Harvard Law School, located in Cambridge, Massachusetts, is an elite law school in the U.S. and one of the most prestigious law schools in the world. As an Ivy League graduate school, Harvard Law is highly selective, and many students who want to go on to careers in law try to gain admission.
The school has many notable faculty members and boasts famous and powerful alumni, including former president Barack Obama, eight current U.S. senators, and sixteen current and former Supreme Court justices.
If you’re a prospective student looking to get into Harvard Law, here are the things you need to know.
About Harvard Law
Harvard Law, a part of Harvard University, is one of the most prestigious law schools in the world.
The school was founded in 1817 and is the oldest continually operating law school in the U.S. It also has the largest academic law library in the world, including many articles from the Harvard Law Review.
The school has almost 2,000 students attend each year, including 1,750 J.D. students, 180 LL.M. students, and 60 S.J.D. candidates. The faculty includes more than 100 full-time professors and 150 visiting professors teaching more than 260 courses and seminars.
Students can expect both breadth and depth of study, learning about many different topics in the field of law and being taught by experts who are at the top of their field.
The school also emphasizes its alumni network, which includes more than 38,000 leaders in the areas of government, NGOs, major corporations, nonprofits, and the legal industry.
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Applying to law school can be stressful because most schools have a multifaceted admissions process. To complete the law school admissions, you’ll have to submit grades, transcripts, test scores, and other materials as part of your application.
The application for Harvard Law includes:
- An $85 application fee (or fee waiver request)
- A resume
- A personal statement describing yourself, your background, and your reasons for pursuing law
- LSAT score or GRE score
- An LSAC Credential Assembly Report
- Transcripts for all undergraduate and graduate studies you’ve completed
- Two or three letters of recommendation, with at least one ideally coming from an academic source
- Completion of character and fitness questions
- An optional additional statement describing how you can contribute to Harvard Law School
- Additional information outlining any unusual circumstances affecting your performance in school or on exams
Depending on whether the admissions committee wants to move forward with the process, you may be invited to an interview with an admissions officer.
It’s important to submit a complete application with all of the required documents to make sure the admissions committee does not need to ask you for any additional information.
The school also advises that Harvard applicants consider quality over quantity, especially when it comes to things like personal statements and letters of recommendation.
Two strong letters of recommendation from carefully chosen college and personal mentors will be better than three average recommendations from people who do not know you as well. Mentors from your work experience or undergraduate institution would be ideal.
Similarly, a short personal statement that gives strong insight into you and your goals will be better than a long one that doesn’t really say much or repeats itself.
Harvard Law School offers three graduate programs for Harvard students to choose from.
The LL.M. (Master of Laws) program is a one-year degree program designed for students who want to learn more about law after they complete an undergraduate degree.
Harvard typically has about 180 students from 70 countries in this program.
The S.J.D. (Doctor of Juridical Science) program is the school’s most advanced degree. It is designed for legal academics who want to do independent study and research.
The program is modeled after top Ph.D. programs and has roughly 70 students.
Harvard Law’s J.D. (Juris Doctor) program is its most popular. This degree is for students who want to continue their studies after completing an undergraduate program and are planning on pursuing a career in law.
Students can also cross-register into certain courses at other schools in the area, such as MIT and the Fletcher School.
How to boost your odds of getting into Harvard Law
Getting into any graduate program can be difficult, so it’s important to submit the best application that you can.
Of course, the first thing that you can do to improve your chances of getting accepted is to make sure that you earn good grades during your undergraduate and other studies. You can also make sure that you perform well on any exams you take, such as the GRE or LSAT.
Good grades and test scores won’t guarantee you a spot at Harvard Law School, but they’re a good start.
Harvard Law’s application process gives applicants a lot of opportunities to let their achievements, personalities, and aspirations come through.
Take some time to craft a strong personal statement. Really emphasize why you want to study law and the unique things that you’ll contribute to the HLS community.
Also, make sure that you ask people to write your letters of recommendation who will do so carefully. A letter from someone who knows you well and can call out your specific strengths will have a much stronger impact than a generic one, even if it’s positive.
If you make it to the interview portion of the process, make sure you prepare for your interview.
The interviewer is more concerned about learning about you and how you can contribute to the school and less about you having a perfect technical experience or the ideal interview set up for a Zoom call.
Let your personality, enthusiasm, and reasons for applying to Harvard Law School come through during the interview, and it can help increase your chances of being accepted.
Harvard Law is a prestigious and selective law school that can serve as a valuable springboard into a career in law.
If you’re looking to get into one of its programs, put in the time and effort to submit a great application that showcases your strengths. You might be lucky enough to get an acceptance letter.
Want more information about graduate schools like Harvard Law School? Check out The GradCafe to learn more about grad school admissions.