Harvard Law School
The information on this page was provided by the law school.
Official Guide to LLM, Master’s, and Certificate Programs
Harvard Law School provides unmatched opportunities to study law and related disciplines in a rigorous and collaborative environment. Harvard is distinguished by its unparalleled breadth and depth of courses and clinics, its wide array of research programs, its diverse student body drawn from around the world, and its extensive network of highly respected alumni. Beyond the law school, law students can tap into Harvard University’s extraordinary resources through cross registration and a variety of social and cultural venues.
Harvard Law School’s faculty members are engaged in cutting-edge research and generate the most important publications across the legal curriculum, playing an unsurpassed role in influencing jurists and policy makers. Notwithstanding their high-profile endeavors, however, Harvard Law School faculty are extremely engaged with students and interact closely with LLM candidates both informally and as faculty supervisors.
The Graduate Program is the division of Harvard Law School responsible for the Master of Laws (LLM) and the Doctor of Juridical Science (SJD) degrees. Through our degree programs, we are working to train the next generation of leaders in academia, private practice, government, and nonprofit and nongovernmental organizations worldwide.
Since many of our students are interested in pursuing academic careers, either in the United States or abroad, we offer—among other things—a Law Teaching Colloquium comprised of a series of presentations on various aspects of law teaching, which generally include an overview of the process of becoming a law teacher, pedagogical methods, clinical law teaching, and some of the steps involved in going into the US law-teaching market (e.g., the mechanics of getting published, the AALS faculty recruitment conference, developing a research agenda, and giving a successful job talk). More information and guidance are available to students on a one-on-one basis.
To be considered for the LLM Program, an applicant must have a JD (Juris Doctor) from an accredited US law school or a first law degree (JD, LLB, or the equivalent) from a foreign law school. Harvard Law School rarely accepts into its LLM Program anyone who already holds (or is pursuing) an LLM from another law school in the United States. We do not require work experience or further study beyond law school but we find that people with two or more years of such experience tend to submit stronger applications and get more out of the LLM program.
This is important. Please Note
The admissions and financial aid applications for the Harvard LLM program are available at https://hls.harvard.edu/dept/graduate-program/apply.
Admitted students who cannot afford the cost of attending the LLM Program are eligible for financial aid from Harvard. The aid is based on the candidates’ demonstrated financial need. Financial aid is offered in the form of both grants (scholarships) and loans. More than 60 percent of the students in the LLM class each year receive some form of financial aid from or through Harvard Law School. Some 20 percent of the remaining students typically receive substantial funding from outside organizations.
Applicants who wish to be considered for financial aid should complete and submit the online financial aid application form at the same time as their application for admission. Because the processes for making admission and financial aid decisions are completely separate, your application for financial aid will have no impact on your application for admission. Prospective applicants are also encouraged to seek other sources of funding early in the application process.
Financial Aid Deadline.
Harvard Law School is situated on a campus of its own within the larger Harvard University campus, which in turn is located in the lively and sophisticated cultural milieu of historic Cambridge, Massachusetts. Harvard Square, in the heart of Cambridge, is an energetic place with fine restaurants and cheap eats, bookstores, bars and music, street performers, and various specialty shops. Harvard is also home to the American Repertory Theater, which features groundbreaking productions that have gone on to win prestigious national awards (e.g., the Pulitzer Prize and Tony Awards), and have been performed not only in Cambridge but throughout the United States and worldwide in 21 cities in 16 countries on 4 continents. The city of Boston—home to world-class museums, orchestras, theaters, and professional sports teams—is only minutes away and is easily accessible by public transportation. Close to the ocean, the mountains, and the countryside, the metropolitan Boston area has something to offer everyone.
Harvard Law School Library
The Harvard Law School Library is the largest academic law library in the world, with more than two million volumes in its collections and a full range of electronic journals and databases. As a global library, its mission is to provide access to the world’s legal information. The library makes every effort to provide its users with, at minimum, a core collection of the primary law, both contemporary and historical, of each of the world’s jurisdictions.
24/7 Library Access
During the academic year, Harvard Law School students have 24-hours-a-day, 7-days-a-week access to the main floor of the library, which includes a computer classroom and various study spaces. In addition, all library facilities and services are available seven days a week during the regular academic year as follows:
Full-Service Hours During the Regular Academic Year
- Monday–Thursday: 8 a.m. to Midnight
- Friday: 8 a.m. to 9 p.m.
- Saturday: 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.
- Sunday: 9 a.m. to Midnight
Reference Desk Hours
- Monday–Friday: 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.
- 90+ libraries and special collections in the Harvard University library system
- Free campus-wide wireless network
- Several recreation and fitness centers, including Hemenway Gym, located on the Harvard Law School campus
Housing options for Harvard Law School students include on-campus housing (dormitories), Harvard University apartments, or privately owned apartments in Cambridge and the surrounding neighborhoods. All Law School dormitory rooms are for single occupancy only and are allocated by a lottery.
Harvard University-owned rental units range from one-room apartments for single students to apartments with a living room and two or more bedrooms, which can accommodate married students and students with families.
For students not interested in on-campus dormitories or university-owned apartments, there is an ample supply of apartments in the private market in close proximity to the Harvard Law School campus. Students interested in this option are encouraged to begin their search early.
LLM Programs/Areas of Specialization
The LLM Program is a one-year, general-degree program that typically includes approximately 180 students from some 70 countries. Harvard’s LLM students include law teachers, judges, prosecutors, diplomats and other government officials, lawyers working in firms, human rights activists, doctoral students, entrepreneurs, and others. The diversity of the participants in the LLM Program contributes significantly to the richness of the educational experience at Harvard.
Student Services and Organizations
Campus life at Harvard Law School is a vibrant and community-focused environment with more than 100 student organizations, groups, and activities. These organizations provide opportunities for Harvard Law School students to connect with others who share their interests, to broaden their horizons, or just to have fun. There are daily activities ranging from workshops, panels, and conferences to concerts, networking events, and athletics. The Harvard Law School Graduate Program also organizes programs, events, and activities specifically for LLM and SJD students.
Harvard Law School offers a wide range of services in career counseling for students interested in various career options. The Office of Career Services has a team of advisors and recruitment professionals who work with students and employers with a focus on private sector careers. The Bernard Koteen Office of Public Interest Advising covers the public sector, including nonprofits and public international organizations. The Graduate Program and the Office of Academic Career Advising offer advice and programming for students interested in academic careers.
The Harvard Law School LLM Program attracts lawyers of demonstrated intellectual, academic, and professional excellence from all over the world. The focus of the program is to expose students to American modes of legal education (with a particular emphasis on critical thinking and inquiry) as well as to substantive law, and to enhance students’ ability to do advanced scholarly work. Students have easy access to faculty members and enjoy a warm and vibrant sense of community.
The LLM Program offers students enormous latitude to design their own course of study within certain parameters. All students must satisfactorily complete a minimum of 23 credit hours and a maximum of 28 credit hours in one academic year. Advisors work with students to help them identify and refine their study objectives, then develop an appropriate sequence of courses and other work. We strongly encourage all students to explore new topics and to take at least one course focusing on legal history, legal theory, policy analysis, or legal process.
Most of a student’s program will be drawn from the regular Harvard Law School curriculum—over 500 courses and seminars each year, offered to JD and LLM students alike (including most of the school’s clinical courses, subject to any applicable prerequisites). Students also have the opportunity to pursue up to six credits in qualifying courses at other faculties within Harvard University, as well as at MIT and the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy. All students also pursue at least one writing project. Almost half of the students in the LLM class each year write a research paper of approximately 50 pages or longer (called the “LLM Paper”) on a topic the student develops in consultation with his or her faculty supervisor. Other students write shorter papers, whether independently or in conjunction with a course or seminar.
Given the flexibility of the program, the range of curricula designed by students is enormous. Some students take a varied curriculum, with courses ranging from environmental law to corporations to public international law. Others select courses primarily in a single area, such as constitutional law, business organization and finance, legal theory, law and development, or human rights.
In evaluating LLM applications, we will take into consideration applicants’ academic performance in their university and law studies, their ability to write a cogent legal essay, their English language proficiency, the quality of their letters of recommendation, their professional and personal accomplishments, and other factors. For LLM applicants from abroad, we are interested in intellectually curious and thoughtful candidates who come from a variety of legal systems and backgrounds and who wish to pursue careers in any number of fields, including law teaching, government service, the judiciary, international organizations, nongovernmental organizations, and private practice. For applicants who hold a JD degree from a law school in the US or Puerto Rico, the LLM degree is intended as preparation for a career in law teaching. For more information about these and other aspects of the Harvard Law School LLM Program, please visit our Master of Laws website.