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Do students receive a letter grade for externships?

No.  Externships are graded pass, fail or pass with honors.

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How many academic credits can one earn in an externship?

Students can earn between three (3) and twelve (12) academic credits at an externship placement. Please note that the criteria required to qualify for twelve (12) academic credits is high. If you wish to pursue twelve (12) academic credits at a placement, please discuss this issue with Matthew McGovern, Director of Experiential Learning.

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May a student participate in two subsequent externships at the same externship placement?

Generally, students are limited to a single externship at each externship placement. In rare cases, Villanova Law may approve a second externship semester upon a showing that the experience in the second externship will involve significant additional development of the student's knowledge, experience, and skills beyond what the student achieved during the first semester. 

Special rules apply to judicial externships. To receive academic credit for a second judicial externship, the second externship ordinarily must be with a court of a different level than the court of your first externship. For example, if you have completed an externship with a trial court judge, you may be eligible for a second externship with an appellate judge. In rare cases Villanova Law may approve a second externship semester in the same judicial chambers or court upon a showing that the experience in the second semester will involve significant additional development of the student's knowledge, experience, and skills beyond what the student achieved during the first semester.

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Questions About Externships?

Contact Matthew McGovern
Director of Experiential Learning

Tel: 610-519-3893
Office: Room 158

Check our FAQs page

Director of Experiential Learning, Matt McGovern

Director of Experiential Learning, Matt McGovern

Matt manages the Law School’s Externship Program and teaches the classroom component of the judicial and non-judicial externship courses. Matt joined the Law School in 2007 as a librarian and legal research instructor.  He was appointed Director of Experiential Learning in 2015. Before pursuing a career at Villanova, Matt was a staff pharmacist at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland. He also practiced law with the Maryland Attorney General’s Office where he represented the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. Matt holds a J.D. from the University of Maryland and an M.S. in Library and Information Science from Drexel University.