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Second and third-year J.D. students in the Winter Writing Program (WWP) devote the winter term exclusively to the intensive research and/or writing of a paper under the supervision of an HLS faculty advisor.

Faculty Supervision of Papers

  • Supervision of WWP papers requires faculty to: (1) review student’s Winter Writing Proposal; (2) approve the paper topic; (3) make arrangements with the student for adequate supervision; (4) separately approve student’s plan to be away from Cambridge, if applicable, and (5) supervise the entire project, not just the work done during the WWP.
  • Faculty supervision for the WWP counts toward the number of papers a faculty member normally supervises each year. Faculty participation is intended to be voluntary. In general, the amount of supervision need not exceed that to which students are entitled to during other terms.

Type of paper

Students may work on the following types of paper in the WWP:

  • A two (2) or three (3) credit Independent paper, or,
  • A two (2) or three (3)  credit paper In Conjunction with a course or seminar taken in the same academic year.
  • Both types of papers will satisfy Option 1 of the J.D. Written Work Requirement if the requirement has not already been satisfied.

Students may not use the WWP to work on:

  • A  one (1) credit paper.
  • Option 2 of the J.D. Written Work Requirement.
  • Any written work that the student has previously registered for.

The proposed paper may not be similar to any other paper the student has written or is writing for degree credit.

Winter Writing Proposal

  • Students must complete a proposal, including a clear description of the paper topic. They should have done the necessary preliminary research needed to come up with a feasible topic that you can approve. You should sign the Winter Writing Proposal prior to student submission to the Registrar’s Office.
  • Work in Cambridge: The proposal must include an arrangement for adequate supervision and assurance that the work will be done while the student is in residence in Cambridge. The supervision arrangement should include both formal meetings and informal contact between you and the student.
  • Work Outside of Cambridge: Students are permitted to do research outside of Cambridge during the winter term provided the travel is required for research on the winter paper. Students must clearly explain why the work cannot be done in Cambridge, define the nature and scope of the research work, and specify how time away from Cambridge will be spent. The faculty supervisor must initial the Winter Writing Proposal to indicate approval of work outside of Cambridge and to confirm that there is an adequate supervision arrangement in place. Students planning to travel abroad to do research must satisfy the School’s travel requirements outlined on the HLS International Travel Information web page.
  • Students are responsible for the ethical implications of their research. If a student’s project involves interviews, surveys, or obtaining information about individuals by other means, it may require review by the Committee on the Use of Human Subjects in Research (IRB). The Law School liaison at the IRB, reachable at, can determine whether a student’s project requires review, and assist with the application process.

WWP Requirements and Deadlines

  • To meet the minimum residency requirement, the WWP research/writing must be comparable to completion of a 2-credit course. Generally, this results in a paper of 30-60 pages for 2 credits, and 100-200 pages for 3 credits.
  • The work done during Winter Term need not result in a final paper; it can be a final paper, a draft of the paper, or, at a minimum, a detailed outline. The student and faculty supervisor must agree on a deadline for the WWP work and on what the final product of the WWP should be.
  • If the work to be completed during the winter term is not the final paper, the final paper is due on the last day of classes in the same academic year, or by an earlier date imposed by the faculty member.