Things to consider when choosing a study abroad program:
- Do you speak any foreign languages?
- When would you like to go abroad? (Spring, Fall, 2L year, or 3L year, etc.)
- Is there a particular field of law you are interested in?
- Is there a region or country you are interested in?
- What are your career plans?
- Do you have the ability to delay degree conferral or the bar?
- Would you prefer to study with other Law School students?
- Do you hold an F1 student visa?
Non-US Passport Holders. J.D. students who are in the US on F1 student visas must assume that, if they participate in a full-year-abroad dual degree program (i.e., a dual degree other than the Amsterdam Global Alliance), they will not be eligible for Optional Practical Training upon their return to the US. For further information, please contact the International Scholars and Students Office (ISSO) well before departing from the US.
Application Timing. The study abroad application is available in the spring semester during the month of February. Students apply for study abroad during the following academic year. For example, a 2L student would apply in the spring semester of the current academic year to study abroad during the spring semester of the following academic year. Students are notified in April of their placement in a study abroad program.
Credits. Columbia Law Students are required to complete 83 academic credits in the J.D. program and are required to enroll for the equivalent of 11 to 13 credits while abroad. (All Law School student are allowed one, 11-credit semester during the course of their J.D. studies.) Acceptance of credit from a course taken at a foreign school is subject to a determination that it meets Columbia Law School's requirements. If a grade equivalent to a Columbia C- or below is received, Columbia cannot give credit for that course.
Please note that students are unable to receive Columbia Law School honors (Kent or Stone) during the academic year that they are studying abroad regardless of their foreign grades.
Credit Transfer Policy. The Law School awards JD credit for overseas study in a manner that is consistent with ABA’s Standard 310 (“Determination of Credit Hours for Coursework”). As a general matter, we usually require about 14-15 hours of classroom time, each supported by approximately two hours of out-of-classroom work, for each one credit that is applied towards the JD.
Tuition. Students who participate in study abroad programs will continue to pay full Columbia tuition to Columbia. It is possible that non-Columbia students who enroll in the same classes overseas may pay lower tuition directly to the overseas partner school. The differences in tuition charges reflect, among other things, the different credentials awarded in each case and their respective values. Columbia tuition also pays for administrative services provided by the Office of International Programs in support of individual study abroad students and the management of over two dozen institutional partnerships.
Health and Related Services Fee. All students who participate in study abroad programs will continue to be charged for the Health and Related Services Fee by Columbia Health. The fee pays for a range of Columbia Health support services including, for students studying abroad, telephonic access to mental health counseling and sexual violence response services; provision of disability services at overseas partner schools; and administrative assistance with medical care arrangements, evacuation and repatriation as necessary.
Other Fees. Certain campus-based fees, including the Student Activity Fee and University Facilities fees, are waived during a student’s period of study abroad.
Responsibility for Costs. Students are responsible for the cost of living while abroad, as well for other costs that may be associated with studying at the specific institution where they have enrolled. These latter costs include, but are not limited to, travel to and from the foreign country; printing costs; visa fees and related processing charges; local taxes and, where applicable, residence fees (e.g., Amsterdam); additional liability insurance, where applicable (e.g., Amsterdam); and housing expenses such as rent and, where applicable, related administrative fees (e.g., Amsterdam).
Health Insurance. All Law School students, including those who study abroad, must either be covered by the Columbia health insurance plan or by comparable insurance that has been approved by Columbia Health. Students who wish to participate in study abroad must, before the Law School can approve their enrollment at the overseas partner school, either certify that they will continue to be covered by Columbia health insurance while abroad, or present documentation confirming that their third party insurance plan will continue to provide the same level of coverage while they are abroad. Overseas partner schools (e.g., Amsterdam, Paris 1) may impose additional insurance requirements. Depending on the specific third party plan, this may require that a student purchase additional coverage.
Graduation Requirements. Study abroad programs do not exempt students from any of the standard graduation requirements for the J.D. degree, such as Professional Responsibility, Major and Minor Writing, and the pro bono requirement. It may be possible, while studying abroad, to arrange work with a local nongovernmental organization that would qualify toward the fulfillment of the pro bono requirement. Please consult with Social Justice Initiatives for further information.
Travel Arrangements. Students are responsible for making their own travel, visa, and housing arrangements. The Law School's Office of International Programs may be able to assist somewhat in this regard, but the degree of assistance offered by the partner schools varies significantly by school and program.
Important note for international students (i.e., F1 visa holders): Please be sure to speak with ISSO about the implications of an international dual degree program for your F1 visa status and OPT. As a general rule, if you spend your entire 3L year abroad and do not receive your degree in May of that year, your F1 status will end upon completion of your 2L year. Specific challenges and strategies may vary depending on nationality.
Disability Accommodation. Not all partner institutions offer the same level of accessibility services to individuals with disabilities. Columbia Law School recommends that students who require any special accommodations contact the partner institution prior to their travel abroad.
Cancellation. Our partner schools reserve the right to cancel any course for reasons of insufficient student registration. If changes are announced prior to a student’s departure from the U.S., and the student is unable to identify satisfactory substitute courses, he or she may choose to withdraw from the program. If a cancellation occurs after the student has arrived abroad, substitute courses must be selected and submitted to the Office of International Programs for approval.
Public Interest Careers. Studying abroad has been very beneficial for many students who are considering a public interest career. It may, however, conflict with taking clinics, externships or other courses, or doing pro bono that public interest employers value. The timing of overseas study, may also present scheduling conflicts with regard to public interest hiring calendars. Please consult with Social Justice Initiatives to learn more.
Partner School Contact Information. Each study abroad partner school must identify a responsible contact person for Columbia students participating in the program there. The specific person at each school, however, may change frequently. For the most up-to-date listing, please contact the Office of International Programs at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Different Administrative Context. Columbia Law School offers students the opportunity to study abroad, not within the context of a U.S. program that happens to be situated in a foreign locale, but as enrolled students who are fully immersed in an educational program structured, administered and taught within a different legal educational culture. We believe the value of this approach is self-evident, but students should nonetheless be aware of the potential costs: While each overseas partner has been vetted as meeting Columbia’s own high academic standards, few schools anywhere outside the United States are able to draw on a similar depth of administrative resources. Students who study abroad should thus anticipate a rewarding intellectual experience, but also bureaucratic and cultural challenges that may surpass those typically found in a U.S. legal educational context. Students who have never studied or lived abroad are strongly encouraged, before submitting an application, to discuss these issues with the Office of International Programs.
General Policies on Study Abroad. Columbia Law School offers study abroad programs out of a firm belief in the value, to those students who elect to participate, of enriching an understanding of law, language, culture, and governance in a global context through enrollment in an overseas academic program at one of the world’s leading centers of legal scholarship.
The benefits of CLS study abroad programs vary depending on the partner school and the student, but can include a topical focus on an area of law that is covered in greater depth abroad; a geographical focus on a country or region that figures in a student’s career plans; exposure to the civil law system; an international network of professional contacts; and an opportunity to improve language proficiency.
Study abroad programs are approved and monitored by faculty and/or law school administrators with sufficient training and experience in international legal education to ensure that 1) the content of studies is such that JD credit would have been granted had they been undertaken at Columbia; and 2) the course of study is either related to the socio-legal environment of the country in which the foreign school is located, or has an international or comparative focus.
The Law School appoints for each student who participates in a study abroad program an academic advisor, with the qualifications cited above, who is responsible for: 1) approving in advance the student’s course of study at the foreign school; 2) developing with the student a written plan to define the educational objectives for the student’s study abroad; 3) ensuring that course materials and methods of evaluation are satisfactory for the award of credit; 4) ensuring that the student is proficient in the language of instruction; 5) ensuring that the student has reliable access to library resources that are adequate to meet the educational objectives of the course of study; 6) the student is offered at or shortly after the conclusion of the period of study abroad an opportunity to evaluate in writing the faculty, courses offered and the experience at the foreign institution; 7) the student is provided with the contact information for a responsible contact person at the foreign institution.
For further information, please contact the Office of International Programs at email@example.com.