Studying law abroad can be a valuable addition to your legal education. With the increasing globalization of business, society, and the legal profession, even students who expect to practice law only in the United States can expect to encounter both international legal questions and foreign clients. International and comparative study can broaden a student's perspective on our own legal system as well as those of other countries and of the international community. Students who study abroad also may be exposed to personal and professional opportunities not otherwise available at Northwestern.
The Law School hopes to encourage and facilitate such study for students interested in comparative and international law. The information contained in this manual is designed to answer some of the questions you may have about identifying and participating in study abroad opportunities.
- Study Abroad Application (pdf)
- Study Abroad Pre-Departure Checklist (pdf)
- Individual Academic Plan (pdf)
If you have any futher questions about studying abroad, e-mail International.Programs@northwestern.edu.
Summer Study Abroad
School of Law Rules Governing Summer Study Abroad
If you hope to earn credit for work completed during a summer study abroad program, you must make an appointment to meet with the Dean of Students before you enroll to ensure that your study satisfies the requirements of the Northwestern University School of Law Rules and Regulations, Article III, Section 3.01 (d)(1), which governs the award of credit for summer study programs.
Identifying Summer Study Programs
There are a large number of summer study courses around the world sponsored by ABA-approved American law schools. Because these programs have been reviewed and approved by the ABA, credits earned in most of them are eligible for credit toward your Northwestern Law degree. Each year around March, we receive a list from the ABA identifying all of the approved summer programs for the coming summer. The list is available on the ABA Web site. We will post on the bulletin board outside Harry's Cafe any notices that we receive from schools promoting their programs. You should contact the offering schools directly to obtain more information about their programs.
Choosing the Program that Is Right for You
How you choose a summer study program depends on what your goals for the summer are. Here are some of the questions you might wish to ask about a particular program:
- Why do I want to study abroad this summer?
- Does this program help me advance my personal, academic or professional objectives?
- Am I interested in the courses offered in the program and not just the country in which the program is located?
- Do I want to learn a language while I am abroad?
- Do I want to be exposed only to the legal system of the country where the program is taught or am I more interested in a broader comparative or international perspective?
- Do I want to visit the legal or economic institutions in the country where the program is taught?
- Can I do an internship through this program?
- Who are the faculty who will teach in the program? Are they American faculty who are teaching abroad for the summer, or are they faculty from the country where the program is being taught?
- In what language are the classes taught? Will I have the opportunity to study in a foreign language? Am I capable of studying in a foreign language?
- Is the program made up only of American law students or does it include law students from other countries as well?
- Does the school running this program have any previous experience with such programs?
- What are the classroom and housing facilities like in this program?
- Can I talk to people who have participated in this program in the past and find out what they thought about their experience?
Financial Aid for Summer Study Abroad
Students who study abroad during the summer receive financial aid through Northwestern and may obtain loans from external lenders such as Law Access, Lawloans, and CitiAssist. The cost is equal to the cost of the program. Students ARE NOT billed Northwestern tuition if they study abroad during the summer.
School Year Study Abroad
*Transfer students, 2YR JD students, and JD-MBA students are not eligible to participate in the school year study abroad program.
1. School of Law Rules Governing Exchanges
The School of Law has amended Article III, Section 3.01 (d)(2) to include new language which reads in relevant part:
Work in excess of six semester hours taken in other schools...may be counted toward the Law Degree only in the following cases...(iii) as part of an exchange program with the law faculty of a foreign university that has been approved by the Dean after consultation with the Faculty Advisory Committee. The Dean or the Dean's designate may promulgate regulations specifying application procedures and selection criteria for participation in any such program, and shall have discretion to accept or reject the application of a student for reasons of the general welfare of the Law School. The Law School reserves the right to discontinue any program or add new programs for reasons of the general well fare of the Law School.
This manual contains the regulations and criteria adopted under that rule. Questions about compliance with these rules should be directed to the Office of Student Services Center MC 166.
2. Exchange Partners
The Law School has negotiated exchange relationships with law faculties abroad. Under these agreements, the foreign schools will send some of their students to Northwestern for a semester, and we will be permitted to send some of our students to their schools in exchange.
- Institut d’Etude Politiques de Paris (“Sciences Po”) Paris, France
The program allows students to study in Paris for one semester. Applicants to the program must be fluent in French.
- Universidad Torcuato Di Tella, Buenos Aires, Argentina
Students to this exchange must be fluent in Spanish, and be in the top half of their LLM class. Students can select courses from either the JD degree or the Master in Law and Economics program.
- Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Leuven, Belgium
This is one of the top law faculties in Europe. They offer a number of classes taught in English focusing primarily on European Community Law, International and Comparative Law, Business Law and Legal Culture. Leuven is on the outskirts of Brussels. Students interested in studying at Leuven should note that during the spring semester, final exams must be taken at Leuven. During the fall semester only, final oral exams can be taken the last week of classes at Leuven and final written exams can be taken at Northwestern after the winter break.
- Bucerius Law School, Hamburg, Germany (Fall Semester Only).
Founded in 2000, Bucerius Law School is the first private law school in Germany. The Program in International and Comparative Business Law takes place in the fall and is designed primarily for non-German law students. The program offers the opportunity to learn German, European, and international law. The International Program courses are held in English, but students may also take regular courses for German students if they are fluent in German. Requirements for student performance and grading methods can be found on Bucerius' Academic website.
- National University of Singapore, Singapore
National University of Singapore is recognized as one of the top law schools in Asia with diverse international faculty. Since courses are taught in English, studying in Singapore is a unique opportunity for non-Asian language speaking students to immerse in Asian culture and tradition while pursuing their legal studies. Particular strength of the faculty is in intellectual property and world trade law.
- Instituto de Empresa, Madrid, Spain
This law program offers several courses in English. For Spanish courses, fluency in Spanish is required. The Instituto de Empresa is characterized by its markedly global approach, its spirit of entrepreneurship and innovation, its applied research projects and the promotion of socially responsible initiatives.
3. Choosing a Time to Study Abroad
Exchanges can take place in either the fall or spring term of your second year or the fall semester of your third year. However, because none of these schools have schedules that perfectly match our own, before you apply to any program, you should determine if the schedule of the particular school will meet your needs. For example, consider whether you must be here in the fall term to interview, when or whether you need to be back in the United States to start your summer job and, particularly for third years, whether you will need to take Legal Ethics or any other requirements in order to graduate.
Students participating in an exchange program will pay their full tuition to the Law School and will be billed as if they were attending a semester here. Students who apply for financial aid through Northwestern will be eligible for all financial aid awards or loans that you would have been eligible to receive if you were attending school here. Students receiving a grant, will receive it in the normal amount. All housing, travel, insurance and book expensesare the responsibility of the participating students.
In our discussions with the participating schools abroad, we have tried to avoid adding any additional fees that students must pay to participate in these programs, but in the event such fees are applicable they should not exceed $250 per student. Remaining need to cover tuition balances and living expenses associated with the other institution can be financed through the normal loan alternatives that Northwestern provides to students.
For questions or additional information, contact the Chicago Office of Financial Aid by e-mail.
5. Transcript Information
- If you receive a C and above grade in the courses you take abroad, the courses will appear on your Law School transcript showing that you earned credit for the course. You will not be awarded a grade for such study, and no grade will be factored into your overall grade point average.
- The maximum credit for study abroad courses is 14. The average credit earned during study abroad is 10-12 credits.
- Before you enroll abroad, you must work with the law school to determine the number of credits to be awarded for your planned course of study. Credit hours will be awarded on a prorated basis compared to the effort expected during a normal residence period at the School of Law. Specifically, under the ABA rules we follow, 50 minutes of actual class time or the equivalent is considered equal to one hour of instruction and each semester hour of credit requires at least 700 minutes of instruction time plus time for an examination. For example, a class that meets for 50 minutes a session, three times a week for fourteen weeks for a total of 2100 minutes will be counted for 3 hours of credit on your transcript.
- Under the ABA rules, students participating in this type of study abroad program cannot receive credit for more than one-third of the total hours needed to complete their degree here.
- Under the ABA rules, a student may not receive credit for externship placements associated with study abroad, such as placements with a law firm, government office or corporation.
The participating schools have agreed to help our students identify appropriate housing opportunities in their communities.
7. Academic Advising
Each participating school will have at least one staff or faculty member on site who is responsible for assisting visiting students with selecting their courses and otherwise integrating into the foreign environment.
8. Application Process
- All students must apply to be admitted to an exchange program by completing the School of Law's application, which is attached to this document. Some of the foreign schools may also require you to fill out their own applications, which can be obtained from the Student Services Center. In general, applications to participate in a fall term exchange program must be received by February 1st of the preceding semester and applications to participate in a spring term exchange must be received by October 1st of the preceding term. Late applications will not be accepted. All applications should be submitted to the Student Services Center, McCormick 166.
- Minimum GPA of 3.5 is required of all applicants.
- You may apply to more than one exchange, but you must rank your order of preference and explain your interest in each exchange.
- Students will be selected to participate in the programs on the basis of merit, taking into account their academic records and achievements, their maturity and their potential for contribution to the program. The Law School will screen applications and will send all selected applications to the participating schools which have final authority to select and reject participants. The Law School also may reject a student's application for reasons of the general welfare of the School.
- It is the policy of Northwestern not to discriminate against any individual on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, age, disability, or veteran status in matters of admissions, employment, housing, or services or in the educational programs or activities it operates, in accordance with civil rights legislation and University commitment. Where applicable, we have asked all participating schools to adhere to a similar policy in their administration of these exchanges.
9. If You Are Admitted to the Program
- Your selection of courses and the credit to be received for them must be approved in advance by the Law School.
- You must participate in any required pre- and post-departure administrative and academic meetings or tasks, including those necessary to ensure that your study will be eligible for credit under the ABA rules.
- You must agree to obtain insurance that meets the standards of the host school. Insurance fees are not included in tuition or administration charges. In some cases, your major medical insurance will continue to apply while you are abroad, but the University health service for outpatient care is not transferable to the foreign school. You are strongly encouraged to discuss your health insurance coverage with your insurance provider in the United States.
- All students travelling abroad will be required by the Office of Risk Management to participate in the HTH Worldwide Study Abroad Health Insurance Plan.
- You are required to check the U.S. State Department Travel Warnings before your departure to familiarize yourself with any special conditions in the host country that might affect your safety or require special safety measures.
- If your host country has a Travel Warning listed, it is your responsibility to sign a release form, which can be found at the Risk Management Travel Policies page. Please bring two copies of it to the Office of Student Services.
- All Northwestern University students are required to register with a new security and travel assistance program, "International SOS", prior to their period of study abroad.
- It is your responsibility to secure a visa to your student destination.
- You are required to inform the Student Services Center of your address and contact information upon your arrival at the host school.
- You are required to complete a returning student survey before your grades may be recorded on your NU transcript.
- Complete and return the Study Abroad Survey (pdf) to the Student Services Center.
10. Study Abroad Health Insurance
All law students participating in study abroad or exchange programs are required to obtain health insurance from HTH Worldwide. The comprehensive insurance plan provides $250,000 in medical coverage with no deductibles. The cost of the plan for students is $8.45 per week.
The HTH plan benefits include:
- Pre-departure consults
- Routine non-emergency care (appointment assistance)
- Continuing services needed for pre-existing conditions
- Emergency treatment for accidents, injuries and illness, etc.
- Mental health services
- Prescription medication
HTH Worldwide is especially useful for pre-departure medical management planning in the case of a pre-existing condition. To coordinate with HTH Worldwide's Global Health Team, students can call 610-254-8771 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Additional information about the HTH Health Insurance Plan can be found on the Office of Risk Management's website.
To enroll in the plan, please visit the HTH Worldwide student page. Once you are enrolled, you will receive a confirmation email with a printable ID card. Your ID card will include your Certificate Number from HTH, which will allow you to register on the HTH Student website.
The HTH Student website will allow you to:
- Review your insurance benefits
- Check the status of a claim
- Find a doctor inside or outside the US
- Research vaccination and health risk information
The HTH Insurance Plan is intended to supplement a domestic health care plan and only provides coverage while you are outside of the United States.
If you have any additional questions about travel abroad health insurance, please contact Julie Anne Friend, the Director of Global Safety and Security, at email@example.com.
11. Medical Emergencies Overseas
In the case of a medical emergency abroad, students are to go to the nearest treating facility and call HTH Worldwide at (610) 254-8771 and provide their name, certificate number, hospital name, location and telephone number. If immediate medical assistance is not required, HTH Worldwide can also be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.