USC Law School’s selective semester abroad exchange program with the University of Hong Kong (HKU) allows USC J.D. students to experience Hong Kong and its legal culture and enables international law students from HKU to attend USC Law School.
Established in 1911, HKU is a leading university in Asia. Linked with over 80 partner institutions in 15 countries, HKU has exchange programs with prominent universities worldwide. The language of teaching at HKU for its law courses is English. For more information, visit the HKU Faculty of Law website.
The USC Law Graduate & International Programs (G&IP) office administers the HKU semester abroad exchange program, which allows for up to 2 USC Law J.D. students to attend HKU each semester. Students may participate in this exchange program during their 2L fall, 2L spring, or 3L fall semesters. Selection will be based upon academic performance, interest in overseas study, and potential benefits from overseas study. In-person interviews will be conducted. Students must have excellent law school records, must have at least a 3.0 GPA, must be in good standing, and must not be on 'restricted enrollment' in order to be considered for admission to the program. Transfer students, LL.M., M.C.L., and visiting students are ineligible to participate in USC Law study abroad programs.
USC Law students who choose to study abroad should be aware of the HKU academic calendar, which differs slightly from the USC Law calendar. The Fall semester at HKU typically begins in the first week of September and final exams are scheduled through the end of December. The Spring semester at HKU typically begins in mid-January and final exams are scheduled through the end of May. For an example of the HKU academic calendar, visit their website.
Application forms and instructions can be found on the main study abroad page.
USC Law students can take classes from the HKU LL.M. program. The most current LL.M. curriculum offered by HKU is available on their website. It is the responsibility of participant students to review HKU course offerings to determine classes that are open to exchange students in any given semester.
As per the university's articulation officer, USC J.D. students who study at the University of Hong Kong must enroll in standard law courses in order to earn credit on their USC transcripts. In keeping with this requirement, students will not receive credit for language courses taken at HKU such as Practical Chinese for Law Students or Use of Chinese in Law. However, students can enroll in a language course so long as they remain under the unit cap of 15 maximum units. They will not however receive any credit for these units and as such they will not appear on their USC transcripts.
Students must consult with USC Law School’s Study Abroad Academic Director, Professor Edwin M. Smith, to define the educational and professional objectives a student seeks to achieve during their semester abroad, and to seek advice about curriculum selections. Students are required to submit their final course selections (and any subsequent changes) to the G&IP office.
Students must satisfactorily complete the equivalent of 12 to 15 USC Law School units during their semester abroad at the HKU. Students will be granted 1 USC unit for every 2 HKU units. A typical USC student will take 4 or 5 HKU courses, equivalent to 24-30 HKU units, in order to meet the Law School’s minimum unit requirement. Students must take standard HKU law courses as approved by USC Law. HKU will provide a list of approved courses each semester.
Students are also required to write a brief evaluation of the exchange program. The evaluation must be filed by the student with the G&IP office within one month of the student’s return from the overseas institution.
Students should note the following when considering semester abroad programs:
(A) Writing projects completed at HKU do not fulfill the USC Law upper division writing requirement. Students must complete writing and skills requirements at USC.
(B) Participation in the semester abroad program may impact students' eligibility to participate or enroll in student organization leadership rolls, Moot Court, the OCI program, and Order of the Coif during their semester abroad.
(C) Semester abroad students may NOT participate in journals during the semester they are overseas.
(D) Credits earned in a semester abroad program do not satisfy the minimum law units required in a dual degree program, for example the J.D./MBA program. Therefore, students enrolled in a dual degree program that would like to participate in the semester abroad program must anticipate that an additional 7th semester of law school studies at USC Law School will be required.
In accordance with USC’s grading policy for courses taken at foreign institutions, courses taken at HKU by USC J.D. students will be letter graded, A - F. However, these letter grades will be converted to Credit/No Credit by USC and will appear on the student’s USC Law transcript as CR/D/F units, consistent with the USC Law grading system. Thus, by enrolling in the HKU exchange program, the USC J.D. students will earn CR/D/F units for all units that they complete satisfactorily.
Students should note that the J.D. degree requires satisfactory completion of 35 numerically graded USC Law units after the first year of law school. HKU units will transfer as CR units only and semester abroad students will still need to meet the 35 numerically graded upper-division law school units requirement of USC Law School.
USC’s policy for the USC Law/HKU semester abroad program requires that USC J.D. students achieve at least a C in order to be granted Credit (CR) on their USC Law transcript for courses taken at HKU. Students who receive a C- or lower grade, or an incomplete, in a course will not be given any USC credit for that course. Students may not audit courses at HKU. A minimum GPA of 2.0 is required of each student during their semester abroad.
Students will receive official transcripts from HKU after completion of the semester abroad program, which are to be submitted to the G&IP office for the transfer of HKU units to USC Law. The USC Law transcript will show a block of “Overseas Studies” units with CR grades, but will not detail HKU course titles nor numeric grades received at HKU.
USC students participating in the USC Law/HKU exchange program continue to pay full-time tuition to USC Law. Students will be responsible for all other expenses while abroad, including travel, housing, meals, special fees, health insurance, medical/dental expenses, textbooks, clothing, passport/visa costs, and all other costs incurred in connection with the semester abroad. It is estimated that these expenses will amount to roughly $6,000.
Proof of medical insurance coverage by USC students (either USC's health insurance plan or an equivalent insurance policy) is mandatory. USC students who waive out of the USC student health insurance plan are required to purchase USC "overseas insurance", which covers medical emergencies abroad.
USC Law students' financial aid may be affected by participation in this program; the amount of financial aid awarded may increase or decrease as a result of participating in this program. It is each student’s responsibility to confirm their financial aid before in advance of the start of the program.
Students must have a valid passport. The USC Law G&IP Office, along with administrators at HKU, will assist with the provision of documents necessary for the student to obtain the appropriate visa. For visa processing purposes, study abroad students will need to provide evidence of sufficient funds for accommodation and other personal expenses during their study abroad.
USC Law semester abroad students seeking HKU campus housing are required to apply to each postgraduate residence hall independently. The G&IP office will provide students with HKU housing information; however, it is ultimately the responsibility of each student to adhere to HKU application instructions and deadlines.
HKU reserves the right to cancel any course for reasons of insufficient student registration. If the student notes these changes prior to their departure from the U.S., and the student is unable to identify satisfactory substitute courses, he or she may choose to withdraw from the program. If the student notes the cancellation occurs after the student has arrived in Hong Kong, substitute courses must be selected and submitted for approval to the USC Law Study Abroad Academic Director, Professor Edwin M. Smith.