Doctor of Law and Policy

Campus Locations Boston
Also available 100% Online No
Other Format(s)
Credits Required for Graduation 48
Entry Terms Summer Quarter
Meets International Visa Requirements No


Early Admission Deadline: November 1, 2014
Application Deadline: May 15, 2015

Next Start Date: July 6, 2015

Public servants, executives, and managers operate in an increasingly complex global environment. A doctoral education provides the policy, analytic, and research skills necessary to advance one’s career.

Developed jointly by the College of Professional Studies and Northeastern's Law and Public Policy program, the Doctor of Law and Policy program (DLP) is designed for experienced professionals who are interested in the origins, development, implementation, and analysis of legal and public policy decisions in government and related institutions. The program prepares students to advance their careers within a variety of fields while focusing their thesis research on a precise law and policy topic. 

Students undertake the DLP in order to understand the ways in which public and related institutions formulate and execute policy.   Students have the opportunity to develop the ability to interpret and assess the research of others, to acquire skills as researchers, and to communicate their knowledge to a wide range of audiences. Those who successfully complete the degree are equipped to bring their skills and knowledge to senior policy and management positions in government, nonprofit agencies, research organizations, consulting firms, and corporations. 

The DLP program is structured so coursework and the doctoral thesis can be completed in two years. Classes meet one weekend per month in Boston, and the learning continues online throughout the rest of the month.

Interested in learning more?

Watch the Doctor of Law and Policy Webinar.

Northeastern University also offers a traditional PhD in Law, Policy, and Society. To learn more, visit the Law and Public Policy program website.


The Doctor of Law and Policy not only offers rigorous curriculum, but also focuses on applying knowledge to real-world problems. It involves an interdisciplinary course of study, including qualitative and quantitative research methods. The curriculum follows an accelerated format, allowing you to complete your coursework in two years.

Sample Course Sequence

Please note, the below course sequence may vary depending upon your start date.

Year One, First Quarter (6 q.h.)

n/a Orientation and Introduction to Law and Policy Doctoral Research Workshop 0 q.h.
LWP 6120 Law and Legal Reasoning 1 2 q.h.
LWP 6401 Law and Policy Concepts 1: The Policy-Making Process 2 q.h. 
LWP 6424 Research Methods 2 q.h. 

Year One, Second Quarter (6 q.h.)

LWP 6121 Law and Legal Reasoning 2 2 q.h.
LWP 6402 Law and Policy Concepts 2: Strategizing for Public Policy 2 q.h. 
LWP 6423 Qualitative Methods  2 q.h. 

Year One, Third Quarter (6 q.h.)

LWP 6122 Law and Legal Reasoning 3 2 q.h.
LWP 6403 Law and Policy Concepts 3: Policy Case Studies 2 q.h. 
LWP 6420 Quantitative Methods 2 q.h. 

Year One, Fourth Quarter (6 q.h.)

LWP 6123 Law and Legal Reasoning 4 2 q.h.
LWP 6410 Economics for Policy Analysis 2 q.h. 
LWP 6404 Evaluation Research 2 q.h.

Year Two, First Quarter (6 q.h)

LWP 6431 Political and Moral Ethics and Dilemmas 2 q.h.
LWP 6425 Methods and Theory as Applied to Doctoral Research 2 q.h.
LWP 6500 Doctoral Research Design 1 2 q.h.

Year Two, Second Quarter (6 q.h)

LWP 6450 Public Policy Theory and Practice 1 4 q.h.
LWP 6501 Doctoral Research Design 2 2 q.h.


Year Two, Third Quarter (6 q.h)

LWP 6451 Public Policy Theory and Practice 2 4 q.h.
LWP 6502 Doctoral Research Design 3 2 q.h.

Year Two, Fourth Quarter (6 q.h)

LWP 6452 Public Policy Theory and Practice 3 4 q.h.
LWP 6503 Doctoral Research Design 4 2 q.h.

Additional Quarters (If Needed)

LWP 7994 Thesis Continuation 0 q.h.

Total Quarter Hours: 48

Admissions Requirements

Below are the official Admissions Requirements for this program.

  • Online application
  • Academic transcripts: Official undergraduate and graduate degree documentation
  • Professional resume: Current resume that displays job responsibilities, relevant experience, and education history
  • Academic recommendation: This letter should come from a former professor or mentor who can speak to your ability to succeed in an academic environment. The recommender should address your capacity to conduct research and write at the doctoral level. If you have been out of school for a long time or are no longer acquainted with your professors, you may ask someone who has evaluated you during a professional training seminar or workshop to compose this recommendation.
  • Two Professional Recommendations: One must be from your current supervisor; recommendations should not come from individuals who report to you. Recommenders are encouraged to identify specific examples that highlight your skills and abilities.
  • Admission Statement: Respond to both questions separately and stay within the prescribed word limits. The ability to demonstrate clear, succinct, well-reasoned writing is essential.
    1. Discuss your career trajectory and your professional goals. How will earning this degree help you achieve those goals? (500 words)
    2. Identify an important problem or issue related to your profession. Why do you want to explore and understand this problem or issue? Be sure to articulate how this problem or issue relates to law & policy. (500 words)
  • Interview: Applicants may be requested to participate in an interview as part of the admissions process, if this is determined we will reach out to you directly
  • Proof of English language proficiency: ONLY for students for whom English is not their primary language: English language proficiency guidelines

For general admissions information and recommended admissions deadlines, Graduate Admissions.

All requirements must be received prior to review.


Estimated total tuition for this program is $78,480.00.

Tuition includes textbooks, meals during intensive sessions, and other program materials.

Tuition for individual courses is based on the number of quarter hours. Most courses are 3-6 quarter hours. See Graduate Tuition Rates for details.

Use our Tuition Calculator below to see if transfer credit or tuition reimbursement from your employer could reduce your total tuition.

Tuition Calculator

Degree Type


Please note: The estimated total tuition is based on tuition rates for Academic Year 2015-16 and does not include any fees or other expenses. Some courses and labs have tuition rates that may increase or decrease total tuition. Tuition and fees are subject to revision by the president and Board of Trustees at any time.

*A maximum of 9 quarter hours of graduate- or doctoral-level credit obtained at another institution may be awarded as Advanced Graduate Credit to the Doctor of Education program.

Student Profile

This accelerated, intensive program is designed for working professionals with demanding careers in the public, private, and nonprofit sectors. Applicants are engaged in the most important issues of our time impacting a wide range of dynamic, influential industries and professions. They are accomplished leaders with the talent and ambition to make a difference. They are driven to effect substantive changes in law and policy. The Law and Policy Doctorate program provides students the necessary skill set for professional advancement. Our alumni have gone on to distinguished careers in government, consulting, law, and higher education. Recent graduates have held titles including: 

  • Chief Executive Officer
  • Deputy State Commissioner
  • Director of Human Resources
  • Executive Director
  • Financial Industry Consultant
  • Policy Director
  • Principal
  • Senior Engineer
  • Senior Law Partner
  • University President

Karen C.

Director of the Office of Title I, New Jersey Department of Education

Amelia R

About the curriculum: “DLP faculty members hold students to very high academic standards. During the program, I have developed a core set of intellectual skills and have been able to apply those skills to a policy problem within my profession.”

How the program helped in her profession: “Because of the DLP program, I am more in tune to how and why organizations make certain decisions. The program has helped me understand more precisely how legislatures, political appointees and civil servants interact.”

Steve M.

General Counsel and Corporate Integrity Officer, Center for Discovery, Inc.


What sets the program apart: “I was attracted to both the cohort model of the DLP program and also the hybrid format. As someone trying to balance my career and family responsibilities, the combination of online learning and monthly face-to-face classes was doable for me.”

How the program helped his profession: “I am a 30-year career attorney working in health-care policy. This program has put me in a more analytical frame of mind, which has helped me in my professional life. During the DLP program, I have become a more polished and concise writer and have become more comfortable with quantitative analysis.”





I noticed that this program operates on the cohort model. What does that mean?
The cohort model means that all incoming students progress through identical coursework at the same pace. Students within a given cohort tend to form strong bonds with one another and, generally, such cohesiveness translates into improved student outcomes and life-long relationships.

What is the typical size of a cohort in the DLP program?
Cohorts typically range in size from 15-30 students.

What are the backgrounds of students currently in the program?
DLP students come from a variety of professional backgrounds. The most common fields represented are: government agencies, non-profit management, homeland security and defense, emergency management, health-care, and higher education administration. Most students are mid to high level managers and executives.

I have taken some graduate courses at Northeastern or another university. Can I apply transfer credits to this program?
The DLP program does not accept transfer credits. All students in a cohort proceed through the same set of courses at the same time.

How long does the program take to complete?
The DLP is structured as a 24 month program.

Can I take time off from the program once I begin?
Barring a documented family or medical emergency, students cannot take time off from the program once it begins. Because the DLP operates on a cohort model, it is not feasible for students to take leave and reenter the program.

What does my tuition cover?
Tuition includes textbooks, meals during intensive sessions, and other program materials. 

What is the introductory seminar like?
The LDP program starts with a five-day introductory seminar and orientation, which covers contemporary issues in academic writing, research methods, and professional development. Orientation activities include a reception with faculty and senior Northeastern administrators and a tour of the Boston campus. 

What are the monthly intensive sessions like?
After the introductory session, scholars meet for a one-weekend intensive session each month in Boston. Weekend intensive classes meet from 12:30 PM – 9:00 PM Friday, 8:30 AM – 9:00 PM Saturday, and 8:30 AM – 3:00 PM Sunday. Weekend classes may include course lectures, workshops, group and individual meetings, guest speakers, and other activities. A sample schedule of a weekend meeting is available here. Normally, at least one intensive during each year of the program is held off-site at a center of law and policy, such as Washington, D.C., Chicago, or New York City.

Before each weekend meeting session, students complete readings and preparatory assignments. Written assignments (group and individual) and presentations are assigned to be completed by the next session.

Does Northeastern University have arrangements with local hotels during the weekend sessions?
Yes. Students are strongly encouraged to reside at the Club Quarters Boston during monthly weekend sessions. Residence encourages group cohesion and facilitates knowledge exchange, growth, professional respect, and collegiality among students. It also enables students to fully concentrate on their academic studies. Students may take advantage of special discounted room rates at the Club Quarters.

Club Quarters
161 Devonshire Street, Boston

Individuals must call Club Quarters member services during business hours at (212) 575-0006 to reserve their rooms before the cut-off date of 2 weeks prior to arrival date.

Any reservation after the cut-off date will be subject to availability. Reservations are on a first-come, first-served basis. Individuals should identify themselves with College of Professional Studies and mention code CPSLPD.

What is the dress code during weekend intensive sessions?
Business casual attire is required during weekend intensives.

I’m apprehensive about online learning, can you elaborate on that part of the program?
Between weekend intensive sessions, students use the College of Professional Studies Blackboard online learning management system to communicate and collaborate, participate in class discussions, access course content, and complete and submit assignments. Many of students in the program have no experience with online learning, but find Blackboard to be both intuitive and user-friendly.

Do I need any specialized computer equipment for the online portion of the program?
Students will need reliable access to a computer with high speed internet connection. Students will not need to purchase specialized software for the DLP program.

What kinds of topics do students investigate for their doctoral thesis research?
The DLP program emphasizes applied policy research. As such, students investigate a practical problem directly related to their professional lives. It is an expectation that students’ professional experience will inform the research topic that they choose. Topics include, but are not limited to health policy, emergency management, K-12 and higher education, criminal justice, non-profit management, legal reform.

What if my I don’t complete my thesis after two years?
For a number of reasons, a student may not complete his or her thesis at the end of the second year. Students can enroll in continuing thesis credits after they have finished their coursework. It is highly recommended that students complete their thesis within two terms of finishing their coursework, and the coursework is built so that students are able to do so. 

Does this program prepare me to take the Bar Exam and practice law?
The DLP program does not prepare students to take the Bar Exam and practice law. Students interested in practicing law should pursue a traditional Juris Doctorate. 

How will this program help me advance my professional goals?
During the DLP program, students learn to how to be both consumers and producers of high level research. DLP graduates can evaluate research in a systematic way. Graduates also learn how to address policy problems from multiple angles and to communicate with a wide range of audiences. The cohort model means that students, already leaders in their fields, will leave the program with professional and personal contacts across the nation. This makes DLP graduates particularly capable of solving the complex problems they face in their professions and beyond.

Learning Outcomes

Learning Outcomes

  1. Knowledge of the structures and processes of courts, legislatures, and agencies as a domain of law and policy
    Demonstrates the ability to evaluate and critique the structure and role of state and federal courts and basic concepts in legal reasoning.

  2. Knowledge of the structures and processes of making and changing law and policy
    Is able to develop conceptually informed recommendations to make or change legal or policy structures and processes at a variety of scales and in different policy domains.

  3. Research and Analysis
    Is able to create a plan of inquiry, and execute such a plan, that uses the most appropriate technique(s) to analyze a public policy issue and make conceptually informed and empirically based recommendations.

  4. Critical thinking skills
    Is able to design and implement a systematic approach to understanding and solving problems using an interdisciplinary, social science perspective.

  5. Communication skills
    Is able to communicate, especially in writing, in a clear, concise, and convincing manner to a variety of audiences, including academic scholars, public policy professionals, legal actors, and the general public.

  6. Orientation towards the public’s interest
    Is able to evaluate and establish the positive role that law and public policy can have in addressing political, social, and economic problems and issues.

Talk to an Enrollment Coach

We can walk you through your program options and the application process.


Call Toll Free:
Contact Us
Next Term Starts
  • Summer Term
    Jul 6, 2015 (8-, 6-, and 4-week classes)
    Aug 3, 2015 (4-week classes)
  • Fall Term
    Sep 21, 2015 (12- and 6-week classes)
    Nov 2, 2015 (6-week classes)

Academic Calendar