Study Abroad International Programs

snakeanonWhen UMSL was founded in 1911, the School recognized the unique role it played in the development of Montana business. The non-litigation aspects of law practice have been a hallmark of the School for many years. (photo to right: Barbara Morrison, Copyright 2013)

As Montana business has become more global in nature, UMSL has adapted its academic offerings to help train lawyers for the global century, an effort which is in line with the University’s UM 2020 agenda and the core values of “Leadership, Engagement, Diversity, and Sustainability.”

According to the International Trade Administration of the U.S. Department of Commerce: A total of 886 companies exported goods from Montana locations in 2008. Of those, 773 (87 percent) were small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), with fewer than 500 employees. SMEs generated more than half (61 percent) of Montana's total exports of merchandise in 2008. That was the second highest percentage among the 50 states, and well above the national average of 31 percent.

Study Abroad Programs: China and Ireland

UM Law China Program

China has emerged as one of the world’s most powerful economic forces in today’s global economy. The demand is increasing for experts familiar with the ever-changing nature of the Chinese economy and with Chinese political and legal systems to provide advisory services to businesses and policy makers. The University of Montana and the University of South Dakota Law Schools recognize these needs and offer students an opportunity to experience China firsthand in its summer study abroad program.

The University of Montana School of Law currently operates a summer legal studies program in China in an affiliate relationship with the law school at the University of South Dakota. The program immerses UMSL students with colleagues from other western universities, as well as Chinese law students, using faculty from all three American schools, as well as their Chinese counterparts. The program features three 2-credit courses: Comparative Environmental and Renewable Energy Law, Comparative Civil Procedure Law, and Comparative Property and Estates Law.

Studentsw_ProfLi ChinaFactory StudentsdininginChina

Left to right: UMSL Students with Professor Fengru Li in China, Bicycle factory visited in China, and UMSL students enjoy dinner on the town in China.

Program Locations

Chongqing and Beijing. The program is conducted on the SWUPL and CUPL campuses, which are conveniently located in their respective cities. Students will have access to each University’s Law Library, in addition to high speed Internet connections for most of their activities.

Program Dates

Session 1: June 1 – 12, 2015 in Chongqing, China at Southwest University of Political Science and Law (SWUPL)
Session 2: June 15 – 26, 2015 in Beijing, China at China University of Political Science and Law (CUPL)

Applications/Program Contact Information

University of Montana School of Law
University of South Dakota School of Law

Program Details

Housing & Meals
Cost & Financial Aid
Transportation & Insurance
ABA Approval Academic Credit and Eligibility
Changes, Withdrawals and Refunds
Students with Disabilities
Practical Travel Information


Comparative Environmental & Renewable Energy Law
Professor Sam Panarella, University of Montana School of Law

This course provides a comparison of the environmental legal systems that exist in both China and the United States. The course will place particular emphasis on laws affecting water ecosystems, habitats, and resources. We will compare the major environmental laws of both nations and consider how the various levels of local, state/provincial, and national systems function together in each country. Students will analyze the strengths and weaknesses of each country’s laws and what each country can learn from the other about environmental protection. The course will also examine possible future directions in those laws and areas of challenge, including environmental justice concerns, climate change, and how the systems strain to balance environmental protection alongside economic opportunity and growth.

The Renewable Energy portion of the course will focus on highlighting the differences and similarities between the renewable energy industries in the two countries. Particular attention will be paid to the following:

  • The laws and policies supporting (and, in some cases, limiting) the development of renewable energy in both countries
  • Lessons learned from the US renewables experience that can inform the development of the more nascent Chinese industry
  • Environmental drivers of renewable energy development in both countries
  • Transmission constraints that bedevil both industries

Comparative Civil Procedure Law
Professor Hillary Wandler, University of Montana School of Law

This course will explore the main goals of civil procedure in the United States and China and how the procedural rules in each system attempt to further those goals by providing a “user-friendly” operating system. In particular, the course will consider:

  • How civil actions are commenced, including issues of notice and timing.
  • How the system achieves efficiency leading up to trial, including joinder or severance of matters and parties, and early resolution of undisputed or less complex issues.
  • How parties (and perhaps judges) discover the evidence essential to resolving the dispute.
  • The relative importance placed on judicial independence and litigant autonomy in each system.

Comparative Property and Estates Law
Professor Tom Simmons, University of South Dakota Law School

Real property law in China is developing at a breakneck pace. An understanding of the current state of property law in China which compares and evaluates Chinese law against American and English common law property precepts is the goal of this course. Even the question of "what is property?" can be answered differently by different legal systems. Title, grant, transfer, property uses, and regulatory oversight will be explored.

Related to and as an outgrowth of property is the law of trusts and estates. Chinese inheritance law can teach us a great deal about Chinese culture and values. And although the trust is a creation of English common law, China has embraced the law of trusts. A comparative assessment of Chinese and American trust law illuminates planning opportunities as well as the essential nature of wealth, legacies, trusts and trust planning.

Housing & Meals

Students will be lodged at hotels within short walking distance of the classrooms in Chongqing and Beijing. Students will stay in double rooms with private baths. The cost of the course includes a shared two-person double room.

We can help students arriving a few days early (which we strongly encourage) or staying after the course ends, but students must pay all hotel and meal costs directly for any additional nights.

Cost & Financial Aid

Program costs are currently estimated at $US 6000 which includes tuition and fees for the 6 U.S. law credits; all course-related travel inside China; all lodging inside China during the program; emergency medical insurance; all course materials; and the visa application fee.


Students enrolled in the program are eligible for financial aid to the extent that participating students are eligible to receive it. Students should contact their own school financial aid office for assistance and aid information.

At the University of Montana, students should contact Connie Bowman at (406) 243-5524 or

At the University of Sotuth Dakota, students should contact Lindsay Miller at (605) 677-5446 or

Transportation & Insurance

Transportation: Participants are responsible for arranging and purchasing their own international airfare between the U.S. and China. As noted above, the $US 6000 program cost includes transportation costs within China for travel to the various sites. Everyone will travel as a group within China.

Insurance: All participants are required to have overseas medical health and emergency evacuation insurance, the cost of which is included in the program costs. The University of Montana will make these purchases for each participant who needs it.

ABA Approval, Academic Credit and Eligibility

ABA Approval | Academic Credit: The American Bar Association Legal Education Committee has approved this program for all six (6) academic credits, which makes these credits eligible towards a J.D. degree at any ABA-accredited law school which chooses to accept them. Acceptance of any credit or grade for any course taken in the program is subject to determination by the student’s home school. The program’s sponsoring law schools have determined that law students must enroll in all (six) 6 credits as a condition for participation.

Eligibility: All US law students who have completed their first year of legal studies at a US ABA-accredited law school and who are in good academic standing at their law school are eligible to enroll, although preference will be given to UM and USD students. In addition, non-law students may participate to the extent their universities recognize the academic credits. The University of Montana has approved the program for six (6) graduate credits. Participants are required to comply with their own school’s student disciplinary and honor codes throughout the program, and those failing to do so will be sent home in addition to facing their own school disciplinary sanctions as warranted.

**There are no prerequisites for enrollment in any of the courses in the program.**

Changes, Withdrawals and Refunds

This program is subject to change as to content and location based upon currently unforeseen circumstances including those generally falling within the scope of force majeure events such as natural disaster, war, epidemic illnesses, etc. In addition, the program will be cancelled in the event that (1) fewer than 15 US students enroll; (2) China becomes subject to a US State Department travel warning; (3) China imposes any new legal restriction making the program too difficult to administer; or (4) other extreme circumstances. The program’s sponsoring schools are committed not to increase program costs if any changes are needed; and in case of cancellation students will be provided a refund of all monies advanced within twenty days after the cancellation, excepting non-refundable deposits. In the event of cancellation of the program after a deposit has been paid, the Program Director will use his or her best efforts to make arrangements for each student enrolled to attend a similar program, if the student so desires. Students will be promptly notified of the following and given an opportunity to withdraw from the program if (1) major changes are made in the course offerings or other significant aspects of the program; (2) prior to the commencement of the program, a US State Department Travel Warning or Alert covering program dates and destinations is issued for the country in which the program will be conducted; and (3) during the course of the program, a US State Department Travel Warning or Alert covering program dates and destinations is issued for the country in which the program is being conducted. If a student withdraws from the program as permitted prior to the commencement of the program, or if the program is canceled, the student will receive a refund of all monies advanced within twenty days after the cancellation or withdrawal. If a student withdraws from the program as permitted during the course of the program, or if the program is terminated, the student will be refunded fees paid except for room and board payments utilized prior to the date of termination or withdrawal.

Program participants will be provided with current U.S. State Department travel information about China at least once before they depart, along with any updates. In the event that China becomes subject to a US State Department travel warning, all students will be notified through email and other means by the program director. Sponsoring schools will respond immediately to a State Department warning or advisory by cancelling or terminating the program; or relocating all or part of the program within the country to any site not subject to such warning or advisory. In addition, the sponsoring schools will seek immediate US Embassy and Consulate help and guidance in response to any such advisory or warning.

**The 2014 Program did not have any significant changes or cancellations.**

Students with Disabilities

This program will make all reasonable efforts to ensure full participation by persons with disabilities, although participants should note that not all facilities, buildings, and transportation are equipped for accessibility.


The program will handle emergencies as any arises. These include medical and safety emergencies. Participants will be asked in connection with their registration to provide emergency contact information. In addition, the program will provide emergency contact information for participant family members who need to communicate with participants in China. To the extent necessary because of exigent circumstances, the program will retain the discretion to discontinue the program before its conclusion and arrange for evacuation from China.

Study Abroad in Ireland

Ireland is the third-largest island in Europe and the twentieth-largest island in the world. It lies to the northwest of continental Europe. To the east of Ireland is Great Britain, separated from it by the Irish Sea. The island is divided between the Republic of Ireland, which covers just under five-sixths of the island, and Northern Ireland, a part of the United Kingdom, which covers the remainder and is located in the northeast of the island. The population of Ireland is approximately 6.2 million people. Just under 4.5 million live in the Republic of Ireland and just under 1.8 million live in Northern Ireland.  Relatively low-lying mountains surrounding a central plain epitomise Ireland's geography with several navigable rivers extending inland. The island has lush vegetation, a product of its mild but changeable oceanic climate, which avoids extremes in temperature. Thick woodlands covered the island until the 17th century. Today, it is the most deforested area in Europe.

(photo above: Inistioge village, County Kilkenny courtesy, Copyright 2013)

UMSL is presently in discussions with the law program at the University of Cork in Ireland aimed at developing a similar program in Ireland which will provide UMSL students the opportunity to engage in legal studies in the European Community.  According to the Montana World Trade Center, “[t]otal US investment in the EU is three times higher than in all of Asia, and EU investment in the US is around eight times the amount of EU investment in India and China together.” The Irish program also provides a cross-disciplinary link to the University’s Irish Studies program.