Starting in the fall of 2017, Harvard Law School will allow any college junior to submit an application for admission through its Junior Deferral Program (JDP). Under the program, college juniors can be admitted to Harvard Law School on the condition that they successfully finish college and then take a minimum of two years to work, study, or pursue research or fellowship opportunities.

In 2014, HLS began a JDP pilot program, which was open only to juniors at Harvard College. Based on the success of the program, the Law School has decided to make the program available to all juniors (or their international equivalents) at any college or university. The program is intended to encourage students to gain work experience prior to law school. It also aims to encourage students in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) fields to consider bringing those skills to the legal profession, which increasingly demands practitioners with high-level technical skills.

All students admitted into the JDP during the pilot phase have accepted their offers of admission. The first students admitted into the program will begin their studies at HLS in the fall of 2017.

“The Junior Deferral Program is one of many efforts underway here to remove barriers as we seek the most talented candidates for law and leadership,” said HLS Dean Martha Minow. “By offering admission to the most promising college juniors, we can encourage them to pursue important and fulfilling experiences without concerns about effects on a later application to law school. We are delighted with the success of the pilot effort and see already that students admitted through the program explore a wide range of valuable experiences, and get ready to come to campus for their 1L year with vibrancy and intellectual enthusiasm benefitting the entire the law school community.”

In recent years, HLS has taken a number of steps to eliminate barriers to admission for candidates from a diverse range of academic disciplines and personal backgrounds. In 2012 the Law School began conducting interviews via Skype, and in 2015 it eliminated the requirement for a “seat deposit” for accepted students. In March, HLS announced that it would allow applicants to submit either the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) or the Law School Admissions Test (LSAT) to be considered for admission to its three-year J.D. program. Students who apply to the JDP will be able to submit either the GRE or the LSAT to be considered for admission.

Jessica Soban, associate dean for Admissions and Strategic Initiatives, said, “The three years of the JDP pilot have proven to be a tremendous success. As we hoped, it has attracted a number of students from the STEM fields, and encouraged all students to pursue varied and exciting work and study opportunities. I look forward to welcoming the first class of JDP students to HLS this fall. And I am excited to extend this opportunity to all college juniors.”

Information for pre-law advisors and for college juniors interested in applying through the JDP program is available on the HLS Admissions website.