Synonymous with prestige, excellence and achievement, Harvard University is one of the most prestigious and well-known universities in the world. A private Ivy League research university founded in 1636, Harvard has had eight U.S. presidents graduate from its gothic splendour, including Franklin Delano Roosevelt and John F. Kennedy. If you aspire to join this elite university read on and we will help you get to know more about it and whether it will be a good fit for you.
America’s first institute of higher education, Harvard is considered by many to be the gold standard of American education and the benchmark that other universities measure themselves against. It proclaims that it seeks to educate citizens and citizen leaders. The universities history and reputation attracts generous donors, making it the wealthiest college in the land.
Located in the Boston suburb of Cambridge, Massachusetts, Harvard is centred around the much photographed Harvard Yard, an area of grass and trees, crisscrossed by paths joining the Georgian brick buildings that surround it. Beyond the historic centre, the campus stretches to the north with buildings set among green spaces. Boston has an excellent public transport system making it easy to reach the city centre and the nearby Logan International Airport.
· Student Cohort
Harvard has a relatively small undergraduate enrolment of under 5,500 students, a number that is overshadowed by its graduate cohort of over three times that amount. This imbalance has resulted in accusations that undergraduate students are not a priority for the university, strenuously denied by the university administration. The student body is diverse, the student population represents nearly every US state with a further 15% coming from overseas. The countries sending the most students to Harvard, after the US, are China, Canada and India. Students are described as being high powered, ambitious over achievers, nearly all of whom were top students in top schools and very often have achieved at national and international level. Nearly all students reside on campus with freshmen living in one building before moving into one of 12 residential blocks each of which has its own council that plans activities.
· Acceptance Rate
With its long history and reputation it is no surprise to find that admission to Harvard is highly competitive. An acceptance rate of around 4.9% for the class of 2025 makes it one of the most difficult colleges in the United States to be accepted by.
· Acceptance GPA
Harvard does not officially provide the average GPA of admitted students, however, unofficial calculations have put it as being 4.18 on a 4.0 scale, with over three quarters of students having a GPA of 4.0 and above.
· Types of Admission
Harvard only offers two admission plans, Restrictive Early Action (REA) and Regular Decision (RD). REA is non-binding, but students who apply under this program cannot apply to other private colleges or universities during the same admission cycle. Students may apply to public colleges, but only under a non-binding admission plan such as Early Action. Applications under REA need to be submitted by November 1st. Regular decision is the standard application process, and the deadline for submission is usually January 1st.
· Additional Admission Requirements
In addition to the Common or Coalition app, Harvard also considers a variety of additional admissions requirements. These include two teacher recommendations, a school Counsellor report and a school transcript. Harvard has announced that applicants for the 2028 – 2030 cohorts can choose if they want to submit SAT or ACT scores.
· All undergraduate applications are made to Harvard College where students can choose from 50 ‘concentrations’ across Arts and Humanities, Engineering and Applied Sciences, Sciences and Social Sciences. About half of the students complete an Honours track, completing a thesis or research paper. As a liberal arts and sciences college, Harvard emphasizes providing a holistic education and to graduate all students must complete one course in Aesthetics and Culture, Ethics and Civics, Histories, Societies and Individuals, Science and Technology in Society, Quantitive Reasoning and one course from the three main divisions in the Faculty of Arts and Science, Arts and Humanities, Natural Science and the School of Engineering and Applied Science.
· Standout Majors
With such a strong reputation for the quality of its education, it is somewhat invidious to identify some majors as being standout however some departments are better known. These include economics, computer science, psychology, and government, less high profile but still well regarded are the area studies concentrations including East Asian Studies and African and African American Studies.
· Faculty/Student Ratio:
The faculty/student ratio at Harvard is 7:1 enabling the university to run most classes in small groups of less than 20. Despite this very favourable ratio, one of the areas frequently complained about by students is the use of graduate students in some of the more popular courses, particularly in the first year.
· Four Year Completion Rate
Harvard has a four-year completion rate of 86% and a six year completion rate of 98%, which is one of the highest in the country.
· Cost of Attending
The net cost of attending Harvard was $80,300, which includes the cost of tuition, board, food and essentials such as books. As the US’s richest college, they are able to offer financial support to many of their students Harvard reports that 20% of students don’t pay anything to attend. Harvard is one of the few universities that consider all applications, including from international students on a need blind basis, meaning that a student’s ability to pay for college is not considered in the admissions process.
Overall, Harvard University is an exceptional institution with a long history of academic excellence and a commitment to providing students with the resources they need to succeed. With a diverse student body, a wide range of majors and degree programs, and a commitment to affordability and accessibility, Harvard is a top choice for students seeking a world-class education.
Embark on a transformative higher education journey and elevate your path to academic success with the expert guidance and personalized support of an Ivy Central college counselor.