Harvard Law School is one of the nation’s top schools for future lawyers. If you’re wondering how to get into Harvard Law School, read on for tips, tricks, and more.
Harvard Law is tied with Columbia Law as the fourth-best law school in the country, according to U.S. News World and Report. If Harvard Law is one of your frontrunners, our guide will explore programs offered, Harvard Law requirements, essays, stats, and more.
Harvard has three main pathways for law students: the traditional J.D., LL.M., and S.J.D. programs.
Harvard Law also offers special programs to law students (joint degrees) who want to explore other interest areas as they pursue law or take advantage of opportunities to study abroad or at different U.S. schools. Joint programs include:
Some universities where students can cross-register for courses are MIT and Tufts. Harvard Law offers numerous study abroad options for students, one of which is the JD/LLM with the Cambridge University Faculty of Law in the U.K.
All Harvard Law School requirements must be met for your application to be considered complete. All Harvard applicants must submit applications through the LSAC portal. These are the Harvard Law requirements you must satisfy:
Although no GPA cutoffs are listed on Harvard Law's website, students have the best chance of admission with higher GPAs. The GPA percentiles of incoming Harvard Law students are:
These GPA percentiles suggest most Harvard Law students achieve a GPA of 3.82 to 3.98. To give yourself the best chance of admission, you should strive for an undergraduate GPA as close to 4.0 as possible.
Like GPA, there are no Harvard Law LSAT cutoffs listed anywhere. However, Harvard Law students typically achieve competitive LSAT scores:
Harvard Law hopefuls should aim for an LSAT score of at least 174 to be competitive.
Harvard Law School is one of the few top law schools that release GRE score data in its class profile. The following numbers reflect the 25th, median, and 75th percentile scores in order for each GRE section:
Whether you submit LSAT scores, GRE scores, or both, stellar scores can help boost your chances of admission.
Submitting well-written essays is key to getting into Harvard Law. We’ll explore the Harvard Law School personal statement and optional essay in more detail so your application can get the attention it deserves.
The Harvard Law School personal statement is your opportunity to add insight into your character and show the admissions committee why you’re the perfect candidate. Although there isn’t really a prompt for your personal statement, Harvard Law provides the following directive:
“The personal statement is intended as an opportunity to give the Admissions Committee a better sense of who you are as a person and as a potential student and graduate of Harvard Law School.”
The prompt is intentionally broad. Harvard Law states that past applicants have used this element to:
Harvard Law says that because each applicant can have varied personalities, strengths, and experiences, you are the best judge of your personal statement's content.
Navigating a broad personal statement can be challenging. However, these Harvard Law personal statement tips can help you formulate the best narrative and elevate your writing.
Tweaking the format is the wrong way to show your creativity. Harvard Law School asks applicants to follow a basic format for the personal statement:
We also recommend sticking to a “basic” font such as Times New Roman; even if you’re a calligraphy enthusiast, save the flourishes for another day.
You may not know precisely what you want to write about off the top of your head. That's okay! Expect to spend a good chunk of time brainstorming and reflecting on your experiences.
Some applicants may want to describe the main events in their journey to law school, whereas others might want to provide a vignette of a particularly transformative event.
Harvard Law states, “As long as we are learning about you and your experiences, we truly have no preference about what approach you take.”
The primary purpose of the personal statement is to capture who you are in a way that's easy for the admissions committee to follow. If you're going to introduce another person to your statement, do so carefully.
For example, Nefyn Meissner, Associate Director at Harvard Law, said, “Should you talk about your grandmother? Only if doing so helps make the case for us to admit you. Otherwise, we might end up wanting to admit your grandmother.”
Take care not to make your family, friends, colleagues, or clients the focus of your writing.
Your personal statement should not be a rehash or extended version of your resume. Beyond that, remember the admissions committee already has your transcripts, test scores, and recommendation letters: you don’t need to restate anything found in these documents.
The best personal statements add another layer to your application and teach the reader something new and crucial to your character.
A career as a lawyer requires effective communication and writing abilities. While the content of your personal statement is essential, the admissions committee wants to see that you pay attention to details like grammar, spelling, and flow.
No one writes a perfect personal statement the first time. Even world-renowned authors know the value of editing and fine-tuning writing. Ensure your writing has no minor errors and shows your promise as a concise, logical writer.
Other tips to help you ace the Harvard Law personal statement include:
Harvard Law graduate Cameron Clark submitted this Harvard Law School personal statement example. We've provided an excerpt of his original statement and commentary on what made it great and what could have been done differently.
“At the intersection of 21st and Speedway, I lay on the open road. My leg grazed the shoulder of a young woman lying on the ground next to me. Next to her, a man on his stomach slowed his breathing to appear as still as possible. A wide circle of onlookers formed around the dozens of us on the street. We were silent and motionless, but the black-and-white signs affirmed our existence through their decree: BLACK LIVES MATTER.
On a rainy day, this past December, my fellow protestors and I momentarily transformed a bustling intersection on the University of Texas Austin campus into a space of disruption. As I participated in a die-in, I thought of my initial reluctance to join the protest, fearing retaliation from the agitators who I was certain would arrive… But soon, my mind turned to my role in a movement much bigger than any individual. I thought of my family, my friends, black people, all people of color, and white people. I thought about those who have fallen to the ground, never to stand up again.
'We shall overcome. We, the citizens of the United States. Ours, in the end, is a story of optimism. A story of achievement that is unique upon this earth.'
President Obama involved the iconic protest song movement in his keynote speech at the 2014 Civil Rights Summit. Attending the Summit…was a highlight of my undergraduate career. Leaders and former presidents spoke about the triumphs of the last half-century, but I was especially eager to hear President Obama’s reflections on the importance of the Civil Rights legislation and litigation throughout our country’s history…
“We Shall Overcome” has been sung to me throughout my life by my mother, my pastor, politicians, educators, and friends. For so long, these words kept me docile, waiting patiently for that “someday” prophesied in the song. My ancestors, buckled into the cargo holds of their slave ships, imagined that “someday” for their children. Emancipated slaves, freed from their chains but not from the bondage of poverty and illiteracy, prayed for the gifts of that “someday” to bless their offspring. Dr. King, Mrs. Parks, Mr. X, and countless others worked to realize that call, dreaming that the foretold “someday” was in reach. But there was more work to do.
I no longer consider "We Shall Overcome" to be a lullaby. The hymn now serves as a battle cry. I will no longer wait idly for "someday." I am ready to use the blessings I have been afforded to secure rights and liberties for marginalized groups. Attorneys and legal scholars have paved the way for some of the greatest civil rights victories for women, people of color, LGBTQ individuals, and (people living with disabilities). At Harvard Law School, I will prepare to join their ranks by studying with the nation's leading legal scholars. For the past months, I have followed Harvard Law School’s student response to the events in Ferguson and New York City. I am eager to join a law school community that shares my passion for using the law to achieve real progress for victims of discrimination…I believe Harvard Law School will thoroughly train me to support and empower communities in need.
Our act of civil disobedience that December day ended when the Tower’s bells rang out in two bars, hearkening half-past noon. As we stood up and gathered our belongings, we broke our silence to remind everyone of a most basic truth: Black lives matter."
The opening scene of this personal statement is detailed, impactful, and compels the reader to continue and discover what's happening. Although Clark's essay includes very little about his achievements, the writing shows his sincerity, passion, and capacity to impact positive change in the world.
Clark expertly relates his mission to Harvard Law and describes who he hopes to become after completing his law education. The ending of his personal statement brings the narrative full circle by returning to the events of the first paragraph; this is an excellent way to wrap up your writing and ensure the reader is left satisfied.
While this personal statement is somewhat more emotional than some may strive to write, we feel the subject nature matches the tonality. However, you should carefully craft your personal statement and decide whether you need to pull back a little at any point. However, his writer’s voice is unique and compelling.
While Clark intentionally added Obama's quote, we would suggest never adding one in your writing: if you need to reference someone else's words to propel your narrative, we suggest writing in your own words.
We feel that Clark’s description of the Civil Rights Summit could have had a little more content on his experience and how he felt at the event; because he removes the focus from himself previously (during President Obama’s quote), it’s imperative to move it right back and make yourself the focal point.
Harvard Law’s optional statement is just that: optional. If you choose to write one, you must follow this prompt:
“The Admissions Committee makes every effort to understand your achievements in the context of your background and to build a diverse student body. If applicable, you may choose to submit an optional additional statement to elaborate on how you could contribute to the Harvard Law School community.”
Check out these tips if you're considering writing the Harvard Law optional statement.
Just like your personal statement, ensure you follow these instructions:
While Harvard Law will read optional statements longer than one page long, use your best judgment and keep your writing concise.
If you’ve written about your background and how you’ll contribute to the Harvard Law community at length in your application, you probably don’t need to write this essay.
Harvard Law states that an optional essay “should only be submitted when all the other components of your application are not sufficient to provide a full picture of you as an applicant and potential member of the HLS community.”
Remember, writing an optional essay when it isn’t needed can actually hinder your application. Again, use your best judgment!
Harvard Law states that your optional statement should provide “a fuller understanding of how your individual path informs and is informed by your decision to pursue a legal education.”
Don’t make your essay an add-on to your personal statement: reflect on your identity, background, and beliefs and how your unique experiences and perspectives will add diversity to the class.
Harvard Law admissions statistics can tell you more about class diversity. Harvard Law class profile data shows the following highlights:
The incoming class represents 171 undergraduate institutions, 45 languages, and 18 countries.
In a recent admissions cycle, Harvard Law received 9,993 applications and accepted 685 students. Of accepted students, 560 enrolled. Harvard Law School’s acceptance rate is 7%.
Harvard Law School is very selective, so you can safely assume it's hard to get into Harvard Law. U.S. News says the average law school acceptance rate is 44%.
Compared to Harvard Law’s 7% acceptance rate, we can see that admission is undoubtedly competitive.
The Harvard Law School application process requires you to create an LSAC account. You must submit all application documents through LSAC and register for the CAS to submit your test scores and transcripts to Harvard.
Although specific dates haven’t yet been released for the 2022/2023 cycle, these are key timeframes you should be aware of, including the Harvard Law School application deadline.
For any other questions about getting into Harvard Law School, check out these FAQs!
While there is no minimum GPA required to apply to Harvard Law, you should aim for the median GPA of 3.92 or higher for a more competitive application.
Harvard Law is a T-14 law school, and admission is competitive. Approximately 1 in 14 applicants are accepted: you'll need a stellar application to stand out.
To gain admission to Harvard, you should have impressive stats and a polished application. Harvard Law seeks students with strong intellectual capabilities and the skills and qualities needed to become great lawyers. Ensure you emphasize your qualities in your personal statement!
Since Harvard Law receives all your transcripts, you can assume that admissions committee members will evaluate your entire undergraduate performance. If you have gaps in your undergraduate education, you should include addenda in your application.
You must complete an LSAC application, register for the CAS, submit test scores, transcripts, letters of recommendation, a personal statement, and a resume.
If you've taken the LSAT, your scores from the test must be reported. If you haven't taken the LSAT, you can submit GRE scores or both. Harvard Law doesn't have a preference for either test.
Getting into Harvard Law School can be challenging; your application requires time and effort. However, you don’t have to craft your law school applications alone.
Our expert team at Juris Education can help with any part of your application to ensure your law school apps are edited to perfection, in line with what admissions committees expect, and submitted on time.
Although getting into Harvard is difficult, we strive to make your law school journey easier. Good luck!