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Geneva Externship Information and Application Process

Michigan Law offers semester-long externship opportunities with leading intergovernmental and nongovernmental (NGO) institutions in Geneva during the winter term. Students are immersed in the work of these international institutions and closely supervised by their legal staffs, and explore how international legal regimes intersect with such diverse fields as trade, human rights, intellectual property, environment, telecommunications, and health. Externs participate in a contemporaneous seminar intended to provide them substantive context for their externships by focusing on the roles and practices of international organizations and NGOs and the place of law in their work.


Externship programs are under the jurisdiction of the Curriculum Committee. Students are responsible for following the correct procedures for their externship application/proposal.

A student may not engage in both the externship and study abroad program during his or her matriculation at the Law School.


A student may earn a maximum of 13 credits for an approved externship program in a regular academic term.

Students who propose a final semester externship must also include in their application packet a completed Registrar Checklist showing that at the end of the externship all requirements for their degree will have been met.

Student Eligibility

The externship program is open to second- or third-year law students who are in good academic standing at the Law School. LAW 540, Intro to Constitutional Law, must be completed prior to the beginning of the externship semester.  Students must also fulfill the international/comparative law distribution requirement prior to the beginning of the externship semester.

A student should be fully committed to completing an externship in Geneva before submitting an application; once a student has applied to and is accepted by one of the organizations, they will be expected to participate in the externship unless illness or other serious problem arises.

Only students in good standing are eligible for externship programs. In deciding whether to approve an externship program, the members of the Committee may take into account the student's academic performance at the Law School.

The Committee will more than likely not approve a proposal from a student who has two or more outstanding Incompletes on his or her transcript at the time the proposal is submitted. Students with two or more Incomplete grades who receive permission from the Committee to participate in the externship program will be required to resolve at least one of the Incompletes before the start of the externship term. Students are not permitted to engage in an externship with more than one Incomplete grade on their transcript at the time of their departure.


The deadline to submit a complete application package for a Winter 2017 Geneva Externship is Monday, February 29, 2016. It is the student's responsibility to make sure that all parts of the externship application package have been received by the deadline.

Tuition and Living Expenses

Students who pursue an externship in Geneva are known as Geneva International Fellows, each of whom receives a $3,000 fellowship to assist with Geneva-related expenses. Externs are also eligible for financial aid for the externship semester. Students registered for full time externships are charged the full rate of tuition.

Other Prerequisites or Preferences

Each agency engages in different types of work and looks for varying qualifications in the applicants. As you read the agency descriptions and their preferences, keep in mind that the desired qualifications are just that—preferences; they are not requirements.

Application Process

Each student proposing an externship program must submit a complete Geneva Externship Application Package. A complete package consists of both an online form and documents sent to Barbara Glispin in the Center for International and Comparative Law as email attachments. Students are encouraged to review the different placement site descriptions prior to applying to help guide their decision on preferred placements. The online externship application can be accessed here.

The electronic documents submitted by the student consist of an Essay of Interest, Preferred Placement Cover Letters, described below, and the student's resume. The student's Faculty Letter of Recommendation should also be sent to Barbara Glispin by the faculty member.

Once a student's application package is complete, they will be contacted to set up an application interview with Prof. Amy Sankaran, who oversees all externships at Michigan Law, and Theresa Kaiser-Jarvis, Assistant Dean for International Affairs.

Essay of Interest

The essay provides an opportunity for the student to persuade the Law School that the externship will enable the student to fulfill educational objectives that cannot be achieved through Law School classes or in the ordinary course of professional opportunities available to the student. It also provides a way for host sites to evaluate and distinguish student applications, as well as develop a sense of the student's background, interest areas, and expertise. Students are advised to highlight their particular strengths, relevant experiences, and practice area interests. Students should also include how the externship builds on work he or she has done, or how it will contribute to the student's educational pursuits.

The Essay of Interest must be submitted as an e-mail attachment to the Center for International and Comparative Law to be included as part of the application package.

Preferred Placement Cover Letter

A cover letter must be provided for each preferred placement identified by the student. The letter should state the specific reasons why the student is interested in working at that particular site. The Preferred Placement Cover Letter(s) must be submitted as an e-mail attachment to the Center for International and Comparative Law to be included as part of the application package.

Statement of Work Environment Preferences

To assist with the internal selection process, students must provide a short paragraph addressing personal preferences regarding office environment and culture. When completing this portion of the application, some questions to consider might include:

  • Do you work better in a large office with many colleagues or a smaller one?
  • Do you prefer to work on a single long-term project or many short-time items?
  • Do you require frequent feedback on your work from your supervisor?
  • What is more important to you, the subject of the work you do or the type of workplace?

Final Semester Externship

If a student is proposing an externship in what would be their final semester of law school, he or she must meet with the Law School's Registrar to complete a Registrar Checklist for submission and inclusion with the application package.

Application Interview

Each applicant will be required to participate in an interview with Prof. Sankaran and Dean Kaiser-Jarvis as part of the application process. These interviews will take place during the first week after Winter Break. The Center for International and Comparative Law will contact each applicant to schedule this interview.

Overseas Travel Waiver

As a condition of enrolling for overseas externship credit, students must complete an Overseas Travel Waiver. This requirement applies whether or not the U.S. State Department has issued a travel alert or travel warning for the country to which you plan to travel. See the Overseas Travel Requirements page for more complete information, and a link to the Overseas Travel Waiver. ​​

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