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Standard Deferral Policy

At Harvard Law School, we expect all applicants to matriculate in the fall of the year they apply. That means we expect students who have applied and been admitted this year to enroll in Fall 2024. That said, we also understand that individual circumstances related to enrollment can change after submitting an application.

We typically reserve deferrals for students who have specific academic or professional plans for a limited time period. In most cases, deferrals are limited to one or two years, although we have the ability to grant longer deferrals or extensions for military service, serious illness, and/or extenuating personal circumstances.

We will approve deferral requests from international students who, despite their best efforts, experience visa issues due to consulate delays. These visa-related deferral requests may be submitted after May 1 and throughout the summer. For more information on this policy, please contact the J.D. Admissions Office at

We customarily approve deferral requests for military reasons, whether in the case of active deployment or involuntary extensions of military service. In addition, we grant deferrals for approved joint and concurrent degree programs.

Terms of the Deferral Agreement

If you are granted a deferral and you accept Harvard’s offer of admission, you must confirm that:

  1. You understand that you are making an agreement with Harvard Law School. You are making a firm commitment to attend, and, in return, Harvard Law School will reserve a place in an upcoming class for you.
  2. You plan to enroll at Harvard Law School in a future year and relinquish your place in the class entering in Fall 2024. If your deferral request is granted, you will be removed from this year’s class, and you cannot be assured of reinstatement should your plans change.
  3. You confirm that you are not currently holding a seat at any other law school. You have declined offers at all law schools to which you have been offered admission. You will disclose any applications still pending at other law schools and notify the Admissions Office of your plans as soon as you receive a decision on any outstanding applications. You have not and will not accept an offer of deferred enrollment at another law school.
  4. You understand that if you decide to apply to another law school in a future admissions cycle, you must notify the Admissions Office prior to doing so and relinquish your place in the class at that time.
  5. You agree to update the Admissions Office promptly with any new information pertinent to your admission, including, but not limited to, new grades, transcripts, College Certification forms, or changes related to questions asked on the application for admission.
  6. You understand that you must reconfirm your intent to enroll (or, if applicable, defer for another year) at Harvard Law School in writing by or before January 2, 2025. If you do not, your deferral will be canceled, and you must re-apply for admission to Harvard Law School if you wish to enroll. The Admissions Committee will contact you in November 2024 to begin the reconfirmation process. If your plans to enroll following a deferral should change, you will notify the Admissions Office promptly and relinquish your place in the class.

Requesting a Deferral Before May 1

To apply for a deferral, you must prepare a statement explaining your situation and complete the Admissions Response Form through your online status checker by May 1, 2024.

If you have already submitted the Admissions Response Form, you may request a deferral by submitting the Deferral Request Form through your online status checker by May 1, 2024.