The philosophy of the LL.M. program is to offer our students a broad platform on which to design their own course of study within parameters set by the Harvard Law School faculty. All students must satisfactorily complete a minimum of 23 credit and a maximum of 27 credit in one academic year; most students complete between 23 and 25 credits. The forgoing minimum and maximum include the one credit assigned for completion of the portion of the Legal Research, Writing and Analysis course that takes place during Orientation. Students also must satisfy some specific course and written work requirements.
International LL.M. students are required to take at least one of the following courses in American Law: Civil Procedure, Constitutional Law, Contracts, Corporations, Criminal Law, Family Law, Legislation and Regulation, Property, Taxation, and Torts. International students also must write a paper of 25 or more pages that involves independent reflection, formulation of a sustained argument and, in many cases, outside research. Papers may be written either independently or in conjunction with a seminar. Finally, we strongly encourage students to take at least one course focusing on legal history, legal theory, policy analysis or legal process.
For students who hold a J.D. from a law school in the United States or Puerto Rico, and who are hoping to embark on a law teaching career, the emphasis is slightly different. These students are provided the opportunity to take a step back and relate the doctrinal areas in which they previously concentrated to broader intellectual, social and cultural traditions and to pursue an extended writing project. Thus students from the United States and Puerto Rico are strongly encouraged to take at least one course that is primarily focused on legal theory or jurisprudence and are required to write a paper of at least 50 pages in length.