Columbia Law School offers students the opportunity to enrich their understanding of law, language, culture, and governance in a global context through enrollment in one of more than 30 overseas academic programs offered by some of the world’s leading centers of legal scholarship.
These programs allow Columbia Law School students to fully immerse themselves in a foreign academic experience while still earning credit toward their Columbia J.D. Select study abroad programs offer CLS students additional degrees, certificates, internship opportunities, and/or expense stipends. Columbia’s study abroad portfolio can be divided into three groups:
The Global Alliance Programs, created in collaboration with world-renowned law faculties in Amsterdam, Oxford, and Paris, are also distinctive. They are defined by a structured engagement with a cohort of students from those partner schools and a curricular specialization in one of three fields: international criminal law, law and finance, and global business law and governance. Students spend one semester abroad, however, in the Paris and Amsterdam programs, are able to earn an additional graduate degree and/or certificate at no additional cost.
The International Joint Degrees programs stand out among global programs at Columbia. J.D. students have the opportunity to spend their entire 3L year abroad and, at the same time, earn law degrees in the UK, France, or Germany.
Single-semester Study Abroad programs are available at approximately 20 of the world’s leading law schools located in more than a dozen different countries in Europe, Latin America, and Asia. All programs are open to 3L students, and some are open to 2L students as well. Some are taught in English, while others offer instruction in the local language. Some programs are held in the fall semester, and others in spring. Some programs may offer the opportunity to earn a distinctive certificate or undertake an overseas internship in conjunction with legal studies.
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?
General Information on Study Abroad
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 time that they are studying abroad regardless of their foreign grades.
Tuition. Students who participate in a study abroad program will continue to pay Columbia tuition, although in certain programs, health insurance and health service fees can be waived with proof of adequate alternative coverage for the entire year. All other student fees are waived.
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 joint 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. The timing of overseas study, however, may also present scheduling conflicts with regard to public interest hiring calendars. Please consult with Social Justice Initiatives to learn more.