Harvard Law School’s Junior Deferral Program, previously open to only Harvard College students, will begin accepting applications from undergrad juniors from all U.S. and foreign institutions starting this fall. There will not be rolling admissions to the program, and all decisions will be released at the same time. This announcement comes just two month after Harvard Law announced it would accept GRE results in addition to results from the traditionally preferred LSAT, becoming only the second accredited U.S. law school to do so.
Harvard Law’s Junior Deferral Program, launched in 2014, allows students to apply to the law school during their junior year of college on the condition that they delay enrollment for at least two years if accepted. These two years must be spent in a structured educational program or work situation. Harvard doesn’t have a set number of juniors it wants to admit next year. The size of the program will depend on the number and quality of the applicants.
Both the acceptance of GRE scores and opening the Junior Deferral Program to non-Harvard students are meant to widen and diversify Harvard Law’s applicant pool, especially to those with STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) backgrounds. The hope is that these changes will appeal to STEM applicants because they can gain real-world experience in those areas and then bring their expertise to the legal field. Demand for lawyers with experience in patents, biotechnology, and other science and tech-related practices is increasing.
Harvard Law will hold a series of online meetings for pre-law advisors and applicants at other colleges and universities. According to Jessica Soban, Harvard Law’s chief admissions officer, “We will be engaging in active outreach both to the pre-law advisors and to college campuses, not just in the U.S. but in universities around the world, to explain how to think about this program and how to decide whether this is right for you as an applicant.”
Law School Dean Martha Minow is excited about expanding the program as it allows students to pursue jobs after graduation without worrying about how those jobs will appear on a Harvard Law app. “By offering admission to the most promising college juniors, we can encourage them to pursue important and fulfilling experiences without concerns about the effects on a later application to law school.”