Doctor of Law and Policy

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


Final Boston Deadline: June 19, 2017

Next Boston Start Date: Summer 2017

Priority Seattle Deadline: September 1, 2017

Second Seattle Deadline: October 2, 2017

Final Seattle Deadline: November 13, 2017

Next Seattle Start Date: Winter 2018 

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. The DLP program is available in two separate locations, Boston and Seattle. Classes follow a hybrid format with instruction and participation being primarily online using collaborative learning software and virtual communications tools, as well as several face-to-face intensive meetings.


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.


Please note: Students who started this program prior to Fall 2017 should follow the curriculum reflected on their DegreeWorks audits via the self-service tab of their myNEU portal.  Please consult your advisor with any questions.

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.)

LWP 6118 Historical Foundations of American Law 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 6119 Current Law & Policy Debates: Our Nation's Capital and Beyond 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 6120 Law and Legal Reasoning 1 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 6121 Law and Legal Reasoning 2 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 6450 Public Policy: Theory and Practice 1 2 q.h.
LWP 6500 Doctoral Research Design 1 2 q.h.

Year Two, Second Quarter (6 q.h)

LWP 6451 Public Policy Theory and Practice 2 2 q.h.
LWP 6501 Doctoral Research Design 2 2 q.h.
LWP 6122 Law and Legal Reasoning 3 2 q.h.


Year Two, Third Quarter (6 q.h)

LWP 6452 Public Policy Theory and Practice 3 2 q.h.
LWP 6123 Law and Legal Reasoning 4 2 q.h. 
LWP 6502 Doctoral Research Design 3 2 q.h.

Year Two, Fourth Quarter (6 q.h)

LWP 6503 Doctoral Research Design 4 6 q.h.

Additional Quarters (If Needed)

LWP 7994 Thesis Continuation 0 q.h.

Required minimum credit hours: 48 q.h.

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
  • DLP Transfer Credit Due to the cohort model of the Doctor of Law and Policy program, transfer credits from other institutions are not accepted.

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 $84,480.00.

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 2017-18 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 a cohort model. What does that mean?
A 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; this cohesiveness translates into improved student outcomes and lifelong 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, nonprofits, homeland security and defense, emergency management, healthcare, and higher education administration. Most students are middle- 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 very difficult 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 first residency like?
The DLP program starts with a three-day residency, which orients you to Northeastern University and also introduces you to your summer term courses. Orientation activities include a reception with faculty and administrators, as well as tour of the Boston campus. The three-day residency is immediately followed by the first weekend residency. In other words, incoming students can expect to spend six consecutive days in Boston (Tuesday through Sunday).

What are the monthly residencies like?
After the introductory session, students meet for a weekend residency each month in Boston. Weekend classes meet from 1:00 PM – 8:30 PM Friday, 8:30 AM – 8:30 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. One residency each year is held off-site at a center of law and policy, such as Washington, D.C., Chicago, or New York City.

Does Northeastern University have arrangements with local hotels during the weekend sessions?
Yes. Students are encouraged to reside at either Club Quarters Boston or the Hilton Downtown/Faneuil Hall during monthly weekend sessions. Students may take advantage of special discounted room rates at both facilities.

Students receive booking information and discount codes after they are accepted into the program.

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 residencies, 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 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 a laptop and access to a 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, nonprofit management, and legal reform.

What if 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. 

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 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

Program Student Learning Outcomes

Specialized Knowledge
  1. Develop conceptually informed recommendations to make or change legal or policy structures and processes at a variety of scales and in different policy domains.
  2. Evaluate and critique the structure and role of state and federal courts and basic concepts in legal reasoning.
Broad and Integrative Knowledge
  1. Design and implement a systematic approach to understanding and solving problems using an interdisciplinary, social science perspective.
Applied and Collaborative Learning
  1. 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.
Civic and Global Learning
  1. Craft recommendations, strategies, and arguments capable of influencing important debates in law and public policy in both domestic and international contexts.
  2. Analyze the influence that political, economic, and social trends have on the process of making and changing laws and public policy
Experiential Learning
  1. Synthesize and transfer learning to new, complex situations within course work or in the thesis projects.

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Next Term Starts
  • Summer Graduate
    Jul 10, 2017 (4-, 6-, and 8-week classes)
    Aug 7, 2017 (4-week classes)
  • Fall Undergraduate
    Sep 4, 2017 (7.5- and 15-week classes)
    Oct 25, 2017 (7.5-week classes)
  • Fall Graduate
    Sep 18, 2017 (6- and 12-week classes)
    Oct 30, 2017 (6-week classes)

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