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The CDC Externship in Public Health Law

Interested in learning how law can be used as a tool to protect and promote the public’s health?

Law has been critical in achieving public health goals and serves as the foundation for governmental public health practice in the United States. Many of public health's greatest successes, including high childhood immunization rates, improved motor vehicle safety, safer workplaces, and reduced tooth decay, are the result of legal interventions. Today, law plays an increasingly important role in addressing emerging public health threats such as childhood obesity, healthcare-associated infections, motor vehicle injuries, and prescription drug overdoses.

The CDC Externship in Public Health Law consists of 9–14 weeks of professional work experience, for academic credit, with CDC’s Public Health Law Program (PHLP) in Atlanta, Georgia. With rolling start and completion dates during the academic year, the unpaid externship exposes law students to the public health field, allows them to explore the critical role law plays in advancing public health goals, and must be for academic credit as authorized by law schools or schools of public health. We do not offer volunteer internships or other volunteer opportunities.   

The externship creates a formalized entry-level experience for rising and current 3rd year law students who are interested in exploring careers in public health law. This opportunity might be particularly appealing to individuals who have conducted public health or other scientific research, worked with data sets and coding processes, and have a proven ability to work independently and follow projects through to completion.

PHLP is a dynamic group of public health lawyers and analysts who work to advance the use of law as a public health tool. PHLP provides services and resources such as technical assistance, publications, and workforce development to CDC programs and state, tribal, local, and territorial health departments.

The program features

  • Work experience on one or more core projects with mentorship from a CDC PHLP staff attorney
  • Exposure to a complex, government work environment and a team of public health lawyers with diverse expertise
  • Involvement in work projects that impact the mission of PHLP and CDC
  • Opportunities to co-author published articles and other materials
  • Communication and mentorship with a dedicated preceptor throughout the externship experience
  • Active participation in weekly PHLP staff meetings
  • Opportunities to showcase experiences in an end-of-externship presentation

To apply, please send a resume and cover letter to Applications are accepted via email only.


  • Summer–February 28
  • Fall—May 31
  • Spring—November 1