Frequently Asked Questions

Answering the Application Questions

Q. What Does the PIPS Scholarship Selection Committee look for in a successful candidate?
A. The Selection Committee looks for applicants with strong academic credentials and the desire and potential to pursue a meaningful public interest or public service career upon graduation.

Q. What if I am still unsure what I want to do after law school?
A. There is no requirement that you know exactly what you plan to do with your career when you finish law school in order to apply for the PIPS scholarship. Indeed, many scholars arrive with one public service oriented goal and change their focus over time to a different public service field. If you are unable to pinpoint a particular field at the time of application, you should discuss the various fields and issues that you are interested in exploring during law school.

Q. What kinds of contributions to the scholarship program are you seeking?
A. Each class of PIPS scholars has a unique group dynamic fostered by the various backgrounds and interests of the individual members. Try to provide the selection committee with a sense of who you are and what you are interested in. For example, you might talk more about your background and life experience, highlight relevant skills you have, or articulate how you want to use the scholarship to take your education and professional experience in a new direction during law school. Ask yourself, what can I contribute to meeting the unmet legal needs of underserved groups?

Q. What counts as past public interest experience? 
A. The selection committee embraces a broad definition of public service, which includes, but is not limited to, work with nonprofits or non-governmental organizations; local, state or Federal government employment; and private public interest enterprise. Public service work may take the form of volunteer or paid work in high school, during undergraduate or graduate study or through full-time employment. Applicants should highlight any direct-service (client- centered) public service work in which they have participated.

Q.  Why are you asking me to do a video?
A. We would like to give you the opportunity to express yourself, and demonstrate your commitment both to public interest/service and to becoming a PIPS scholar at AUWCL.

Q.  What if I am unable or unwilling to do a video?
A. No problem. Any applicant who is unable or unwilling to appear on video may instead answer the question prompt in writing (no more than one page, single spaced, 12 pt. font), and upload it to the online application.

Q.  Where and how should I record my video?
A. We recommend finding a place with a good internet connection that is free from distractions. We anticipate many of you will use a webcam or your smart phone. Again, this is not intended to be a high quality production. Rather, think of it more like answering an interview question.

Screenshot of PIPS video submission

Q. I don’t see my PIPS video noted on my submitted application. Did it go through?
A. You will not see your video noted on your submitted application. Rather, the only confirmation you will receive of your video’s submission is a window that looks like this (left).

Q.  I am experiencing technical difficulties with the video upload. Who should I contact?
A. If you have technical questions related to the video portion of the application, email

The Optional Letter of Recommendation

Q. What should be included in the optional letter of recommendation?
A. Law school applicants often submit letters from academic references for their general admission application. For this reason, we allow one additional letter to be submitted addressing the candidate’s public interest/service experience. Ideally, someone who has supervised you in a professional setting and is familiar with your dedication to public service will write the letter. The letter should highlight your professional skills, public service dedication and fitness for law school and legal practice.

Q. How should the optional letter of recommendation be submitted?
A. Recommenders should send their letter directly to the law school, not through LSAC, either by mail or email. Email submissions must be received directly from the recommender’s email address.

Office of Admissions
Attn: PIPS Selection Committee

American University Washington College of Law
4300 Nebraska Ave, NW Washington, DC 20016

Email Address:

Other Frequently Asked Questions

Q. Are part-time/evening JD program candidates eligible to apply?
A.  No. To be eligible for the PIPS program, you must be admitted to the full-time JD program at American University Washington College of Law.

Q.   Are foreign nationals eligible for the PIPS scholarship program?
A.  Yes, as long as they meet the requirements for admission into the full time JD program.

Q.  Can I apply to the PIPS Program if I have not yet been accepted?
A.  Yes, you may submit a PIPS application prior to receiving an admissions decision from AUWCL. If you are later accepted, you will then be considered for the PIPS scholarship, provided the PIPS Selection Committee is still considering applications at that time.

Q. Will the scholarship selection committee receive my general JD admissions application?  Will they receive my general admissions essay?
A.  Yes, the PIPS Scholarship Selection Committee will receive your scholarship application materials, LSAC CAS report (letters of recommendation, LSAT/GRE scores, and transcripts), and your regular admissions application and essay. The PIPS selection committee reviews your other letters of recommendation as well. However, because the PIPS application asks you to answer specific questions about your public interest commitment, career goals and leadership potential, the PIPS Scholarship Selection Committee may not read your general admissions essay.

Q.  How does the scholarship affect other financial aid?
A. Scholarship recipients may apply for federal loans (or private education loans, if needed) to cover cost of living while in law school. Recipients are not eligible for restricted scholarships, admissions merit scholarships, and need-based grants offered by the law school.