special programs

Joint Degree Program in Law & Government

Harvard Law School and Harvard Kennedy School

Structure of Coursework
Tuition and Financial Aid
Administrative Matters
Contact Information


The Harvard Law School (HLS) and the Harvard Kennedy School (HKS) offer a joint degree program in law and government. The HLS/HKS joint degree program supports and encourages students seeking an interdisciplinary education in government, public policy, and law, and prepares them for leadership positions in public service.

The joint degree program permits students to pursue a JD at the Law School and either a Master in Public Policy (MPP) or a Master in Public Administration in International Development (MPA/ID) at the Kennedy School.

A committee made up of HLS and HKS faculty (“Faculty Committee”) oversees the joint degree program. The Faculty Committee is responsible for making decisions regarding the structure and requirements of the program and for working with the students enrolled in the program. The Faculty Committee may also grant exceptions to the requirements in this document, so long as they are not inconsistent with other HLS or HKS rules.


Prospective students must apply separately and be separately admitted to both the Law School and the Kennedy School schools, each of which will independently review and admit applicants. Questions relating to the admissions processes at each school should be addressed directly to the individual admissions offices.

Prospective JD/MPP or JD/MPA-ID students may apply to both schools during the same admissions season or they may apply during the first year of study at either the Law School or the Kennedy School (see below for exception to this policy). The HLS deadline is usually February 1 of each year. For the HKS application deadline, please click here. All Law School applicants are required to submit LSAT scores, in accordance with application guidelines. For matriculated 1L students only, HKS will accept an LSAT score in lieu of the GRE for students interested in the JD/MPP joint degree program. Current HLS students applying to the MPP program should contact the HLS Registrar's Office to request release of their LSAT scores to HKS. Students applying to the JD/MPA/ID joint degree program must submit GRE scores to HKS.

Once admitted to both schools, students who want to enroll in the joint degree program should send an email indicating their intent to do so to Debra Isaacson, HKS Director of the Master in Public Policy Program, and to Jessican L. Soban, HLS Assistant Dean and Chief Admissions Officer. In addition, students who apply to both schools and are admitted during the same admissions cycle should contact JD Admissions at HLS and the HKS Office of Admissions about deferring admission, as applicable.

Students may not transfer into the Kennedy School’s MPA2 or MC/MPA degree program once admitted to the joint degree program.

Structure of Coursework

Students in the HLS/HKS joint degree program have four academic years to complete both degrees. In the first two years of the program, students are generally required to enroll for one full year of study at the Law School and for one full year of study at the Kennedy School; either can come first. In the third and fourth years of the program, joint degree students are enrolled in, and take courses at, both schools. Both schools have their own requirements for these upper-level years, as described below.

Course and Credit Requirements

First-Year Program

Law School

The first year at the Law School consists of (1) Civil Procedure, Contracts, Criminal Law, one of the 1L International/Comparative Law courses, Legislation and Regulation, Property, and Torts; (2) First-year Legal Research and Writing; (3) Problem Solving Workshop; and (4) a spring elective at HLS of a minimum of 2 and a maximum of 4 classroom credits.

Kennedy School

The first year at HKS for the JD/MPP joint students consists of the core curriculum of the MPP degree, including the first year MPP requirements. An approved financial management course is also required, but may be completed at any point during the program. Because of scheduling restraints in years three and four, however, it is recommended that JD/MPP students fulfill this requirement in their first year at HKS. The first year at HKS for JD/MPA/ID students consists of the first year core curriculum of the MPA/ID degree.

Upper-Level Program

Law School

Joint degree students must earn no fewer than 52 additional credits including 36 Law School classroom credits; students are encouraged to complete a minimum of 18 law school classroom credits in the third year of the joint program. The total number of classroom credits includes the required minimum of two credits to satisfy the Professional Responsibility Requirement, credits from the required winter terms (provided that the course chosen offers classroom credits) and credits from the required Joint Degree Program Seminar (see below for more information). Classroom credits include those connected to courses, seminars and reading groups, but not writing or clinical credits.

In addition, the Law School may count up to the equivalent of 12 credits from upper-level work completed at the Kennedy School courses toward the Law School's total credit requirement. The remaining 4 or more required Law School credits may be earned in classroom, writing, or clinical courses. Students in the joint program must also complete the HLS winter term during each upper-level year through course or clinical credits or by participating in the Winter Term Writing Program.

The following credit minimums apply to all HLS/HKS joint degree students: (1) Enrollment in a minimum of 10 total credits each semester in Law School, Kennedy School, or other authorized courses; (2) Enrollment in a minimum of 4 Law School classroom or clinical credits each semester toward the requirement of 36 classroom credits; and (3) Enrollment in a minimum of 24 total credits in each of the two upper-level years. Also, students should enroll in a minimum of 20 Law School credits each year in order to ensure a balanced program of study.

Joint degree students must also complete the Pro Bono Requirement of 40 hours of public service and theJ.D. Written Work Requirement (see below for more information).

Kennedy School

To satisfy the remaining requirements for the MPP or for the MPA/ID, all joint students must (1) take a minimum of three (3) HKS credits, preferably in different semesters, (2) take the Joint Degree Program Seminar and (3) complete an Integrated Written Project, including the writing workshop module (see below for more information).

Students should note that the HLS and HKS credit systems are different. HLS typically awards three credits for a course meeting three hours each week; HKS typically awards one credit for a course meeting three hours each week.

Other Requirements

Joint Degree Program Seminar and Integrated Written Project

All third-year joint degree students take the Joint Degree Program Seminar, which uses a series of case studies to examine how to analyze, advise and strategize the resolution of a series of difficult real world public problems at the intersection of law and policy. This seminar requires a short paper, which can be independent of or related to the 4th year integrated paper topic. Students receive two HLS classroom credits and one HKS credit for the Seminar.

In the fourth year of the joint program, all joint degree students undertake an Integrated Written Project under faculty supervision. As part of the Project, students attend writing workshop sessions with Program faculty. The Integrated Written Project and the connected workshops together replace the year-long Kennedy School Policy Analysis Exercise (PAE) seminar for MPP students and the Second-Year Policy Analysis seminar (SYPA) for MPA/ID students. The Integrated Written Project also satisfies Option 1 of the Law School's J.D. Written Work Requirement. Students must register their Integrated Written Project with the HLS Registrar’s Office by completing the Option 1 Registration Form. On successful completion of the Integrated Written Project and the workshops, students will be awarded two HLS writing credits and .5 HKS credits.

Tuition and Financial Aid

Tuition and Fees

Enrollment in the joint degree program will result in significant tuition savings, compared to pursuing the two degrees separately. Tuition is paid as follows. During the first two years, students will pay full tuition at the school in which they are enrolled. During the third and fourth years, students will pay: (i) 75% of the then-current Law School tuition, and (ii) 25% of the then-current Kennedy School tuition.

Students entering HKS after their 2L year will pay tuition as follows: first and second year, then-current HLS tuition; third year, then-current HKS tuition; and fourth year, 25% then-current HKS tuition and 75% then-current HLS tuition.

Students in the joint degree program will be required to pay a $300 annual fee to the Law School during their upper-level years of combined study. The fees will be used to offset the costs of programming for joint degree students.

Financial Aid

Students interested in the joint degree program should contact the financial aid offices at both schools prior to enrolling.

Joint degree students should apply for financial aid through the Law School for the first year in the Law School and for the two upper-level years of combined study. All financial aid determinations for these semesters are made through Harvard Law School under its standard policies. Students should apply for financial aid through the Kennedy School for the first year in the Kennedy School.

Students enrolling at HKS after their 2L year should apply to HLS for financial aid for their first, second, and combined study year.

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Administrative Matters

  • Once enrolled, a student intending to leave the joint degree program must petition the HLS Administrative Board and the HKS Registrar for permission to leave the program and complete only one of the two degrees.
  • Grades earned in HKS courses will not be included in HLS GPA calculations or in the consideration of grade-based HLS prizes. HKS does not calculate students’ GPA.
    Students will be expected to complete all HLS and HKS exams at the times they are scheduled; exceptions are at the sole discretion of each school, in accordance with their respective policies.
  • Students will not be permitted to enroll in HKS and HLS courses with time overlaps.
  • Each upper-level semester, students will be required to submit their course enrollment information and their completed course information to both the HLS and the HKS Registrars.
  • Students will remain on student e-mail lists at both schools for all four years of the joint degree program.
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Contact Information

Law School

Admissions: 617-495-3109; jdadmiss@law.harvard.edu
Student Financial Services Office: 617-495-4606; sfs@law.harvard.edu
Low Income Protection Plan: lipp@law.harvard.edu
Program Information: Jessica L. Soban, Assistant Dean and Chief Admissions Officer (jsoban@law.harvard.edu).

Kennedy School

Admissions: 617-495-1155; admissions@hks.harvard.edu
Student Financial Services Office: 617-495-1152; financial_aid@hks.harvard.edu
Program Information: Debra Isaacson, HKS Director of the Master in Public Policy  Program (debra_isaacson@harvard.edu).

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Last modified: January 30, 2015

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