Skip to Main Content
The Doctor of Juridical Science (S.J.D.) is Harvard Law School’s most advanced law degree, designed for aspiring legal academics, from the United States and abroad, who wish to pursue sustained independent study, research, and writing. Candidates are expected ultimately to produce a dissertation that will constitute a substantial and valuable contribution to legal scholarship. Graduates of the program are expected to contribute to the furtherance of knowledge and understanding about law and legal institutions through their dissertations and their other academic work. Awarding of the S.J.D. degree is conditioned on the candidate’s fulfillment of seven academic requirements:
The first of these requirements—preparation and submission of a study plan—is completed in the initial months of study. Successful completion of the oral (general) examination is also often accomplished during the first year of study, but must be completed by no later than the 19th month from the beginning of S.J.D. study (for most candidates, this would mean by March of the second year). The S.J.D. candidate normally completes the remaining requirements—presentations at the S.J.D. colloquium, submission and acceptance of the dissertation, and oral defense of the dissertation—during the 36-month period following completion of the oral examination. (See “Completing The S.J.D. Program: An Illustrative Timetable” on page 14.
Each S.J.D. candidate pursues the degree under the supervision of a faculty member selected by the candidate and approved by the Committee on Graduate Studies. Normally, this supervisor must be a full-time member of the Harvard Law School faculty. It is essential that S.J.D. candidates consult periodically with their faculty supervisors not only during the first year of residence but continually until the dissertation is completed. The purpose of these consultations—a preliminary dissertation discussion and later periodic meetings—is to examine whether the candidate's research and writing-in-progress are likely to lead to an acceptable dissertation.
Preliminary Dissertation Discussion: The first of these meetings should take place no later than two months after completion of the oral examination. It is the candidate's responsibility to arrange this meeting. In the preliminary discussion, the S.J.D. candidate is expected to describe the general themes and direction of the dissertation and the progress that has been made on the dissertation. Discussion will proceed from an outline of the dissertation, a statement setting forth the author’s approach to the subject and probable conclusions, a revised dissertation prospectus, or other similar materials.
Subsequent Periodic Meetings: Following the preliminary dissertation discussion, candidates should meet regularly (at least once every two months) with their faculty supervisors. An effective way to ensure that the faculty supervisor is aware of the approach, themes, and direction of the dissertation is to prepare an outline at an early stage and to submit draft chapters as they are written. Usually, faculty supervisors find it easier to deal with chapters of a dissertation from time to time rather than receiving very large portions of the dissertation at once. This will also help ensure that the candidate is proceeding in the right direction. In some instances, S.J.D. candidates have submitted dissertations written without adequate consultation. In these cases the faculty supervisor was unable to approve what the candidate considered to be a completed dissertation. This has sometimes led to rejection or a very substantial reworking of the dissertation. Candidates are advised to keep the Graduate Program apprised of their meetings with their faculty supervisors. If a candidate finds that, despite reasonable efforts, he or she is not receiving adequate supervision from a faculty supervisor, the problem should be brought to the attention of the Graduate Program, who will apprise the Committee on Graduate Studies.
Special Provisions for Non-Resident S.J.D. Candidates: All non-resident candidates must stay in periodic oral and/or written communication with their faculty supervisors concerning the progress of their dissertation work. Non-resident candidates also are strongly encouraged to return to Cambridge at least once a year for consultations with their faculty supervisors. If, in the opinion of a candidate’s faculty supervisor, that candidate is not maintaining adequate contact, the Committee on Graduate Studies may require the candidate to submit periodic written reports of his or her progress, actual dissertation chapters, or other appropriate work.
All S.J.D. candidates must be in residence at the Law School during their first year of study (please see “Residency Status” on page 15).
The first year of study is designed to prepare candidates in the various fields of study that will form the basis for the dissertation. During this first year, all candidates must attend courses and read in three or four fields under the guidance of a faculty orals committee (see “The Orals Committee” on page 9). In conjunction with this study, candidates may also pursue interdisciplinary work with other faculties of the University.
S.J.D. candidates in their first year of study who are hired as Teaching Fellows or Teaching Assistants elsewhere at Harvard University may not undertake more than one section of any course in a given semester.
The study plan represents the candidate’s academic itinerary for the period of time (typically the first year of study) leading to the oral examination, and should lay a foundation for later work on the dissertation. An acceptable study plan should be built around the candidate’s specific fields of study and should include a combination of courses, readings, and other academic work. The candidate will be examined on those fields by no later than the 19th month from the beginning of S.J.D. study (which for most candidates would mean March of the second year). The study plan must also include the candidate’s deadline for completion of the oral (general) examination (see “The Oral (General) Examination” on pages 10-11). The study plan should be organized around three or four fields chosen with reference to the candidate's dissertation proposal and future teaching plans. These fields normally include one interdisciplinary field—a field that seeks to combine study of the law with insights from another discipline (such as economics, history, philosophy, or political science).
Fields: Definition of fields is difficult and in all cases requires careful consideration. Candidates should use the field definition stage as an opportunity to engage their faculty supervisors and orals committee members to clarify their academic projects. General guidelines for field definition are listed below:
Course Work: S.J.D. candidates in the first year must normally complete course work carrying a minimum of eight credits at the Law School or, if appropriate, at other departments of the University. Arrangements for course work must be set forth in the study plan. Any S.J.D. candidate who does not hold a primary degree in law from a U.S. law school:
The content of courses pursued in connection with the fields of study will typically be examined in the context of the oral (general) examination.
S.J.D. candidates usually complete course work on a nonregistered (audit) basis.. Any student interested in auditing a Harvard Law School course must submit an audit request form to the Office of the Registrar. The form requires the signature of the instructor of the course. The form will be held in the Registrar’s office until the end of the Add/Drop period (see “Add/Drop and Waitlist Processing Periods” on page 18). If space becomes available, the student will be notified that he/she may attend the course. Potential auditors may, subject to available seating, sit in on the course until an official decision is made. If multiple students request to audit the same course, the audit requests will be processed on a first-come/first-served basis. Audited courses do not appear on student transcripts. Exceptions to the policy on auditing procedures may be made only with the approval of the Office of Academic Affairs.
Course Work Undertaken for Credit: If a faculty supervisor advises a candidate who has waived the LL.M. degree (see “LL.M. Waiver” on page 16), or who is beyond the first year of study, to complete certain course work for credit, the candidate must petition the Committee on Graduate Studies for approval to complete such work for credit. First-year candidates who have not waived the LL.M. degree and who wish to take courses for credit need not petition the Committee.
All Harvard Law School academic work—with the exception of specified courses offered on a credit/fail basis—will be graded Honors, Pass, Low Pass, or Fail (H, P, LP, or F). S.J.D. candidates taking courses for credit must receive a minimum grade of Pass (P) in any given course offered at Harvard Law School.
Class Attendance and Participation: S.J.D. students who enroll in courses are subject to the Class Attendance and Participation guidelines set forth on pages 20.
In the course of preparing the study plan, S.J.D. candidates must assemble an orals committee consisting of the overall faculty supervisor and two or three other faculty members. Members of the orals committee should be selected with a view to the fields that the candidate intends to pursue in the study plan (see “Fields” on page 8). Orals committee members (other than the overall faculty supervisor) may be selected from the Law School faculty, from other departments of the university, or from other universities. Candidates pursuing an interdisciplinary field or fields are encouraged to choose their orals committee members from among faculty who are specialists in those fields, which may involve selection from outside Harvard University.
The faculty supervisor and orals committee members will be responsible for consulting with the student throughout the year and administering the oral (general) examination. Normally, each member of the orals committee is responsible for supervising one of the fields of study set forth in the candidate's study plan. Orals committee members (other than the overall faculty supervisor) do not participate in the supervision or oral defense of the dissertation, unless they have individually agreed to do so. Candidates should consult with their faculty supervisors, with Jeanne Tai, and/or with members of the Graduate Committee concerning any questions on the selection of members of the orals committee.
Candidates must submit drafts of their study plans to their faculty supervisors and orals committee members early in September of the first year of study, and should discuss with them the desirability of pursuing specific courses, selected readings, interdisciplinary study, skills enhancement (e.g., languages, mathematics, statistics), and other academic projects in their specific fields of study. On the basis of these discussions, candidates must put their study plans in writing, following the guidelines in “Preparation of the Study Plan” on page 8, and have them approved by their faculty supervisors. Candidates are strongly encouraged to avail themselves of the assistance of Dr. Jane Fair Bestor, Special Assistant to the Graduate Program, in formulating this study plan. The study plan must be submitted to the Graduate Program Office, for review and approval by the Committee on Graduate Studies, by no later than September 30 of the first year of study. Upon review, the Committee on Graduate Studies may request adjustments to the study plan. These adjustments should be made and the study plan re-submitted no later than October 31 of that same year.
It is essential that S.J.D. candidates consult regularly with the members of their orals committees during the course of their first year of study and up to the time of the actual oral examination. The frequency of meetings with faculty during the year will vary. Typically, candidates meet with their advisors every two to three weeks. Some faculty may prefer to meet less often but more intensely; others may prefer to meet in small groups rather than individually. More importantly, candidates should keep their supervisors and orals committee members informed of their progress and engage them substantively on the materials in prescribed readings and courses.
Candidates must sit for the S.J.D. oral (general) examination in their fields of study during the first or second year in the S.J.D. program. The examination must be completed before starting work on the dissertation. In rare cases, a written examination may be substituted for an oral examination in one or more of the fields. Any changes in field supervision, content, structure, or title made to the fields between the time the study plan is submitted and the time the oral examination takes place must be approved in writing, in advance of the oral examination, by the faculty supervisor(s) and the Committee on Graduate Studies.
The purpose of the S.J.D. general examination is to test the candidate’s competence in the fields set out in the study plan. The oral examination is conducted by a panel consisting of the faculty supervisor and the supervisor of each field covered in the study plan. Typically, half an hour is devoted to questions in each field. Candidates may be examined on any of the material covered in the study plan and are typically questioned on the more salient themes developed during consultations with their supervisors and orals committee members.
Each student and his or her faculty supervisor will agree on a target month (no later than the 19th month from the beginning of S.J.D. study, which for most candidates would mean March of the second year) for completion of the oral examination at the time the student develops his or her study plan. In selecting a date, the parties should take into account such factors as the student’s background in his or her fields, whether the fields should be tailored more narrowly towards a dissertation or more broadly towards the student’s teaching interests, the amount of time the student can spend in residence, and other relevant factors.
Students who have not completed the examination as of the beginning of the 13th month of S.J.D. study, typically September 1 of the second year, will meet with a representative of the Committee on Graduate Studies during that month. In that meeting, the Committee representative and the student will discuss the student’s progress in an effort to determine whether the student’s original timetable is still appropriate. If the original timetable is still appropriate, the student will complete the oral examination by no later than the original deadline. If the original timetable is no longer appropriate, the student and the Committee representative will discuss an appropriate new target date, in no event later than the end of the 19th month, which for most candidates would mean March 31 of the second year of S.J.D. studies.
NOTE: It is the candidate’s responsibility to schedule a time and location for the oral examination with his or her orals committee members. Once scheduled, the date must be reported to the Graduate Program Office at least two weeks in advance of the date of the exam.
Upon completion of the oral examination, the faculty supervisor will prepare a brief report for the Committee on Graduate Studies providing a grade for each field (Distinguished, Good, Pass or Fail, with pluses and minuses as appropriate), an overall grade of “Pass” or “Fail” for the examination, and comments on the candidate’s performance. The overall grade of “Pass” or “Fail” for the examination will appear on the candidate’s transcript. If the overall grade is “Pass,” the transcript notation will indicate the specific fields of study in which the candidate was examined. Apart from the “Pass/Fail” result, oral exam grades are not made available to the candidate and may not be disclosed beyond the Graduate Program. Once the oral examination has been completed, the Graduate Program Office will schedule a date for the first colloquium (as described below).
Twice during the program, S.J.D. candidates are required to present their dissertation work at the S.J.D. Colloquium, a gathering of S.J.D. candidates, members of the Committee on Graduate Studies, the presenter’s primary supervisor, and other faculty members (including, among others, those invited by the candidate). The S.J.D. Colloquium Series is facilitated by a faculty member or a senior member of the Graduate Program administration and meets weekly.
The first presentation must take place after completion of the oral examination, and by no later than the 28th month from the beginning of S.J.D. studies (which for most candidates would mean by December of the third year) or 12 months from the completion of the oral examination, whichever is earlier. At this stage, the expectation is that S.J.D. candidates will present selected themes of their work in progress, whether research findings, methodological considerations, or some additional challenges of their doctoral projects. Final conclusions or exhaustive expositions on the dissertation are not encouraged. The presentation should last for no more than 20 minutes, and will be followed by a question and answer period.
The second presentation must be completed prior to graduation and may, though it need not, take place in the last year of study. It is a formal presentation of the completed dissertation (or, in certain circumstances, a paper-in-progress not necessarily related to the dissertation) to academic colleagues, similar in form to a job talk or conference paper. The presentation should last for no more than 20 minutes, and will be followed by a question and answer period. For presenters of the First Colloquium, a dissertation prospectus or written abstract, which includes a brief overview of the candidate's work along with a summary of the presentation, must be submitted to the Graduate Program no later than two weeks prior to the scheduled event. For presenters of the Second Colloquium, a chapter of the dissertation (or a paper-in-progress not necessarily related to the dissertation), accompanied by an abstract or précis, must be submitted to the Graduate Program no later than two weeks prior to the scheduled event. These documents will be distributed to other Colloquium participants one week prior to the scheduled events. In all cases, the abstract or précis, which should be approximately five pages, and no more than seven pages in length, is designed to encourage thoughtful and grounded exchange during the presentations.
The schedule for presentations is made at the beginning of each academic year. In order to ensure that graduating students are able to present at the appropriate stage of their work, Colloquium presentations in April and early May of each year are reserved for students expecting to graduate in May. Subject to the timeline described above, the Graduate Program will assign each candidate a date for the First Colloquium following completion of the oral examination. Students for whom the longest time has elapsed since their oral exams will be required to present their first colloquia before other candidates. It is the responsibility of the S.J.D. candidate to schedule a Second Colloquium date before the appropriate deadline.
Within 36 months of successful completion of the oral examination, the S.J.D. candidate must complete and submit a dissertation on a subject previously approved by the Committee on Graduate Studies and the candidate’s faculty supervisor. Each dissertation must represent a sustained and substantial scholarly effort and must be suitable for publication.
Prohibited Submissions: Commissioned studies, committee reports, and writings of joint authorship will not be accepted in fulfillment of the dissertation requirement.
Permission and Required Format for Multiple-Essay Submissions: The dissertation is generally expected to be in the form of a monograph. In cases where the dissertation explores law and another discipline, a series of related essays may be acceptable if the candidate and her supervisor can demonstrate to the Graduate Committee’s satisfaction that the multiple-essay format is the norm for dissertations in the relevant discipline. Where this format is approved, the candidate must also submit for approval a concluding essay that draws on the other essays and establishes a general thesis supported by the essays.
To request permission to submit a dissertation in the form of multiple essays, candidates should present—as soon as possible but in any event no later than six months before the intended graduation date—a petition that:
Candidates should also ask their supervisors to provide a statement of support for the multiple-essay format in light of the norm for dissertations in the relevant discipline.
NOTE: Candidates should not assume that requests for multiple-essay submissions are automatically granted.
A. FORM OF DISSERTATION
Dissertation length is typically between 300 and 400 double-spaced typed pages. Length is in part a function of the subject chosen and should be discussed with the faculty supervisor. Experience has shown that longer dissertations can suffer from a lack of focus and are often, in large part, merely a recording of the background literature in the field. Over the last several years, the dissertations that have proven most troublesome have tended to be those of excessive length. The manuscript should have a margin of 1½ or 1¾ inches on the left side of the page to allow for reader comments and to permit binding. While there is no predetermined format for the cover page, each candidate should check with his or her supervisor for specific requirements or preferences. At a minimum, the candidate's name, the dissertation title, the supervisor’s name, and the date of submission should be included. Candidates should not at any stage submit permanently bound copies of the dissertation; dissertation copies do not require hard covers. Once the supervisor and second reader approve the dissertation (see “Submission of Dissertation” below), and corrections, if any, are made, two unbound copies printed on acid-free paper must be submitted to the Graduate Program for deposit with the Law School Library. At this time, a Library Authorization form must also be signed. The Library will arrange for permanent binding.
NOTE: Please also see “Permission and Required Format for Multiple-Essay Submissions” above.
Once the supervisor deems the dissertation complete, the supervisor will certify to the Committee on Graduate Studies that the dissertation is ready to be defended and subjected to a final evaluation (see “Evaluation of Dissertation” below).
Deadline for Certification: This certification must be made not later than 36 months after the completion of the oral examination. Dissertations submitted after the expiration of this 36-month limit will be accepted only if prior approval for an extension has been obtained from the faculty supervisor and the Committee on Graduate Studies (see “Extension of Dissertation Period” on page 13). Further information regarding deadlines and degree dates is available from the Graduate Program Office.
Following certification by the faculty supervisor, the faculty supervisor and a second reader will evaluate the dissertation. The second reader should be a faculty member, selected by the candidate in consultation with the supervisor, who is skilled in the candidate’s area of study. It is the candidate’s responsibility to report the name of the second reader to the Graduate Program Office as soon as that reader has been selected.
The candidate should submit one copy of the dissertation to the faculty supervisor and one copy to the second reader. The candidate should retain the original. Both the faculty supervisor and the second reader provide written comments on the dissertation; final approval may be conditioned on further revisions by the candidate.
The submitted dissertation will be approved only if, in the judgment of the faculty supervisor, the second reader, and the Committee on Graduate Studies, it constitutes a substantial and valuable contribution to the learning in its field. The dissertation would be considered to constitute such a contribution, for example, if it explored new areas of intellectual inquiry, provided new insights or analyses, or offered a new conceptual framework for understanding the subject area. A dissertation that merely surveys, catalogs, or compiles relevant literature, legislation, case material, and/or the ideas of others would not satisfy the standard. It is the candidate’s responsibility to ensure that the faculty supervisor and second reader submit written evaluations of the dissertation to the Graduate Program Office. When the supervisor and second reader have both approved the dissertation, the oral defense should be scheduled.
Upon completion of the dissertation, each candidate must pass an oral defense examination in his or her principal field of research (including but not limited to the subject of the dissertation). The examination is to be given by a dissertation defense committee, consisting of the faculty supervisor, the second reader and, if necessary, a representative of the Committee on Graduate Studies. NOTE: It is the candidate’s responsibility to schedule a time and location for the oral defense with his or her dissertation defense committee members. Once scheduled, the date must be reported to the Graduate Program Office at least two weeks in advance of the date of the defense. The defense is normally conducted at the Law School within two months of the submission of the dissertation. In extremely rare cases where the Committee on Graduate Studies, acting in consultation with the faculty supervisor, is satisfied that a candidate has achieved an extraordinary command of the principal field of his or her research, the oral defense examination may be waived.
In order to determine whether to recommend to the Law School faculty that a candidate be awarded the S.J.D. degree, the Graduate Committee must receive written reports from the principal supervisor and the second reader evaluating the dissertation, as well as a report of the oral defense. These reports must be received by no later than October 1 to qualify for a November degree, January 31 to qualify for a March degree, or May 8 to qualify for a May degree. (Please note: Reports on the oral (general) examination, described on pages 10-11, should already be a part of the candidate's file.) The Committee on Graduate Studies will not entertain recommendations from supervisors after the relevant dates listed above. In addition, the final version of the approved dissertation must be submitted to the Graduate Program (for deposit with the HLS Library) no later than two weeks prior to the expected date of graduation.
Extensions for completion of the S.J.D. dissertation beyond the 36-month period following the oral exam will be granted only in cases of special need. Except as provided below (for candidates pursuing second doctoral degrees), under no condition will extensions be granted beyond 72 months from the end of the first year of S.J.D. candidacy. To apply for an extension, candidates and their faculty supervisors must submit to the Committee on Graduate Studies a written request for an extension. The request should explain why an extension is necessary and should provide the expected completion date. Receipt of this request will initiate Committee review; the results of the Committee’s review will be reported to the candidate shortly thereafter.
Candidates pursuing second doctoral degrees: The Committee may grant extensions of up to (but under no circumstances exceeding) 108 months from the end of the first year of S.J.D. residency if both of the following pertain:
Candidates must complete all course requirements during the first year of study (the required year in residence). Candidates must complete the oral examination no later than the 19th month from the beginning of S.J.D. studies, which for most candidates would mean March of the second year of study (see “The Oral (General) Examination” on pages 10-11). The period for completion of the S.J.D. dissertation will be influenced by a number of factors, including whether field research is involved. An illustrative timetable follows.
August: Discussion with faculty supervisor and orals committee members
September: Assemble and consult with members of the orals committee; prepare study plan
September 30: Submit study plan to Graduate Program Office
October 31: Final revisions, if any, to the study plan are due
May: Completion of eight credits of course and seminar work; oral examination held; orals committee sends oral examination report to Graduate Program Office
NOTE: Candidates should discuss their progress with their faculty supervisors and orals committee members regularly throughout the year.
August: Begin research and writing
September: Preliminary dissertation discussion with faculty supervisor
Thereafter: Continuation of research and writing First presentation of work at the S.J.D. Colloquium (by the 28th month from the beginning of S.J.D. studies or 12 months from the completion of the oral examination, whichever is earlier)
NOTE: Candidates should meet with their faculty supervisor at least every two months throughout the year.
Continuation of research and writing
(NOTE: This timetable applies to May degree candidates; for November and March degrees, see “Degree Deadlines” on page 13.)
August: Continuation of research and writing
February: Second presentation at the S.J.D. Colloquium Tentative completion of dissertation and submission to faculty supervisor
March: Certification by faculty supervisor to Committee on Graduate Studies that dissertation is ready for evaluation
April: Review of dissertation by second reader and oral defense
April-May: Revision of dissertation
May 4: Completed dissertation (two copies) and written reports from faculty readers due in Graduate Program Office
May: Awarding of S.J.D. degree
NOTE: Candidates intending to finish the dissertation within 24 months of the end of the required residency period should follow the “Fourth Year” schedule during their third year.
S.J.D. candidates who fail to meet periodically with their faculty supervisors or to submit the required reports, or to pay all fees each year, or who otherwise violate residency or other requirements may be withdrawn from the S.J.D. program.
Beyond the mandatory first year in residence, four different enrollment statuses are available to S.J.D. students: Resident, Traveling Scholar, Leave of Absence, and Enrolled Full- Time at Another Harvard School. The latter three categories are collectively referred to as “non-resident.”
NOTE: Students may change their status on a semester-by-semester basis, but not more frequently.
The Registrar’s Office administers an online registration/ check-in process that is available for all S.J.D. candidates who plan to be in residence during fall 2012. This process will be available online by no later than August 20, 2012. S.J.D. students will receive an e-mail in August from the Graduate Program Office with detailed information on how to complete the online registration/check-in process. Please note that all new S.J.D. students must complete this online registration process by August 31, 2012; all continuing S.J.D. students who will be in residence during 2012-2013 must complete this online registration process by September 14, 2012. Otherwise, a late registration penalty of $100 will be assessed. Please note that first-year S.J.D. students are also required to check in with the Graduate Program in person upon arrival.
In order to register for Resident status, continuing S.J.D. students should also obtain financial clearance from the Graduate Program office by 4 p.m. on September 10, 2012. Otherwise, they will be subject to a $250 late financial clearance fee, and their Resident status will be suspended until they complete their financial clearance. All S.J.D. students who have received a financial aid award package must check in with the Graduate Program Office in person to get financial clearance prior to registration.
All S.J.D. students who will not be in residence during the 2012-2013 academic year must have completed the Application for Non-Resident S.J.D. Status and submitted it to the Graduate Program office no later than August 1, 2012. This form indicates, among other things, the student’s planned activities for the coming academic year, where the student expects to be physically located, and the status for which he or she plans to register (e.g., Traveling Scholar or Leave of Absence). In order to be valid, the form must be signed by the student’s faculty supervisor; in the case of students holding a non-U.S. passport who wish to be non-resident, the form must also be signed by a representative of the Harvard International Office. Failure to submit a properly completed form by the applicable deadline will result in the student being placed on Leave of Absence status by default.
Current Harvard LL.M. students applying to the S.J.D. program are permitted to “waive” the LL.M. degree prior to graduation. If admitted to the S.J.D. program, an applicant who waives the LL.M. degree will not be awarded the LL.M. degree. However, he or she will be permitted to count the tuition paid for the LL.M. year in satisfaction of the Harvard University requirement that a student pay at least one year’s full tuition for every degree that he or she receives. For the first year of S.J.D. studies, students who have waived the LL.M. degree are charged tuition of $1,000. Otherwise, tuition for the first year of S.J.D. studies is the same as tuition for the LL.M. degree. The election to waive the LL.M. degree has no effect on admissions decisions or the academic requirements for the S.J.D. degree. Waiving the LL.M. degree does, however, preclude the applicant from taking courses for credit during his or her S.J.D. studies. (In exceptional cases, the Committee on Graduate Studies may approve a candidate’s petition to take a particular course for credit if the candidate’s supervisor supports the request on academic grounds.) The waiver is also permanent. An admitted candidate who waives the LL.M. degree may subsequently elect to receive the LL.M. degree only by withdrawing from the S.J.D. program. The LL.M. waiver option is not available to those who have already received their LL.M. degrees from Harvard when applying to the S.J.D. program.
S.J.D. students who have waived their Harvard LL.M. degree should reflect their LL.M. studies on their résumés and in similar contexts by language such as the following: “Harvard Law School LL.M. Program [date] (requirements completed, degree waived).” Under no circumstances should they represent themselves as having actually received the LL.M. degree.
The Graduate Program has some funding available for Graduate Program Fellowship positions such as LL.M. Advisor, Writing Workshop Teaching Assistant, Graduate Forum Coordinator, and the like. Selections for these positions are made based on an application process held in the spring of each academic year. Application materials for these positions become available in April.
In addition, each year the Graduate Program offers a limited number of Byse Fellowships, named in honor of the late Byrne Professor of Law Clark Byse. These fellowships are intended to help fund the dissertation work of S.J.D. students who have completed their oral examinations. Fellows are expected to teach a one-semester Graduate Program workshop of their own design and to be in residence for the entire year of their appointment. The Program currently selects Byse Fellows for the coming academic year in May of each year. Application materials for these positions become available in April.
S.J.D. students are eligible for limited funding to cover certain expenses related to their studies. First, resident S.J.D. students may apply for a stipend of up to $500 each academic year (the period beginning on July 1 and ending on June 30) for expenses incurred to attend academic conferences outside of the Boston area. In order to be eligible for this stipend:
Second, the Graduate Program will reimburse orals committee members and second dissertation readers who are affiliated with an academic institution outside the Boston area up to $500 for expenses incurred for travel to Cambridge for the student's oral examination or dissertation defense, as appropriate, if the examiner’s own academic institution will not bear the cost of such travel. Requests for reimbursement must be submitted at least four weeks in advance of the intended travel. Reimbursement is made after the fact upon presentation of actual receipts and completion of forms required by Harvard University. Please note that requests will be considered on a case-by-case basis and that a request does not guarantee reimbursement of travel expenses for conference attendance.
Office space is made available to S.J.D. candidates in September of the second full academic year of S.J.D. residence (without regard to LL.M. waiver status). Office assignments are made for the academic year or for a single term; office occupancy begins in September and ends in May. S.J.D. candidates who wish to remain in their assigned offices during the summer must send a request to the Graduate Program office no later than April 15; where possible, these requests will be accommodated. Due to the limited number of offices, however, most S.J.D. candidates who are eligible for space will be required to share offices. Candidates in their first year of S.J.D. residence and nonresident S.J.D. candidates are not eligible for office space. Students are entitled to office space for a period of two years, normally during the second and third years of S.J.D. residency. The Graduate Program may extend this privilege to students beyond the third year, but only as space permits.
Back to Top