- What is the first-year class profile?
The first-year class profile for the class entering in the fall of 2016 is located here.
- How much is the application fee, and when is the deadline?
Application deadline for regular J.D. applicants: February 1
Application deadline for Junior Deferral Program applicants: April 1
Application deadline for transfer applicants: June 15
Application fee: $85.00
- What are the eligibility requirements for applying to the Harvard Law School J.D. program?
Three types of students may consider applying to the HLS J.D. Program. This includes (1) regular J.D. applicants, (2) Junior Deferral Program applicants (JDP), and (3) transfer applicants.
- 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. Regular J.D. applicants must also take either the LSAT or GRE tests as part of the application requirements. The J.D. degree requires three years of full-time study, and new students begin their studies only in the fall semester of each year. Apart from for practicing lawyers, we have no part-time, distance, on-line or summer programs.
- Junior Deferral Program applicants must be scheduled to graduate from their undergraduate program in spring 2019. For more information, please refer to the JDP FAQs.
- Transfer applicants must have completed one year of full-time study in a J.D. program (or one third of total credits required in a part-time program) at a United States law school that is accredited by the American Bar Association (ABA). Students may apply for transfer to begin the second year of J.D. studies in the fall semester only. Please note that transfer applicants applying in the summer of 2017 must have taken the LSAT. For more information, please visit the Transfer Applicant FAQs
- 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 taken into account. Each application is given a thorough review, taking account of all available information. Because GPA and standardized test scores alone do not fully or adequately summarize information about individuals that is important to admission decisions, these “numbers” often prove poor predictors of admission decisions on individual applications. At no point on the GPA or standardized scales are the chances of admission to HLS ‘0’ or ‘100’ percent. The 2017-2018 application cycle is the first year HLS will be accepting the GRE. We do not have information available regarding prior class statistics. For more information about LSAT statistics, please review our class profile.
- What is tuition at Harvard Law School? Is financial aid available?
All 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 web site.
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 qualifying jobs. Qualifying jobs include all full-time jobs in non-profits, government, or academia and law-related jobs in the private sector. Click here for more information on LIPP.
Harvard Law School does not have a separate budget for married students or for students with dependents. The same standard budget is used for all students. However, married students and students with dependents are afforded higher living allowances against income in the calculation of their student contribution from income. For more detailed information about this you can refer to the Student Financial Services website at the Married Students and Students with Dependent Children Resources page.
- What is the best "pre-law" curriculum? How does one prepare for law school?
The Harvard Law School faculty prescribes no fixed requirements with respect to the content of pre-legal education. The nature of candidates’ college work, as well as the quality of academic performance, is taken into account in the selection process. As preparation 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. The Admissions Committee considers that those programs approaching their subjects with attention to educational breadth are better preparatory training for the legal profession than those emphasizing the practical.
- Does Harvard Law School offer concurrent or joint degree programs?
Harvard Law School offers joint degree programs with the Harvard Business School (JD/MBA), the Harvard School of Public Health (JD/MPH), the Harvard Kennedy School of Government (JD/ MPP or MPA/ID), the Harvard Graduate School of Design (JD/MUP), and the Cambridge University Faculty of Law (JD/LLM). The Law School also offers coordinated programs with the Harvard Graduate School of Arts and Sciences (JD/PhD and JD/MA) in many fields.
Applicants admitted to both the JD program and a PhD program at the Harvard Graduate School of Arts and Sciences will qualify for consideration for our JD/PhD tuition funding program if their intention is to pursue a career in academia. A limited number of students receive full-tuition funding for the JD portion of their joint program. Contact the admissions office for more information on this program.
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 joint and concurrent degree programs, and the coordinated JD/PhD program, as well as cross-registration and study abroad.
- Can I visit the Law School?
Prospective applicants are welcome to visit the Law School at any time to take a self-guided tour, although you may wish to consult the academic calendar to plan your visit at a time when classes are in session to see the campus activity. You may wish to stop by the Admissions Office when you arrive for information on where to go and what you can do while in Cambridge. No individual meetings are available. The Admissions Office is open between 9:00 am and 5:00 pm, Monday through Friday.
Click here for directions to the Law School or here for a campus map.
LL.M. and S.J.D. candidates should contact the Graduate Program (firstname.lastname@example.org) for more information about visiting HLS.
- Are campus tours offered?
Information sessions with an admissions officer and student-guided tours are offered from mid-September through mid-November on select Friday afternoons. These sessions begin at 2:00 pm and last approximately two hours.
- Which standardized test scores can I submit along with my application?
On a pilot basis, starting in the 2017-2018 application cycle, Harvard Law School will accept either the Law School Admission Test (LSAT) or the Graduate Records Exam (GRE). We do not have a preference for either exam. Individuals considering either test should explore several factors, including whether you intend to apply to other law schools that may only accept the LSAT, your timing and geographic location, and any other plans you may have for graduate study. For additional questions, please feel free to contact our office to discuss your specific circumstances.
LSAC automatically reports all LSAT test scores from the past five years. To gain parity in the requirements between the LSAT and GRE results, you 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 5 years, then HLS requires all four test results belonging to the applicant. Applicants may not choose which results they will share.
If you have concerns about sharing all test results from the last five years, then please consider submitting an addendum for your application explaining those concerns. We will still require all test scores from the last 5 years, but the committee will review those scores along with your addendum.
- Why are the last 5 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 5 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?
Your standardized test score must have been valid when the application opened. The Law School Admissions Council reports all LSAT scores for the prior 5 year period automatically. Similarly, students who take the GRE are required to report all test scores from the prior five year period. For example, applicants to our J.D. Regular program can apply as early as September 15, 2017. Students submitting a GRE score for the 2017-2018 application year must have taken the GRE on or after September 15, 2012. Please contact our office if you have questions about this policy.
- How should I submit my LSAT or GRE score to HLS?
Applicants who take the LSAT must only submit an application to HLS via the Law School Admissions Council (LSAC) and participate in the Credential Assembly Service provided by LSAC. LSAC will then forward your LSAT results for the prior five years to us as part of their comprehensive application services.
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 prior 5 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 ETS HLS code: 2135.
While applicants need only take either the LSAT or the GRE, HLS does require all test results from the past 5 years. For example, if a student has taken both exams twice within the last 5 years, then HLS requires all four test results belonging to the applicant. Applicants may not choose which results they will share.
- 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, and it is consistent with American Bar Association rules that govern the data that accredited law schools must collect from students seeking admission.
While applicants need only take either the LSAT or the GRE, HLS does require all of those test results from the past 5 years. For example, if a student has taken both exams twice within the last 5 years, then HLS requires all four test results belonging to the applicant. Applicants may not choose which results they will share.
- How important are test scores in the admissions process?
HLS reviews applications in the context of a holistic view of a candidate’s materials. Applicants are encouraged to prepare for and provide the strongest standardized test results possible while noting that this is only one aspect of the application.
The LSAT and GRE are both designed to measure some of the acquired skills that are important to successful legal 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.
Quantitative factors, while informative, do not play a decisive role in our selection process. We have no computational methods for making admission decisions, no mechanical shortcuts, no substitutes for careful assessment and good judgment. All completed applications are reviewed in their entirety with the LSAT and/or GRE as one factor in an overall assessment of academic promise, personal achievement, and potential contribution to the vitality of the student body.
While applicants need only take either the LSAT or the GRE, HLS does require all of those test results from the past 5 years.
- Should I retake the LSAT or GRE?
You only need to 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. While applicants need only take either the LSAT or the GRE, HLS does require all of those test results from the past 5 years.
- When should I take either the LSAT or GRE and how long are my scores valid?
The LSAT is administered at least four times per year. Please visit the Law School Admission Council website for more information.
- In order for your application to be considered complete by the February 1 deadline, you must take the LSAT no later than the preceding December administration of the test. We review all LSAT results taken within the 5-year window during which the scores are valid.
- If you are retaking the LSAT in February, we can hold your decision until we receive the results, provided that you inform us via email of your plans to sit for the February LSAT. We may begin to review your file as soon as you receive notice from us that it is complete, however we will not render a final decision until we receive the February score.
The GRE is administered year-round. Please visit the ETS website for more information.
- We strongly recommend that you take the GRE prior to January 15, 2018. GRE test scores are officially reported within approximately two weeks of the test date and should arrive prior to our February 1 application deadline. We review all GRE results taken within the 5-year window during which the scores are valid.
- If you are retaking the GRE after January 15, we can hold the decision until we receive the results, provided that you inform us, via email, of your plans to take or retake the GRE and the date of the exam you are taking. We may begin to review your file as soon as you receive notice from us that it is complete, however we will not render a final decision until we receive your additional GRE results.
- Please also be aware that we will not be able to consider GRE scores taken after March 16, 2018 for Fall 2018 applicants.
LSAT and GRE scores taken within the past five years are considered valid.
- Must I register with the LSAC's Credential Assembly Service?
All applicants, 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 LSAC’s Credential Assembly Service report, and Law Services will send it directly to HLS. The LSAC’s Credential Assembly Service report includes any LSAT scores as well as copies of your academic transcripts, LSAT writing sample, and a summary of 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 undergraduate degrees outside the United States, Puerto Rico, or Canada may not be eligible for LSAC’s Credential Assembly Service. Please check with the LSAC’s Credential Assembly Service/LSAT Information Book in the LSAC’s Credential Assembly Service section. 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 and when completing the “Date(s) Registered with LSAC’s Credential Assembly Service” question on the Harvard Law School J.D. Application. Those who did their undergraduate work at Canadian institutions must register with LSAC’s Credential Assembly Service.
- Is there a fee waiver process for both the LSAT and 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.
- What if I applied to HLS in a previous year?
We keep applications on file for three years. If you applied more than three years ago, you must submit an entirely new application. If you applied in the last three years, you must be currently registered with LSAC’s Credential Assembly Service, complete a new application form, submit a new personal statement and pay the application fee. You may submit new recommendations or rely on those in your previous application.
- When do application materials become available?
You must electronically submit your application to our office through the LSAC. The electronic application for regular J.D. applicants becomes available mid-September.
- When does Harvard Law School begin accepting applications?
We encourage you to submit your application as soon as possible after the application goes live in September. Decisions are made on a rolling basis, which means you can expect a decision anytime between December and May.
- What is the deadline to submit an application?
The deadline for submitting an application as a regular J.D. applicant is February 1. We can guarantee full consideration for all applications received by that date.
If you have all of your materials to LSAC by February 1 and there is any delay in processing, either by LSAC or HLS, please do not worry. We will work with LSAC to compete your file as quickly as possible, but you will be considered to have submitted by the deadline. Please do not send your transcripts or other materials to our office as we must receive those materials directly from LSAC.
- Does Harvard Law School have an "early admission" or an "early decision" process?
No. We have a rolling admission process. We review applications roughly in the order that they become complete (when all required materials have been received and processed), and decisions are made on a rolling basis.
- 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, some LSAC services, and an LSAC fee waiver may be the best way for you to reduce application related expenses.
If you would like to request an application fee waiver directly from HLS, you may complete the HLS Fee Waiver Request Form. Please request a Fee Waiver Request Form by email at email@example.com with the subject line of “Fee Waiver Request Form.”
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. If LSAC has granted you a LSAT/LSAC Credential Assembly Service Fee waiver and you apply electronically to Harvard, your Harvard application fee will be waived.
If you are applying to HLS with a GRE score and are interested in a fee waiver, please email the J.D. Admissions Office.
- Do you require a College Certification?
While we do not require the College Certification as part of the application process, it will be required for all enrolling students. If you believe information on the College Certification would have a positive or negative impact on your admissibility, please submit it with your application.
- Whom should I ask to write my recommendations?
Recommendations should come from those who have had an opportunity to evaluate you carefully and individually over a sufficient period of time to make a reasonable evaluation. At least one of the letters should deal with your academic and scholarly abilities. We realize that some applicants, particularly those who have been out of school for a number of years, may have difficulty finding even one academic recommender. If that is the case, letters from employers who have worked closely with you will be helpful.
- How many letters of recommendations does Harvard require? Can I submit more?
Two recommendations are required. Although two thoughtfully selected recommenders are likely to be more effective than several chosen less carefully, we will accept three.
- Does Harvard Law School grant interviews?
Evaluative interviews are available by invitation only. All interviews are conducted via an online platform. We will, however, be happy to answer your questions. Group information sessions and tours offered during the fall semester are an effective way to learn about the School. You may also call us with questions during regular business hours at 617-495-3179.
- How should I approach my personal statement?
The personal statement is an opportunity for you to present yourself, your background, ideas, and accomplishments to the Admissions Committee. It is for you to decide what information you would like to convey and the best way for you to convey it. Whatever you write about, readers will be seeking to get a sense of you as a person and as a potential student and graduate of Harvard Law School.
- What length should my personal statement be?
We ask that you limit your statement to two pages, double spaced, using a font size that is comfortable to read (not less than 11 point).
- Are all applications read?
Yes. Each application is reviewed thoroughly.
- 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.
- Can I find out my status via email or over the phone?
The Admissions Office cannot respond to inquiries regarding the status of an application or an admissions decision via the telephone or email. As described in the application materials, we provide periodic status updates to applicants via email and through an online status checker. Admissions decisions are provided through the status checker as well and applicants will be emailed when electronic decisions become available. If you are a current applicant, please refer to the “Application Received” or “Application Complete” emails for details.
- What if I have a disciplinary record?
It is always best to answer questions concerning your disciplinary record fully and openly, and to provide an explanation. Disciplinary records are reviewed on a case-by-case basis and are not necessarily viewed as negative.
- Do you accept application materials or any correspondence by email?
Please send your materials online.
- 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 and instructions on how to apply for aid will be sent to you immediately via this 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, but the sooner you complete your file by submitting all of your required documents, the sooner you will have your preliminary HLS financial aid award offer from us. Throughout the spring we generally have a two week (10 business days) turnaround time from the point your last document is received to the point you will receive your award notification. For a broad overview of the entire financial aid application process, please read over the Apply for Aid section of the Student Financial Services website.
- What is your deferral policy?
Most regular J.D. applicants intend to enroll in the J.D. program in the fall of the year in which they apply. However, we understand that individual circumstances related to enrollment can change after submitting an application. In addition, some candidates apply knowing that they would like to defer if admitted, but find that applying in a current cycle is best suited to their personal timeline.
Whatever the reason, each cycle we allow a number of admitted applicants to defer enrollment, for one or two years, with an agreement not to apply to other law schools. While deferrals are not guaranteed, we are typically able to grant them without difficulty if they are requested in a timely fashion. We grant deferrals for many different reasons, but most commonly, deferring students wish to earn or finish another degree, or take advantage of an employment or service opportunity.
Admitted applicants will receive more detailed information about the procedures for applying for a deferral.
Starting in the 2017-2018 admissions cycle, college juniors scheduled to graduate from an undergraduate program in spring 2019 will be able to apply to the J.D. program via the Junior Deferral Program (JDP). JDP applicants apply with the intention of deferring an offer of admission for two years after completing an undergraduate degree. More information can be found here.