- What is the Junior Deferral Program?
As an undergraduate student thinking about what comes after graduation, you may find yourself ready to apply to law school and also excited to explore other professional, educational, or service opportunities. You may know you want to go to law school and also want to teach for a few years, garner business or legal skills in the workforce, pursue a master’s degree, or embark on a mission trip. Harvard Law School’s Junior Deferral Program offers you that flexibility and breadth of opportunity. Apply to HLS when you are a college junior (or the international equivalent) scheduled to complete coursework and graduate in spring 2020, and, if admitted, commit to defer that offer of admission for a minimum of two years after completing your undergraduate degree. You may use the deferral period to explore your broad interests before returning to the classroom.
- Am I eligible to apply for the Junior Deferral Program?
You are eligible to apply for JDP during the 2018-2019 cycle as long as you are:
- Enrolled as an undergraduate student at an accredited college or university.
- Recognized by your undergraduate institution as scheduled to complete coursework and graduate in spring 2020. Internationally educated applicants may need to contact the J.D. Admissions Office to ascertain their eligibility. Generally, if you are scheduled to complete coursework and graduate in spring 2020 from a U.S. Bachelor’s or international equivalent undergraduate program, then you should qualify for the program.
- Committed to deferring your enrollment at HLS for a minimum of two years after graduating.
- Am I eligible to apply to JDP if I have taken a semester off?
To apply for the Junior Deferral Program during the 2018-2019 cycle, you must be scheduled to complete coursework and graduate from your undergraduate program in spring 2020. If you are scheduled to graduate in spring 2020, regardless of the amount of time it took to reach that graduation date, you are eligible to apply to the program. Internationally educated applicants must be scheduled to complete coursework and graduate from their U.S. bachelor’s equivalent program in spring 2020 and are encouraged to contact the J.D. Admissions Office by phone with further questions.
- Am I eligible to apply if I have advanced standing or additional course credits from high school dual enrollment, community college, etc.?
To apply for the Junior Deferral Program during the 2018-2019 cycle, you must be scheduled to complete coursework and graduate from your undergraduate program in spring 2020. If you are scheduled to complete your undergraduate degree and graduate in spring 2020, regardless of the amount of time it took to reach that date or the amount of undergraduate credits you have earned by that date, you are eligible to apply to the program.
- Is there any special process for international students to apply to the Junior Deferral Program?
The application process is the same for all current undergraduate students applying for JDP, including international students. Generally speaking, individuals scheduled to complete coursework and graduate in spring 2020 from a U.S. Bachelor’s equivalent undergraduate degree should be eligible to apply.
- When is the application due?
The Junior Deferral Program application opens March 1, 2019. The deadline is May 1, 2019.
- Will this be a regular rolling admission process? When is it best to apply?
Unlike the regular J.D. admissions process, this program does not operate on a rolling admissions basis. We will accept applications from the date the application opens (March 1, 2019) through the application deadline (May 1, 2019). All decisions will be released at the same time.
- How do I apply?
The application for the Junior Deferral Program is available on the LSAC website. The deadline is May 1, 2019.
Applicants will submit an application through the LSAC website and register for the LSAC’s Credential Assembly Service (CAS). Applicants must also send any LSAT or GRE scores taken within the last five years.
- What are the application requirements?
- Expected to graduate with an undergraduate degree in spring 2020
- HLS application, personal statement, and resume
- $85 application fee
- LSAT or GRE score
- Undergraduate transcript (update required with junior year final grades by July 1, 2019)
- A minimum of two letters of recommendation, maximum three. We strongly encourage you to submit your two required letters from academic sources. If you are thinking about adding a professional letter, that should be your third “optional” letter
- By invitation, an online interview will be conducted
- Should I submit my Spring 2019 grades once they become available?
Yes, finalized spring grades are required before any candidate is offered admission to the Junior Deferral Program. We require that all spring grades be submitted by July 1, 2019.
- I am studying abroad in Spring 2019, and my grades will not be available until late summer. Will you still consider my JDP application?
Yes. We will complete an initial review of your application. If you are a likely candidate for admission, we will hold on our determination pending receipt of your official spring grades from LSAC or directly to our office by post or email.
- When should I take the LSAT or GRE and how long are my scores valid?
The LSAT is administered at least five 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 May 1 deadline, you must take the LSAT no later than the March 2019 administration of the test.
- 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 ETS website for more information.
- We strongly recommend that you take the GRE prior to April 15, 2019. GRE test scores are officially reported within approximately two weeks of the test date and should arrive prior to our May 1 application deadline. We review all GRE results taken within the five-year window during which the scores are valid.
- If you are retaking the GRE after April 15 and no later than June 15, we can hold the decision until we receive the results, provided that you inform us, via email at firstname.lastname@example.org, of your plans to 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 June 15, 2019 for current JDP applicants.
- 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 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 LSAC’s Credential Assembly Service 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 code: 2135.
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.
- 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.
- 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 JDP 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 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 complete the JDP Fee Waiver Request Form.
- What is the advantage to applying now as a JDP candidate versus applying to the regular J.D. admissions program during my senior year?
Some people will want to apply now so they have an answer about law school before starting a job search. Such individuals feel certain they want to go to law school but also want to spend some time exploring other professional or educational opportunities before entering the law school classroom. Conversely, others will want to take junior year to focus on seminars and classes rather than an application process. It’s an individual’s decision, and we encourage you to talk with your pre-law advisor and/or mentors.
- Does a summer internship help with admission?
Work experience is a valuable aspect of any application. The Admissions Committee will consider the nature of your work and volunteer experiences when evaluating your ability to handle the academic rigor of our program.
- Are admissions criteria the same for JDP as for the regular application cycle?
Yes, admissions standards are the same for applicants to JDP and to the standard pool. Admissions decisions are based on the totality of available information about each applicant and a careful evaluation of the candidate’s past accomplishments and future promise.
As a general guideline, most admitted applicants demonstrate potential for success in law school through an exceptional undergraduate academic record, competitive LSAT or GRE scores, and substantial accomplishments in work or extracurricular activities; however, no one of these aspects of an applicant’s file is dispositive in the admissions decision.
Our assessment includes factors such as work experience and demonstrated leadership, and also intangible qualities such as energy, ambition, judgment, ability to overcome adversity, high ideals, and concern for the welfare of others. Our Admissions Committee seeks to identify characteristics that are important to academic success in law school and qualities that will contribute diversity of perspective and experience, general excellence, and vitality to the student body. In line with the standard J.D. application review process, there are no “cutoff” scores or minimum scores for an applicant’s GPA or standardized test score.
Please consult the HLS 1L Class Profile to get a sense of the profile of the 1L class.
- What if I don’t apply to JDP but I decide to apply as a senior? Will it hurt my chances?
No! There is absolutely no penalty in the admissions process for not applying as a junior. You should apply when you feel you are able to present a strong application. However, students who wish to enroll in a J.D. program the fall after college graduation are not eligible to apply in the JDP cycle and must, therefore, apply as a senior.
- 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?
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. Please note, your status application page will only become available after your application form has been submitted and received by our office.
- Will Harvard review my application even if some of the supporting documents are submitted after the deadline?
Yes. The deadline for submitting your application materials via LSAC is May 1, 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.
- 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 about awards received, promotions, or other events, including updated resumes, may be uploaded directly through your status checker. We prefer that these updates be submitted in PDF format with your name and LSAC number in the header. Please note, your status application page will only become available after your application form has been submitted and received by our office.
Similarly, you should inform us of any changes to the information you have already provided—a change in an expected degree date, new employment status, an address change, or other amendments to the information in your file.
- If you are not admitted, can you reapply later?
Yes! If you are not selected for the Junior Deferral Program, we strongly encourage you to reapply. You can read more about how our admissions committee reviews JDP reapplicants here.
Applicants who wish to reapply will have to submit a new application, an updated resume, a new personal statement, and any updated transcripts. Reapplicants will also need to pay the current application fee.
Your LSAT or GRE score will be valid for five years after you take the test.
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.
- If I am accepted to the program, how much time do I have to respond?
If you are accepted to the program, then you will be asked to respond to the offer in late summer.
- If I accept your offer of admission, can I apply to other law schools?
No. If you accept the offer to defer and then enroll at HLS, you cannot hold our active deferral and apply to other schools at the same time. If you decide you want to apply to another law school, you would need to withdraw from HLS before submitting other applications.
- What if I am admitted and the timeline of my graduation changes?
Our eligibility requirements state that all applicants must be graduating in spring 2020. However, we understand circumstances may change after a student has been admitted to JDP. Exceptions to this graduation requirement are determined on a case-by-case basis. Please note that all JDP admitted students must defer their enrollment at HLS for a minimum of two years after graduating. There are no exceptions to this requirement.
- If I am admitted to JDP, can I attend the Admitted Students Weekend in the spring?
Admitted JDP students are welcome to attend the Admitted Students Weekend in the spring of the year they intend to matriculate. Further information with registration details will be sent by email to admitted students at that time.
- Can you explain more about the interview process?
Evaluative interviews are available by invitation only. All interviews are conducted via an online platform. No applicants 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 majors are you looking for?
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 a STEM background less advantageous 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 the 21st century and will continue to be similarly engaged. If you have a STEM background, you may wish to spend your deferral period working 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 it make a difference if I am pursuing a B.A. or a B.S.? Do you account for differences in GPAs across undergraduate majors?
Harvard Law School considers applications for all undergraduate majors. The Admissions Committee will review your entire transcript, which includes examining the rigor of your curriculum as well as grades received. The Committee will be looking for both breadth and depth in your curriculum. Advanced seminars, lab work, and classes with extensive research and writing components are often ways students can demonstrate knowledge in a particular field.
- Am I required to submit transcripts for any study abroad program(s)?
If you have completed any of your undergraduate coursework at a foreign institution, Harvard Law School requires that your foreign transcripts be submitted through the LSAC’s Credential Assembly Service. The one exception to this requirement is if you completed the foreign work through a study abroad, consortium, or exchange program sponsored by a U.S. or Canadian institution, and the work is clearly indicated as such (including course name, grade, and credit hours) on your home institution’s transcript.
- Are there any restrictions on what I can do during my deferral period?
You may decide to spend the deferral period between college graduation and matriculation at HLS in a variety of ways. Most students will choose to pursue full time employment or a master’s degree program. Students may also choose to pursue research or fellowship opportunities. The time must be spent in a structured educational program or employment situation.
- What if I want to do something entrepreneurial or start my own business during my deferral period?
Great! If you decide to pursue something entrepreneurial, we will ask to see a copy of your business plan, commitments from financial backers, etc. Students admitted to the program in prior years have launched social entrepreneurship projects funded by fellowships and other funding sources.
- Will applicants be judged on what they say they intend to do during the deferral period before enrolling?
As with any applicant for law school, we will be interested in how you plan to use your law degree, which includes how the time spent before matriculation helped shape or refine that vision. As you learn more about the programs available to you at HLS and consider your plans post-college graduation, we understand that vision may change. However, we expect you to have a general vision for how you might spend your deferral in academia, public service, or the private sector.
- What are the implications of the Junior Deferral Program on my employment search?
You should discuss this with the Office of Career Services at your undergraduate institution with regards to specific employment options. However, universities, companies, and employers are increasingly familiar with this type of academic program. We do not anticipate difficulties in the job search process; however, if an employer has questions, the J.D. Admissions Office will work with you to help however we can.
- Can I defer for more than two years?
If an applicant is admitted to JDP, we consider each request for a deferral extension on a case-by-case basis. Typically, we do grant an extension beyond two years, provided the JDP candidate will continue to engage in productive work experience or academic pursuits during their extended deferral period. The duration of the extension will be determined individually at the time of the request.
- What if I decide that I don’t want to defer?
Students admitted to the Junior Deferral Program cannot bypass the mandated two-year minimum deferral period. If you decide you would prefer to go directly to law school upon graduation, you must relinquish your seat and reapply to HLS in the standard admissions process during the fall of your senior year.
- How is financial aid awarded at HLS?
Financial aid at Harvard Law School is exclusively need-based; there are no merit or “full-ride” scholarships 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 website. Similarly, refer to the Standard Student Budget to review an estimate of total cost, including living expenses, and tuition for the 2018 – 2019 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. Click here for more information on LIPP.
- Will my parents’ income be included in financial aid considerations?
In accordance with Harvard Law School’s commitment to a need-based financial aid program, family (parental) resources for all students under the age of 25 are considered, with a reduced assessment of family resources for students between 26 and 28. Parental resources are not considered for students at or over the age of 29.
- How will the financial aid process work for JDP students?
You will apply for financial aid during the spring before you intend to matriculate. More information will be available to students after they are admitted for planning purposes.
- How many students will be admitted under this program?
The number of offers for admission will depend on the size and strength of the applicant pool.
- Is this compatible with other graduate school programs?
Applicants to JDP who are considering a joint degree should contact our partner schools (HKS, HBS, HMS, GSD, HSPH, or GSAS) for more information about the degrees offered. To be eligible for a joint degree program, you must be admitted separately to both Harvard schools. Masters or PhD work will be counted towards the deferral period at HLS.
- What if I am also considering the 2+2 program at HBS?
Applicants may apply to both the 2+2 program at HBS and JDP at HLS. Both programs require two years of work experience before matriculating. The student, in conjunction with HLS and HBS Admissions will need to determine which program they will enroll in first, and which program they will defer for a third year. This decision will be made on a case-by-case basis.