Seoul National University, Seoul
Founded in 1895 by the imperial order of Emperor Gojong, Seoul National University became South Korea’s first national university in 1946 and today is the country’s leading research university. Boasting such prestigious alumni as Ban Ki-moon, Secretary General of the United Nations, and Kim Yong-ran, the first female justice of the Supreme Court of Korea, the university prides itself on a long history of educating Korean leaders and fostering a creative and dynamic intellectual community. The School of Law encourages students to develop critical thinking skills towards contributing to legal and social progress within the country as well as on the international stage. Towards that end, the School’s educational policy incorporates the study of social science and the humanities with specialized legal knowledge. Faculty projects range from reform of civil law to the design of global legal frameworks for solving shared problems.
The School of Law comprises 55 full-time faculty and over 1,100 students, including almost 400 graduate students. SNU holds academic exchange agreements with 147 institutions all over the world, ensuring a large and diverse number of visiting students as well as a student body with international experience. The School of Law is also home to the Law Research Institute, which publishes academic books, annotations of legal judgments, and journals, including the quarterly Seoul Law Journal.
Seoul National University’s Gwanak Main Campus is situated against the backdrop of the beautiful forested Gwanak Mountain with easy access to the city center on Yonggeon Campus. Seoul is in the midst of a large-scale revitalization, which began with the highly successful restoration of the Cheong-gye waterway that divides the city in half and has continued with restoration of palaces and the Namdaemun gate and plans for new construction of an eco-friendly City Hall. As the political, economic, and cultural hub of the country, Seoul offers an array of restaurants and bars, markets, museums, shops, and parks. On campus, SNU is home to over 300 student groups and clubs, encompassing everything from the student newspaper to scuba-diving to taekwondo.
Course Offerings and Credit
HLS students enrolled in the program can choose from the College of Law and School of Law’s extensive course offerings, as well as law classes offered through the Departments of International Studies and International Development Policy. Courses are offered in either Korean or English and HLS students may enroll in either type.
Professors use a variety of teaching styles to conduct courses, including lecture, Socratic, and seminar.
SNU professors grade students on a scale of 0-4.3, with 4.3 representing an A+, 4.0 an A, 3.7 an A-, 3.3. a B+, and so on down to 0.7 as a D-, the last passing grade.
Exchange students at SNU generally take between 6-7 courses, and HLS students may receive a total of 10 to 12 ungraded classroom credits in relation to work done through the semester abroad program. Please see the HLS semester abroad webpage for more information about semester abroad credits and course requirements.
SNU offers courses in both Korean and English. HLS students who do not speak Korean at a level sufficient to take courses in Korean should carefully review the English course offerings (see section above) to ensure that they are able to create a program of study that is suitably robust and consistent with their academic and career interests. Prior to study abroad, HLS students may improve their language proficiency and receive credit for foreign language courses at Harvard College in accordance with the HLS cross registration policy. Korean language courses are also available on-site and fees may be fully or partially covered by SNU’s Office of International Affairs.
The academic year at Seoul National University is divided into two semesters. Autumn semester begins on September 1 and runs through mid December. Spring semester begins on March 2 and finishes in mid June. SNU’s current academic calendar is available on their website. There is also an orientation session available during the first week of each semester.
Application Process and Timeline
Students interested in the Seoul National University exchange program should follow the semester abroad application process described on the HLS semester abroad webpage.
Students approved by the HLS Study Abroad Committee must also complete the SNU application form for exchange students. HLS may recommend multiple JD students to study at Seoul National University each year but ultimately selection of the students will be made by SNU.
SNU is able to offer housing for incoming exchange students in its graduate dormitory, off-campus dormitories, or family dormitory (for married students). More information about the dormitories is available on the SNU website as well as through SNU’s Office of International Affairs. The Office of International Affairs provides administrative support to visiting international students and is an excellent source of information on visas, health insurance, and life and culture in Korea as well as housing.