The following questions and answers apply to rising 2L transfer applicants.
What is the transfer application process?
Transfer admissions is an opportunity for rising 2L students to join the Harvard Law School community after completing their 1L year at another law school.
Who is eligible to apply as a transfer?
Applicants for transfer admission must meet the following criteria:
- Applicants have completed no more than one year of full-time study in a J.D. program (or one-third of the total credits required in a part-time program) at a United States law school.
- Applicants attend a law school that is accredited by the American Bar Association (ABA).
I applied to HLS previously. Am I eligible to apply as a transfer student?
Yes. Each year we have a number of students who previously applied to HLS that are successful in the transfer application process. 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.
Can I begin my studies at HLS in the spring semester?
No. Students may apply for transfer to begin the second year of J.D. studies in the fall semester only.
When can I expect to hear a decision on my application?
We typically aim to release admission decisions to all transfer applicants by early July. You can find relevant dates and deadlines on the Application Components page.
If I am accepted as a transfer applicant, how much time do I have to respond to the offer of admission?
We aim to give admitted students about one week to respond to their offer of admission.
Which standardized test scores should I submit with my application?
All transfer applicants must submit any LSAT and/or GRE scores utilized for their 1L application.
How should I submit my LSAT and/or GRE score(s) to HLS?
All transfer applicants must self-report on the application form any LSAT and/or GRE scores reported in their 1L application.
Applicants who are admitted to Harvard Law School and decide to enroll will be required to verify all test scores by submitting official documentation to the J.D. Admissions Office. A failure to comply with this policy may result in a withdrawal of an offer of admission.
What if I don’t have my 1L spring semester grades yet?
We require first-year law school grades in order to complete the review of your application. We realize that it may be difficult in some cases to obtain a final transcript until after the application deadline. Please provide an in-progress transcript at the point of application submission, and then promptly provide a complete first-year grade report when it is available. Unofficial grade reports may be uploaded directly to your application via the status checker.
Although we may be able to reach a tentative decision to admit on the basis of unofficial grades, all admitted students must provide us with a final official transcript in order to enroll.
How should I communicate my summer plans?
We ask that you share your 1L summer plans on your resume.
If your summer plans have fallen through or have been otherwise disrupted, please include a short explanation of the situation in an addendum that explains how you will be filling your time.
Who should write my letters of recommendation?
We require two letters of recommendation, at least one of which must be from a law professor at your current law school. Although you may use one letter from a previous application in your transfer application, you must still provide a letter of recommendation from a professor at your current law school.
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 application 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.
Can you explain more about the interview process?
Evaluative interviews are available by invitation only. All interviews are conducted by phone. If you are selected to interview, you will be notified by email with more detailed information.
What should I submit if I applied to HLS in a previous year?
Applicants who wish to reapply as a transfer candidate will have to submit a new application, an updated resume, a new personal statement, and any updated and new transcripts. We require one new letter to be from a law professor at your current law school.
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.
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 upcoming 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.
How will the financial aid process work for transfer students?
Students will receive information on applying for financial aid directly from the HLS Student Financial Services (SFS) Office after they have been admitted.
Will I know my financial aid package before I have to make an enrollment decision?
Given the condensed decision timeline for transfer applicants, we are unable to notify students of their financial aid package before the enrollment deadline.
Am I eligible to participate in Harvard’s Public Interest Interview Program (PIIP) as a transfer student?
Yes. PIIP takes place in mid-September and is open to all transfer students. The bidding process for PIIP will open in August; the Office of Public Interest Advising (OPIA) will provide more information on PIIP to admitted students in late July.
Am I eligible to participate in Harvard’s Early Interview Program (EIP) as a transfer student?
Yes. Harvard’s Early Interview Program will be held in early August, and all enrolling transfer students are eligible to participate.
Enrolling transfer students will receive direct communication from the Office of Career Services about EIP in early July.
Do I have to be the top-ranked student at my law school to get into HLS?
No, you are not required to be the top-ranked student in your 1L class to be admitted. Academic performance in your 1L courses is one indicator of your ability to successfully transition to HLS and is an important part of the application review process.
What is the typical transfer class profile?
Transfer students come to Harvard Law School from a wide range of backgrounds, and a variety of different undergraduate institutions and 1L law schools. You can find more information on current 2L and 3L students who transferred to HLS after their 1L year on our Transfer Cohort page.
Can I join the Harvard Law Review as a transfer student?
The Harvard Law Review encourages transfer applicants to apply for membership on the Review. If you wish to be considered for membership, you must participate in the Writing Competition at the same time as HLS 1Ls in May. Registration for the competition typically opens in April. Instructions on taking the Writing Competition may be found in Writing Competition section of the website.
Prospective 1L transfer students should email firstname.lastname@example.org with questions.
Recognizing that the competition schedule poses unique challenges to prospective transfer applicants, the Review also allows transfer students to take the competition at the end of their 2L year. However, no student may attempt the competition more than once, and this option is only available to transfer students who did not previously take the competition.
Can I join the Harvard Legal Aid Bureau (HLAB) as a transfer student?
All transfer applicants are encouraged to apply to the Harvard Legal Aid Bureau (HLAB). To be considered for membership, each transfer applicant is required to submit a modified application and participate in a round of interviews.
Transfer applicants who wish to receive an application should review the instructions on the HLAB website. The deadline to request a application is typically in early June.
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 law schools made tough decisions to adapt to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Admissions Committee wholeheartedly respects the decisions of institutions and individual students in navigating 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 pandemic-related changes to your coursework or grades for spring 2020. If you would feel more at ease by submitting a brief (half-page to one-page) addendum explaining any changes, you are more than welcome to do so.
What if I have Pass/Fail grades on my transcript due to the COVID-19 pandemic?
We understand many educational institutions shifted their grading policies in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. We respect the decisions of institutions and individual students as we all navigate this unprecedented situation. You will not be penalized in the HLS admissions process if your institution adopted mandatory pass/fail grading for any semester, nor will you be penalized if you elected into an optional pass/fail system for that semester.
My summer plans were disrupted due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Will this impact my chance for admission?
We understand that many people had their academic, professional, and personal lives disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
If your summer plans were impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, please upload a brief addendum to your application explaining your situation and how you plan to fill your time.