Study Abroad: FAQs


When is the best time to study abroad?

There is no stock answer — it is different for everyone. Many students choose to spend part of their first summer studying abroad, as a way to gain travel experience and academic credit. For exchange and semester programs, you need to consider how time away may affect other activities, such as journal participation, moot court, or the job search.

How much does it cost, and how do I pay for it?

Each program described has a different fee structure and travel and housing costs. The program descriptions provide additional information, but before you decide, consult with our office of financial aid regarding the availability of assistance and loans.

What will I need?

If you don’t have a current passport, apply or renew now! You may need a visa. For programs sponsored by the UI College of Law, we will help you with that process. For exchange programs, our partner institutions will give you guidance. Also required: a sense of adventure!

Which program is best for me – UI sponsored, exchange, ABA, or other?

There are lots of factors, but here are some differences:

  • The UI programs offer both international topics and comparative perspectives on domestic law topics, and there is typically a large contingent of Iowa participants. As these courses are provided by Iowa, there are no questions about credit transferability.
  • Exchange programs offer a complete immersion opportunity, and may provide opportunities for specialized or extended study. For exchange programs you pay the UI tuition, and any additional travel, housing, and living expenses. You may earn up to 15 credits, and your coursework will need transfer credit approval by the dean of students.
  • The Alpbach summer seminar on European integration provides a mix of students and a topic that creates a stimulating atmosphere, and a rich networking opportunity with scholars from around the world and from a variety of disciplines.
  • Other ABA-accredited law school foreign study programs may provide different language, travel and study experiences that appeal to you, but you may be limited in the number of credits that you can apply towards your JD.

How many credits can I take through study abroad?

The ABA restricts the number of foreign credits to not more than one-third of the credits required for the JD degree at the school in which the student is regularly enrolled. At the UI, one-third of the 84 credits required for the JD is 28 credits.

Is it true that I can get a dual degree?

In some circumstances, you may be able to earn a degree granted directly by our exchange program partners. This may require you to time your exchange opportunity for your 3L year, and will require you to do additional work which might not count towards your JD.

Do I have to know a foreign language to participate in study abroad opportunities?

The UI study abroad programs and exchange programs are all English language instruction, although foreign language skill will help you adapt to the local community and meet other people.

When do I apply?

Applications for the programs vary, and you should check the College of Law web site. Generally, applications for the London program are due in September, applications for the Arcachon program are due in February,  applications for fall semester exchange programs are due in March, and applications for spring semester exchange programs are due in September. Please note that the spaces available in our exchange programs are limited and the process may be competitive. In addition, our exchange programs typically require you to apply both to the host institution and the College of Law.

Can I talk to students who have participated?

Yes, and it’s a great idea to talk to past participants and to the UI faculty member who is the program director, or in the case of exchange programs, with the local program sponsor. Please see the full descriptions of each program and our web site for more contact information.