Amsterdam Semester Exchange Program
More than 40 Columbia Law students have participated in the exchange program with the Amsterdam Law School (“ALS,” a division of the University of Amsterdam's School of Law). Established in 1994, this English-language program is ideal for students who wish to gain an in-depth understanding of various aspects of European and international law.
In a given semester, approximately 20 courses are offered. While the majority of these are EU and international law subjects, the ALS also offers several legal theory and comparative law topics each year. In the fall semester, introductory courses in European and international law are provided for those students who do not have a background in these areas. In addition to the basic EU law course, the ALS offers a number of specialized courses that allow students to delve into a variety of subtopics within EU law (e.g. European Contract Law, European Family Law, European Competition Law, European Tort Law, and International Economics and the European Union, to name just a few). The International Law curriculum also offers several specialized courses such as the Formation of States and the Law of Self-Determination, the Politics of International Law, and International Refugee Law, among others. These and other courses serve both as areas of substantive value in their own right and as a basis for a comparative perspective on students' U.S. legal studies.
In addition to the above-mentioned courses, students may apply to participate in the Amsterdam International Law Clinic, which provides legal services to law firms, governmental or non-governmental organizations and companies on EU law and international (public and private) matters. Columbia students may also work directly with a Dutch faculty member on an independent research project, and for those students with a very strong EU or international law background, it may be possible to take specialized LL.M. courses from ALS.
The student body comprises students from all over Europe (generally in their third or fourth year of legal studies), a handful from other US universities, and a few Dutch law students. The international profile of the student body is a very enriching part of the program -- the diversity of opinions and legal systems represented gives students a truly international perspective, as well as contacts with legal professionals throughout Europe.
The Amsterdam Law School is conveniently located in the heart of the city in historic buildings, some dating back to the 16th century. Housing is generally provided to our students and is a short bike or trolley ride away from the Law School. Museums, parks, and other historic sites are within easy distance to the school. There are numerous NGOs and international organizations in Amsterdam that may provide students with an opportunity to complete pro bono requirements, and serve as an enriching complement to the academic experience. Amsterdam is approximately 40-45 minutes by train to The Hague, where the International Court of Justice, as well as other tribunals are located. Rail and air travel to other parts of the Netherlands and Europe are also very easy to arrange from Amsterdam.
Amsterdam's first semester (fall) is from early September to mid-December and the second semester (spring) is from early February to late May or early June. Examinations in the fall semester generally take place in January; however, special exams will be given for Columbia students prior to the Christmas holidays. Amsterdam will also arrange for early exams for our students in the 3L year, allowing students to participate in Columbia's graduation ceremony.
Eligibility & Application Procedure
Each year, up to five Columbia Law School students are permitted to study at Amsterdam for one semester, and five students from the University of Amsterdam study for one semester at Columbia Law School.
Applications are accepted in the spring semester prior to the year students wish to study abroad (e.g., 1Ls apply in the spring of their first year to go in the spring of their second year). As part of the application, students must submit a résumé, transcript and a statement describing their educational objectives and reasons for wishing to participate in the program. As part of the application, students must submit the name of a Columbia faculty member whom the Office of International Programs may contact with regard to the students' qualifications. In some instances, interviews may be conducted to assist in the selection process. Selections will be made upon the strength of the statement, academic record at Columbia, and faculty recommendations.
Course Load & Credit Hours
Amsterdam employs the ECT credit system. Courses that run for the entire semester are worth 10 ECTs. Those that are either in the first or second half of the semester are 5-ECT courses. Professors may allow students to add 5 ECTs to a 5-ECT course by writing an additional research paper. A typical load during the academic year is 60 ECTs. Columbia students are required to take a minimum of 3 offerings to equal 30 ECTs (for 11 credits).
For a listing of courses, visit the ALS website (Click on "Exchange programme").
Requirements for Student Performance & Grading Methods
Classes are conducted as both lectures and seminars. Classroom attendance is crucial for successful completion of courses, and is mandatory for some courses and seminars. Some of the more specialized courses may ask for prior knowledge of basic EU or international law. In the fall semester, Amsterdam offers introductory courses in EU and international law for those students who have not taken these courses in their home schools.
The Dutch grading system employs a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the maximum; 6 or above is a passing grade. Term papers will be graded either according to this scale, or they may be graded on a pass/fail basis. Students must submit written reports on their coursework to Columbia every four weeks (1 page per course). These course reports are read by the faculty sponsor, and are made available to the Columbia community.
Whenever possible, students' written work on examinations and papers will also be reviewed by Columbia after having been graded by the foreign institution. Acceptance of any credit or grade for any course taken in the program is subject to determination by Columbia Law School. Students will receive transcripts from the Amsterdam Law School. The grades earned abroad will not be listed on students' Columbia transcripts; the Columbia transcript will only indicate that students have earned X number of credits under an international study abroad program.
Participation in an exchange program or semester study abroad program does not exempt students from any requirements for the J.D. degree (i.e. profession of law, pro bono service, etc.).
Columbia students will continue to pay Columbia tuition, health insurance, and health service fees. Other Columbia student activity fees will be waived. Students may waive health insurance fees and health service fees at Columbia if alternative coverage is obtained.
Parker School Recognition
Students participating in a semester study abroad program are eligible to receive up to 7 of the 10 required academic points in international, foreign, or comparative law. Students should contact the Parker School upon completion of the program to ascertain how many credits will be awarded for their foreign study.
Contact Individuals & Application
Office of International Programs
tel: 212-854-8170; fax: 212-851-7691
Columbia Law School
435 West 116th Street
New York, NY 10027
Columbia Law School's Office of International Programs is located at:
William and June Warren Hall
1125 Amsterdam Avenue, 6th Floor
University of Amsterdam
Committee of Foreign Relations
Attn. Ms. Martha Oosterom
Faculty of Law of the University of Amsterdam
P.O. Box 1030, 1000 BA Amsterdam
tel: (+31) 20 525 3421; fax: (+31) 20 525 3455
Office of Foreign Relations (insurance questions)
University of Amsterdam Spui 25-27
1012 WX Amsterdam
tel: (+31) 20 525-2373; fax: (+31) 20 525 2771