Study mode:Blended Study type:Full-time Languages: English
Local:$ 88.9 k / Year(s) Foreign:$ 88.9 k / Year(s) Deadline: Dec 1, 2024
3 place StudyQA ranking:9478 Duration:1 year

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The LL.M. (Master of Laws) program is a one-year degree program that typically includes 180 students from more than 70 countries. The Graduate Program is interested in attracting intellectually curious and thoughtful candidates from a variety of legal systems and backgrounds and with various career plans. Harvard’s LL.M. students include lawyers working in firms, government officials, law professors, judges, diplomats, human rights activists, doctoral students, business men and women, and others. The diversity of the participants in the LL.M. program contributes significantly to the educational experience of all students at the School.

The philosophy of the LL.M. program is to offer our students a broad platform to design their own course of study within parameters set by the Harvard Law School faculty. Those parameters include some exposure to U.S. law, some writing experience, and, in the case of students who hold a J.D. degree from a school in the U.S. or Puerto Rico, a recommended exposure to legal theory. See Degree Requirements. Within this framework, LL.M. students have enormous latitude in planning their year. Interested faculty, the Graduate Program staff, and special student advisors work hard throughout the year to help students identify and refine their study objectives, then develop an appropriate sequence of courses and other work.

Most of a student’s program will be drawn from the regular Harvard Law School curriculum — some 300 courses and seminars each year, offered to J.D. and graduate students alike. Students also have the opportunity to pursue a limited number of credits at other faculties within Harvard and other area schools and a variety of writing projects. About half of the LL.M. class each year writes an extensive research paper of approximately 50 pages on a topic the student develops in consultation with his or her faculty supervisor. Other students write shorter papers of some 25 pages in length, whether independently or in conjunction with a course or seminar.

Given the flexibility of the program, the range of curricula students design 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, or human rights.

Finally, our students participate in a variety of extracurricular and co-curricular offerings on a not-for-credit basis. Graduate students participate in the full range of student organizations at the Law School. The Graduate Program and the Law School offer a multitude of other opportunities as well. For example, in a typical year, the Graduate Program offers between two and four Byse Workshops, taught by specially selected S.J.D. students and treating such disparate subjects as game theory and the law, police misconduct, feminist approaches to law and development, and the history of private international law. We also feature a series of information sessions highlighting various aspects of law teaching — an interactive forum for students from the various Law School degree programs — known as the Law Teaching Colloquium.

To be considered for the LL.M. program, an applicant must have a J.D. (Juris Doctor) from an accredited U.S. law school or a first law degree (J.D., LL.B. or the equivalent) from a foreign law school. Harvard Law School is rarely able to accept into its LL.M. program anyone who already holds (or is pursuing) an LL.M. from another law school in the United States.

Admissions Criteria

Admission to the LL.M. program is highly competitive. Last year approximately 1,600 applicants competed for around 180 places in the LL.M. program. Most applicants are fully qualified for the program, and the Committee on Graduate Studies must select from among a large number of candidates who have excellent credentials. In evaluating applications, the Committee takes into consideration the applicant’s grades and rank in his or her law and other university studies, letters of recommendation, occupational interests, professional and personal accomplishments, and other factors, including the following:

For LL.M. Applicants from Abroad

The program is designed for intellectually curious and thoughtful candidates who come from a variety of legal systems and backgrounds and who have demonstrated an intent to return to their country to contribute to academia or the legal profession. We are equally interested in applicants pursuing careers in law teaching and research, government service, the judiciary, international organizations, non-governmental organizations and private practice.

For LL.M. Applicants from the United States

The program is designed for graduates of U.S. law schools who have had at least two or three years of experience beyond law school and who have committed themselves to a career in law teaching. In the admissions process, the Committee focuses primarily on applicants who have excelled in their basic law school studies, who elicit strong letters of recommendation from law school teachers and others familiar with their work, and who have spent at least two years working as a law school teacher, judicial clerk, or practitioner in a public agency or private practice. Evidence of graduate education in a field other than law is also significant. Weight will be given to materials demonstrating the applicant’s interest in, commitment to, and capability for a career in law teaching.

All financial aid awards are primarily based on the applicant’s demonstrated financial need. Financial aid is offered in the form of both grants (scholarships) and loans. The average grant is approximately half of tuition; for a small number of students with particularly acute financial need, we are able to offer grants covering full tuition and a portion of living expenses. In addition to our grant funds, we are able to offer students with financial need access to educational loans. Everyone in the LL.M. class of 2015-2016 who demonstrated financial need received some form of aid, whether as grant, grant and loan, or loan only.

All applicants who wish to apply for financial aid should complete the online financial aid application. Because the processes for making admissions and financial aid decisions are completely separate, your application for financial aid will have no impact on your application for admission. In addition, given our funding limitations, prospective applicants are strongly encouraged to seek other sources of funds early in the application process.

Other Sources of Funds

Applicants seeking financial assistance should investigate funding sources in their home countries well in advance. Examples of such funding sources include employers, government agencies, and foundations. Loans from private lending institutions in the U.S. may also be available to international applicants.

The United States Embassy or consulate in an international applicant’s home country may have information on U.S. government grants under the Fulbright program and other information on fellowship opportunities. Applicants who are from certain countries or who meet certain specific criteria may be eligible for a number of scholarships administered by Harvard University’s Committee on General Scholarships. Please note that many of these scholarships have their own application procedures and deadlines, and students must apply for some of these funds by contacting committees or agencies in their home countries.

In some cases it may be possible for students to undertake part-time paid employment on campus, e.g., working in the Law School Library or as research assistants for faculty members. Generally speaking, students can expect to earn up to a total of $3,500 over the course of the academic year in return for 10–12 hours of work per week. These positions cannot be arranged through the Graduate Program Office. Admitted applicants interested in such employment must seek out such positions after arrival at Harvard Law School. Off-campus employment during the year of study is not permitted for international students.

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