Harvard’s LL.M. Program
The academic year, 2023–2024, marks the 100th anniversary of the Harvard LL.M. program. In keeping with its long history of leadership in legal education, in 1923 Harvard Law School’s faculty voted to institute a one-year master’s degree in law, having established a one-year doctorate in law for prospective law teachers in 1910. In the fall of 1923, HLS enrolled its first full LL.M. class, comprised of four students, two from Canada and one each from the U.S. and the Philippines.
Harvard’s LL.M. Program in 1923/1924
Total Students 4
Number of Countries Represented 3
Women Represented 0%
International Representation 75%
Harvard’s LL.M. Program in 2023/2024
Total Students 182
Number of Countries Represented 69
Women Represented 53%
International Representation 98%
LL.M. Across the Decades
In the first decade of the program, HLS awarded 86 LL.M. degrees, including degrees to 28 foreign-educated students (Canada, China, England, France, Guatemala, Hungary, the Netherlands, Peru, the Philippines, Switzerland, and Turkey). Nine of the LL.M. graduates went on to earn their S.J.D. degree.
The requirement for all LL.M.s to complete a research paper as part of their coursework was first instituted.
Two LL.M.s, Erlinda Espiritu and Barbara Dooling (Henson), are the first women to receive a degree from Harvard Law School. Espiritu was corporate legal counsel for one of the biggest land developers in the Philippines, and later became president of a family-owned bank in Mindoro. Dooling earned an LL.B. from Boston University and specialized in estate planning law.
“From the close of World War II, interest in the part of foreign students has steadily increased, and the graduate and special students from abroad enrolled at the School number seventy-two”–Dean Erwin Griswold, describing the graduate program at HLS.
A major gift from the Mitsubishi Group endowed the Mitsubishi Chair in Japanese law and several visiting professor appointments for LL.M. alumni from Japan.
A substantial gift from the Landon H. Gammon fund significantly expanded need-based financial aid available to LL.M. students.
The HLS alumni office reports over 6,500 living LL.M. degree holders.