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Harvard Law School and Harvard University Graduate School of Design


Harvard Law School (HLS) and the Harvard University Graduate School of Design (GSD) offer a joint degree program in law and urban planning. The HLS/GSD joint degree program supports and encourages students seeking an interdisciplinary education in urban planning and law, and prepares them for leadership positions at the intersection of these fields. The joint program permits students to pursue a Juris Doctor (JD) degree at HLS and a Master in Urban Planning (MUP) degree at the GSD and to complete both degrees in four years, rather than the five years that would be required if the degrees were pursued independently. Students in the joint program must complete all of the basic requirements for both the MUP and JD degrees, as further described below.

A committee made up of HLS Professor Molly Brady and GSD Professor Jerold Kayden (“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.


Prospective JD/MUP students must apply, and be separately admitted, to both HLS and the GSD, each of which will independently review and admit applicants. Questions relating to the admissions process at each school should be addressed directly to JD Admissions at HLS and to the Admissions Office at the GSD.

Prospective JD/MUP students may apply to HLS and/or the GSD, concurrently in advance of admission to either school, or during the first year at either school. Students interested in applying to either school for matriculation the following September should note the HLS deadline is early February while the GSD deadline is in mid-January. All HLS applicants are required to submit a GRE or LSAT score, in accordance with application guidelines. All GSD applicants are required to submit a GRE score. Once admitted, students should follow the notification procedures at each school regarding acceptance of admission and plans to matriculate.

Joint Program Declaration of Intent

In addition, students admitted to both schools should email Kristi Jobson, Assistant Dean for Admissions and Chief Admissions Officer at HLS, and Sean Conlon, GSD Registrar, if they intend to enroll in the joint degree program.

The joint degree program is currently limited to six entering students each year. If more than six eligible students seek to start the program in any given year, then the Faculty Committee will rank order the list of students, permitting enrollment of the top six.


Students in the joint degree program have four academic years to complete both degrees and are expected to spend five semesters and two winter terms in residence at HLS and three terms in residence at the GSD, for a total of eight fall or spring semesters/terms and two HLS winter terms.

In the first two years of the joint degree program, students are required to enroll for one full year of study at HLS and for one full year of study at the GSD; either can come first. In the third and fourth years of the program, joint degree students will enroll in, and take courses at, both schools. Students must take the majority (at least 12 units of the required 40) of their coursework at the GSD during one of those terms. See below for more information about the coursework at each school.

Students in the joint degree program will have a primary faculty advisor at both HLS and the GSD. Faculty advisors will supervise a student’s academic work and assist in determining the most appropriate sequencing for each student’s course of study, keeping in mind the requirements for both degrees.

Course and Credit Requirements

  • First Year Programs

    Harvard Law School

    The first year at the Law School consists of the following coursework:

    1. Civil Procedure, Contracts, Constitutional Law, Criminal Law, Legislation and Regulation, Property, Torts
    2. January Experiential Term
    3. First-year Legal Research and Writing
    4. Spring upper-level elective at HLS of a minimum of two and a maximum of four classroom credits

    The Graduate School of Design

    The first year at the GSD consists of 40 units of coursework. Note that a typical lecture course is 4 units.

    In the first term, students take the following courses: Core Urban Planning Studio I (8 units); Methods of Urban Planning (4 units); Histories and Theories of Urban Interventions (4 units); and a course satisfying the Methods Requirements or the Area of Concentration Requirement, or an elective (total of 4 units).

    In the second term, students take the following courses: Core Urban Planning Studio II (8 units); Public and Private Development (4 units); and courses satisfying the Methods Requirements, the Area of Concentration Requirement, and/or elective(s) (total of 8 units).

    From time to time, one of the above-listed courses may be offered in an alternate term due to course scheduling changes. Also, MUP degree program requirements may change occasionally, in which case the student will be expected to know about and meet the requirements of the program applicable for the first full year during which the student attends the GSD.

  • Upper-Level Programs

    Harvard Law School

    Joint degree students must earn no fewer than 52 additional credits including 36 Law School classroom credits of which no fewer than 18 must be earned in the first year of combined upper-level-study. Classroom credits include those connected to courses, seminars and reading groups, but not writing or clinical credits. Classroom credits include the Professional Responsibility Requirement minimum of two credits and credits from the required winter terms (provided that the courses chosen offer classroom credits). In addition, GSD credits equivalent to 12 HLS credits may count toward the total 52 HLS upper-level credit requirement, but do not count as classroom credits. The remaining six required HLS credits may be earned in classroom, writing, or clinical courses.

    Students must be enrolled in a minimum of 10 total credits each semester at the Law School or the GSD, or other authorized courses taken as part of the MUP degree, with no fewer than eight of these being Law School classroom credits toward the requirement of 36 classroom credits, with the exception of the upper-level semester during which students take the majority of their courses at the GSD. During this GSD-immersion semester, students must be enrolled in no fewer than four Law School classroom credits. The winter term requirement may be completed through classroom or clinical credits or (for one of the winter terms only) in the HLS Winter Term Writing Program. Students should complete a minimum of 21 total Law School credits each year each year in order to ensure a balanced program of study.

    Joint degree students must complete the HLS J.D. Written Work Requirement. Further information on the J.D. Written Work Requirement and the Winter Term Writing Program is available from the Law School Registrar’s Office.

    Joint degree students also must complete the International  and Comparative Course Requirement, Experiential Learning Requirement, Professional Responsibility Requirement, and Pro Bono Requirement. For more information on the J.D. credit and graduation requirements, see the Handbook of Academic Policies.

    The Graduate School of Design

    Students in the joint degree program must earn a total of 40 GSD units during the third and fourth years in the program. In addition to taking at least one option studio OR 8 units of project based courses, or a final thesis including the thesis preparation class. Students must fulfill all MUP program requirements left uncompleted after the student’s full year in the program, including methods requirements and area of concentration requirements. Students should consult the MUP degree program requirements memorandum for further information.

    The GSD considers one semester of coursework at HLS to be the equivalent of 20 GSD units towards satisfaction of the final required units of MUP degree credit. The GSD does not require that joint degree program students get pre-approval of the HLS courses they wish to use for GSD credit.

    During the semester in which students must take a majority of their courses at the GSD, students must take at least sixty percent of the traditional MUP term course load, or 12 units.

  • Dual Credit

    Joint degree students are permitted to satisfy HLS and GSD requirements by counting a limited number of course credits toward both degrees. Up to the equivalent of 12 HLS credits may be earned through GSD courses and counted toward the required 16 HLS credits that may be taken in non-HLS classroom courses for degree credit. In addition, the GSD considers one semester of coursework at HLS to be the equivalent of 20 GSD units towards satisfaction of the final required units of MUP degree credit.

Tuition and Financial Aid


Enrollment in the joint degree program will result in significant tuition savings compared with the cost of pursuing the two degrees separately. Tuition is paid as follows: during the first two years, students will pay full tuition to the school in which they are enrolled. During the third and fourth years, students will pay 75% of HLS tuition and 25% of GSD tuition in each of the four semesters.

Financial Aid

Joint degree program students should apply for financial aid through the Law School’s Student Financial Services for the first year in the Law School and through the GSD Financial Aid Office for the first year there. For each of the four upper-level semesters during which they are in residence at both schools, students should apply to the Law School for financial aid.

Academics and Administration

Course Overlaps

Students will not be permitted to enroll in GSD and HLS courses with time overlaps and must allow fifteen minutes of travel time between courses.

Exame Schedules

Students will be expected to complete all HLS and GSD exams and reviews at the times they are scheduled; exceptions are at the sole discretion of each school, in accordance with their respective policies.

Grade Calculations

Grades earned in GSD courses will not be included in HLS GPA calculations or in the consideration of grade-based HLS prizes. In the same manner, grades earned in any HLS courses will not be used in the consideration of grade-based GSD prizes.


For each upper-level semester/term, students will be required to submit their course enrollment information and their completed course information to both the HLS and the GSD Registrars.

Mailboxes and Email

Students will be assigned mailboxes and remain on student e-mail lists at both schools for all four years of the joint degree program.

Withdrawal from Joint Degree Program

Once enrolled in the joint degree program, a student intending to leave it must petition the HLS Administrative Board and the GSD Master in Urban Planning Program Director for permission to leave the program and complete only one of the two degrees. Continuing HLS students must then complete all of the regular JD requirements in order to earn the JD degree. Continuing GSD students must complete all of any remaining MUP degree requirements in order to earn the MUP degree.


Harvard Law School

JD Admissions

617-495-3179 |

Student Financial Services

617-495-4606 |

Low Income Protection Plan

Program Information

April Pettit, Associate Director of Academic Affairs | 617-495-7192

Graduate School of Design


Geri Nederhoff and Gail Gustafson, Admissions Directors | 617-496-1238

Program Information

Sean Conlon, Registrar | 617-496-5154

Financial Aid Office

617-495-5455 |