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After satisfactory completion of the first-year Law School requirements, all J.D. students must earn no fewer than 52 additional credits in upper-level work, including:

1. Required Law School Classroom Work

Students must complete at least 36 credits in Law School classroom work (a category that includes courses, seminars and reading groups, but not writing, clinical, or cross-registration credits). Classroom courses taken in fulfillment of the Professional Responsibility Requirement count toward this minimum (see Section I.(G)).

2. Required Additional Credits

Students may earn the remaining required 16 credits by completing written, clinical or additional classroom work and by completing courses taken through cross-registration. Written work, clinical and cross-registration credits do not count toward the Law School classroom credit minimum.

The following rules apply to these additional credits:

a) Clinical Work: Up to 16 credits may be earned through clinical work. Students may enroll in only one clinic per term. Questions about clinical credits should be addressed to  Office of Clinical and Pro Bono Programs.

b) Written Work: Up to 12 credits may be earned through written work (including work satisfying the J.D. Written Work Requirement) completed either in conjunction with a seminar or course or independently  (see Section I(J) and Section III(A)).

c) Cross-Registration and Joint, Coordinated, and Concurrent Degrees: Up to 12 credits may be earned in courses taken through cross-registration or in most cases at another school as part of a joint or coordinated degree program  (see Section III(C) and Section III(E)). See requirements for individual joint degree programs for details.

d) Ordinarily, a student may not exceed the maximum limits on credits for clinical work, written work, and cross-registration. In exceptional cases, when a student is on track to meet the upper-level credit requirements as set out in this Handbook (including the minimum of 36 law school classroom credits), s/he may be permitted to exceed the credit limits for clinical work (with the permission of the Assistant Dean for Clinical and Pro Bono Programs) or written work or cross-registration (with permission of the Dean for Academic and Faculty Affairs), assuming that in so doing s/he exceeds the 52 upper-level credit minimum by the same number of credits. In addition, any clinical or written work credits taken in excess of the maximum credit limits will not count toward Latin honors. See Section I(Q)(8)(c).

3. Transfer Student J.D. Program-Special Considerations

a) Law courses taken before matriculation at Harvard Law School will be considered part of the transfer student’s first year of J.D. studies and may not be used to meet any Harvard Law School upper-level credit requirements and will not be included in Latin honors calculations.

b) Transfer students must satisfy the Law School’s first-year requirements (with the exception of the Problem Solving Workshop) and can do so through demonstrating completion of comparable courses at their prior institution or completion of qualifying courses after matriculation at Harvard Law School.  For a list of qualifying courses, please consult the Office of the Registrar.

c) Harvard Law School courses taken by a transfer student–including first-year Law School courses and qualifying courses taken after matriculation to bring the transfer student into compliance with the School’s first-year requirements–may be used toward the 52 upper-level credit minimum and will count in overall performance in the 2L or 3L year according to the rules set forth in this Handbook (i.e., credit/fail and cross-registration courses are not included in Latin honors calculations (see Section I(Q)).

d) All transfer students, including those who earned fewer credits in the 1L year than the number required by the Harvard Law School first-year course load, must complete a minimum of 83 total credits in order to earn the J.D.

Table 1 – Upper-Level Credit Requirements

Total Minimum Credits Minimum Classroom Credits Maximum Clinical Credits Maximum Writing Credits Maximum Cross-Registration Credits
52 36 16 12 12