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The Handbook of Academic Policies (HAP) is the official source of academic policy and requirements at HLS.

Please refer to the HAP for additional information on degree requirements and academic policy.  The following is provided as a quick reference guide and should not be considered the absolute authoritative source for all degree requirements nor does it supersede the official policy written in the Handbook of Academic Policy.

Questions?  Contact the Office of the Registrar registrar@law.harvard.edu

First Year Requirements

1L Requirements by Term

FIRST YEAR COURSES FALL TERM WINTER TERM SPRING TERM
  • Civil Procedure
  • Contracts
  • Criminal Law
  • Legislation and Regulation
  • Property
  • Torts
  • 4 of the required first-year courses (assigned by the Registrar’s Office)
  • First-year Legal Research and Writing
  • Problem Solving Workshop
  • The 2 remaining required first-year courses (assigned by the Registrar’s Office)
  • First-year Legal Research and Writing
  • First-year course in international or comparative law
  • An upper-level elective with a minimum of 2 and a maximum of 4 credits

Upper Level Credit Requirements

UPPER LEVEL CREDITS
≥ 52* TOTAL CREDITS IN THE 2L AND 3L YEARS

Credit Type Credit Rules Notes
LAW classroom >36 Required as part of the 52* total credits
HLS clinical <16 Limit to 1 clinic per semester
HLS writing <12 Writing is a requirement
Cross-registration** <12 Confirm with HLS Registrar for credit equivalent

*This will vary for transfer students
**Does not apply for joint degree students

Residency Requirement

Upper-level J.D. RESIDENCY REQUIREMENTS

MINIMUM TOTAL CREDITS*

MAXIMUM TOTAL CREDITS

Each year 24 35
Each Fall and Spring** 10 16
Each Winter Term 2 3

*In general, students must maintain the minimum credit requirements regardless of the total number of credits taken in any one term/year. For example, front-loading credits to take fewer credits in your 3L year is generally not permitted.

**No fewer than 8 credits in each fall and spring upper-level term must be HLS credits.

Written Work Requirement

Option 1

Option 2

Writing for degree credit, supervised by HLS faculty

The requirement is fulfilled with 2 credits of independent writing OR 1 credit of writing in conjunction with a course (you may write more than is required). Writing must be substantial and of publishable quality; generally:

  • 15-30 pages for 1 credit
  • 30+ pages for 2 credits – allowances for length for empirical research or nontraditional writing. Consult with faculty supervisor and the Registrar’s Office to determine credits.
Generally, writing for which you are not receiving additional degree credit, encompassing:

  • Writing done as part of an HLS course, seminar, or clinic (faculty supervised)
  • Moot court briefs (unsupervised)
  • Law journal writing (unsupervised)

2 pieces of writing required; 1 must be faculty supervised

Note: The writing requirement cannot be met using writing completed in a course or clinic that satisfies the Professional Responsibility requirement or one which is being used toward the Experiential Learning requirement.

Other Requirements for the J.D. Degree

REQUIREMENT

TO FULFILL

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Experiential Learning (EL) No fewer than 6 credits

Note: Requirement does not apply to students who began law school prior to Fall 2016

  • Upon completion, 2 credits earned for PSW in 1L year
  • Upon completion, 2 credits earned for spring term LRW in 1L year
  • Find offerings that will fulfill EL in the course catalog
  • No double counting with Professional Responsibility or Writing requirements
  • Transferable EL credits will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis and noted accordingly
Professional Responsibility (PR) A minimum of 2 classroom credits
  • Generally taken during your 3L year
  • Find offerings that will fulfill PR in the course catalog
  • No double counting with Experiential Learning or Writing requirements
  • Some clinical seminars may satisfy this requirement, check course description in the catalog.  If using a clinical seminar for PR, it cannot be used for the WWR or EL requirements.
Pro Bono 50 hours

Note: Requirement for students admitted to HLS prior to Fall 2015 is 40 hours

  • Can receive a stipend for Pro Bono work if you receive SPIF
  • HLS pro bono hours may ≠ state bar pro bono hours; confirm minimum hours required with the state bar for which you are sitting