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Registration and Attendance Requirements

All LL.M. degree candidates must register for at least nine to 10 credits in the fall term, at least eight to 10 credits in the spring term, and at least two credits in the winter term. All degree candidates must also regularly attend all courses and seminars in which they are registered. Failure to register for any term or attend classes on a regular basis will preclude eligibility for graduation. In some cases, specific credit minimums may apply for visa purposes. Questions should be directed to the Graduate Program Office. All LL.M. candidates are required to remain in residence during each term.

S.J.D. candidates in residence must follow check-in and financial clearance procedures stipulated by the Registrar’s Office and the Graduate Program Office. All first-year candidates must regularly attend all courses and seminars taken during the first year.

Auditing a Harvard Law School Course

Any student interested in auditing a Harvard Law School course must submit an audit request form to the Office of the Registrar. The form requires the signature of the instructor of the course. The form will be held in the Registrar’s office until the end of the add/drop period. Potential auditors may, subject to available seating, sit in on the course until an official decision is made. If it is determined that space is available in the course (there is no waitlist or the waitlist has been cleared) the student will be notified that the student may attend the course. If multiple students request to audit the same course and there is not space to seat them all, the audit requests will be processed on a first-come, first-served basis. The audited course will not appear on the transcript. Exceptions to this policy may be made only with the approval of the Office of Academic Affairs.

Class Attendance and Participation

Regular attendance at classes and participation in class work are expected of all students. In cases of substantial delinquency in attendance, the Law School may, after written warning, treat students as having withdrawn from the course, seminar, or reading group in question. Students who believe they need to miss classes for an extended period of time must speak with Jeanne Tai or Nancy Pinn, who can assist with such situations, help ensure that students comply with the Law School’s attendance policy and related academic policies, and direct students to the applicable resources as necessary. In no event may students receive credit for courses or seminars with meeting times that overlap in whole or in part.

Under Massachusetts law, special circumstances apply to religious observances. Pursuant to the requirements of the law set forth in Chapter 151C, Section 2B of the General Laws of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, a copy of this regulation is included in full here:

“Any student in an educational or vocational training institution, other than a religious or denominational educational or vocational training institution, who is unable, because of his religious beliefs, to attend classes or to participate in any examination, study, or work requirement on a particular day shall be excused from any such examination or study or work requirement and shall be provided with an opportunity to make up such examination, study, or work requirement which he may have missed because of such absence on any particular day; provided, however, that such makeup examination or work shall not create an unreasonable burden upon such school. No fees of any kind shall be charged by the institution for making available to the said student such opportunity. No adverse or prejudicial effects shall result to any student because of his availing himself of the provisions of this section.”

Course Selection and Academic Evaluation

Subject to limited exceptions, graduate students are eligible to enroll in all courses and seminars at the Law School. Admission to courses and seminars requiring special permission from the instructor is expected to be based on similar criteria as applied to J.D. students.

Academic performance by graduate students in courses and seminars and on written work will be evaluated on the same basis as performance by J.D. students at the Law School. In addition, graduate students are required to meet all academic requirements of the Graduate Program.


Students are reminded that exchange of information, collaboration, or communication of any kind during an examination is not permitted at the Law School. Consequences for such collaboration may range from disallowance of the examination to suspension or expulsion from the Law School.

Persons who arrive late for their exams will not receive compensatory time to complete their exams. Late exam cases (including late arrivals to an in-class exam) will be referred to the Administrative Board.

Students who fail to appear for a scheduled exam for a course in which they are enrolled may be subject to disciplinary action by Harvard Law School.

Further information on exam policies is found in the “Examinations” section of the Harvard Law School Handbook of Academic Policies 2016-2017 and in the Law School’s Standing Policies of the Administrative Board Concerning Exam Administration.

LL.M. Written Work Deadlines

Deadlines for registering for and submitting a final copy of the paper an LL.M. student writes in satisfaction of the written work requirement are listed in the “Rules Relating to Harvard Law School Studies” section of the Harvard Law School Handbook of Academic Policies 2016-2017.

Grades and Degree Completion

All Harvard Law School academic work—with the exception of specified courses offered on a credit/fail basis—will be graded Honors, Pass, Low Pass, or Fail (H, P, LP, or F).

In order to be eligible for the LL.M. degree, LL.M. candidates must complete at least 23 credits of work (including course work and written work) graded Low Pass (LP) or higher; of those 23 credits, no fewer than 3 must be graded Pass (P) or higher.

Students failing to meet minimum grade requirements may be allowed, by decision of the Graduate Committee, to undertake substitute work, take a different examination in the same course, or retake courses within the next academic year following the end of their LL.M. year. All additional work must be completed no later than 12 months after the end of the LL.M. year. Outside of the foregoing circumstance, however, all work must be completed within a single academic year consistent with the fact that the LL.M. is a single academic year degree program.

Students who have taken a leave of absence must complete LL.M. degree requirements within 36 months of first matriculating at the Law School in order to be eligible for the LL.M. degree. Further information on Leaves and Withdrawals is found in the applicable section of the Harvard Law School Handbook of Academic Policies 2016-2017, herein incorporated by reference.

S.J.D. candidates taking courses for credit must receive a minimum grade of Pass (P) in any given course offered at Harvard Law School.

Human Subject Research

Law School projects involving human subjects are reviewed by the Faculty of Arts and Sciences Institutional Review Board (IRB). Students considering research projects, including surveys or interviews should review the University’s policies on use of human subjects in research available on the IRB Website and discuss their work with the Law School officer on the FAS IRB. Note that students should allow sufficient time for IRB review; late requests for review may not be granted.


Plagiarism is, in brief, the using of the ideas or words of another as one’s own. In the United States, rules relating to plagiarism are very strict, and may not have exact counterparts in some other countries. The issue is essentially one of academic and intellectual honesty.

Specifically, all work submitted by a student for any academic or nonacademic exercise is expected to be the student’s own work. In the preparation of their work, students should always take great care to distinguish their own ideas and knowledge from information derived from sources. The term “sources” includes not only published or computer-accessed primary and secondary material, but also information and opinions gained directly from other people.

The responsibility for learning the proper forms of citation lies with the individual student. Quotations must be properly placed within quotation marks and must be fully cited. In addition, all paraphrased material must be completely acknowledged. Whenever ideas or facts are derived from a student’s reading and research, the sources must be indicated. In case of doubt, students should acknowledge, in the text or in a footnote, the source of an idea or the source of language other than their own. Even where a source is cited, lengthy paraphrasing should be avoided where there would be ambiguity about how much of the text actually incorporates the ideas of others.

In addition, the amount of collaboration with others that is permitted in the completion of work can vary, depending upon the policy set by the head of the course or the supervisor of a particular exercise. Students should assume that collaboration in the completion of work is prohibited unless explicitly permitted, and students should acknowledge any collaboration and its extent in all submitted work.

Students who are in any doubt about the preparation of their work should consult the appropriate instructor, supervisor, or administrator before it is prepared or submitted. Students who submit work that is not their own without clear attribution of all sources, even if the omission is inadvertent, will be subject to disciplinary action. Several Law School students have been cited for plagiarism in recent years.

The cases described below should be viewed as illustrative only. Actual practices that may constitute plagiarism may differ, and actual penalties imposed may be more or less severe than those described here:

  • A student who had plagiarized through paraphrasing the ideas of another throughout most of his seminar paper was suspended for one semester. The student argued that the standards applied to acknowledging sources in this country were far more stringent than those applied in his own country, and therefore his plagiarism was accidental. Although his argument may have been factually true, the Administrative Board found that he had in fact plagiarized and that this could not and would not be tolerated. At the time of his suspension the student was completing the spring semester of his LL.M. program. He received no credit for the entire semester. Under the terms of his suspension, this student had to re-apply to the LL.M. Program in order to regain admission. His readmission was denied.
  • A student submitted a short paper that consisted entirely of material taken from a published article by another author. The material was not placed in quotation marks, nor was the article cited. Although the paper was one of several short, ungraded papers submitted in that course, the student received no credit for the course and was suspended for a semester.
  • A student had graduated with the LL.M. degree. In time, it was brought to the attention of his former supervisor that his LL.M. paper had been plagiarized. The student’s degree was rescinded.