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Seoul National University School of Law, Seoul

Founded in 1895, Seoul National University became South Korea’s first national university in 1946 and today is the country’s leading research university. With 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. The law school has 60 full-time faculty members and about 1,200 students, and the University holds academic exchange agreements with 147 institutions all over the world, ensuring a student body with international experience and a large and diverse group of visiting students. Faculty projects range from reform of civil law to the design of global legal frameworks for solving shared problems. The School of Law is also home to the Asia-Pacific Law Institute and the Law Research Institute, which publishes academic books and journals, including the Seoul Law Journal.

Most faculty members at SNU have spent a significant amount of time studying abroad, and many law professors have received LL.M.s and S.J.D.s from American law schools. Thus, I found the faculty to be very welcoming and rather cognizant of what sort of educational system I had grown accustomed to in the States. In particular, my faculty advisor [was] incredibly helpful throughout my time in Korea and always made himself available to answer any and all questions I had about Korean law, the Korean legal community, logistical and bureaucratic aspects of SNU, and the like.” 

– Alvin Lee ‘09 (past participant in semester abroad program, SNU)

Course Offerings and Credit

HLS students enrolled in this exchange program can choose from the School of Law’s extensive course offerings. First, second and third year law courses (which require the instructor’s permission to enroll) are offered in subjects ranging from international intellectual property to Korean legal history to climate change law. Graduate-level courses are grouped by specialization, including constitutional law, civil law, administrative law, commercial law, criminal law, international law, social law, and intellectual property law. Teaching styles vary by course and include traditional lecture-style classes, seminars, and Socratic method.

HLS students may also take law classes offered through the University’s Graduate School of International Studies. The Graduate School’s Master’s program in International Studies includes law courses across four major areas of study:  international commerce, international cooperation, international area studies, and Korean studies. Most courses in this program are taught as seminars and promote active learning by promoting lively in-class discussions.

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 a D-, the lowest passing grade.

Course loads will vary from student to student. 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 Semester Abroad: Academic Requirements for more information about course requirements and how semester abroad credits are calculated.

Language Proficiency

The presumption of the HLS Study Abroad Committee is that students applying for a semester abroad are proficient in the primary language of the destination country such that they are able to navigate university systems and take one or more law classes in that language. If not, the students must explain how they propose to manage these challenges and derive full benefit from a program of study abroad.

Most courses at SNU — especially courses relating to Korean law — are offered in Korean, with a small number of more general courses offered in English.  HLS students with limited proficiency in Korean should carefully review the English course offerings to determine whether it is possible to create a robust program of study that is consistent with their academic interests and the requirements of the HLS semester abroad program.

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 at SNU, and fees may be fully or partially covered by SNU’s Office of International Affairs.

Academic Calendar

The academic year at Seoul National University begins in March and runs through the following February. The spring (or “first”) semester begins on March 1 and finishes in mid-June, and the autumn (or “second”) semester begins on September 1 and runs through mid-December. SNU’s current academic calendar is available on its website. There is also an orientation session available during the first week of each semester.

Application Process

Students interested in the Seoul National University exchange program should follow the HLS Semester Abroad application process described on the Semester Abroad: Planning and Application page.

Students approved by the HLS Study Abroad Committee must also complete the SNU online application for exchange students, which includes supporting documents such as transcripts, a statement of purpose, and a letter of recommendation from an HLS professor.  HLS will provide students nominated to study at Seoul National University with more information on this process.

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.


The School of Law is located on the University’s Gwanak Main Campus, which is set against the backdrop of Gwanaksan Mountain, a city park with forested hiking trails and a 14th-century hermitage at its summit. Seoul’s subway and bus systems provide easy access to the city center.  On campus, SNU is home to over 300 student groups and clubs, encompassing everything from scuba diving to taekwondo.

Seoul is the capital of South Korea, its largest metropolitan area, and the country’s political, economic and cultural center. On the international stage, the city has hosted events ranging from the Summer Olympics to a G-20 summit. Seoul is undergoing a large-scale revitalization, beginning with the restoration of the Cheong-gye waterway that divides the city in half and many historic landmarks, and offers an array of restaurants and bars, markets, museums, and parks.


SNU is able to offer housing for incoming exchange students in its graduate dormitory, off-campus dormitories, or family dormitory (for married students), and off-campus housing is available nearby. SNU’s Office of International Affairs provides administrative support to visiting international students and is an excellent source of information on housing, as well as on visas, health insurance, and life and culture in Korea.

Contact Information

For further information, please contact Sara Zucker at (617) 495-9030 / or Andre Barbic at (617) 496-8732 /

At Seoul National University, Chaewon Suh at can also provide information.