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Study Abroad Eligibility, Application Process and Academic Regulations

Eligibility

To be eligible to apply for semester study abroad, a student must:

  • Have completed with at least a passing grade all courses in the first year curriculum;
  • Be in good academic standing and not subject to an Honor Code proceeding or sanction at the time of application and at the time the student studies abroad.
  • Students should have demonstrated a strong academic record at the law school in courses which comprise the core knowledge of lawyers and which are routinely tested on most state bar exams, see Academic Advisement. At the minimum, by the end of the third semester, the student must rank in the top 80% of his or her class based on overall cumulative grade point average. However, if the student earned a C or lower in Legal Analysis, Research and Writing I or II, or if the student earned a D or lower in any other course in the first-year curriculum, then, by the end of the third semester, the student must rank in the top 75% of his or her class based on overall cumulative grade point average.)
  • Demonstrate through academic achievement and conduct: integrity, maturity and excellent time management and interpersonal skill.

Students who have transferred into to the J.D. program from the LL.M. program or from the JD program at another school, and students who enter the J.D. program with advanced standing are not eligible for semester abroad programs.
 

Plan Ahead for Your Semester Abroad

Students may study abroad during the fourth or fifth semester of law school. Check program details carefully. Some programs are only available in the fifth semester. Students may not study abroad during the sixth or final semester of law school.

Factors to consider in determining which semester to study abroad:

Academic Calendar

Foreign law schools’ academic calendars differ from the Penn State Law academic calendar. Check the academic calendar of the programs that interest you carefully (listed within each program description.)

Consider how the beginning and ending dates of a semester abroad may affect summer legal employment opportunities.

Required Courses and Pre-Requisite Courses

Some courses you need to graduate may only be offered in Fall or Spring semesters. Plan ahead to make sure you take the courses you need to graduate before you study abroad. Review the degree requirements in the Student Academic Handbook and your degree audit on ELion to make sure you are on track to graduate on time. Please see additional course requirements for the Radboud study abroad program.


Career Planning, On Campus Recruitment and Interviewing

  • Students studying abroad between September and December will miss the interviewing season for summer and permanent employment.
  • Scholarship deadlines for study abroad.


Application Process

Penn State Law Application for Study Abroad

All students interested in a Penn State Law semester study abroad program must submit the following documents via e-mail to Mary Beth Aber by the last business day in January, 5 p.m. for study abroad opportunities for the following fall and spring semesters:

  • Statement of purpose and proposed program of study for each semester study abroad for which students would like to be considered.
    • The program of study will identify which courses students plan to take.
    • The statement of purpose should explain the reasons for pursuing overseas legal study and describe how this particular program of study fits students’ professional goals.
    • Students who apply for more than one program should indicate their order of preference.
  • Written confirmation from the Registrar (e-mail will suffice) of compliance with the academic eligibility requirements listed under Eligibility.
  • Resume
  • At least one letter of recommendation from a Penn State Law faculty member who is familiar with the student’s abilities and interests
  • Advising transcript from eLion.


Penn State Law Selection

A committee of faculty and senior law school administrators will select students for each program. The committee will consider the following:

  • Academic credentials
  • Prior experience in international study suitability of the selected program to meet the student’s stated professional and education goals
  • Seniority may be considered (given that most programs offer a limited number of places.)

Notification

Penn State Law will notify students of selections within a reasonable period of time after the application deadline. It will then be the student’s responsibility to apply to the overseas institution in a timely manner. A waiting list will be maintained for each partner institution.

Application to Partner Institution

Once Penn State Law nominates a student to participate in partner exchange program, the student must apply to, and be accepted by, the partner institution. Although it is unlikely that a nominated Penn State Law student would be denied admission by our partner, it is imperative that students:
 

  • observe the application deadlines and other requirements of the partner institution and
  • interact directly with that school with regard to their application. Specific instructions for each partner institution are stated under the description of each school.
Deadline for a nominated student to
apply directly to the law faculty
Fall Semester Spring Semester
National Taiwan University Law Faculty June 1 November 1
Radboud School of Law March 1 November 1*
Università Commerciale Luigi Bocconi May 30 November 13
University of Cape Town April 15 N/A
Fundacao Getulio Vargas April 30 November 5
*Students who apply for the spring semester at Radboud are not eligible to receive an LLM degree from Radboud.

 Partner applications deadlines are subject to change, so upon nomination, please confirm the partner application deadlines with Caroline Sheldon.


Academic Regulations

Academic Credit and Grading

  • Credit equivalency:
    • Penn State Law will award academic credit towards the J.D. for courses a Penn State Law exchange student successfully completes at a partner institution during the study abroad semester.
  • Number of transferred credits:
    • The maximum number of credits transferred from the partner institution is 12 credits (ABLAW 900) (including credit for language courses taken abroad).
    • See individual program descriptions for curriculum and average course load.
  • Transcripts:
    • Credit for courses taken at a partner institution is recorded on the student’s Penn State Law transcript as non-graded credit (see below). Credits earned at the partner institution will be listed as ABLAW 900 (12 credits) on the Penn State Law transcript.
    • According to partner institution procedures, students will also receive a transcript from the partner institution which will indicate all courses completed and grades received.
  • Required grades:
    • To receive credit for any course work completed at a partner school, the student must receive a passing grade as determined by the partner institution.
  • Maximum number of co-curricular credit:
    • Students considering study abroad should review the law school requirements on co-curricular credit. It may count no more than 18 co-curricular credits towards the J.D. degree.
    • Foreign Language Courses: Any credit for language courses taken while on study abroad will be co-curricular credit. Under the rules for co-curricular language credit students may apply up to 6 credits for foreign language study toward the J.D. degree.
    • A complete list of co-curricular activities is here.
  • Independent study:
    • Some study abroad programs require a student to undertake an independent study under the supervision of a Penn State Law faculty member during the semester the student is abroad. Penn State Law rules for independent study apply. The paper will be graded by a Penn State Law professor and that grade will be included in student’s Penn State Law GPA.
  • Law Review:
    • Whether a student may maintain a position on a Penn State Law journal during their study abroad semester depends on the position and the journal. Students should consult the relevant editors. Credit will be granted in addition to study abroad credits.
  • Partner Institution Transcript:
    • The student’s transcript from the partner institution will reflect the student’s actual grades. It is the student’s responsibility to request a copy of the transcript from the partner institution to be submitted to the Registrar at Penn State Law.
  • Duplicate courses:
    • Students may not receive credit for two courses with substantially similar subject matter. If students have questions about whether a course at a partner institution will duplicate a course they intend to take, they should consult with the Penn State Law study abroad faculty advisor for the specific program in advance.
  • Student Ranking:
    • Students are not ranked during the semester they are studying abroad.
       

Graduation Requirements

Students are responsible for insuring that all course requirements for graduation from Penn State Law are met. Students should consult with the Registrar or students can be sure they are on track academically by accessing their Degree Audit application on eLion. It is not possible to satisfy the seminar requirement through semester abroad coursework or independent study.

Enrollment Reporting

Semesters when students are studying abroad are considered semesters in residence for purposes of the six semester residence requirement. Penn State Law will continue to report the semester abroad student as full-time student at Penn State Law for the semester which the student is spending at the partner institution.


Student Responsibilities

All students interested in pursuing semester study abroad through a Penn State exchange agreement must:

  1. Complete application at host institution;
  2. Obtain visa and other travel documents; obtain mandatory Penn State health insurance
  3. Prior to departure from Penn State Law, participate in pre-departure orientation
  4. Prior to departure, select courses in conjunction with Penn State Law faculty advisor and partner school faculty advisor;
  5. Prior to departure, develop a written plan that defines the student’s educational objectives. The plan must also state the methods to be used in evaluating whether the objectives have been met. This plan must be approved by the Penn State Law Study Abroad advisor; and
  6. Prior to departure, upon arrival, and during your course of study, the student should consult with partner school advisor regarding his/her educational objectives.

International travel and overseas study can be a valuable part of students’ J.D. curriculum, but these unique experiences carry with them increased responsibilities. Penn State will support students’ educational goals, and we are available to advise students and to coordinate with the partner institution when necessary, but many of the details pertaining to students’ studies, day-to-day life, and travel will be entirely the students’ responsibility and will require students’ independent judgment and attention.


Contact Information

Caroline Sheldon
Assistant Dean of Graduate and International Programs
Penn State Dickinson School of Law
University Park, PA 16802
Tel: (814) 867-3441
E-mail: css22@dsl.psu.edu