LLM tuition fees: $70,430 LLM application fee: $85 LLM student cohort: 180 Number of LLM applicants: 1,600 Student/faculty ratio: 7:1 Eligibility criteria: JD or first degree in law (LLB or equivalent) Minimum TOEFL: 100 (minimum 25 in each subsection) Harvard Law School Faculty teaching staff: 138 Course start date: August Course duration: 1 year
Harvard LLM – an introduction
Harvard Law School offers a renowned Master of Laws program (LLM), which is a one-year course for applicants from various legal systems and backgrounds. The applicants from a range of different professional backgrounds, including lawyers, government officials, law professors, diplomats, activists and business people. The LLM program admits 180 students from around 70 countries each year and, thanks to its popularity with such a diverse range of candidates, students benefit from an interesting and insightful educational experience.
Harvard LLM program content
The LLM program is drawn from the Harvard Law School curriculum which comprises of over 500 courses and seminars. Given the flexibility in choosing their topics, students are free to select courses including environmental law, public and international law or instead they can specialise in a single area like business organisation, legal theory, human rights or constitutional law. The LLM also offers students the opportunity to partake in a range of not-for-credit extracurricular and co-curricular options, such as the Law Teaching Colloquium and Writing Workshops. During this program, students must complete minimum of 23 (maximum 28) credits which includes the credit assigned to the ‘Legal Research, Writing and Analysis’ course.
International LLM students can choose their own courses as long as they are one of the pre-approved courses, one of which must include the US Law. Students are also encouraged to take a course that focuses on legal history, legal theory or legal process. Furthermore, they are required to write a 25-page paper involving individual reflection or articulation of any sustained argument which mostly involves outside research.
Students in possession of a JD (Juris Doctorate) degree from a law school which is in US or Puerto Rico and are embarking towards a career in law teaching are advised to relate their areas of interests, embedding them within broader intellectual and socio-cultural traditions and produce a writing project of 50 pages by the end of their academic year. These students are recommended to take up a course that focuses on legal theory or jurisprudence.
Harvard Law School faculty
Harvard Law School was founded in 1817 and is one of the oldest law schools in the United States. It is renowned all over the world as being one of the top US law schools, continually performing well in official global rankings figures.
It comprises of 19 buildings which are located on the northwest corner of Harvard Yard in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The Austin Hall, built in the year 1883 was designed by HH Richardson, who also designed the Trinity Church in Boston and various other historical structures throughout New England. Austin Hall houses the Ames courtroom which hosts the Ames Moot Court competition, one of the most prestigious events of the year for legal academics. The Gannett House, which was completed in 1838, is the oldest structures on the campus of Harvard Law School and is also where the Harvard Law Review can be found.
The cluster of buildings also includes the Hemenway Gym, Griswold Hall, Langdell Hall, Hauser Hall, Areeda Hall, Houser Hall, Pound Hall, and the Wasserstein Hall, Caspersen Student Center and the Clinical Wing Complex. The last three are combined and are also known as the WCC, which is the hub of student life on campus.
The Langdell Hall houses the Harvard Law Library which is known for being the biggest academic law libraries in the world. It holds vast historical collections and legal artifacts from around the world. An interesting fact about Langdell Hall is that it is named after Christopher Columbus Langdell, the pioneer of the case method, which is still the primary method of teaching law in the US.
Harvard LLM faculty teaching staff
The Harvard Law School is enriched by its noteworthy selection of 138 faculty members with assorted interests and expertise. It also has additional 60 visiting faculties and 185 lecturers. With multiple publications and years of experience under their belts, the Harvard LLM faculty teaching staff offers students a valuable insight into a diverse array of fields.
To be eligible for this course students need to have a JD from either an ABA-approved US law school or have a first degree in Law (JD, LLB or equivalent) from any other overseas school. Harvard Law School rarely accepts applicants from another US law school who already have, or are pursuing, an LLM.
Harvard Law School receives around 1,600 applications from about all over the world every year. The evaluation committee considers the following as the criteria upon which the enrolment of the successful student is decided:
Candidate’s grades and rank in their law and other studies,
Letters of recommendation (academic and professional)
Interests and accomplishments (personal and professional)
Students from the US
While the other criteria remain same for students coming from abroad and US, the last one is slightly different. The program expects law graduates from the US to have at least two or three years’ worth of experience working in law teaching. The selection committee focuses on students who have not only excelled in their law studies and draw out compelling recommendation letters from their law school teachers and other professionals familiar with their work, but also have experience as the following: law school teacher, judicial clerk, a practitioner in a public agency or private practice for at least two years.
Overseas students are not expected to have work experience, although it is preferred as Harvard Law School believes that students with work experience have a better sense of their interested field of work, making it easier to select their LLM modules and identify research topics. Harvard welcomes candidates from abroad that are pursuing careers in teaching and research law, government office, judiciary, any international organisations, NGOs (non-governmental organisations) and those in private practice. The selection committee is keen on enrolling candidates who wish to return to their country and work in academia or contribute to their legal profession.
The first thing that candidates need to do is fill in the Graduate Program’s online form with information about themselves and their proposal to pursue their study at the Harvard Law School. Secondly, they must send letters of recommendation along with transcripts from every university they have attended. These letters can be from their professors and those familiar with their professional work and must elucidate their dedication to the field of legal studies.
Overseas students who are applying from non-English speaking countries where their full-time degree wasn’t taught in English language have to take the TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) test within two years prior to applying for their LLM program, and need to score a minimum of 100, with at least a 25 on each subsection.
Here is a checklist for all the documentation required for the application:
Online application form for LLM
CV or Résumé
Transcript(s) (including diplomas for all degrees that have been received with transcripts)
Recommendations (min. two)
Official TOEFL report send to the institution (if applicable)
Financial Aid application (if applicable)
Application fee: US$85
You can find a sample application for the Harvard Law School here.
The applications for the academic year starting in August open in September of the preceding year and close by the start of December. Remember, some of the application documents have to submitted as hard copies and have to be sent by post so it is essential to make sure all the necessary material reaches the graduate office before the deadline.
LLM fees, funding and financial aid
There is no denying that the Harvard Law School’s LLM program is big budget – the 2022-23 academic year tuition fees are $70,430 and other costs including living expenses are estimated to be at least $36,920. This makes the estimated total costs $107,350. Within the estimated budget a student living with a spouse requires another $16,000 and should budget a further $8,400 for each child.
Harvard offers some financial aid to students, and this is based primarily on financial need. This aid can come in the form of a grant, scholarship or loan or a combination, and covers half of the tuition fees. Applicants can apply to Harvard Law School’s online financial aid application for this aid This and it can cover the full amount in special circumstances. Additionally, candidates can explore alternative aids and grants offered by or for their home country, such as the Fulbright Program. They can also try looking for part-time jobs on campus where a student can earn up to $3,500 by undertaking 10-12 hours of work each week inside the campus. Please note, Harvard Law School does not permit working outside the campus during the year of study.
Other law programs on offer
As well as the LLM program, Harvard Law School has some other law programs on offer.
Juris Doctorate (JD)
The Juris Doctor (JD) is the undergraduate degree in law at the Harvard Law School. It is a three-year program that builds the foundation of legal studies for pursuing a career in law, be it research or practice. The introductory courses in the first year allow students to discover the basics of the field and then choose a specialisation for the following years in alignment with their envisioned career.
JD Joint Degree
Harvard Law School offers Joint degree programs for JD students, enabling them to combine their JD and masters studies by choosing a field of interest. These programs are divided into four categories:
Law and Business (MBA – Master in Business Administration)
Law and Government (MPP – Master in Public Policy or MPA/ID – Master in Public Administration/ International Development)
Law and Public Health (MPH – Master of Public Health)
Law and Urban Planning (MUP – Master in Urban Planning)
Doctor of Juridical Science (SJD)
Upon successful completion of LLM, a student can apply for the Harvard Law School’s SJD (Doctor of Juridical Science) program if they wish to pursue advanced studies in the field. An SJD program rarely accepts applications outside of Harvard LLM or other distinguished US university law school graduates.
Visiting Researcher / Visiting Scholar (VR/VS)
Harvard Law School also offers a Visiting Researcher or a Visiting Scholar program, where enrolled candidates can access Law School (and other Harvard University) libraries to conduct research on the approved topic. They can also audit classes with no credit upon taking special permission of the course instructor. Refer to the Harvard (VS/VR) Admission for more information.
The Law School also offers special programs such as concurrent degrees, winter term abroad and semester abroad.
Harvard Law School
Harvard Law School was founded in the year 1817 and is known as one of the oldest operating law schools in the US. It was established through a legacy from Isaac Royal’s estate – an affluent Antiguan Plantation owner and slaveholder who relocated to Boston. Harvard Law School started building up its reputation as an esteemed academic institution in service to the public in 1829, and gradually grew into the prestigious institution it is today.
The law school has seven departments into which all the courses are segregated into:
Criminal Law and Policy
International and Comparative Law
Law and Business
Law and Government
Law and History
Law and Social Change
Law, Science, and Technology
These categories help students to choose their desired field of interest.
Law societies at Harvard Law School
Apart from its reputation for its academic prowess, Harvard Law School has way more to offer to a student’s development, including a plethora of clubs, law societies and student organisations. Examples include Advocates for Education; American Civil Liberties Union; Animal Law Society; Law and Political Economy Association; Rule of Law; and Scales of Justice. These groups enable students to meet others with similar interests and hobbies, and massively enhance personal growth, developing leadership skills and helping to build belonging within the Harvard Law School community.
Student life at Harvard Law School
Along with lecture halls and common rooms, the WCC (the hub of student life at Harvard Law School) has dining spaces and even a pub, allowing students to interact and socialise. The campus offers a wide variety of indoor and outdoor seating spaces that host various activities by different clubs throughout the year. Furthermore, there are a lot more socialising spaces in the Harvard University campus, just a short walk from the law school’s buildings.
To help students ease into their life at Harvard, the LLM program has staff and administrators from various offices along with the law professors, to assist students with their decisions during their course.
Cambridge and Boston
One major perk of studying at the Harvard Law School is living in the proximity of gorgeous parks, beaches, theatres, museums, restaurants and more that Cambridge and the nearby city of Boston, have to offer.
Some of the recommended destinations around the campus include Boston Public Garden for a much-needed stroll in the fresh air, Castle Island for a swim or to surf or just to check out the gorgeous views. For hikers and those who love long walks, Deer Island Trail is a must – particularly the Winchester Reservoir Hike.
Harvard Law School
5005 Wasserstein Hall (WCC)
1585 Massachusetts Avenue