Harvard LLM vs. Oxford BCL


Julie0606
I am looking for advice on the offer I should accept. My area of interest is comparative constitutional law/comparative criminal procedure. Harvard's comparative constitutional faculty is amazing, but I have heard the Harvard LL.M program to be something of a "fourth year of law school", whereas the BCL is geared towards graduate students with more intensive courses and one-on-one instruction. Please advise! Thanks :)
I am looking for advice on the offer I should accept. My area of interest is comparative constitutional law/comparative criminal procedure. Harvard's comparative constitutional faculty is amazing, but I have heard the Harvard LL.M program to be something of a "fourth year of law school", whereas the BCL is geared towards graduate students with more intensive courses and one-on-one instruction. Please advise! Thanks :)
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That pretty much sums up what I've heard too.

Other factors to consider: If it's academia you're intersted in, I think, as a general proposition, the BCL is a better bet.
I'm sure others will disagree, but this was the advice I was given by the faculty at my canadian law school from graduates of BOTH the harv llm and the bcl.

If it's business you're interested in, then the decision turns probably more on geograpgy than anything else: ie, US practice, then Harvard; UK practice, then Ox.

Also, absent funding, money becomes important: the LLM will be nearly twice as much, and I don't think anybody would argue that it's twice as good...
That pretty much sums up what I've heard too.

Other factors to consider: If it's academia you're intersted in, I think, as a general proposition, the BCL is a better bet.
I'm sure others will disagree, but this was the advice I was given by the faculty at my canadian law school from graduates of BOTH the harv llm and the bcl.

If it's business you're interested in, then the decision turns probably more on geograpgy than anything else: ie, US practice, then Harvard; UK practice, then Ox.

Also, absent funding, money becomes important: the LLM will be nearly twice as much, and I don't think anybody would argue that it's twice as good...
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fg
My post from the other thread is below. I am not entirely sure about the academia/business distinction simply based on my own experience - I did a US LLM and am now going on to my doctorate in the UK. I think it will be useful to have training in both jurisdictions and you'd have to be very fortunate to get an academic posting with only a BCL in any event. I agree that a HLS LLM standing alone would also make it difficult to get into academia. I know many of my Canadian friends at CLS didn't even apply to HLS since they wanted to be academics and the reputation is that is a factory.

"Tricky. I was in a similar position a couple of years back. Although I don't have first-hand experience of either programme I have lots of friends who have gone through both and I did a US LLM. Personally I think the BCL is a superior program because it is an actual graduate degree with intensive tutorials that challenge your thinking. Also, Oxford jurisprudence faculty is unmatched in the world.
That being said, I decided to study in the US because its legal system was so different from my own and I thought of Oxford as being too conservative and "black letter" for me at the time.
While I enjoyed my LLM this was largely for the experience living in NYC as opposed to the particular courses (which were good but probably not a patch on Oxford's graduate classes) I didn't like being lumped in with the JDs. At the risk of causing offensive to some who may be reading here I found many immature intellectually (although some had PhDs in other subjects many were only second year JDs whose thinking hadn't developed in a theoretical or critical way regarding law) and the people who really challenged my thinking were the other LLM students. The JDs seemed more keen to get good grades and get law firms jobs than engage in original thinking. I would have preferred a class with only graduate students. All generalizations, I know, but those are my thoughts."
My post from the other thread is below. I am not entirely sure about the academia/business distinction simply based on my own experience - I did a US LLM and am now going on to my doctorate in the UK. I think it will be useful to have training in both jurisdictions and you'd have to be very fortunate to get an academic posting with only a BCL in any event. I agree that a HLS LLM standing alone would also make it difficult to get into academia. I know many of my Canadian friends at CLS didn't even apply to HLS since they wanted to be academics and the reputation is that is a factory.

"Tricky. I was in a similar position a couple of years back. Although I don't have first-hand experience of either programme I have lots of friends who have gone through both and I did a US LLM. Personally I think the BCL is a superior program because it is an actual graduate degree with intensive tutorials that challenge your thinking. Also, Oxford jurisprudence faculty is unmatched in the world.
That being said, I decided to study in the US because its legal system was so different from my own and I thought of Oxford as being too conservative and "black letter" for me at the time.
While I enjoyed my LLM this was largely for the experience living in NYC as opposed to the particular courses (which were good but probably not a patch on Oxford's graduate classes) I didn't like being lumped in with the JDs. At the risk of causing offensive to some who may be reading here I found many immature intellectually (although some had PhDs in other subjects many were only second year JDs whose thinking hadn't developed in a theoretical or critical way regarding law) and the people who really challenged my thinking were the other LLM students. The JDs seemed more keen to get good grades and get law firms jobs than engage in original thinking. I would have preferred a class with only graduate students. All generalizations, I know, but those are my thoughts."
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Julie0606
I appreciate the quick reply!

Do you mean the Harvard LLM is twice as much? How so - from what I can see, tuition costs are roughly equivalent (Oxford a little less expensive than Harvard), but living expenses seem considerably higher in the UK. I haven't looked into this too carefully yet so please fill me in!

All my info on the two schools has come from professors as well, most of whom have advised me to accept the offer from Oxford. I am Canadian too by the way, hoping to do either crim/constitutional legal policy or continue in academia.
I appreciate the quick reply!

Do you mean the Harvard LLM is twice as much? How so - from what I can see, tuition costs are roughly equivalent (Oxford a little less expensive than Harvard), but living expenses seem considerably higher in the UK. I haven't looked into this too carefully yet so please fill me in!

All my info on the two schools has come from professors as well, most of whom have advised me to accept the offer from Oxford. I am Canadian too by the way, hoping to do either crim/constitutional legal policy or continue in academia.
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fg
My understanding is that Oxford is around 20,000GPB inclusive (and I presume that includes college meals) which comes to around US$40,000. Harvard was around US$55,000 for everything when I applied. Please correct me if I am wrong.
Think of all the travel in Europe you can do from Oxford...
My understanding is that Oxford is around 20,000GPB inclusive (and I presume that includes college meals) which comes to around US$40,000. Harvard was around US$55,000 for everything when I applied. Please correct me if I am wrong.
Think of all the travel in Europe you can do from Oxford...
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But the living costs are all included in the college fees, right? (this isn't rhetorical, I only applied to Cambridge and am lazily assuming it's the same at ox). So, at leats at cambridge, you're looking at about 55K cdn for the year, but that includes food, rent, tuition etc... The harvard llm is around 60K us isn't it (again, laziness preculdes me from checking) which means about 75kiss cdn, but that doesnt include food or accomodation.
That's how i arrived at my statement re cost...
But the living costs are all included in the college fees, right? (this isn't rhetorical, I only applied to Cambridge and am lazily assuming it's the same at ox). So, at leats at cambridge, you're looking at about 55K cdn for the year, but that includes food, rent, tuition etc... The harvard llm is around 60K us isn't it (again, laziness preculdes me from checking) which means about 75kiss cdn, but that doesnt include food or accomodation.
That's how i arrived at my statement re cost...
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fg
I think the college fees do include everything.
When I did my Harvard figures i thought the US$55k included all living costs but it was a while ago now...
I think the college fees do include everything.
When I did my Harvard figures i thought the US$55k included all living costs but it was a while ago now...
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AnnaC
Hi Julie,

I am studying the Harvard LLM this year and am starting the Oxford BCL in September. I dont think you can go wrong with either offer as I think both would be fantastic qualifications and experiences. I have had the most fantastic time at Harvard this year and I think that whether the courses are academic or practical really depends on your particular course choice. There is the opportunity to engage in very academic courses or very practical ones/clinical courses.

I have a friend who is doing the Oxford BCL at the moment and is coming to Harvard to study the LLM later this year and he has told me Oxford is fantastic too. It seems that Oxford has more one-on-one discussions with professors and is perhaps more blackletter and theoretical. However, there is a huge array of courses at Harvard whereas the course choice at Oxford is more limited. Despite this, some of the best courses at Harvard are the practical or clinical courses (for example, I studied the Trial Advocacy Workshop which was absolutely brilliant) so perhaps if you are more interested in academia, then Oxford would be a more appropriate choice.

For me, I think a big part of the experience is also where you are based. Being from Scotland, I wanted to go abroad to the US to study at Harvard last year as I thought it would provide me with a different experience and perspective. It has been amazing studying in a different country and meeting people from all over the world. But now I am also really looking forward to Oxford as I miss home and I am looking forward to a more in depth experience of my own legal system.

From speaking to people who have done both the MJur at OX and LLM at Harvard, they have said the experiences were very different. I think it is just personal preference but I think you cannot go wrong with either in terms of CV and personal experience.

Hope that is of some help to you. If you would like any more specific info on the Harvard LLM program, please let me know.

Anna
Hi Julie,

I am studying the Harvard LLM this year and am starting the Oxford BCL in September. I don’t think you can go wrong with either offer as I think both would be fantastic qualifications and experiences. I have had the most fantastic time at Harvard this year and I think that whether the courses are academic or practical really depends on your particular course choice. There is the opportunity to engage in very academic courses or very practical ones/clinical courses.

I have a friend who is doing the Oxford BCL at the moment and is coming to Harvard to study the LLM later this year and he has told me Oxford is fantastic too. It seems that Oxford has more one-on-one discussions with professors and is perhaps more blackletter and theoretical. However, there is a huge array of courses at Harvard whereas the course choice at Oxford is more limited. Despite this, some of the best courses at Harvard are the practical or clinical courses (for example, I studied the Trial Advocacy Workshop which was absolutely brilliant) so perhaps if you are more interested in academia, then Oxford would be a more appropriate choice.

For me, I think a big part of the experience is also where you are based. Being from Scotland, I wanted to go abroad to the US to study at Harvard last year as I thought it would provide me with a different experience and perspective. It has been amazing studying in a different country and meeting people from all over the world. But now I am also really looking forward to Oxford as I miss home and I am looking forward to a more in depth experience of my own legal system.

From speaking to people who have done both the MJur at OX and LLM at Harvard, they have said the experiences were very different. I think it is just personal preference but I think you cannot go wrong with either in terms of CV and personal experience.

Hope that is of some help to you. If you would like any more specific info on the Harvard LLM program, please let me know.

Anna
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fg
It seems that Oxford has more one-on-one discussions with professors and is perhaps more blackletter and theoretical.


I am confused - aren't "black letter" and theoretical the opposite of one another? My understanding is that "black letter" means the black letter of the law ie: the printed word, such as cases and statutes, as opposed to theory (what comes from your head).
Can someone help me out? Have I been using it out of context? Ek.
<blockquote> It seems that Oxford has more one-on-one discussions with professors and is perhaps more blackletter and theoretical.
</blockquote>

I am confused - aren't "black letter" and theoretical the opposite of one another? My understanding is that "black letter" means the black letter of the law ie: the printed word, such as cases and statutes, as opposed to theory (what comes from your head).
Can someone help me out? Have I been using it out of context? Ek.
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AnnaC
Yes, sorry for the confusion. What I meant was that from what I have heard Oxford involves more blackletter study of the law in some subjects and theory in other subjects. I was distinguishing these 2 concepts from the practical application of law rather than from each other. I know blackletter law can be termed as practical but it is my understanding that Oxford involves more the learning of blackletter law in the abstract (as opposed to linked to its practical application) whereas in Harvard there are many truly practical subjects and clinical courses. I believe many of the courses at Oxford involve blackletter law and theoretical concepts as opposed to Harvard where I have found that at least the subjects I have taken have been very practical rather than theoretical. Hope that makes sense! I only really have experience of Harvard so the things I have said about Oxford are really just based on what I have been told.
Yes, sorry for the confusion. What I meant was that from what I have heard Oxford involves more blackletter study of the law in some subjects and theory in other subjects. I was distinguishing these 2 concepts from the practical application of law rather than from each other. I know blackletter law can be termed as practical but it is my understanding that Oxford involves more the learning of blackletter law in the abstract (as opposed to linked to its practical application) whereas in Harvard there are many truly practical subjects and clinical courses. I believe many of the courses at Oxford involve blackletter law and theoretical concepts as opposed to Harvard where I have found that at least the subjects I have taken have been very practical rather than theoretical. Hope that makes sense! I only really have experience of Harvard so the things I have said about Oxford are really just based on what I have been told.
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Julie0606
Thank you all for your helpful comments! I have decided, for a number of reasons (primarily funding and location), to accept the offer from Harvard. Anna, congratulations on being able to pursue both of these incredible options. Best of luck next year.
Thank you all for your helpful comments! I have decided, for a number of reasons (primarily funding and location), to accept the offer from Harvard. Anna, congratulations on being able to pursue both of these incredible options. Best of luck next year.

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do both!!!
do both!!!
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Busingye
do both!!!


yeah, it never hurt anyone to have Ox and Harv! indeed, it has done some a lot of good:=))
<blockquote>do both!!!</blockquote>

yeah, it never hurt anyone to have Ox and Harv! indeed, it has done some a lot of good:=))
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Julie0606
Before I joined this forum, I was not aware that this was even an option. Now you've got me thinking! Is it common/advisable for students to complete both a HArvard LLM and Oxford BCL? Do you think it is more difficult to get funding from Oxford if you already have a comparable graduate degree from HLS? Thanks in advance :)
Before I joined this forum, I was not aware that this was even an option. Now you've got me thinking! Is it common/advisable for students to complete both a HArvard LLM and Oxford BCL? Do you think it is more difficult to get funding from Oxford if you already have a comparable graduate degree from HLS? Thanks in advance :)
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fg
We've already had this conversation in relation to AnnaC who is doing just that.
I was told by the Graduate Admissions Tutor at Oxford (Endicott) that the BCL would be a waste of my time after a US LLM since I wanted to go to my doctorate. If you don't want to do your doctorate it could be an interesting experience to do both and have two different perspective.
My personal view is that two Masters is a bit of a waste of time when you could be developing your career not to mention extremely expensive.
I have my doubts as to whether Oxford would cough up money for someone to do a second Masters there after Harvard (esp. if one wants to go back into practice) but we'll wait and see what AnnaC comes back with.
We've already had this conversation in relation to AnnaC who is doing just that.
I was told by the Graduate Admissions Tutor at Oxford (Endicott) that the BCL would be a waste of my time after a US LLM since I wanted to go to my doctorate. If you don't want to do your doctorate it could be an interesting experience to do both and have two different perspective.
My personal view is that two Masters is a bit of a waste of time when you could be developing your career not to mention extremely expensive.
I have my doubts as to whether Oxford would cough up money for someone to do a second Masters there after Harvard (esp. if one wants to go back into practice) but we'll wait and see what AnnaC comes back with.
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fg
I should mention again what I said in my other post - some people do both if they want to practice in both country. I met some people from India, for example, who did that. I think it is a bit of a luxury.
If you want the Oxford experience I would recommend applying for the MSt after your LLM. That would give you one taught degree and one solely research degree. It would also develop your thinking to a higher level than a solely taught course would.
I should mention again what I said in my other post - some people do both if they want to practice in both country. I met some people from India, for example, who did that. I think it is a bit of a luxury.
If you want the Oxford experience I would recommend applying for the MSt after your LLM. That would give you one taught degree and one solely research degree. It would also develop your thinking to a higher level than a solely taught course would.
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I agree entirely with flygirl. I really don't see the point of doing the bcl after the harvard llm. I suppose if one was rich, really liked school, and didn't have a taste for independent research (thus ruling out a PHD), then it's not the worst idea in the world, but generally speaking it sounds like a very expensive redundancy.
Take the LLM and go practice; or move onwards and upwards to the PhD.
I agree entirely with flygirl. I really don't see the point of doing the bcl after the harvard llm. I suppose if one was rich, really liked school, and didn't have a taste for independent research (thus ruling out a PHD), then it's not the worst idea in the world, but generally speaking it sounds like a very expensive redundancy.
Take the LLM and go practice; or move onwards and upwards to the PhD.
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Busingye
Before I joined this forum, I was not aware that this was even an option. Now you've got me thinking! Is it common/advisable for students to complete both a HArvard LLM and Oxford BCL? Do you think it is more difficult to get funding from Oxford if you already have a comparable graduate degree from HLS? Thanks in advance :)


it is an option! it is always an option. There's AnnaC coming to Ox, and there's at least 3 of us crossing from Ox to HLS. i know that at least one of these guys deferred from last year. For my part I only applied to Ox last year, and the HLS LLM was always the next logical step.

People choose to do various things at various times in their academic lives. Some people take gap years. some take fellowships. some practice a little b4 going back to school. some go straight on to do PhDs. Some do volunteer work. Some teach a little. Some just head straight into practice. And yes, some decide to do the two most recognisable LLMs at the two most recognisable unis.

Its just a matter of personal taste i guess.
<blockquote>Before I joined this forum, I was not aware that this was even an option. Now you've got me thinking! Is it common/advisable for students to complete both a HArvard LLM and Oxford BCL? Do you think it is more difficult to get funding from Oxford if you already have a comparable graduate degree from HLS? Thanks in advance :) </blockquote>

it is an option! it is always an option. There's AnnaC coming to Ox, and there's at least 3 of us crossing from Ox to HLS. i know that at least one of these guys deferred from last year. For my part I only applied to Ox last year, and the HLS LLM was always the next logical step.

People choose to do various things at various times in their academic lives. Some people take gap years. some take fellowships. some practice a little b4 going back to school. some go straight on to do PhDs. Some do volunteer work. Some teach a little. Some just head straight into practice. And yes, some decide to do the two most recognisable LLMs at the two most recognisable unis.

Its just a matter of personal taste i guess.
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fg
I agree that it is a matter of personal taste but Julie did ask for our advice.
None of your responses Busingye have actually given reasons why having both degrees makes sense financially or academically. They have just asserted that having both degrees is a good thing.
I am just not sure that any additional benefit of getting two taught Masters degrees is worth the further year away from developing your career and the financial cost. Unless, of course, you want to be able to practice in both countries but even then I am sure there are more efficient and cheaper ways of doing that.
I agree that it is a matter of personal taste but Julie did ask for our advice.
None of your responses Busingye have actually given reasons why having both degrees makes sense financially or academically. They have just asserted that having both degrees is a good thing.
I am just not sure that any additional benefit of getting two taught Masters degrees is worth the further year away from developing your career and the financial cost. Unless, of course, you want to be able to practice in both countries but even then I am sure there are more efficient and cheaper ways of doing that.
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Busingye
[he he....thought better of this section-in terms of form and content]

Financial considerations: I did Ox on full scholarship. so i lost nothing there. But i will probably be in debt up to my neck by the time i am done with HLS, so i am not prescribing medicine i cant take. I just value the HLS experience that much that i wud take the added (and some wud say, needless) financial burden. Part of the reason is the sheer recognizability of HLS. It makes life easy when u dont have to explain your credentials in great length. But to be fair, i would probably not do it if i had had to pay for the BCL.

Academic considerations: Two taught masters degrees may not make sense stricto sensu. But put the other way, they do not hurt either. I know i intend to do doctoral work soon...but i also know that at this point in time i am not ready for it...I do need some time to reflect on what i want to do instead of rushing in and being frustrated one year into the programme....So probably the best thing would be to take off a year or two to practice and/or teach as i reflect on this stuff. But the danger with this is that working life has its attractions. i dont want to be caught up in the rat race and shelve PhD plans till it becomes a story i tell my grandchildren.."you know...i intended to do a PhD". Doing a 2nd LLM is my way of keeping away from temptation...while i plan the way ahead...

Miscellaneous: On the other hand...there is also the real possibility that after a year at HLS, i may just get fed up of the whole reading thing...and decide to do join the real world. In the case, Ox and HLS would allow me to combine practice and adjunct teaching due in part to the added gravitas...

It is all really a variety of reasons...many of which are difficult to put down...wat can i say...HLS has always been on my list of things to do b4 i die(the challenge)...i do want to sit the NY bar (another little project)...i get tired of explaining that the BCL is actually a masters degree..i cud go on and on and on

[Heh...also deleted...]

Its all a matter of taste...i wouldn't eat sushi even if u paid me to...other would pay good money to eat it...and none of us might be able to explain it one way or the other without finally coming down to this simple conclusion:) and now...i must put an end to my rambling!
[he he....thought better of this section-in terms of form and content]

Financial considerations: I did Ox on full scholarship. so i lost nothing there. But i will probably be in debt up to my neck by the time i am done with HLS, so i am not prescribing medicine i cant take. I just value the HLS experience that much that i wud take the added (and some wud say, needless) financial burden. Part of the reason is the sheer recognizability of HLS. It makes life easy when u dont have to explain your credentials in great length. But to be fair, i would probably not do it if i had had to pay for the BCL.

Academic considerations: Two taught masters degrees may not make sense stricto sensu. But put the other way, they do not hurt either. I know i intend to do doctoral work soon...but i also know that at this point in time i am not ready for it...I do need some time to reflect on what i want to do instead of rushing in and being frustrated one year into the programme....So probably the best thing would be to take off a year or two to practice and/or teach as i reflect on this stuff. But the danger with this is that working life has its attractions. i dont want to be caught up in the rat race and shelve PhD plans till it becomes a story i tell my grandchildren.."you know...i intended to do a PhD". Doing a 2nd LLM is my way of keeping away from temptation...while i plan the way ahead...

Miscellaneous: On the other hand...there is also the real possibility that after a year at HLS, i may just get fed up of the whole reading thing...and decide to do join the real world. In the case, Ox and HLS would allow me to combine practice and adjunct teaching due in part to the added gravitas...

It is all really a variety of reasons...many of which are difficult to put down...wat can i say...HLS has always been on my list of things to do b4 i die(the challenge)...i do want to sit the NY bar (another little project)...i get tired of explaining that the BCL is actually a masters degree..i cud go on and on and on

[Heh...also deleted...]

Its all a matter of taste...i wouldn't eat sushi even if u paid me to...other would pay good money to eat it...and none of us might be able to explain it one way or the other without finally coming down to this simple conclusion:) and now...i must put an end to my rambling!
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