Peking University Semester Exchange Program
Columbia University School of Law has established a semester exchange program with the Peking University School of Law in Beijing (Beida) under which up to two Columbia Law students may spend a semester in Beijing acquiring 11-13 credits toward the J.D. degree.
Students may choose from a wide variety of courses offered at the undergraduate and M.A. level, as well as through their new LL.M. program, conducted in English. Undergraduate and graduate (non-LL.M.) courses are taught in Chinese. Courses Columbia students have taken in the past include: Administrative Law, Corporation & Company Law, Chinese Civil Law, and the Chinese Judicial System.
Dates & Location
Generally, sessions run from early September through mid-January, and from late February until July. Beida is willing to shorten the semester to allow students to return to Columbia Law School before the beginning of the spring term. They may also be willing to shorten the spring semester, although this is less certain. Because of the shortened semesters, students must make arrangements with the individual professors to take their exams early (often in the form of a written paper).
Peking University is located in the College District of Beijing, which houses several other universities. The College District is approximately one hour from downtown Beijing (or longer, depending on traffic).
Eligibility and Application
Applications are accepted online 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 and a 1-1.5 page statement describing their educational objectives and reasons for wishing to participate in the program. Students must also submit the name of a Columbia faculty member whom the Office of International Programs may contact with regard to the students’ qualifications. Selections will be made upon the strength of the statement, academic record at Columbia, and faculty recommendations. Interviews will also be conducted to assist in the selection process to make sure that each applicant’s aural and oral Chinese is up to par.
Students considering participation in the exchange are very strongly recommended to take the Law and Legal Institutions in China course at Columbia Law School, which is generally offered in the fall semester.
Course Load & Credit Hours
Students will take at least 4 offerings, earning between 11-13 credits. The typical undergraduate course load is 7 courses of which only 4-5 may be law offerings. Most classes are conducted as lectures, and the LL.M.-level courses often include discussion sections (similar to Columbia seminars). Attendance is crucial for successful completion of courses, and may be mandatory for certain offerings. Most courses require a written exam at the end of the semester. While the upper-class courses may allow for an open-book exam, the first year courses are generally closed-book.
While fluency in Mandarin is not required, proficiency in Chinese is strongly recommended, and we urge students to take some courses in Chinese. It may be possible for students to take courses exclusively in English through the English-language LL.M. program. In some cases, students will not be examined in the same way that Chinese students are evaluated. In lieu of the regular Chinese exams, Law school students may be given the option to write a paper, take an alternative written exam (either in English or in Mandarin) or an oral exam in Mandarin.
Columbia students will be allowed to take only law courses for the sake of counting credits toward the J.D. Students can take language courses and the like offered through different parts of the university, but these credits will not be applied to the J.D.
As with all of our programs, students may apply for independent research credit under a Columbia professor for additional credits. This would be separate from the program and would involve the completion of an additional paper or research project.
Student Performance & Grading
Beida uses a numbered grading system. Columbia will accept credit for only those courses passed with a 70 or above. Whenever possible, Columbia will review all written work in examinations and papers from students’ semester at Beida, and acceptance of any grade for any course taken in the program is subject to the determination by Columbia Law School. Students should be aware that foreign grading systems may differ significantly from those employed in the United States. Since Columbia gives credit only for those courses the student has passed, students studying abroad may wish to take extra courses in order to insure that they will receive the full number of credits from Columbia.
Please note that students must submit written reports on their coursework to the Office of International Programs every month (1 page per course). Students' written work on examinations and papers will be reviewed by Columbia Law School 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 foreign institution reflecting grades earned, but the Columbia transcripts will only reflect credit for courses passed.
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 foreign institution. The grades earned abroad will not be listed on students’ Columbia transcripts, only the number of credits successfully completed.
Please note: Participation in a 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.
Housing & Travel
While housing is available in international student residence halls on campus, space in these halls is limited. Columbia students have found that living off-campus can be cheaper than the university dorms. If students would like university housing, they are encouraged to request it early, before going abroad, to ensure a reserved room.
In order to apply for a student visa to China, a written confirmation is required from Beida and is usually sent to the student one to two months before the semester. Upon arrival, Beida offers a full-school orientation and a separate orientation for LL.M. students, both of which are open to exchange students. If students wish to take part in orientation activities, they should request notification from the Beida administration.
Peking University reserves 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, the student may choose to withdraw from the program. If cancellation occurs after the student has arrived in China, substitute courses must be selected and submitted for approval to the Office of International Programs of Columbia Law School.
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.
Columbia University School of Law
Office of International Programs
6th Floor William and June Warren Hall (WJ)
Tel: (212) 854-8170; fax: (212) 851-7691
Peking University School of Law
Ms. Yin Ming
Peking University Law School
86 10 6275 1694
86 10 6275 6542