JD/ DESS Program

JD/Master Program in Global Business Law (formerly JD/DESS program)


Program Description


The program consists of two years of law study at Columbia Law School, followed by one year of study in Paris at the Institut d'études politiques ("Sciences-Po"). At the end of the three years Columbia students will obtain the French Master's in Global Business Law, and the U.S. JD. The aim of this highly selective, multi-disciplinary and international diploma in Global Business Law is to provide a small number of lawyers and students with an in-depth theoretical and practical acquaintance with the nature and needs of the global market, in a manner that synthesizes law and political science while borrowing from the best of both civil and common law pedagogical techniques.


Classes conducted by leading European experts from the prestigious Institut d'études politiques will provide Columbia students with a European perspective on international law and business issues. In addition to the faculty members from Sciences-Po, professors from other leading law faculties in Europe will be invited as visiting professors. The program emphasizes interactive, bi-lingual discussion, in small specially tailored groups, in which Columbia students (who will be provided with linguistic support if necessary), will study with their French counterparts. Participants will also have an opportunity to undertake a research paper that can be supervised by their home faculty or by a faculty member in Paris.


Application Process for U.S. Students


Columbia J.D. students apply in their first year of study. Students must submit a written application, a statement of purpose, a résumé, and a transcript from their first semester at Columbia. In April, applicants are informed if they have passed the initial screening. As this program is taught in both French and English, it is important that students have an intermediate or advanced level of French language. Interviews in English and French may be conducted with selected students. Students are selected on the basis of their academic record at Columbia, strength of their written statement, and professional and educational experience. Only two students will be selected.


 Curriculum at Columbia Law School



Students are expected to take all required Foundation courses in their first year.  In the second year, students must take 31 credits focusing on U.S. law subjects.


Curriculum in Paris


The fall semester runs from mid-October to mid-January. Some courses are taught only in English, others only in French, and a few in both English and French. In the first semester, students may expect to take the following courses: General Introduction to Law; Contracts, Torts and Restitution; Corporations and Agencies; International Trade and Law of Property. Students may also take a French language course (not for credit) in both the fall and spring semesters. The spring semester runs from February to May. In this semester, students are required to take: Antitrust and competition law; International Contracts; and WTO Litigation. Students will also take three electives from the following: International Litigation and Arbitration; Technique juridique du commerce international; French and European Labor Law; Negotiation Workshop; European Business; and Lobbying européen. These courses will change slightly from year to year, and students with previous educational or professional experience in a particular field may be exempted from taking certain required courses.


Requirements for Student Performance and Grading Methods


In Paris, students will be required to take both oral and written exams. Depending on the course, students may also be required to write papers or to provide oral presentations. Students will be graded according to the French numeric system. Students receive grades between 1 and 20 for individual courses, which are then averaged together at the end of each year for the final grade. 10 out of 20 is a passing grade or passable. French honors or mention are given as follows: assez bien for a final grade of between 13-14.9; bien for a grade between 15-16.9; and trés bien for a grade of 17 or higher.

Columbia transcripts do not list French grades and reflect only credit for work conducted in Paris. The ABA requires that Columbia receive and review copies of all written work submitted while abroad.


Students are also required to write brief monthly reports describing their coursework in Paris. These reports and copies of written work will be reviewed here at Columbia.


Tuition & Fees at Columbia and Sciences-Po


Students pay full Columbia tuition during the 3 years of the program. The tuition at Sciences-Po will be paid by Columbia. Other fees, including student activity fees, etc, are waived during the third year of the program. Insurance and Health Service Fees can be waived in most instances with proof of alternative coverage. Students must pay the social security (French insurance fees) in the amount of approximately $275. If students are over age 28, they are not eligible to receive French health insurance through the State, but may keep Columbia coverage or purchase private French insurance in Paris.



Financial Issues


Students' financial aid eligibility is not affected by participation in this program. As with any move, there are additional costs associated with relocating to Paris. Living expenses in Paris are on a par with those in New York, although rent is generally less expensive in Paris than in New York.




Sciences-Po does not have on-site housing facilities. However, students will be assisted in their housing search. Sciences-Po can sometimes arrange a studio in residence, which can be reserved in advance. Sciences-Po will also provide students with logistical help (lists of agencies, newspaper ads, student exchanges, contacts).



New York State Bar


As students finish the program in May and are eligible for the July New York State Bar Exam.


A Comparison of the JD/Maîtrise, JD/Master, and the Semester Exchange Program at Paris II


The JD/Maîtrise is a four-year program (two years in Paris) for students who want to be fully qualified to practice law in France and the US, as it provides the fundamentals of both systems of law. Because the instruction is entirely in French, students become completely fluent in French legal language, writing and culture.


The three-year JD/Master program (one year in Paris) is for students who wish to gain a European and French perspective on international business law. The one year in Paris provides a specialized French graduate degree (the Maîtrise is not a graduate degree). While the program may permit participants to take the French Bar Exam, it does not provide the in-depth French legal training that the JD/Maîtrise program affords participants.


The semester study abroad program is ideal for students who want an introduction to French law, and for those students who want to focus on public international law offerings, or a mixture of public and private law courses. This program also requires a high level of French fluency as all courses are conducted in French. No degree is granted with this program.


Please see separate links on the JD/Maîtrise and semester programs for more detailed information.