International Short Banner

Standards and Procedures for Semesters Abroad

Semesters abroad are consistent with Cornell Law's emphasis on international and comparative legal studies. When you study abroad, you will learn to approach other legal systems and legal subjects from a non-U.S. perspective. You will also gain access to courses and faculty that are not available at Cornell Law School on a regular basis-not to mention the invaluable experience of living and studying in another culture. Read more about Cornell Law School's study abroad educational objectives here.

If you are interested in studying abroad as a part of your Law School experience, you must comply with the following requirements.


The semester exchange and international self-designed "term away" application deadline for each academic year (Fall semester or Spring semester) is January 31.

If you miss this deadline, you will not be eligible for any lottery conducted; see below.



We strongly encourage you to apply for more than one location.  You will have an opportunity during the application process to indicate your preferences, and every effort will be made to match you with one of your first choices.  Keep in mind, however, that this is not always possible. You should maximize your chances to go by selecting up to 5 options. You must complete the appropriate sections of the application, indicating your order of preference and providing all requested information for each site.


In most years, more people apply for several of the study abroad locations than the number of spaces available. In these cases, we use a lottery system.

Lotteries take place as soon as practicable after the January 31 deadline, allocating the available slots and placing the remaining people on a waiting list in accordance with the lottery results. If you apply after January 31 for a program that has a wait-list, you will be added to wait-list in the order in which you apply.

Under the lottery system, students who will be in their 3L year during their semesters abroad are given preference over students who will be in their 2L year.


You will pay regular Cornell Law School tuition during your exchange or term away semester. The partner or host school will not charge you tuition, although there may be other fees (such as health insurance or photocopying). The host school bill Cornell directly for any applicable tuition payments. In the event this is not possible, Cornell will reimburse you.


You cannot expect to earn more than 12 Cornell credit hours for academic work done as a part of a semester abroad. You must take a minimum of 10 CLS credits, 9 of which must be from true law courses.

After you complete your semester abroad, your Cornell transcript will record the number of Cornell credits awarded for work successfully completed and identify the host institution, but will not list either the specific courses or the grades earned. However, if you fail a course during a semester abroad, you will not earn credit.

Acceptance of credit or grades from any course undertaken during a semester abroad is subject to the determination of Cornell Law School. Under American Bar Association standards, a semester hour of credit must equal 700 minutes of class time. Because most partner schools do not adhere to the U.S. standard, the Cornell official charged with administering the semester abroad program will make individual determinations for each partner school regarding credit equivalency between that school's system and Cornell's.


A student may not spend more than a total of one upperclass semester away in our off-campus programs, such as term away, study abroad, and full-term externship, except for participation in a special Cornell Law School program such as the JD/Master en Droit.

Exceptions are granted only in cases of severe personal hardship as approved by the Administrative Committee, or for admitted participants in one of the existing formal international dual-degree programs that extend for more than a semester.

Semester abroad programs operated by U.S. law schools other than Cornell will not be approved.


We do not expect semester abroad placements to be canceled. However, in the unlikely event of a cancellation, we will help you locate a substitute placement or enroll that semester on Cornell's main campus.


Many cities outside the U.S. are not as accessible as U.S. cities for persons with mobility disabilities. Reasonable accommodations will be provided for students with documented disabilities. Some accommodations may take significant time to facilitate.

If you are a student with a disability and wish to study abroad, planning ahead is essential. Before applying, meet with a member of the Cornell Abroad staff (607-255-6224;; individual advising daily from 1:30-3:00 in 300 Caldwell Hall) as well as your Student Disability Services counselor (607-254-4545). Doing so can help you determine what you need to consider in making your decision and identify suitable programs to pursue.

More information can be found in the SDS brochure: SDS Guide to International Travel Preparations (pdf).

Accommodation requests can also be submitted to Cornell Student Disability Services,, 607-254-4545, or Elizabeth Brundige, Assistant Dean for International Programs,

Contact us to learn more.