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The Semester Abroad Program offers Harvard Law School J.D. students the opportunity to study law and live in a foreign country while receiving a semester of ungraded credit towards their degree.

Each student has their own constellation of reasons for wanting to study law in a foreign setting and designs a semester abroad that meets their specific academic goals. Benefits of semester abroad can include broader exposure to and first-hand knowledge of another legal system and culture; in-depth study of specific issues or areas of law; increased foreign language proficiency; and an expanded network of contacts around the world.

Participants consistently report that their semester abroad enhances their study of U.S. law and provides advantages in their job searches and careers.

Semester Abroad Options

HLS offers two frameworks for a semester abroad:

  • Exchange programs: HLS students may apply for designated spots for a semester’s study at one of the nine foreign law schools with which HLS has an exchange agreement
  • Independent semester abroad: HLS students may create an “independent” semester at any foreign law school that meets the study abroad program’s requirements

Both frameworks are equally valid; the choice depends on a student’s individual objectives and considerations. Please see our Semester Abroad: Locations page for more information.

If you have questions that are not answered in these Semester Abroad pages, please contact International Legal Studies at