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1. LL.M. Residence and Credit Requirements

To qualify for the LL.M. Degree, candidates must fulfill the following requirements:

a) One academic year in full-time residence.

b) A course of study consisting of a minimum of 23 credits and a maximum of 28 credits (including the one credit assigned for completion of the portion of the Legal Research, Writing and Analysis course that takes place during LL.M. Orientation):

i. Degree candidates must register for between nine and 10 credits in the fall term, between eight to ten credits in the spring term, and at least two credits in the winter term. In some cases, different minimums may apply for visa purposes.

ii. Degree candidates may register for no more than 13 credits in the fall term, no more than 12 credits in the spring term, and no more than three credits (from a single offering) in the winter term. These term-specific credit maximums include the credit(s) for required written work (see Section II(A)(5) below) and the fall-term credit maximum includes the one credit assigned for completion of the Legal Research, Writing and Analysis course that takes place during LL.M. Orientation.

iii. For LL.M. candidates who do not hold a J.D. degree from a law school in the United States (including Puerto Rico), at least one of the following “primary” courses in U.S. law: Antitrust Law & Economics – Global; Civil Procedure; Constitutional Law: First Amendment; Constitutional Law: Separation of Powers, Federalism, and the Fourteenth Amendment; Contracts; Corporations; Criminal Law; Evidence (only those sections bearing three or more credits); Family Law; Legislation and Regulation; Property; Separation of Powers; Taxation; or Torts.

c) The LL.M. Written Work Requirement (see Section II(A)(5) below).

Any questions about academic requirements should be directed to the Graduate Program Office.

2. Recommended Courses

The Committee on Graduate Studies strongly recommends that each LL.M. candidate also take at least one course focusing on legal history, legal theory, policy analysis or legal process.  In addition, students who hold a J.D. degree from a school in the United States (including Puerto Rico), and who are hoping to embark on a law teaching career, are strongly encouraged to take at least one course that is primarily focused on legal theory or jurisprudence.  Students are invited to consult with the Assistant Dean for the Graduate Program and International Legal Studies or the Director of Administration and Student Affairs for the Graduate Program for further discussion of possible course selections in this area.

3. Class Attendance and Participation; Overlapping Class Times

Class work is essential to the educational program at the Law School. Regular attendance at classes and participation in class work are expected of all students and attendance is evaluated in light of the number of days that the class meets.  In the case of substantial delinquency in attendance in a course, or with regard to a clinic, the unsatisfactory performance of clinic responsibilities, the Law School may, after written notice, involuntarily withdraw a student from the course, clinic, seminar, or reading group in question. Students who believe they need to miss classes for an extended period of time must speak with the Dean of Students, the Assistant Dean for the Graduate Program and International Legal Studies, or the Director of Administration and Student Affairs for the Graduate Program who can assist with such situations and can help students comply with the Law School’s attendance policy and related academic policies.  In most cases, a student’s absence from all of her/his classes for more than two weeks will be cause for a leave of absence.  Students may also speak with the instructor if appropriate.

Students will not receive credit for courses (including courses taken through cross-registration), clinics, seminars, or reading groups with meeting times that overlap in whole or in part. Students must also allow for sufficient travel time between classes.  Students may not make arrangements with faculty members to arrive late or leave early from a class.

Pursuant to the requirements of the law set forth in Chapter 151C, Section 2B of the Massachusetts General Laws, a copy of this section is printed in full:

Any student in an educational or vocational training institution, other than a religious or denominational educational or vocational training institution, who is unable, because of his religious beliefs, to attend classes or to participate in any examination, study, or work requirement on a particular day shall be excused from any such examination or study or work requirement, and shall be provided with an opportunity to make up such examination, study, or work requirement which he may have missed because of such absence on any particular day; provided, however, that such makeup examination or work shall not create an unreasonable burden upon such school. No fees of any kind shall be charged by the institution for making available to the said student such opportunity. No adverse or prejudicial effects shall result to any student because of his availing himself of the provisions of this section.

Students anticipating missing class should consult the Law School’s Class Recording Policy which is available in Section XII(H).

4. Grades for LL.M. Students

a) Honors, Pass, Low Pass, or Fail Grades

All Harvard Law School courses, seminars, clinics and written work—with the exception of courses offered Credit/Fail (see Section II(A)(4)(c) below) —will be graded Honors, Pass, Low Pass, or Fail (“H, P, LP or F”).

b) Dean’s Scholar Prizes

Dean’s Scholar Prizes (represented on the transcript as an H*) may be awarded to LL.M. students in recognition of outstanding work in upper-level classes with seven or more Harvard Law School J.D. and LL.M. students following the add/drop period. Dean’s Scholar Prizes may not be awarded in courses graded on a Credit/Fail basis, or for any writing credits and independent clinics.

c) Credit/Fail Grades

All reading groups and independent clinicals will be graded on a Credit/Fail basis.  Faculty may not award Credit/Fail grades without prior consultation with the Dean for Academic and Faculty Affairs.

d) Minimum Grades; Degree Completion

i. In order to be eligible for the LL.M. degree, LL.M. candidates must complete a total of at least 23 credits (including course work and written work and including the one credit assigned for completion of the portion of the Legal Research, Writing, and Analysis course that takes place during LL.M. Orientation), graded Low Pass (LP) or higher; of those 23 credits, no fewer than three must be graded Pass (P) or higher.

ii. LL.M. candidates must earn a minimum grade of Low Pass on the paper submitted to satisfy the LL.M. Written Work Requirement, assuming they have met the minimum grade requirements stated in Section II(A)(4)(d)(i) above.

iii. Students failing to earn minimum grades necessary to meet degree requirements may be allowed, by decision of the Graduate Committee, to undertake substitute work, take a different examination in the same course, or retake courses within the next academic year following the end of the LL.M. year. All additional work must be completed no later than 12 months after the end of the year in which the student matriculated in the LL.M. program. Outside of the foregoing circumstance, however, all work must be completed within a single academic year consistent with the fact that the LL.M. is a single academic year degree program.

iv. Students who have taken a leave of absence must complete the LL.M. degree requirements within 36 months of matriculating at the Law School in order to be eligible for the LL.M. degree.  Further information on Leaves and Withdrawals is found in Section X.

e) Extensions

Extensions are available for required coursework (excluding exams) or papers only with the approval of the faculty member or instructor, or the Dean of Students in consultation with the faculty member or instructor in cases of personal or medical emergency (see Section VIII(B)). The due date is established in coordination with the student and faculty member or instructor, and the Dean of Students office when appropriate. In order to track the progress of student papers in a course or written work for which an extension has been given, the Law School uses an “Extension” (EXT) transcript notation. Students who have an approved extension on non-exam related work will receive an EXT notation on the transcript until the work is completed and graded. EXT notations must be resolved by no later than the last day of classes of the semester (fall or spring) that follows the originally scheduled completion of the course or written work or earlier deadline as set by the faculty member or instructor. If a student fails to complete the work by that date or to receive a further extension, the Registrar’s Office generally will withdraw him or her from the course or written work and enter a WD on the transcript. However, if failure to complete credits for a course or written work will result in a student dropping below the semester or year required credit minimum, the student must complete the work or receive an F grade.

f) Grade Changes

After an instructor has submitted a grade to the Registrar (generally through HELIOS), the instructor may change the grade only if the grade is incorrect as a result of an arithmetical, administrative, or other mechanical error.  The instructor will determine whether or not the grade is a result of such an error. The Dean for Academic and Faculty Affairs must approve any grade changes pursuant to this policy.

An instructor’s grade determination is not subject to review on the merits by the Dean, Deputy Deans, the Dean of Students, the Registrar, or other administrators. An instructor may not change a grade based on a reevaluation of a student’s work, except by requesting and obtaining approval for such change from the faculty.

After degrees are voted and approved by the faculty, grades for graduating students cannot be changed by an individual faculty for any reason.

Under the circumstances specified in the Standing Policies of the Administrative Board Concerning Exam Administration, a student may be entitled to grading relief for a grade affected adversely by an administrative irregularity (for example, a failure of exam software). The procedures for seeking such relief are set out in those Policies. Grade changes may also be made by the School’s administration as the result of a disciplinary proceeding against a student.

Questions about grading policies and their application in particular instances can be directed to the Registrar’s office or the Dean of Student’s office.

5. LL.M. Written Work Requirement

All LL.M. candidates must satisfy the Written Work Requirement for the LL.M. degree. To fulfill this requirement, LL.M. students must complete a paper that involves independent reflection, formulation of a sustained argument, and, in many cases, in-depth research. The paper must be an individual effort: group papers or works of joint authorship do not qualify. The paper may be written in conjunction with a Law School course or seminar that already requires a paper—commonly referred to as writing “in conjunction” with a course or seminar —, or as an independent paper supervised by a member of the Law School faculty (including instructors with Law School teaching appointments). Where a student seeks to write a paper “in conjunction” with a course or seminar, it must be clear that (i) the course or seminar already requires a paper, (ii) the proposed paper is not in lieu of an exam or other assignment(s) for the course (unless such option is specified in the syllabus and is available to all enrollees in the course), and (iii) the paper is an individual assignment and not part of a group project. Where there is no course or seminar in the field in which a student wants to work, candidates generally will be able to find a faculty member who will be available to guide research in the particular field.

LL.M. students who hold J.D. degrees from a law school in the U.S. (including Puerto Rico) must write a 50-page paper (see description below).  LL.M. students whose primary law degrees are from schools other than those in the United States (including Puerto Rico) may select either of the two options described below.

The parameters for paper length and credits earned are as follows:

  • 25-page paper: one credit if written independently, no credit (beyond the associated course credit) if written in conjunction with a course that requires a paper
  • 50-page paper: two credits if written independently, one credit if written in conjunction with a course that requires a paper

The requirement cannot be satisfied with a series of shorter papers or journal entries, works of joint authorship, moot court briefs, clinical work product, or papers written for independent clinicals. As the foregoing list of exclusions is not exhaustive, students should confirm with the Graduate Program that the proposed format for their required written work meets the requirement.

Further guidance on the Written Work Requirement is available from the Graduate Program Office.

Registration deadlines. All LL.M. students must formally register for the Written Work Requirement.  This registration is done through submission of a form that is signed by the faculty supervisor.  The process is more fully described above. Students writing the 50-Page Paper, or the 25-Page Paper in the fall term, must register for the paper at the Graduate Program Office by October 21, 2019, as set forth in Section VII(C). Students writing the 25-Page Paper in the spring term must register for the paper by February 7, 2020. LL.M. students who fail to register for the LL.M. Written Work Requirement by February 7, 2020, as set forth in Section VII(C), may be removed from the May 2020 degree list.

6. Additional Rules Relating to the LL.M. Written Work Requirement

The mandatory schedule for registering for, completing, and submitting the LL.M. Written Work Requirement is set forth in Section VII. (C) and Section VIII. (C). The following rules and guidelines also apply to the LL.M. Written Work Requirement:

a) Supervision: Students may ask any Law School faculty member or instructor with a Law School teaching appointment to supervise written work. Faculty on certain types of leave may not be available in a given term.

b) Supervision by Visiting Faculty: Writing credits under the supervision of visiting faculty ordinarily must be registered for and completed during the term(s) of the visitor’s appointment. Note that many visitors have Law School appointments for only one term. Students who are contemplating supervision by visiting faculty for projects that might fall outside of the faculty member’s term of appointment should contact the Graduate Program staff for guidance on this point.

c) Prohibition against Compensation: A student may not receive academic credit for written work for which he or she also receives compensation.

d) Multiple Use of Papers: Occasionally students seek to submit one paper for two or more courses or seminars.  In such cases, the paper must be of sufficiently greater scope or depth to warrant such multiple credit.  In order to assure compliance with this requirement, any student planning to submit the same or similar written work in more than one academic offering must first get the approval of the Dean for Academic and Faculty Affairs by submitting a memo that documents the project plan.  The instructors involved should discuss appropriate ways to make sure that the submitted work meets this greater burden. This memo must be signed by the instructors for both courses and must set forth the way in which the paper will meet the added requirement described in the preceding paragraph.

Once the Dean for Academic and Faculty Affairs approves the project, the memo must then be submitted to the Office of the Registrar before the student is accorded the requested credits. This rule applies to submission of work in any offering whether at the Law School or elsewhere. A student who submits the same, or substantially the same, work in more than one course without such prior permission, will be subject to disciplinary action.

e) Human Subject Research: Law School projects involving human subjects are reviewed by The Committee on the Use of Human Subjects (CUHS) within the Office of the Vice Provost for Research (OVPR). Students considering projects that fall under IRB purview, i.e., regulated research with human subjects (including surveys or interviews) should review the University’s policies on the use of human subjects in research available on the CUHS Website and discuss their work with an IRB Administrator at CUHS and the Law School’s Director of Research Administration. Note that students should allow sufficient time for IRB review; late requests for review may not be granted. Requests are triaged within CUHS; please email or call (617) 496-2847

f) Registration for Written Work: A student must register for the LL.M. Written Work Requirement in advance by submitting a LL.M. Written Work Requirement Registration and Proposal form to the proposed faculty advisor for signature and, once reviewed and signed, submitting the completed paperwork to the Graduate Program Office by no later than the published dates set forth in Section VII(C). Details about the proposal will be provided by the Graduate Program. Faculty members may require additional preliminary information, such as a discussion of the subject matter, an outline, or a longer description. A student should submit the Registration and Proposal form to the faculty member, as well as any other material requested, well in advance of the published dates set forth in Section VII(C) since faculty members may require additional preliminary work before accepting a proposal.

g) Awarding of Additional Credit: On rare occasions an LL.M. student writing the 25-Page Paper may seek one additional credit where the paper significantly exceeds the original parameters in form (at least 25 additional pages) and in substance. Under the above conditions, the student may be eligible for such credit only through advance arrangements with the student’s faculty supervisor and with the approval of the Graduate Program and notice to the Office of the Registrar. The foregoing are the only circumstances under which an additional credit may be considered and granted, and all such conditions must be satisfied by no later than April 18, 2020 in order for such additional credit to be granted.

h) Additional writing opportunities for LL.M. students include Optional Written Work and the Winter Term Writing Program (see Section III(A)). An LL.M. student may seek no more than one credit for involvement in a moot court brief, and must submit a narrative describing that student’s individual contributions—in terms of form and substance—to the final brief. In order to qualify for academic credit, the writing must be at least 25 pages of the student’s individual written work.  LL.M. students interested in registering for moot court writing credit should complete the required registration form, along with the narrative description, and submit it to the Graduate Program Office. LL.M. additional writing opportunities are subject to applicable rules related to political activities outlined in Section I(M).