An independent study abroad program undertaken at a foreign law school provides an excellent opportunity for students to expand their knowledge of comparative and international legal issues. Credits for an independent study abroad program are governed by the rules of Mitchell Hamline School of Law and by the American Bar Association (ABA) Criteria for Accepting Credit for Student Study at a Foreign Institution. The law school works with students to assist them in developing a viable plan.
- Students who have completed their first year or, if part-time, the equivalent, may submit applications for independent study abroad programs. Generally, students should complete all of their required courses at the law school before seeking to study abroad, so students are generally in their third or fourth year before undertaking this independent study program. There may be some exceptions to this and students who have not completed all required courses should schedule an initial consultation with the Dean of Students.
- The maximum number of credits a student may earn at a foreign institution is governed by section B below. Credits earned abroad may not be used to satisfy Mitchell Hamline graduation requirements.
- Students must be in good standing to register for a study abroad program.
- Credit is given for grades earned of “C” or better, “Pass” or the equivalent. Grades that satisfy criteria set forth in the Catalog may be transferred to Mitchell Hamline.
- If instruction is to be done in a language other than English, students must be fluent in the language of instruction at the foreign institution.
- Students who are interested in pursuing a study abroad program must consult the Dean of Students prior to seeking approval (see 7 below). In addition, students must consult the respective program web page for information regarding courses, cost, withdrawal, faculty, travel, housing, insurance, financial aid, country information, passports and visa requirements.
- Students must receive pre-approval from the Mitchell Hamline Vice Dean, Academic and Faculty Affairs before beginning any independent study abroad program. Courses taken or completed before approval is granted will not transfer to Mitchell Hamline.
- For your information, consult the ABA Criteria for Accepting Credit for Student Study at a Foreign Institution.
Students need to apply no later than the beginning of the semester prior to the time they seek to attend the foreign program, approximately four months in advance – the earlier the better.
For more information regarding independent study abroad opportunities and how to draft a proposal for your course of study abroad, contact the Dean of Students.
In general, students pay the tuition and fees applicable to the foreign institution and do not pay tuition and fees at Mitchell Hamline for the credits earned abroad. In addition to the tuition and fees charged by the foreign institution, a study abroad administrative fee will be charged to all Mitchell Hamline students pursuing an independent study abroad.
A full-time Mitchell Hamline law school faculty member and one professor from the foreign institution must supervise the student’s course of study.
Financial aid availability for Study Abroad/Off-campus programs during summer, fall or spring is based on the number of credits approved by MHSL Registrar for the course of study. Fall or spring semesters require a minimum of 6 credits; summer requires 2 credits. J-term study abroad financial aid eligibility has no credit minimum, but requires 6 credit minimum registration in either the preceding fall or following spring semester. The Study Abroad financial aid budget is based on estimated and actual costs for the program which are determined by the host school and communicated directly to the MHSL Financial Aid Office.
MHSL scholarships cannot be applied to any study-abroad program charges and are not portable to other schools. Early termination of your study-abroad program may require financial aid repayment. Please contact the Financial Aid Office for additional details and instructions.
Other Important Consideration and Helpful Hints
Students are strongly advised to begin the application process as early as possible, as it requires approval from several parties; this task is lengthy and time-consuming.
Students need to develop a reliable contact and gain permission from a full-time professor at the host foreign law school. It is wise to develop a specific contact at the foreign university who is able to answer questions regarding the intended course of study.
ABA Approved Foreign Programs
As another option, students may earn “transfer credits” towards their J.D. by participating in a study- abroad program offered by any ABA-approved law school. There are many such programs, located around the world, which are run by ABA-approved U.S. law schools. Some of these programs are offered in the summer and some are offered for one semester or longer. It is the student’s responsibility to demonstrate that the proposed program complies in all respects with ABA standards.
Mitchell Hamline offers several such programs in collaboration with the Consortium for Innovative Legal Education (CILE). Current summer programs exist in England, Chile, Czech Republic, Ireland, the Netherlands, and Malta. Semester-long programs exist in Denmark and the Netherlands.
See the American Bar Association website for a complete list of ABA-approved schools.
The faculty of Mitchell Hamline School of Law recognizes that study of the legal systems and cultures of other countries enhances students’ legal education. For example, MHSL students have the option of participating in law programs offered by any ABA-approved law school as well as in programs offered in collaboration with the Consortium for Innovative Legal Education (CILE). In addition to these programs, the law school will provide a limited number of students the opportunity to participate in available educational opportunities at foreign institutions that will enhance the students’ legal education, subject to the following criteria:
- Students in good standing at the law school may spend no more than two semesters of study at any foreign institution after successful completion of two semesters in the law school.
- A proposed course of foreign study must be approved in advance by the Vice Dean, Academic and Faculty Affairs and must comply with the American Bar Association Criteria for Accepting Credit for Student Study at a Foreign Institution (the ABA Criteria).
- Students may earn no more than 15 credit hours toward the J.D. degree from foreign institutions.
- In order to count credit hours earned under this rule toward the J.D. degree, students must earn grades of the equivalent of C or higher. Credit hours will be applied towards the J.D. degree on a pass-fail basis, and grades earned will not be reflected in a student’s GPA or class rank.
- A full-time faculty member at the law school familiar with the course of study at the foreign institution must act as sponsor of the student’s foreign study.
- Courses taken at a foreign institution do not fulfill courses required for graduation.
- Credit will be given only for approved academic coursework at foreign institutions, and not for foreign externships.
- Ordinarily, foreign courses of study will be approved only at institutions with which Mitchell Hamline School of Law has an existing working relationship.
- Student study at foreign institutions must comply with all other rules promulgated from time to time by the law school administration for purposes of compliance with the ABA Criteria.