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Application Deadlines

The deadline for submission of applications for admission to S.J.D. degree candidacy beginning in the fall of 2024 is April 1, 2024. The Graduate Program Admissions Office must receive all application materials (other than recommendations) by this date. Admission decisions will generally be made in early June.

View a sample 2024 S.J.D. application (PDF) or 2024 financial aid application (PDF).

Application Materials

To apply to the S.J.D. program, applicants must complete the relevant parts of the Graduate Program’s online application. Applicants will be asked to provide information about themselves and the ideas they propose to pursue in their S.J.D. studies, copies of their LL.M. paper, letters of recommendation from their LL.M. paper supervisor and the Harvard Law School faculty member being proposed to serve as their dissertation supervisor, transcripts from the university at which they received their highest law degree, and certain other information.

An important part of the application is the S.J.D. research proposal. This proposal (which should be no more than 2,500 words, excluding footnotes) should describe the research you propose to do as an S.J.D. candidate, including what significant novel contribution to the literature your proposed project would make, how you foresee doing the research, how the fields of study you propose will prepare you to do it, and what you see as the biggest challenges to making this a viable project.

As part of the research proposal, applicants must identify and describe three or four underlying fields of study and the proposed faculty supervisor for each field. Fields are areas of study in law or other disciplines which are relevant to the dissertation topic and in which the applicant plans to gain working knowledge. Frequently, these are areas in which the applicant can imagine teaching a course. Applicants may wish to include one interdisciplinary field – that is, a field that seeks to combine study of the law with insights from a discipline other than law (such as economics, history, philosophy, or political science).

Definition of fields may be difficult and require some thought. While applicants are advised to consult their proposed supervisors about field definition, some general guidelines follow. First, a field may be viewed as a particular group of authors and/or texts that are part of a discursive community or tradition. Second, fields should not be so broad that they would be impossible to master in one year. Third, skills areas such as statistics, calculus, languages, etc. generally are not considered fields. However, a course in such a subject may appropriately be included as part of the study plan for a particular field. Finally, in identifying possible fields, applicants should be realistic about their abilities and experience to date in particular areas of study.

Application Checklist

Please refer to the instructions included with the online application for complete details on application requirements. In general, a completed application includes:

  • Online application form
  • Curriculum vitae or Résumé
  • Recommendations (at least two)
  • Transcripts
  • Official TOEFL report (if applicable)
  • Personal Statement (no more than 1,000 words)
  • Summary of LL.M. Paper (no more than 500 words)
  • LL.M. Paper (or the equivalent)
  • Research Proposal (no more than 2,500 words)
  • Financial aid application (if applicable)
  • Application fee of US$85