Skip to content

The following questions and answers primarily apply to regular J.D. applicants. Please see our blog for additional application advice.

The Application Process

  • When does Harvard Law School begin accepting applications? When is the deadline to apply?

    The application for regular J.D. applicants typically opens in September of each year. The application closes by early March.

    You can find precise dates and deadlines for the current cycle 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 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 process typically opens in early September and closes in February. To view the form, and relevant dates, please visit this webpage.

    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.

  • Must I register with LSAC’s Credential Assembly Service?

    Yes. 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 LSAC. 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.

    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.

  • 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 you hold my application until my new LSAT and/or GRE score comes in?

    We are not able to hold a decision on your application for any additional test scores. Applications will be considered complete once we have received at least one score from the exam(s) indicated in your HLS application, and we have processed your complete CAS report along with all requisite materials.

    If your completed application has been submitted and remains under consideration, you are welcome to send additional materials (including test scores). They will be added to your file and included in the review process. However, additional test scores cannot be considered once a final decision has been rendered on an application.

  • 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.

    You will receive individual emails when your application is received and when it is complete.

  • Can you delete or change files I sent in my application?

    No. When you complete your application and hit “submit”, the information contained in your application may not be altered or deleted in any way by you as an applicant or by us as an admissions team.

    We do understand mistakes happen. You are more than welcome to add and submit additional files to support your application through your status checker.

    For example, if you uploaded the wrong personal statement, you can add the file you intended to send in your application via your status checker.

  • Can I find out my status via email or over the phone?

    No. 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 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. We highly encourage applicants to submit all relevant materials in a timely manner.

  • Do you accept application materials by email?

    No. All required application materials must be electronically submitted through LSAC.

    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, 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.

  • 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 may 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 email a recommendation letter to us directly at jdadmiss@law.harvard.edu. Kindly ensure your recommender includes your full name and LSAC number on the header.

  • 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?

    Please limit your personal statement to two pages using a minimum of 11-point font, 1-inch margins, and double spacing.

  • 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 Harvard Law School community.

  • 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 members of the Admissions Committee.

  • 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, any new or updated transcripts, and any new test scores. New letters of recommendation are not necessary but welcome, nonetheless.

    If there are no new GRE scores to report, reapplicants will not need to resubmit scores that were included in their original application. 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.

  • How many times may I re-apply to the J.D. program?

    Applicants may apply for admission to Harvard Law School through the regular J.D. application no more than three times. Applications submitted via the Junior Deferral Program (JDP) and the J.D. Transfer pathways do not count towards this cap. Ineligible candidates who submit an application will not be considered for admission and will not receive an application fee reimbursement.

  • 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. If you are selected to interview, you will be notified by email with more 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.

    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 serious illness, visa delays, and extenuating personal circumstances.

    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.

Standardized Tests

  • 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 Record 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 Admission Council (LSAC) reports all LSAT scores from the past five years. Similarly, applicants who choose to submit a GRE General Test score (instead of, or in addition to, the LSAT) are required to report all valid test scores from the previous five-year period. Applicants who apply with an active LSAT test score may elect to submit valid GRE General Test scores as well, but are not required to do so.

    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 Admission 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 from applicants who elect to submit the GRE.

  • How long are my test scores valid?

    The Law School Admission Council reports all LSAT scores from the past five years. GRE scores are valid for up to five years from the test date.

  • Will you accept the LSAT-Flex and the GRE at Home?

    Yes. You are welcome to take and submit either the LSAT-Flex or the GRE General Test at Home. We will accept either of these at-home, online administrations and will give them the same holistic consideration we do to the in-person LSAT or GRE. Your application will not be considered less competitive if you apply with the LSAT-Flex or the GRE General Test at Home.

  • How should I submit my LSAT and/or GRE score(s) to HLS?

    Candidates must apply to the regular J.D. program via the Law School Admission 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.

  • 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.

  • When should I take either the LSAT or GRE?

    We strongly recommend that you sit for your standardized test well in advance of the application deadline. To be considered for the March 1 deadline, you must take either the LSAT or GRE no later than the February administrations of these tests.

    The LSAT is administered multiple times per year.  Please visit the Law School Admission Council website for more information.

    The GRE is administered year-round. Please visit the Educational Testing Service website for more information.

    Please note, we are not able to hold a decision on your application for any additional test scores. Applications will be considered complete once we have received at least one score from the exam(s) indicated in your HLS application, and we have processed your complete CAS report with all requisite materials. Your application will only be eligible for review once it is deemed complete.

    If your completed application has been submitted and remains under consideration, you are welcome to send additional materials (including test scores). They will be added to your file and included in the review process. However, 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 an 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.

  • What are the median test scores of this year’s first-year class?

    There are no “cut-off” standardized test scores below which an application will not be considered in its entirety.

    You can find information on the LSAT scores represented in this year’s first-year class on our 1L Class Profile.

    You can find additional information on this year’s first-year class in our most recent Standard 509 Information Report.

  • 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.

General Questions

  • 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 the J.D. Application Components.

  • What is the first-year class profile?

    Find the first-year profile for the most recent entering class.

  • When is the application deadline for the J.D. program?

    The application deadline for Fall Term 2023 enrollment is February 20, 2023.

    You can find information on the regular J.D. application timeline here.

  • When can I expect a decision?

    The J.D. Admissions Office will begin releasing decisions for those applying for Fall Term 2023 enrollment in January 2023. We aim to notify all applicants of their admission decision by early April.

  • 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 or summer programs.

  • What is tuition at Harvard Law School? Is financial aid available?

    Please refer to the Standard Student Budget to review an estimate of total cost, including living expenses, and tuition for the current academic year.

    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.

    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. 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.

  • 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 apettit@law.harvard.edu. 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.

COVID-19 Updates

  • Can I visit the Law School?

    On-campus information session attendees will have the opportunity to participate in a guided HLS campus tour after a brief presentation and question and answer session. For a full schedule, please visit our Admissions Events page.

    Those who visit outside these events are welcomed to tour the campus grounds, but note that HLS buildings are accessible only to Harvard ID Card holders.

  • Are campus tours offered?

    As of Fall 2022, we have resumed offering opportunities for visitors to attend on-campus events. Please visit our admissions events page to learn more about upcoming events.

    We understand most applicants won’t be able to visit campus before submitting an application. You can view a virtual tour on our website.

  • How will the Admissions Committee review coursework that has been impacted by school closures, transitions to online course formats, and optional or compelled grading changes related to the COVID-19 pandemic?

    We understand that many institutions across the globe had to make difficult decisions while adapting to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Harvard Law School J.D. Admissions Committee wholeheartedly respects the decisions of institutions and students as we all navigate this situation. We remain committed to taking a holistic, flexible approach to evaluating each application. This is applied to all applicants and to those impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

    You do not need to explain any changes to your coursework or grades due to the pandemic. If you would feel more at ease by submitting a brief addendum explaining any changes, you are more than welcome to do so.

  • I have experienced a professional or academic disruption due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Will this impact my chance for admission?

    Many people had to put their academic, professional, and personal plans on hold due to the COVID-91 pandemic. We understand this and realize that it might impact professional and academic opportunities, and other things relevant to your application.

    If your professional or academic plans have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, it will not impact your chance for admission. If you would feel more at ease by explaining your situation to us, you can upload a brief addendum to your application.

    Pauses, changes, and gaps in internships, research, service fellowships, and employment related to the COVID-19 pandemic will not impact your chance for admission to Harvard Law School.

  • Will you waive the test requirement?

    Per ABA Standard 503, an accredited law school must utilize a “valid and reliable test” in the admissions process. Therefore, a standardized test score (either LSAT or GRE) is a required component of the application.