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Standards and Procedures for Semesters Abroad

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

Application Deadline

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

If you miss this deadline, you will not be eligible for any lottery conducted; see below. Eligible students will be notified by email when the semester abroad application is available – generally in mid-November.

Submit an application

Applying for more than one location

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.

Placement lotteries

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 15 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 15 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.

Tuition payments

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.

Credits and grades

You cannot expect to earn more than 12 Cornell credit hours for academic work done as a part of a semester abroad.

In addition, CLS is not able to give you credits for any course that duplicates or substantially covers material in a course you have already taken at Cornell.  Similarly, if you take a course abroad and receive credit for it, you will not be able to take a Cornell course that duplicates or substantially covers material from that course when you are back in Ithaca.  If you want to take a course that has the same name, but is in fact substantially different, please email us a copy of the course description and syllabus for consideration.  If the course is not substantially duplicative of a course you have already taken, the Registrar may approve it. In order to receive Cornell credit for a course taken in the study abroad program, a student must earn the host school's minimum passing grade for that course. After you complete your semester abroad, your Cornell transcript will record the number of credits awarded for work successfully completed and identify the host institution, but will not list either the specific courses or the grades earned.

Acceptance of credit or grades from any course undertaken during a semester abroad is subject to the determination of Cornell Law School according to ABA Standard 310-1:Determining Credit Hours for Course Work.


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. This also means that students may not both study abroad and spend a semester taking classes at the Cornell Tech campus in New York City.

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.

Program Cancellations

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.  Students should take precautions such as purchasing travel insurance or have alternate plans for study in case the course of study has to be adjusted mid-semester.

Access to facilities for persons with disabilities

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, contact the Student Disability Services office. Doing so can help you determine what you need to consider in making your decision and identify suitable programs to pursue.