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The American University Washington College of Law (AUWCL) created the Public Interest/Public Service Scholars (PIPS) Program in 2001 to provide financial and programmatic support to students with a clearly demonstrated commitment to public service, strong academic credentials, and an express desire to pursue a public interest or public service career upon graduation. Working closely with the Assistant Director of the Office of Public Interest, PIPS Scholars receive individualized academic and career counseling, faculty and other public interest mentoring, as well as additional support to ensure their experience at AUWCL equips them to pursue rewarding and meaningful careers in non-profit organizations, the government, or private public interest law firms.

AUWCL is proud to provide these three-year, full-tuition scholarships as part of its commitment to human dignity, community empowerment and global justice by investing in the next wave of public interest leadership. The scholarships are provided to allow scholars to concentrate on public interest commitments while in law school and to have a stronger financial position from which to engage in public interest careers upon graduation.

Infographic: 12-14% of AUWCL graduates accept post-graduate public interest employment, almost twice the national average.
Over 1/3 of graduates in the Class of 2014 were employed in public interest/public service positions at 10 months after graduation.
12-14% of AUWCL graduates accept post-graduate public interest employment, almost TWICE the national average Over 1/3 of graduates in the Class of 2014 were employed in public interest/public service positions at 10 months after graduation



Opportunities and Employment

PIPS scholars have joined a diverse range of public interest/public service positions upon graduation, including:

  • The American Bar Association
  • Catholic Legal Immigration Network
  • USAID Southern Africa
  • The National Juvenile Defender Center
  • Public Justice Center
  • United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees
  • The Southern Poverty Law Center
  • Ayuda
  • The Bronx Defenders
  • Colorado Public Defender
  • US Department of Labor, Fair Labor Standards Division
  • The International Committee of the Red Cross
  • The National Center for Transgender Equality

See PIPS Scholar success for yourself: Read Selected PIPS Scholar Alumni bios.

Application & Selection Process

Both the scholarship application and the full general admissions application must be submitted electronically by the January 15th deadline in order to be considered for the scholarship. Click here to apply for the PIPS scholarship. Click here to apply for the PIPS scholarship.

Applications are first reviewed by the general Admissions Committee. If an applicant is accepted into the full-time JD program, the application will then be forwarded to the PIPS Scholarship Selection Committee.

The PIPS Scholarship Selection Committee is made up of the Assistant Director of the Office of Public Interest, faculty and staff members, and one or more third-year PIPS Scholars. The Committee looks for academically strong applicants whose backgrounds demonstrate a substantial commitment to public service and who have experience, characteristics, and credentials to become effective public interest and public service lawyers.

Although applications are reviewed on a rolling basis after the January 15th deadline, scholarship offers may not be finalized until early to mid-April.

Please also review the PIPS Scholars Benefits and Responsibilities.

Frequently Asked Questions

For answers to Frequently Asked Questions, please click here.

Financial Aid Information

Scholarship recipients may apply for other restricted scholarships as well as federal and private loans to cover cost of living while in law school. Recipients are not eligible for need based grants offered by the law school.

Viewing Your Application Attachments

Once you submit your application, your attachments can be viewed by downloading the application and clicking on the attachments tab on the left hand side of the PDF. Make sure you have the most recent version of Adobe Acrobat Reader.


"I chose the PIPS Scholarship Program because AUWCL seemed to be "walking the walk" instead of just "talking the talk." A lot of schools say they are dedicated to public service, but AUWCL offered full-ride scholarships to several students a year, specifically for public service. That showed me that they really meant business! It also speaks to the kind of community that develops at a school like AUWCL-I would say that a majority of the student body is interested in pursuing public service, not just PIPS scholars. The environment is less cutthroat than it seems to be at other schools, and people are really driven and passionate."

Liz Leman (PIPS Class '17)
Washington College of Law 2L and PIPS Scholar

"My passion for refugee protection drove my decision to attend law school. I sought a school that prioritized both public interest and international law. AUWCL provided that balance. The school, well-known for its exceptional international law program, provided immense and unique opportunities to gain valuable experience in the international legal world... Before accepting my PIPS award, I spoke with current and former PIPS scholars and was struck by their level passion and dedication to social justice. The PIPS program transformed law school for me... The program is unique because it provides a personalized and humanized approach to law school, which allowed me to focus on the social issues that mattered most to me."

Chris Keeler (PIPS Class '16)
Washington College of Law 3L and PIPS Scholar

"With AUWCL, and the PIPS program in particular, I had the financial, social, and academic support to seamlessly transition into a meaningful public interest career. The relationships forged through the program provided me an instant professional network as well as deep and enduring friendships with a vibrant community of inspiring classmates and professors."

Ana Corina "Cori" Alonso-Yoder (PIPS Class '11)
Staff Attorney with the Whitman-Walker Health Legal Team

"I went to AUWCL because of the PIPS program: it provided a unique support system with cutting-edge and creative educational and leadership opportunities during law school and a financial way to fulfill my dream of serving low-income immigrants after graduation. One of my most important experiences at AUWCL was being a student attorney in the highly-reputable clinical program. My clinical professor was not only approachable and available during law school but has continued to be my professional mentor since graduating and has provide guidance in all of my employment decisions."

Shanti Martin Brown (PIPS Class '09)
Staff Attorney at Ayuda
(Photo by Jon Styer)

"The PIPS scholarship at AUWCL gave me the financial freedom and experience to launch my career as one of the first anti-trafficking attorneys in the United States. Ten years later I am still so happy to have received such excellent support from the PIPS program and know that the legal education I received at AUWCL has allowed me to assist 100's of trafficking survivors and influence both state and federal policy."

Stephanie Richard (PIPS Class '02)
Policy & Legal Services Director Coalition to Abolish Slavery & Trafficking


Meet Our Current Scholars

Meet Our Current Scholars

For more information contact:

Brooke Sandoval
Associate Director
Office of Admissions
American University Washington College of Law
4300 Nebraska Avenue, NW
Capital Hall - Suite C201
Washington, DC 20016
Phone: 202-274-4103
Email: sandoval@wcl.american.edu

Angie McCarthy
Assistant Director
Office of Public Interest
American University Washington College of Law
4300 Nebraska Avenue, NW
Capital Hall - Suite C115
Washington, DC 20016
Phone: 202-274-4099
Email: amccarth@wcl.american.edu