- What is the first-year class profile?
The first-year class profile for the class entering in the fall of 2016 is located here.
- How much is the application fee, and when is the deadline?
Application deadline: February 1
Application fee: $85.00
- What are the eligibility requirements for applying to the Harvard Law School J.D. program?
You are eligible to apply if you will have a bachelor’s degree by August of the year you intend to enroll at HLS. You must also take either the LSAT or GRE tests as part of your application requirements.
The J.D. degree requires three years of full-time study, and new students begin their studies only in the fall semester of each year. Apart from for practicing lawyers, we have no part-time, distance, on-line or summer programs.
- What are the range of standardized test scores and GPAs of last year's admitted applicants?
Admission decisions are based on the Admission Committee’s experienced judgment applied to individual cases, and many factors are taken into account. Each application is given a thorough review, taking account of all available information. Because GPA and standardized test scores alone do not fully or adequately summarize information about individuals that is important to admission decisions, these “numbers” often prove poor predictors of admission decisions on individual applications. At no point on the GPA or standardized scales are the chances of admission to HLS ‘0’ or ‘100’ percent. The 2017-2018 application cycle is the first year HLS will be accepting the GRE. We do not have information available regarding prior class statistics. For more information about LSAT statistics, please review our class profile.
- What is tuition at Harvard Law School? Is financial aid available?
All students who demonstrate financial need according to a combination of federal and institutional guidelines receive adequate financial assistance to complete their course of study. For more information about financial aid, visit the HLS Student Financial Services Office web site.
The Low Income Protection Plan (LIPP), is one of the most generous loan forgiveness programs in the nation. This program helps relieve the burden of repayment of educational loans for J.D. graduates in qualifying jobs. Qualifying jobs include all full-time jobs in non-profits, government, or academia and law-related jobs in the private sector. Click here for more information on LIPP.
Harvard Law School does not have a separate budget for married students or for students with dependents. The same standard budget is used for all students. However, married students and students with dependents are afforded higher living allowances against income in the calculation of their student contribution from income. For more detailed information about this you can refer to the JD Student Financial Services website at the Married Students and Students with Dependent Children Resources page.
- What is the best "pre-law" curriculum? How does one prepare for law school?
The Harvard Law School faculty prescribes no fixed requirements with respect to the content of pre-legal education. The nature of candidates’ college work, as well as the quality of academic performance, is taken into account in the selection process. As preparation for law school, a broad college education is usually preferable to one that is narrowly specialized. The Admissions Committee looks for a showing of thorough learning in a field of your choice, such as history, economics, government, philosophy, mathematics, science, literature or the classics (and many others), rather than a concentration in courses given primarily as vocational training. The Admissions Committee considers that those programs approaching their subjects on a more theoretical level, with attention to educational breadth, are better preparatory training for the legal profession than those emphasizing the practical.
- Does Harvard Law School offer concurrent or joint degree programs?
Harvard Law School offers joint degree programs, with the Harvard Business School (JD/MBA), the Harvard School of Public Health (JD/MPH), the Harvard Kennedy School of Government (JD/ MPP or MPA/ID), the Harvard Graduate School of Design (JD/MUP), and the Cambridge University Faculty of Law (JD/LLM). The Law School also offers coordinated programs with the Harvard Graduate School of Arts and Sciences (JD/PhD and JD/MA) in many fields.
Applicants admitted to both the JD program and a PhD program at the Harvard Graduate School of Arts and Sciences will qualify for consideration for our JD/PhD tuition funding program if their intention is to pursue a career in academia. A limited number of students receive full-tuition funding for the JD portion of their joint program. Contact the admissions office for more information on this program.
For those interested in combining a legal education with advanced training in a field in which a joint degree is not offered, we offer a number of concurrent degree opportunities with other graduate schools.
Click here for more information on joint and concurrent degree programs, and the coordinated J.D./Ph.D. program, as well as cross-registration and study abroad.
- Can I visit the Law School?
Prospective applicants are welcome to visit the Law School at any time to take a self-guided tour, although you may wish to consult the academic calendar to plan your visit at a time when classes are in session to see the campus activity. You may wish to stop by the Admissions Office when you arrive for information on where to go and what you can do while in Cambridge. No individual meetings are available. The Admissions Office is open between 9:00 am and 5:00 pm, Monday through Friday.
Click here for directions to the Law School or here for a campus map.
LL.M. and S.J.D. candidates should contact the Graduate Program (firstname.lastname@example.org) for more information about visiting HLS.
- Are campus tours offered?
Information sessions with an admissions officer and student-guided tours are offered from mid-September through mid-November on select Friday afternoons. These sessions begin at 2:00 pm and last approximately two hours.
- Which standardized test scores can I submit along with my application?
For the 2016-2017 admissions cycle, applicants must submit a Law School Admission Test (LSAT) score along with their other materials. On a pilot basis, starting in the 2017-2018 application cycle, Harvard Law School will accept either the Law School Admission Test (LSAT) or the Graduate Records Exam (GRE). We do not have a preference for either exam. Individuals considering either test should explore several factors, including whether you intend to apply to other law schools that may only accept the LSAT, your timing and geographic location, and any other plans you may have for graduate study. For additional questions, please feel free to contact our office to discuss your specific circumstances.
- Why did you begin accepting the GRE in addition to the LSAT?
Accepting the GRE is part of a wider strategy at Harvard Law School to expand access to legal education for students in the United States and internationally, and it is consistent with American Bar Association rules that govern the data that accredited law schools must collect from students seeking admission.
- How can GRE test results be submitted to HLS?
Details for how to submit GRE scores will be available by September 2017.
- How important are test scores in the admissions process?
HLS reviews applications in the context of a holistic view of a candidate’s materials. Applicants are encouraged to prepare for and provide the strongest standardized test results possible while noting that this is only one aspect of the application.
The LSAT and GRE are both designed to measure some of the acquired skills that are important to successful legal study. Within broad limits, both exams provide a reasonable assessment of these skills. Standing alone, however, the LSAT and/or GRE provide only a partial measure of an individual’s promise for legal study. In the context of the broader range of information contained in a complete application for admission, the LSAT and/or GRE is helpful in assessing individual promise and in making meaningful comparisons among those who apply for admission.
Quantitative factors, while informative, do not play a decisive role in our selection process. We have no computational methods for making admission decisions, no mechanical shortcuts, no substitutes for careful assessment and good judgement. All completed applications are reviewed in their entirety with the LSAT and/or GRE as one factor in an overall assessment of academic promise, personal achievement, and potential contribution to the vitality of the student body.
- Should I retake the LSAT or GRE?
You only need to take the LSAT or GRE once. If you provide more than one test result for the LSAT, all scores will be received but we will use the highest score in our evaluation. Similarly, all GRE scores that are sent will be reviewed but we will use the higher score in our evaluation.
- When should I take either the LSAT or GRE and how long are my scores valid?
The LSAT is administered four times per year. Please visit the Law School Admission Council website for more information.
The GRE is administered year-round. Please visit the ETS website for more information.
LSAT and GRE scores taken within the past 5 years are considered valid.
- Must I register with the LSAC's Credential Assembly Service?
If you plan to take the LSAT, you must also register for LSAC’s Credential Assembly Service and have all undergraduate and graduate transcripts sent to Law Services. When we receive and process your application, HLS will request your LSAC’s Credential Assembly Service report, and Law Services will send it directly to HLS. The LSAC’s Credential Assembly Service report includes your LSAT scores as well as copies of your academic transcripts, LSAT writing sample, and a summary of undergraduate grades. All applicants must be currently registered with LSAC’s Credential Assembly Service except those who are not eligible to register.
Applicants who received their undergraduate degrees outside the United States, Puerto Rico, or Canada may not be eligible for LSAC’s Credential Assembly Service. Please check with the LSAC’s Credential Assembly Service/LSAT Information Book in the LSAC’s Credential Assembly Service section. If you are not eligible for LSAC’s Credential Assembly Service you must have your official university transcripts sent directly to LSAC. Candidates must also identify themselves as a foreign-educated applicant when registering for the LSAT and when completing the “Date(s) Registered with LSAC’s Credential Assembly Service” question on the Harvard Law School J.D. Application. Those who did their undergraduate work at Canadian institutions must register with LSAC’s Credential Assembly Service.
If you plan to apply with a GRE score, instructions for how to apply will be available by September 2017.
- Is there a fee waiver process for both the LSAT and the GRE?
LSAC offers fee waivers for the LSAT and Credential Assembly Service (CAS). Please find more information here.
ETS offers a limited number of GRE Fee Reduction Certificates. Please find more information here.
- Will HLS report my LSAT score to the American Bar Association (ABA) if I take both the LSAT and the GRE?
Yes. If you take the LSAT, then we will report the LSAT score to the ABA.
- What if I applied to HLS in a previous year?
We keep applications on file for three years. If you applied more than three years ago, you must submit an entirely new application. If you applied in the last three years, you must be currently registered with LSAC’s Credential Assembly Service, complete a new application form, submit a new personal statement and pay the application fee. You may submit new recommendations or rely on those in your previous application.
- When do application materials become available?
You must electronically submit your application to our office through the LSAC. Our electronic application becomes available mid-September.
- When does Harvard Law School begin accepting applications?
We encourage you to submit your application as soon as possible after the application goes live in September. Decisions are made on a rolling basis, which means you can expect a decision anytime between December and May.
- What is the deadline to submit an application?
The deadline for submitting applications is February 1. We can guarantee full consideration for all applications received by that date.
- Does Harvard Law School have an "early admission" or an "early decision" process?
No. We have a rolling admission process. We review applications roughly in the order that they become complete (when all required materials have been received and processed), and decisions are made on a rolling basis.
- Are application fee waivers available?
If you applying to HLS with a LSAT score and if payment of the application fee would pose a financial hardship, you should first apply for a fee waiver through the Law School Admissions Council.
If the LSAC denies an applicant’s LSAT/CAS fee waiver request on the basis of financial need in the twelve months prior to applying to the J.D. program at Harvard Law School, you may complete the HLS Fee Waiver Request Form. Please request a Fee Waiver Request Form by email at email@example.com with the subject line of “Fee Waiver Request Form.”
Application fees are waived by HLS on the basis of financial need as demonstrated by information on this form. No application for admission will be considered before the application fee has been paid or a fee waiver has been granted. If LSAC has granted you a LSAT/LSAC Credential Assembly Service Fee waiver and you apply electronically to Harvard, your Harvard application fee will be waived.
If you are applying to HLS with a GRE score, then we will provide additional information regarding how to obtain an HLS application fee waiver by September 2017.
- Do you require a College Certification?
While we do not require the College Certification as part of the application process, it will be required for all enrolling students. If you believe information on the College Certification would have a positive or negative impact on your admissibility, please submit it with your application.
- Whom should I ask to write my recommendations?
Recommendations should come from those who have had an opportunity to evaluate you carefully and individually over a sufficient period of time to make a reasonable evaluation. At least one of the letters should deal with your academic and scholarly abilities. We realize that some applicants, particularly those who have been out of school for a number of years, may have difficulty finding even one academic recommender. If that is the case, letters from employers who have worked closely with you will be helpful.
- How many letters of recommendations does Harvard require? Can I submit more?
Two recommendations are required. Although two thoughtfully selected recommenders are likely to be more effective than several chosen less carefully, we will accept three.
- Does Harvard Law School grant interviews?
Evaluative interviews are available by invitation only. All interviews are conducted via Skype. We will, however, be happy to answer your questions. Group information sessions and tours offered during the fall semester are an effective way to learn about the School. You may also call us with questions during regular business hours at 617-495-3179.
- How should I approach my personal statement?
The personal statement is an opportunity for you to present yourself, your background, ideas, and accomplishments to the Admissions Committee. It is for you to decide what information you would like to convey and the best way for you to convey it. Whatever you write about, readers will be seeking to get a sense of you as a person and as a potential student and graduate of Harvard Law School.
- What length should my personal statement be?
We ask that you limit your statement to two pages, double spaced, using a font size that is comfortable to read (not less than 11 point).
- Are all applications read?
Yes. Each application is reviewed thoroughly.
- Are there "cut-off" GPAs or standardized test scores below which applications are not considered?
No. There are no “cut-off” GPAs or standardized test scores below which an application will not be considered in its entirety. We have no computational methods for making admission decisions, no mechanical shortcuts, no substitutes for careful assessment and good judgment.
- Can I find out my status via email or over the phone?
The Admissions Office cannot respond to inquiries regarding the status of an application or an admissions decision via the telephone or email. As described in the application materials, we provide periodic status updates to applicants via email and an online status check and admissions decisions are provided via email. If you are a current applicant, please refer to the “Application Received” or “Application Complete” emails for details.
- What if I have a disciplinary record?
It is always best to answer questions concerning your disciplinary record fully and openly, and to provide an explanation. Disciplinary records are reviewed on a case-by-case basis and are not necessarily viewed as negative.
- Do you accept application materials or any correspondence by email?
Please send your materials online.
- When should I apply for Financial Aid?
You cannot begin to apply for financial aid at HLS until you receive an offer of admissions. Once admitted, you will receive an HLS email account and instructions on how to apply for aid will be sent to you immediately via this email account. The specific documents required to complete the application process for financial aid are highly individualized and based on each student’s particular circumstances. For admitted students there is no specific deadline to complete an application for aid, but the sooner you complete your file by submitting all of your required documents, the sooner you will have your preliminary HLS financial aid award offer from us. Throughout the spring we generally have a two week (10 business days) turnaround time from the point your last document is received to the point you will receive your award notification. For an broad overview of the entire application process, please read over the Apply For Aid section of the Student Financial Services website.
- What is your deferral policy?
At Harvard Law School, we expect that all applicants fully intend to enroll in the J.D. program in the fall of the year in which they apply. We also understand that individual circumstances related to enrollment can change after submitting an application.
Each cycle we allow a number of admitted applicants to defer enrollment, for one or two years, with an agreement not to apply to other law schools. While deferrals are not guaranteed, we are typically able to grant them without difficulty if they are requested in a timely fashion. We grant deferrals for many different reasons, but most commonly, deferring students wish to earn or finish another degree, or take advantage of an employment or service opportunity.
Admitted applicants will receive more detailed information about the procedures for applying for a deferral.