Study Abroad General Information
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 protected].
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 students who are directly enrolled and fully immersed in an educational program that is 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.
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.
Participants in Columbia Health Insurance plans will need to pay out of pocket for medical services, including routine medical and specialist visits and submit receipts along with an itemized bill to Aetna Student Health for reimbursement. If you are enrolled in a non-Columbia plan, you should anticipate that you will be required to report medical emergencies and medical expenses incurred internationally to your health insurance plan, with follow-up claim submissions submitted promptly as appropriate.
In all cases, prepare yourself by reviewing reporting requirements and reimbursement provisions of your particular health insurance plan before you travel.
Please note that, in addition to any other coverage you may have, some partner schools (e.g., Amsterdam, Paris 1, and Sciences Po) may require proof of certain specifically defined international coverage, or require supplementary insurance. Please see the web page for each individual program for details.
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.
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).
Tuition and Fees. 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.
Certain campus-based fees, including the Student Activity Fee and University Facilities fees, are waived during a student’s period of study abroad.
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.
As a general rule, CLS does not give credit towards the JD for clinics, field placements, and other experiential learning programs undertaken as part of a Study Abroad program.
Courses taken abroad may not be counted toward Kent or Stone honors. Students who are abroad for a semester are only eligible for honors if they have registered for at least 15 graded credits from CLS during that academic year.
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 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.
Graduation Requirements. Study abroad programs do not exempt students from any of the standard graduation requirements for the J.D. degree, such as Experiential Learning, 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.
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.
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.
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.
Important: 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.
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 [email protected].
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.
Relationship with foreign institutions: Columbia Law School has semester exchange and/or dual degree agreements with more than 20 of the world's leading law schools. Enrollment in one of these programs gives students the opportunity to enrich their understanding of law, language, culture, and governance in a global context. Columbia Law students may also petition to study for a semester at a non-partner foreign law school, provided that the program fulfills certain administrative requirements and offers a program of study that warrants a semester of CLS credit.
Number of students: The number of students participating in each program changes from year to year. For information on recent enrollment in any particular program, please contact the Office of International Programs at [email protected].
Student performance and grading methods: Students who participate in study abroad programs will receive transcripts from our partner law schools The grades earned abroad will not be listed on students' Columbia transcripts, which will only indicate the number of credits earned while participating in a study abroad program. In order to be approved for credit by the law school, the courses at the overseas school must, among other things, be law courses in which the students received the equivalent of a “C”or better. Specific requirements for student performance and grading methods can be found on the individual program pages on the Study Abroad section of the Law School's website, or by contacting the Office of International Programs at [email protected].
Partner School Contact Information. Each study abroad partner school must identify a person responsible for responding to contacts from 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 [email protected].
Disability Services: Columbia Law School does not offer its own courses of study overseas, but rather places students within standing academic programs managed by its partner schools. Those schools, and the cities in which they are located, may lack many of the standard disability accommodations that are found at Columbia and throughout the United States. Students are urged to consult directly with the Office of International Programs about the conditions at specific schools and the possibility of requesting reasonable accommodations for documented disabilities.
Program cancellations: Columbia Law School reserves the right to cancel its study abroad offerings at a foreign partner school in the event of a change in academic, safety, financial or other factors. In the unlikely event of cancellation, the Law School will use its best efforts to provide reasonable notice to students who may be directly affected and will attempt to place in a substitute program or facilitate enrollment on the Law School campus.
Housing Abroad: Additional information about the availability, approximate cost and location of housing at Columbia Law School's partner schools may be found individual program pages on the Law School's Study Abroad website.
Refund Policies: Columbia Law School's refund policies are located on this page.
Emergency Services: The University has retained International SOS (ISOS) to provide worldwide travel emergency medical assistance, to include medical and evacuation coverage for faculty, staff and students while abroad on Columbia-related Travel. ISOS can also be contacted to help students find convenient and appropriate care in close proximity to their location. Please note that ISOS is a travel assistance program, however, and is NOT health insurance.
Mental Health Support: In order to better support the mental health needs of Columbia University affiliates abroad, the University offers two additional services from ISOS: Enhanced Emotional Support and LiveChat.
Enhanced Emotional Support allows Columbia travelers up to five free counseling sessions (per trip) with a certified mental health practitioner while abroad. These sessions can take place via phone, Skype, or where available, in person, at the choosing of the traveler. Access to this offering is available 24/7 by calling the ISOS dedicated scholastic line at +1 215-942-8478. For students who have provided consent, continuity of care with Counseling and Psychological Service (CPS) will be coordinated for when the student returns to campus.
LiveChat allows Columbia affiliates who have downloaded the ISOS Assistance app (available on Apple, Android, and Windows platforms) to “chat” 24/7 in real-time with an ISOS representative regarding any health, safety or security issues that may arise during their travels, from the convenience of their phone. As LiveChat can be used via a Wi-Fi signal, it incurs no data/roaming charges.
For additional information, please contact the Office of International Programs at [email protected].