- How do I apply to the Harvard Law School J.D. program?
To apply to Harvard Law School through the regular J.D. process, you must first create an account with the Law School Admission Council (LSAC). In addition to creating an account with LSAC, we encourage you to review our J.D. Application Checklist.
Additional information on application start dates, deadlines, and requirements is available in our FAQ below.
- What is the first-year class profile?
The first-year class profile for the class entering in the fall of 2019 is available here.
- When is the application deadline for the J.D. program?
Application deadline: February 3
Application closes: February 28
For information on the Transfer and Junior Deferral Program (JDP) deadlines, please see the Transfer FAQs and JDP FAQs.
- What if I apply after the deadline but before the application closes?
Applications submitted between February 3 and February 28 will be processed and reviewed in the same manner as those submitted prior to February 3 with slightly different timelines for decisions.
- When can I expect a decision?
Applications submitted by February 3 are guaranteed a decision by April 1.
Applications submitted between February 3 and February 28 are guaranteed a decision by May 1.
- What are the eligibility requirements for applying to the Harvard Law School J.D. program?
Regular J.D. applicants are eligible to apply if they will have a bachelor’s degree by August of the year they intend to enroll at HLS. The J.D. degree requires three years of full-time study beginning in the fall semester of each year exclusively. Please note, HLS does not offer a J.D. degree through part-time, distance, online, or summer programs. For more detailed information on our application requirements, please review our J.D. Application Components and our J.D. Application Checklist.
- What are the range of standardized test scores and GPAs of last year's admitted applicants?
Admission decisions are based on the Admission Committee’s experienced judgment applied to individual cases, and many factors are considered. Quantitative factors, while informative, are not dispositive in our selection process. All completed applications are reviewed in their entirety, with the GPA and standardized test scores as two factors in an overall assessment of academic promise, personal achievement, and potential contribution to the vitality of the student body. Please note that there are no “cut-off” standardized test scores below which an application will not be considered in its entirety, and there is no minimum score required to be granted admission. Applicants are encouraged to prepare for and provide the strongest standardized test results possible while noting that they comprise only one of the various application components. While applicants need only take either the LSAT or the GRE, HLS does require all of those test results from the past five years. For more information about the testing statistics, academic backgrounds, and demographics of our current 1L student body, please review our class profile.
- What is tuition at Harvard Law School? Is financial aid available?
Financial aid at Harvard Law School is exclusively need-based; there are no merit scholarships available. All students, including domestic and international students, who demonstrate financial need according to a combination of federal and institutional guidelines receive adequate financial assistance to complete their course of study. For more information about financial aid, visit the HLS Student Financial Services Office website. Similarly, refer to the Standard Student Budget to review an estimate of total cost, including living expenses, and tuition for the 2019 – 2020 academic year.
The Low Income Protection Plan (LIPP) is one of the most generous loan forgiveness programs in the nation. This program helps relieve the burden of repayment of educational loans for J.D. graduates in lower income employment options. Qualifying jobs include all full-time jobs in non-profits, government, or academia, as well as law-related jobs in the private sector.
- When should I apply for financial aid?
You cannot begin to apply for financial aid at HLS until you receive an offer of admission. Once admitted, you will receive an HLS email account. Instructions on how to apply for aid will be sent to that email account. The specific documents required to complete the application process for financial aid are highly individualized and based on each student’s particular circumstances. For admitted students, there is no specific deadline to complete an application for aid; awards are offered on a rolling basis. Generally, there is a two-week (10 business days) turnaround time from the date a financial aid application is completed. For a broad overview of the entire financial aid application process, please review the Apply for Aid section of the Student Financial Services website.
- What is the best "pre-law" curriculum? How does one prepare for law school?
Harvard Law School considers applications from all undergraduate majors. There are no fixed requirements with respect to the content of pre-legal education. The nature of a candidate’s college work, as well as the quality of academic performance, are reviewed in the selection process. However, in preparing for law school, a broad college education is usually preferable to one that is narrowly specialized. The Admissions Committee looks for a showing of thorough learning in a field of your choice, such as history, economics, government, philosophy, mathematics, science, literature or the classics (and many others), rather than a concentration in courses given primarily as vocational training.
- Is an applicant with a STEM background viewed differently than an applicant with a humanities or social sciences foundation?
Harvard Law School encourages applications from every academic discipline. Lawyers with experience in the sciences, technology, engineering, and mathematics fields are currently involved in some of the most important legal and regulatory questions of our time and will continue to be similarly engaged. If you have a STEM background, you may wish to work in the field for a few years to garner practical experience in the sciences before studying the legal aspects that regulate such work.
The study of how law interacts with science and technology is more critical now than ever before. Applicants may be interested in exploring the Law, Science, and Technology Program of Study, which seeks to guide students on how to best take advantage of Harvard’s unparalleled resources in this field, and to build a community of students and professors interested in the intersections between law and technology. A student might wish to explore the field broadly by taking courses from a number of these fields. Alternatively, a student might concentrate deeply on a particular area through classes, seminars, clinics, and experiences beyond the classroom.
- Does Harvard Law School offer concurrent or joint degree programs?
Harvard Law School offers joint degree programs with the Harvard Business School (J.D./M.B.A.), the Harvard School of Public Health (J.D./M.P.H), the Harvard Kennedy School of Government (J.D./ M.P.P. or M.P.A./I.D.), the Harvard Graduate School of Design (J.D./M.U.P.), and the Cambridge University Faculty of Law (J.D./LL.M). The Law School also offers coordinated programs with the Harvard Graduate School of Arts and Sciences (J.D./Ph.D. and J.D./M.A.) in many fields.
For questions regarding joint degree programs, please contact April Pettit, Assistant Director of Academic Affairs, at email@example.com. For those interested in combining a legal education with advanced training in a field in which a joint degree is not offered, we offer a number of concurrent degree opportunities with other graduate schools.
Click here for more information on our various multidisciplinary programs, including cross-registering across Harvard University and study abroad options.
- Can I visit the Law School?
Prospective students are welcome to visit the admissions office to take self-guided tours, as well as to address any general questions they may have to our front office staff. The J.D. Admissions Office is open Monday through Friday, 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM EST.
Unfortunately, due to the volume of applications that we receive each year, we are unable to grant individual meetings with admissions officers, faculty, or current students. Classes are closed to the public. Campus tours are offered August – January.
Please note that applicants admitted to the J.D. program will have the opportunity to communicate with current HLS students, faculty, and alumni who share similar interests.
Click here for directions to the Law School or here for a campus map.
The Graduate Admissions Office for the LL.M. and S.J.D. programs is located at 5005 Wasserstein Hall. Candidates should contact the Graduate Program (firstname.lastname@example.org) for more information about those programs and coordinating a visit to the campus.
- Are campus tours offered?
On-campus information sessions are offered once a month from August through January. These sessions are conducted by a member of the admissions office and include a campus tour led by a current student. Sessions begin at 2:00 PM EST and end around 4:00 PM EST.
To register for one of these information sessions, please visit our events calendar.
- Which standardized test scores can I submit along with my application?
Harvard Law School accepts either the Law School Admission Test (LSAT) or the Graduate Records Exam (GRE). We do not have a preference for either exam. Similarly, a candidate is not considered more committed by taking both exams or disadvantaged by taking the same exam multiple times. Individuals considering either test should explore several factors, including whether they intend to apply to other law schools that may only accept the LSAT, timing and geographic location, and any other plans they may have for graduate study.
The Law School Admissions Council (LSAC) automatically reports all LSAT test scores from the past five years. To maintain parity in the requirements between the LSAT and GRE results, applicants must also submit all valid GRE test results from the last five years. For example, if a student has taken both exams twice within the last five years, then HLS requires all four test results. Applicants may not choose which results they will share. A failure to comply with this policy may result in a withdrawal of an offer of admission.
If you have concerns about sharing every test result from the last five years, then please consider attaching an addendum to your application elaborating on your circumstances. We will still require all test scores from the last five years, but the Admissions Committee will review those scores along with your addendum.
- Why are the last five years of test scores required?
The Law School Admissions Council automatically reports all LSAT test scores from the last five years. To provide consistent levels of information across both the LSAT and GRE, HLS requires all test results from the past five years. For example, if a student has taken both exams twice within the last five years, then HLS requires all four test results belonging to the applicant. Applicants may not choose which results they will share.
- How long are my test scores valid?
The Law School Admissions Council reports all LSAT scores from the past five years. Similarly, students who take the GRE are required to submit all valid test scores from the previous five-year period. Candidates applying to the regular J.D. program for the class entering in the fall of 2020 must submit LSAT scores from or after the June 2014 and/or GRE scores from or after September 2014. Please contact our office if you have questions about this policy.
- How should I submit my LSAT and/or GRE score(s) to HLS?
Candidates who take the LSAT and/or GRE may only apply to HLS’ regular J.D. program via the Law School Admissions Council (LSAC) and must participate in the Credential Assembly Service (CAS). When we receive and process your application, HLS will request your CAS report, which includes your LSAT score(s), academic transcripts, LSAT writing sample(s), and letters of recommendation.
Applicants who elect to take the GRE (instead of or in addition to the LSAT) must instruct the Educational Testing Service (ETS) to send HLS all GRE test scores from the preceding five-year period. Applicants who have taken the GRE can log into their ETS account and select Harvard Law School as a recipient of GRE results using the school code: 2135.
- Must I register with LSAC’s Credential Assembly Service?
All applicants to the regular J.D. program, whether taking the LSAT or GRE, must also register for LSAC’s Credential Assembly Service and have all undergraduate and graduate transcripts sent to Law Services. When we receive and process your application, HLS will request your CAS report, and Law Services will send it directly to HLS. The CAS report includes any LSAT scores as well as copies of your academic transcripts, LSAT writing sample, and a summary of your undergraduate grades. All applicants must be currently registered with LSAC’s Credential Assembly Service except those who are not eligible to register.
Applicants who received their bachelor’s degrees outside the United States, Puerto Rico, or Canada may not be eligible for LSAC’s Credential Assembly Service. Please refer to LSAC’s Credential Assembly Service to determine your eligibility. If you are not eligible for LSAC’s Credential Assembly Service, you must have your official university transcripts sent directly to LSAC. Candidates must also identify themselves as a foreign-educated applicant when registering for the LSAT.
- Why did you begin accepting the GRE in addition to the LSAT?
Accepting the GRE is part of a wider strategy at Harvard Law School to expand access to legal education for students in the United States and internationally. According to the policies established in the American Bar Association (ABA) Interpretation 503-1, acceptance of the GRE is consistent with the rules that govern the data that accredited law schools must collect from students seeking admission. The GRE is offered frequently throughout the year and in numerous locations around the world, which may make it more easily accessible than the LSAT for some applicants.
While applicants need only take either the LSAT or the GRE, HLS does require all those test results from the past five years.
- How important are test scores in the admissions process?
Admission decisions are based on the Admissions Committee’s experienced judgment applied to individual cases, and many aspects are considered. Quantitative factors, while informative, are not dispositive in our selection process.
The LSAT and GRE are both designed to measure some of the acquired skills that are important to successful graduate school study. Within broad limits, both exams provide a reasonable assessment of these skills. Standing alone, however, the LSAT and/or GRE provide only a partial measure of an individual’s promise for legal study. In the context of the broader range of information contained in a complete application for admission, the LSAT and/or GRE is helpful in assessing individual promise and in making meaningful comparisons among those who apply for admission.
Please note, we have no computational methods for making admission decisions, no mechanical shortcuts, and no substitutes for careful assessment and good judgment applied to individual cases. We try to assess intangible qualities— concern for the welfare of others, energy, ambition, sound judgment, and high ideals. We have also found merit in allowing several strong factors to offset another factor on which an applicant may perform only modestly in comparison with other applicants. As a result, we emphasize that there are no “cut-off” GPAs or standardized test scores below which an application will not be considered in its entirety.
While applicants need only take either the LSAT or the GRE, HLS does require all those test results from the past five years.
- Are there "cut-off" GPAs or standardized test scores below which applications are not considered?
No. There are no “cut-off” GPAs or standardized test scores below which an application will not be considered in its entirety. We have no computational methods for making admission decisions, no mechanical shortcuts, no substitutes for careful assessment and good judgment.
- When should I take either the LSAT or GRE and how long are my scores valid?
The LSAT is administered multiple times per year. Please visit the Law School Admission Council website for more information.
- For your application to be considered complete by the February 3 deadline, you must take the LSAT no later than the February 2020 administration. We review all LSAT results taken within the five-year window during which the scores are valid.
The GRE is administered year-round. Please visit the Educational Testing Service website for more information.
- For your application to be considered complete by the February 3 deadline, you must take the GRE by February 28, 2020. GRE test scores are officially reported within approximately two weeks of the test date. We review all GRE results taken within the five-year window during which the scores are valid.
Please note, we are not able to hold a decision on your application for any additional test scores. Applications will be completed and ready for review once we have received scores from the exam(s) indicated in your HLS application, and we have processed your complete CAS report with all requisite materials. Our admissions cycle operates on a rolling admissions basis, therefore, applications will be reviewed roughly in the order they become complete.
However, if your completed application has been submitted and remains under consideration, even past our February 3 deadline and February 28 application closure, you are welcome to send additional test scores through LSAC and ETS as they become available. Additional test scores cannot be considered once a final decision has been rendered on an application.
- Should I retake the LSAT or GRE?
You need only take the LSAT or GRE once, however, if you take multiple tests, the Admissions Committee will consider all LSAT and/or GRE scores presented as part of your application.
Please note, while the GRE is composed of multiple sections, no one section will be weighted more heavily than the others. Similarly, each test score is reviewed individually; we do not “super-score”, average, or consider the highest composite score exclusively.
We consider any information an applicant provides about their scores. If you feel that one or more of your scores is not representative of your capabilities, you may address your concerns in an addendum attached to your application. If you have already submitted your application, you may submit a PDF addendum via your status checker with your name and LSAC number. This will be automatically added to your file – therefore, there is no need to email the office.
While applicants need only take either the LSAT or the GRE, HLS does require all those test results from the past five years.
- Is there a fee waiver process for either the LSAT or the GRE?
LSAC offers fee waivers for the LSAT and Credential Assembly Service (CAS). Please find more information here.
ETS offers a limited number of GRE Fee Reduction Certificates. Please find more information here.
- Will HLS report my LSAT score to the American Bar Association (ABA) if I take both the LSAT and the GRE?
Yes. If you take the LSAT, then we will report the LSAT score to the ABA.
- When does Harvard Law School begin accepting applications? When is the deadline to apply?
The application for regular J.D. applicants becomes available September 16, 2019 through LSAC. We encourage you to submit your application shortly thereafter. Decisions are made on a rolling basis, which means you can expect a decision anytime between December and May. The time it takes to fully review a file will vary from case to case.
The recommended deadline for submitting your application materials via LSAC is February 3, 2019. The deadline applies only to the submission of the application form itself. It does not apply to letters of recommendation, transcripts, standardized scores, or other addenda.
Please note that while the recommended deadline is February 3, 2019, the application will officially close on February 28, 2019 at 11:59 PM EST.
If you have all your materials to LSAC and there is any delay in processing, either by LSAC, ETS, or HLS, please do not worry. We will work with LSAC to complete your file as quickly as possible, but you will be considered to have submitted by the deadline.
- Are application fee waivers available?
If you are applying to HLS with an LSAT score and if payment of the application fee would pose a financial hardship, we recommend (but do not require) that you first apply for a fee waiver through the Law School Admissions Council. Fee waivers from LSAC cover multiple application fees and some LSAC services, and an LSAC fee waiver may be the best way for you to reduce application related expenses. If LSAC has granted you a LSAT/LSAC Credential Assembly Service Fee waiver and you apply to HLS, your application fee will be waived.
If you are applying to HLS with a GRE score or are interested in requesting an application fee waiver directly from HLS, you may complete the HLS Fee Waiver Request Form. The HLS Fee Waiver Request Form for the 2019-2020 cycle will open on September 3, 2019 and close on January 15, 2020. We cannot accommodate any fee waiver requests made prior to or after those dates.
HLS application fees are waived by HLS on the basis of financial need as demonstrated by information on the HLS form. No application for admission will be considered before the application fee has been paid or a fee waiver has been granted.
- How do I find out whether a document has been received or if my application is complete?
Given the number of applications we receive and the limited time we have available to process, authenticate, and review each of them, it is not possible for us to reply to individual inquiries asking us to verify receipt of application materials or confirm the status of your application.
Instead, you should refer to your online status checker to review the progress of your application and receipt of all required items. Please note, your status application page will only become available after your application form has been submitted and received by our office.
- Can I find out my status via email or over the phone?
We are not able to discuss admission decisions or provide feedback. When decisions are rendered, applicants are notified through their status checker and by an email notification. If you are a current applicant, please refer to the “Application Received” or “Application Complete” emails for details.
- Will Harvard review my application even if some of the supporting documents are submitted after the deadline?
Yes. The deadline for submitting your application form via LSAC is February 3, 2019 by 11:59 PM EST. The deadline applies only to the submission of the application form itself. It does not apply to letters of recommendation, transcripts, standardized scores, or other addenda. While your application has been submitted and is still under consideration, you may submit additional materials. However, you will be at a disadvantage compared to other applicants who have submitted all their application materials by the deadline.
- Do you accept application materials or any correspondence by email?
No. All required application materials must be electronically submitted through LSAC. However, you may provide us with new information after your application has been successfully submitted and is under consideration. Applicants who receive new grades after CAS reports have been sent to us should submit updated transcripts to LSAC.
Information such as updated resumes, promotions at work, a change in an expected degree date, new employment status, an address change, or other amendments to the information in your file are welcome via your online status checker.
Please use your best judgment in uploading any additional materials, taking into account the frequency and nature of your past updates.
- Does Harvard Law School have an "early admission" or an "early decision" process?
No. The Admissions Committee reviews applications roughly in order of completion. We encourage you to submit your application as soon as possible after the application goes live in September. Your application will be eligible for review once it is deemed complete. In the coming cycle we expect to admit applicants in December, February, and March. Waitlist and deny decisions are made on a rolling basis.
- How many letters of recommendation does Harvard require? Whom should I ask to write my recommendations?
Two letters of recommendation are required of all applicants to the J.D. Program. In the event that you would like to submit an additional letter, LSAC does provide space for a third recommendation.
All recommendation letters must be submitted electronically through LSAC. We strongly recommend that at least one letter come from a professor, advisor, or other educational contact who can address your academic and scholarly abilities. However, applicants who have been out of school for several years and struggle to find an academic recommender are welcomed to submit letters from employers or others who have worked closely with them.
If you have utilized all three upload spaces in your application via LSAC, your recommender may postal mail or email his or her letter to us directly at email@example.com. Kindly ensure your recommender includes your full name and LSAC number on the header.
Please note, there is no added benefit to providing more than the required two letters. Our experience is that two thoughtfully selected recommenders are likely to be more effective than several chosen less carefully.
- How should I approach my personal statement?
The personal statement is intended as an opportunity to give the Admissions Committee a better sense of who you are as a person and as a potential student and graduate of Harvard Law School. In many instances, applicants have used the personal statement to provide more context on how their experiences and strengths could make them valuable contributors to the Harvard and legal communities, to illuminate their intellectual background and interests, or to clarify or elaborate on other information in their application. Because applicants and their experiences differ, you are the best person to determine the content of your statement.
- What length should my personal statement be?
We ask that you limit your personal statement to two pages, double spaced, using a font size that is comfortable to read (not less than 11 point).
- What is the optional statement?
While the personal statement is a required component of the application, the optional statement, as the name suggests, is not. The Admissions Committee makes every effort to understand your achievements in the context of your background and to build a diverse student body. To that end, you may choose to submit an optional statement to elaborate on how you could contribute to the diversity of the Harvard Law School community. We provide advice for approaching your optional statement on our blog.
- What length should my optional statement be?
We ask that you limit your optional statement to one page, double spaced, using a font size that is comfortable to read (not less than 11 point).
If an optional statement runs over one page, it will be read. However, we ask that you use your best judgment to determine whether or not your optional statement should exceed the one-page allotment.
- Are all applications read?
Yes, front to back. Each application is guaranteed a thorough review by multiple people.
- What if I applied to HLS in a previous year?
We retain application records for three academic years after the original year of your submission. Should an applicant choose to reapply within that time frame, our office will fully consider any previous applications alongside the current one. Your file will contain everything you’ve previously submitted within the past three years.
Applicants who wish to reapply will have to submit a new application, an updated resume, a new personal statement, and any updated transcripts. New letters of recommendation are not necessary but welcome, nonetheless. Reapplicants will also need to pay the current application fee.
Reapplicants who have received a new GRE score(s) since the time of their original application will need to contact ETS and select Harvard Law School as the recipient of the new score(s) using the reporting code: 2135. If there are no new GRE scores to report, reapplicants will not need to resubmit scores that were included in their original application and that remain valid in the current application cycle. Please note, LSAC automatically reports new LSAT scores.
Please rest assured that the Admissions Committee does not view multiple applications negatively. Decisions are made on a case-by-case basis for all applications. In the past, we have admitted a number of applicants who have applied more than once.
- What if I have a disciplinary record?
It is always best to answer questions concerning your disciplinary record fully and openly, and to provide the requisite accompanying explanation. Withholding information that, in the future, may be reported by your schools, places of employment, or other establishments can adversely affect evaluation if not included in your application. Please be advised that disciplinary records are reviewed on a case-by-case basis and are not necessarily viewed as inherently negative.
- Does Harvard Law School interview applicants?
Yes. Evaluative interviews are available by invitation only. All interviews are conducted via an online platform. No applicant will be admitted without an interview, however, not all applicants will be invited to interview. If you are selected to interview, you will be notified by email with more detailed information.
- What is your deferral policy?
At Harvard Law School, we expect that all applicants fully intend to enroll in the J.D. program in the fall of the year in which they apply. We also understand that individual circumstances related to enrollment can change after submitting an application.
Furthermore, we understand that the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has impacted the academic, professional, and personal plans of many of our admitted students. Given this, we encourage any admitted student interested in requesting a deferral to contact their interviewer to talk through their options.
We typically reserve deferrals for students who have specific academic or professional plans for a limited time period. Deferrals are in most cases limited to one or two years, though we have the ability to grant longer deferrals or extensions for military service, serious illness, and extenuating personal circumstances.
We will approve deferral requests from international students who, despite their best efforts, experience visa delays due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
We customarily approve deferral requests for military reasons, whether in the case of active deployment or involuntary extensions of military service.
Admitted applicants will receive more detailed information about the procedures for applying for a deferral. Deferral requests are reviewed on a case-by-case basis.
College juniors interested in applying to HLS with the intention of deferring an offer for admission for two years after completing an undergraduate degree may apply to the Junior Deferral Program.