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Harvard Law School and the Harvard Kenneth C. Griffin Graduate School of Arts and Sciences


The Coordinated JD/PhD Program is designed for students interested in completing interdisciplinary work at Harvard University and is founded on the belief that students’ legal studies and their arts and sciences graduate studies can be mutually enriched through this pursuit. Students completing the coordinated program receive a JD from Harvard Law School (HLS) and a PhD from the Harvard Kenneth C. Griffin Graduate School of Arts and Sciences (Harvard Griffin GSAS). It is expected that these students will be strong candidates for teaching posts at law schools and in arts and sciences programs, as well as for other positions in law and academia. Prospective students interested in the coordinated program may reach out to HLS J.D. Admissions and the Harvard Griffin GSAS Office of Admissions to learn more. Current and admitted students interested in the coordinated program are encouraged to contact April Pettit, in the Office of Academic Affairs at HLS for questions about the JD program, or Dan Volchok, Assistant Dean of Student Success at Harvard Griffin GSAS for questions about the PhD programs.


Prospective students must separately apply to and be admitted to both HLS and a Harvard Griffin GSAS PhD program in order to participate in the coordinated JD/PhD program.

  • Students enrolled in HLS, but not yet admitted to Harvard Griffin GSAS, must apply to Harvard Griffin GSAS no later than the 2L year, meeting the Harvard Griffin GSAS application deadline for matriculation the following year.
  • Students enrolled in Harvard Griffin GSAS, but not yet admitted to HLS, should apply to HLS no later than the G3 year, meeting the HLS application deadline for matriculation the following year.
  • Please see below for details about participation in the coordinated program for Harvard Griffin GSAS students who apply and are admitted to HLS after the G3 year.

Once admitted to both schools, students must submit a proposed Plan of Study to the coordinated program no later than October 1 of the academic year following admission to both schools. Students should submit the Plan of Study to April Pettit in the Office of Academic Affairs at HLS.

Please note: Harvard Griffin GSAS students who apply to and are admitted to HLS after the G3 year at Harvard Griffin GSAS must then separately apply to the coordinated program. The application to the coordinated program should include (1) a statement detailing the way in which the student plans to integrate his or her legal studies with his or her graduate studies including how work done at HLS will inform the dissertation work and vice versa; and (2) a letter of support from the primary Harvard Griffin GSAS advisor; and (3) the Plan of Study.

The JD/PhD committee will review the applications to determine admission to the coordinated program.


Students will be registered in only one School during any given semester/term. Pursuant to ABA rules, students must complete all requirements for the JD degree within seven years of the date they first enroll in HLS; they may graduate from HLS before completing the PhD. Students must have satisfactorily completed at least 16 half courses in their Harvard Griffin GSAS department to receive the PhD. Students in the coordinated program will have two primary faculty advisors, one at HLS and one at Harvard Griffin GSAS, who will jointly advise students.

Students will be expected to complete the first-year program, three upper-level fall or spring semesters, and two winter terms at HLS, for a total of five fall and spring semesters and three winter terms. In lieu of the sixth HLS semester generally required of JD students, students in the coordinated program may take a semester at Harvard Griffin GSAS, completing courses or dissertation work pre-approved by HLS, and equivalent to at least 10 HLS credits. This Harvard Griffin GSAS semester may be taken only after a student has matriculated at HLS and completed their entire first year of study there. Students and their faculty advisors will determine the most appropriate sequencing for each student’s course of study, keeping in mind the HLS course, credit, and residency requirements for this program.

Course and Credit Requirements

  • Harvard Law School

    First-Year Program

    The first year at HLS consists of (1) Civil Procedure, Constitutional Law, Contracts, Criminal Law, Legislation and Regulation, Property, and Torts; (2) First-year Legal Research and Writing; (3) January Experiential Term; and (4) a spring upper-level elective at HLS of a minimum of 2 and a maximum of 4 classroom credits.

    Upper-Level Years

    Credit and Residency Requirements

    Students must earn no fewer than 52 credits beyond the first year, including 36 HLS classroom credits. Classroom credits include those connected to courses, seminars and reading groups, but not writing or clinical credits. The 36 required classroom credits also include the required minimum of two credits to satisfy the Professional Responsibility Requirement and credits from the required winter terms (provided that the course chosen offers classroom credits). Of the remaining 16 required HLS credits, a maximum of ten are earned through courses or tutorials taken in Harvard Griffin GSAS and/or for dissertation writing (see below). Note that students must have their advisor’s approval before engaging in a semester of Harvard Griffin GSAS dissertation writing that is expected to count toward the HLS credit requirements. The remaining six required HLS credits may be earned in classroom, writing or clinical courses.

    While at HLS, students must be enrolled in a minimum of ten total credits each semester in HLS or Harvard Griffin GSAS, with no fewer than eight of these being HLS classroom credits toward the requirement of 36 HLS classroom credits.

    Winter Term Requirement

    Students also must enroll in the HLS winter term two times during their upper-level years in the program. Each of the winter terms must follow a fall term enrollment or precede a spring term enrollment at HLS. Students may register for a course of two or three credits. JD/PhD students will be permitted to spend one of the winter terms in the HLS Winter Writing Program, provided they are engaged in written work for HLS credit according to the rules of that program.

    Written Work Requirement

    JD/PhD students must complete the JD Written Work Requirement. Students are permitted to satisfy the requirement with a portion of their dissertation, provided this work meets HLS standards for written work. However, any portion of the dissertation counted toward the JD Written Work Requirement cannot also be used as part of the 10 HLS-equivalent credits earned during a student’s Harvard Griffin GSAS semester. Further information about the J.D. Written Work Requirement and the Winter Term Writing Program is available from the HLS Registrar’s Office.

    Pro Bono Requirement

    JD/PhD students must complete the HLS Pro Bono Requirement of 50 hours of public service.

  • Graduate School of Arts and Sciences

    Residency Requirement

    A minimum of two years of full-time study in residence is required for all PhD programs in the Harvard Griffin GSAS. During the period of registration at HLS, coordinated JD/PhD students will have “study-at-another-Harvard-school” status in Harvard Griffin GSAS.

    Structure of Academic Work


    Students will ordinarily be enrolled for at least four years (8 terms) in Harvard Griffin GSAS. They must complete at least 16 half courses to receive their PhD. Students may cross-register for a limited number of Harvard Griffin GSAS courses during their upper-level terms at HLS. Depending on the Harvard Griffin GSAS department, these courses may count toward the PhD. However, JD/PhD students may count a maximum of 10 credits from Harvard Griffin GSAS coursework or dissertation writing toward the JD. Therefore, students planning to spend a semester enrolled at Harvard Griffin GSAS taking courses or writing the dissertation for which they will earn 10 HLS credits may not also count cross-registered Harvard Griffin GSAS courses toward the JD.

    General Examinations

    In most departments, once having completed the required coursework, students must pass a general examination or other preliminary or qualifying examinations before undertaking independent research on a dissertation. Normally, when the nature of the field and previous preparation permit, students should pass these examinations by the end of the second year of full-time academic residence.

    PhD Dissertation

    The student’s dissertation prospectus must be approved by the department. A student who wishes to present as a dissertation a published article, series of articles, book or other document, or a manuscript that has been accepted for publication, must have the approval of the department concerned. In no case, however, may a dissertation be presented that has already been submitted toward another degree, either at Harvard or elsewhere. The Dissertation Acceptance Certificate must be signed by at least three readers approved by the student’s department, two of whom must be members of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences (FAS). FAS emeriti (including research professors) and faculty members from other schools at Harvard who hold appointments on GSAS degree committees are authorized to sign the Dissertation Acceptance Certificates as FAS members. GSAS strongly recommends that the chair of the dissertation committee be a member of FAS. The third reader may be a member of the HLS faculty.

    Requirement of Satisfactory Status

    Continuous registration, a satisfactory grade record, and evidence that satisfactory progress is being made toward the degree are required of all candidates for graduate degrees offered by FAS. All students in Harvard Griffin GSAS must be making satisfactory progress in order to be eligible for any type of financial aid and teaching. The following five provisions are the general definition of satisfactory progress during registration in Harvard Griffin GSAS:

    1. During the first two years of graduate study any student who has completed expected requirements is considered to be making satisfactory progress.
    2. In each of the first two years, a student must have achieved the minimum grade-point average required by the faculty, a B average. (see Harvard Griffin GSAS Policies: Grade and Examination Requirements).
    3. By the end of the third year, a student must have passed general examinations or the departmental equivalent.
    4. By the end of the fourth year, a student must have obtained approval of a dissertation prospectus or its departmental equivalent.
    5. By the end of the fifth year and each subsequent year during which a student is allowed to register, they must have produced at least one acceptable chapter of the dissertation.

    For more information about satisfactory progress, please see Harvard Griffin GSAS Policies.

    Other Requirements

    Ordinarily, programs will have a language requirement and an expectation of teaching. Students should consult with their Harvard Griffin GSAS departments for more information about these requirements.

  • Sequence of Study

    There are a number of possible academic schedules for students pursuing both degrees. Three sequences are outlined below, but students may propose alternative sequences. In considering their courses of study, students should be aware that their financial aid packages might be affected at the school in which they defer enrollment.

    Year 1: HLS
    Year 2: Harvard Griffin GSAS
    Year 3: Harvard Griffin GSAS
    Year 4: HLS
    Year 5: 1st term, HLS
    Year 5: 2nd term, Harvard Griffin GSAS (earning the equivalent of 10 HLS credits in dissertation work)
    Following year(s): Harvard Griffin GSAS until completion of dissertation

    Year 1: Harvard Griffin GSAS
    Year 2: Harvard Griffin GSAS
    Year 3: HLS
    Year 4: Harvard Griffin GSAS
    Year 5: HLS
    Year 6: 1st term, HLS
    Year 6: 2nd term, Harvard Griffin GSAS (earning the equivalent of 10 HLS credits in dissertation work)
    Following year(s): Harvard Griffin GSAS until completion of dissertation

    Year 1: HLS
    Year 2: HLS
    Year 3: Harvard Griffin GSAS
    Year 4: Harvard Griffin GSAS
    Year 5: 1st term, HLS
    Year 5: 2nd term, Harvard Griffin GSAS (earning the equivalent of 10 HLS credits in dissertation work)
    Following year(s): Harvard Griffin GSAS until completion of dissertation

    Updated Plans of Study

    By October 1 each year, current JD/PhD students should submit an updated Plan of Study to April Pettit, in the HLS Office of Academic Affairs.

Other Academic Information

Faculty Advising

Students in the program will have primary faculty advisors at both HLS and at Harvard Griffin GSAS. If possible, HLS faculty advisors should be selected before the completion of the 2L year. The HLS faculty advisor must sign off on any dissertation writing a student expects to use for JD credit. In some Harvard Griffin GSAS departments, the director of graduate studies serves as the faculty advisor during the first two years of study. Faculty advisors will supervise students’ academic work, advise students on their courses of study and on specific classes appropriate for their PhD work, and approve the courses of study for their students on an annual basis. If appropriate, the HLS advisor will be the third reader on the student’s dissertation committee, with at least two readers required to be members of FAS.

Leaving the JD/PhD Program

If a student fails to make adequate progress toward the PhD, the student’s faculty advisors will be permitted to withdraw the student from the program. In such cases, in order to receive the JD degree, a student will still need to meet the graduation and credit requirements for the JD degree.

Tuition and Financial Aid

Harvard Law School

Students must pay five semesters of full tuition. Students will be eligible for HLS financial aid for all semesters during which they pay tuition to HLS. For more information on Financial Aid, visit the Student Financial Services Financial Aid webpage.

Harvard Kenneth C. Griffin Graduate School of Arts and Sciences

The minimum financial requirement for the PhD is at least four terms of full tuition followed by two years of reduced tuition and a facilities fee unless the degree is completed in less than four years. The financial aid awarded upon admission to the PhD program is available during those terms in which the student is enrolled in Harvard Griffin GSAS. Students should refer to their notice of financial support provided by their department upon admission to Harvard Griffin GSAS. Students should consult with their GSAS departments for more information.

Administrative Information

The HLS Registrar’s Office, the FAS Registrar’s Office, the GSAS Assistant Dean of Student Success, the HLS Associate Director of Academic Affairs, and the appropriate financial aid officers, will coordinate on students’ registration status and updated plans of study.

Housing and Student Life

GSAS and HLS will work together to ensure that the student services offered by both Schools are available to JD/PhD students during all their years in the Coordinated Program, including career and counseling offices, financial aid offices, student centers, and alumni offices. Students in the coordinated program will have email accounts at both schools throughout the program. Disability services and visa requirements will be coordinated on a case-by-case basis by the HLS Dean of Students and Registrar and by the Harvard Griffin GSAS Assistant Dean for Student Success. Students may apply for housing through either School for the years in which they are enrolled for at least one semester/term at both Schools. In all other years, students must apply for housing to the School in which they are enrolled.