Harvard Law School and Harvard Kennedy School
The Harvard Law School (HLS) and the Harvard Kennedy School (HKS) offer a joint degree program in law and government. The HLS/HKS joint degree program supports and encourages students seeking an interdisciplinary education in government, public policy, and law, and prepares them for leadership positions in public service.
The joint degree program permits students to pursue a JD at the Law School and either a Master in Public Policy (MPP) or a Master in Public Administration in International Development (MPA/ID) at the Kennedy School.
A committee made up of HLS and HKS faculty (“Faculty Committee”) oversees the joint degree program. The Faculty Committee is responsible for making decisions regarding the structure and requirements of the program and for working with the students enrolled in the program. The Faculty Committee may also grant exceptions to the requirements in this document, so long as they are not inconsistent with other HLS or HKS rules.
Prospective students must apply separately and be separately admitted to both the Law School and the Kennedy School, each of which will independently review and admit applicants. Questions relating to the admissions processes at each school should be addressed directly to the individual admissions offices.
Prospective JD/MPP or JD/MPA/ID students may apply to both schools during the same admissions season or they may apply during the first year of study at either the Law School or the Kennedy School. The HLS deadline is usually February 1 of each year (HKS application details). All Law School applicants are required to submit GRE or LSAT scores, in accordance with application guidelines. For matriculated 1L students only, HKS will accept an LSAT score in lieu of the GRE for students interested in the JD/MPP joint degree program. Current HLS students applying to the MPP program should contact the HLS Registrar’s Office to request release of their LSAT scores to HKS. Students applying to the JD/MPA/ID joint degree program must submit GRE scores to HKS.
Once admitted to both schools, students who want to enroll in the joint degree program should send an email indicating their intent to do so to the MPP Program Office, and to April Pettit, HLS Associate Director of Academic Affairs. In addition, students who apply to both schools and are admitted during the same admissions cycle should contact JD Admissions at HLS and the HKS Office of Admissions about deferring admission, as applicable.
Students may not transfer into the Kennedy School’s MPA2 or MC/MPA degree program once admitted to the joint degree program.
Students in the HLS/HKS joint degree program have four academic years to complete both degrees. In the first two years of the program, students are generally required to enroll for one full year of study at the Law School and for one full year of study at the Kennedy School; either can come first. In the third and fourth years of the program, joint degree students are enrolled in, and take courses at, both schools. Both schools have their own requirements for these upper-level years, as described below.
Course and Credit Requirements
The first year at the Law School consists of:
- Civil Procedure, Contracts, Constitutional Law, Criminal Law, Legislation and Regulation, Property, and Torts
- First-year Legal Research and Writing
- January Experiential Term
- Spring elective at HLS of a minimum of 2 and a maximum of 4 classroom credits
The first year at HKS for the JD/MPP joint students consists of the core curriculum of the MPP degree in addition to some electives. It is recommended that joint MPP students complete at least 36 credits during their first year. The first year at HKS for JD/MPA/ID students consists of the first year core curriculum of the MPA/ID degree. It is recommended that joint MPA/ID students completed at least 40 credits during their first year.
NOTE: Enrollment in HKS J-term courses is limited to the MPP1 or MPA/ID1 year due to HLS winter term enrollment requirements.
Joint degree students must earn no fewer than 52 additional credits including 36 Law School classroom credits; students are encouraged to complete a minimum of 18 law school classroom credits in the third year of the joint program. The total number of classroom credits includes the required minimum of two credits to satisfy the Professional Responsibility Requirement, credits from the required winter terms (provided that the course chosen offers classroom credits), credits from Experiential Learning (provided that the course chosen offers classroom credits), credits from the upper-level International and Comparative Law Requirement, and credits from the required Joint Degree Program Seminar (see below for more information). Classroom credits include those connected to courses, seminars and reading groups, but not writing or clinical credits.
In addition, the Law School may count up to the equivalent of 12 credits from upper-level work completed at the Kennedy School courses toward the Law School’s total credit requirement.* The remaining 4 or more required Law School credits may be earned in classroom, writing, or clinical courses. Students in the joint program must also complete the HLS winter term during each upper-level year through course or clinical credits or by participating in the Winter Term Writing Program.
*All HKS course credits are converted into the HLS credit equivalent. HLS is mandated by ABA guidelines and converts credits based on based on minutes of lecture hour/mandatory class time. The credit conversion is as follows: 720 minutes of HKS class time converts to 1 HLS credit. Please note, we are not able to round up when determining credits. For example, if a course meets for 2,000 minutes, you will receive 2 credits.
The following credit minimums apply to all HLS/HKS joint degree students:
- Enrollment in a minimum of 4 Law School classroom or clinical credits each semester toward the requirement of 36 classroom credits
- Enrollment in a minimum of 10 total credits each semester in Law School, Kennedy School, or other authorized courses
- Enrollment in a minimum of 24 total credits in each of the two upper-level years
Also, it is recommended that students enroll in a minimum of 20 Law School credits each year in order to ensure a balanced program of study.
Joint degree students must also complete the Pro Bono Requirement of 50 hours of public service as well as the J.D. Written Work, Professional Responsibility, and Experiential Learning requirements.
To satisfy the remaining requirements for the MPP or for the MPA/ID, all joint students must:
- Take a minimum of twelve (12) HKS credits, preferably in different semesters
- Take the Joint Degree Program Seminar
- Complete an Integrated Written Project, including the writing workshop module (see “Other Requirements” for more information)
- Overall, MPP students must earn at least 48 credits, not including the Joint Degree Program Seminar. MPA/ID students must earn at least 52 credits, not including the Joint Degree Program Seminar.
Students should note that the HLS and HKS credit systems are different. HLS typically awards three credits for a course meeting three hours each week; HKS typically awards four credits for a course meeting three hours each week.
All third-year joint degree students take the Joint Degree Program Seminar, which uses a series of case studies to examine how to analyze, advise and strategize the resolution of a series of difficult real world public problems at the intersection of law and policy. This seminar requires a short paper, which can be independent of or related to the 4th year integrated paper topic. Students receive two HLS classroom credits and four HKS credits for the Seminar.
In the fourth year of the joint program, all joint degree students undertake an Integrated Written Project under faculty supervision. As part of the Project, students attend writing workshop sessions with Program faculty. The Integrated Written Project and the connected workshops together replace the year-long Kennedy School Policy Analysis Exercise (PAE) seminar for MPP students and the Second-Year Policy Analysis seminar (SYPA) for MPA/ID students. The Integrated Written Project also satisfies Option 1 of the Law School’s J.D. Written Work Requirement. Students must register their Integrated Written Project with the HLS Registrar’s Office by completing the Option 1 Registration Form. On successful completion of the Integrated Written Project and the workshops, students will be awarded two HLS writing credits and two HKS credits.
Tuition and Financial Aid
Tuition and Fees
Enrollment in the joint degree program will result in significant tuition savings, compared to pursuing the two degrees separately. Tuition is paid as follows. During the first two years, students will pay full tuition at the school in which they are enrolled. During the third and fourth years, students will pay: (i) 75% of the then-current Law School tuition, and (ii) 25% of the then-current Kennedy School tuition.
Students in the joint degree program will be required to pay a $300 annual fee to the Law School during their upper-level years of combined study. The fees will be used to offset the costs of programming for joint degree students.
Students interested in the joint degree program should contact the financial aid offices at both schools prior to enrolling.
Joint degree students should apply for financial aid through the Law School for the first year in the Law School and for the two upper-level years of combined study. All financial aid determinations for these semesters are made through Harvard Law School under its standard policies. Students should apply for financial aid through the Kennedy School for the first year in the Kennedy School.
Academics and Administration
Students will not be permitted to enroll in HKS and HLS courses with time overlaps.
Students will be expected to complete all HLS and HKS exams at the times they are scheduled; exceptions are at the sole discretion of each school, in accordance with their respective policies.
Grades earned in HKS courses will not be included in HLS GPA calculations or in the consideration of grade-based HLS prizes. HKS does not calculate students’ GPA.
Students will remain on student e-mail lists at both schools for all four years of the joint degree program.
Each upper-level semester, students will be required to submit their course enrollment information and their completed course information to both the HLS and the HKS Registrars.
Withdrawal from the Joint Degree Program
Once enrolled, a student intending to leave the joint degree program must petition the HLS Administrative Board and the HKS Registrar for permission to leave the program and complete only one of the two degrees.
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Student Financial Services Office
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Low Income Protection Plan
April Pettit, Associate Director of Academic Affairs
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