Harvard University
  • EduScore 98 /100

Harvard University: Quick Overview

  • Year founded1636
  • Number of students enrolled22,947
  • Average cost (in total)$71,650
  • Acceptance rate5.6%
  • SAT/ACT1460/32
  • Application dateJan 1st

History and Mission

Harvard is the oldest university in the United States dating back to 1636. The university was voted on by the Great and General Court of the Massachusetts Bay Colony and the name is derived from the first benefactor of the college in the young minister John Harvard. He was from Charleston, Virginia and when he died in 1638 he willed the university his library, half of his estate, and £779 pounds sterling. The origins of the university date back to the influx of puritans from England and in 1636 17,000 of them migrated to America. The establishment of Harvard was to meet the need of training the clergy that were coming into the new commonwealth, as America was still 140 years away from being a nation.

Harvard is located in Cambridge, Massachusetts and in the early years the town not only supported the university financially, but also took the responsibility of keeping order on the campus. By the turn of the century in 1700 Harvard had the means to be fully self-sustained and the support reversed with the college helping the city of Cambridge, which goes on to this day.

Up until the 18th century the motto of Harvard was Veritas Christo et Ecclesiae, which means “Truth for Christ and the Church”. Now it is simply Veritas, which means truth. In the early years the university was much more faith based and 10 of the first 12 college presidents were ministers and in the early 1800’s around half of the graduates of the institution would go onto become members of the clergy.

The mission of Harvard University is pretty simple, as they strive to educate the citizens as well as citizen leaders for the society as a whole. This is done through the commitment of the university to their many liberal arts and sciences and technology programs. The exposure to new ideas in the classroom environment is the beginning of the process and being shown new ways of both understanding and knowing the students can be intellectually challenging. Also, with a living environment that is very diverse with student’s interaction with other students of differing backgrounds and ideas the transformation, intellectually, increases and there is the beginning of social transformation. The university is in hope that the students will know what to do with their bestowed talents becoming accessible to what they value and are interested in and in turn learning how they can be a valuable member of society.

Areas of Study

There are 88 undergraduate degrees available at Harvard University that are concentrated into 53 majors in 18 fields of study. With a large university such as Harvard there are many subjects in both undergraduate and graduate studies that offer degrees. There are masters, doctorates, and professional degrees available in the many graduate and professional schools associated with the university. Those schools are Harvard Business School, Harvard Divinity School, Harvard Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, Harvard Graduate School of Education, Harvard Kennedy School (school of government), Harvard Law School, Harvard Medical School, Harvard School of Dental Medicine, Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, and the American Repertory Theatre.


How do I apply to Harvard University?

To apply for Harvard University, you can do so through the Common Application, the Coalition Application, or the Universal College Application. The Admissions Committee at the college will treat each and every application equal and to make sure to have timely consideration prospective students are encouraged to fully complete the application and submit it as soon as possible. On the Harvard main website, you can view the step-by-step Application Tips. The Regular Decision program has a deadline of January 1st for applications. Applicants can take advantage of Early Action in order to get an early answer for application if their applications are submitted by the first of November.

Acceptance rate

The acceptance rate at Harvard University is only 5.6%, which makes it one of the most difficult universities in the United States to get into. To be accepted most students will have to be in the high percentiles of the SAT or ACT exams as well as having a high school GPA near the top of their class. In the last few years the average number of applications to the university has been around 35,000. The acceptance rate will also differ for the graduate schools.

Student life at Harvard University

There is no lack of student life and student activities at Harvard University. While there are in excess of 22,000 students in the graduate and professional schools associated with Harvard when student life is mentioned it is meant for the population of mainly undergrads, which number around 6,700 per year, that attend Harvard College on the main campus. There are over 400 student organizations dealing with extracurricular, co-curricular and athletic opportunities as well as academics.

Harvard has a rich history in athletics and there are 42 intercollegiate varsity sports, which is the most in the nation. The nickname of the athletics teams is the Crimson and they compete in Division 1. One of the interesting thing about Harvard, as well as all of the other Ivy League schools, is the fact that they do not offer scholarships for athletics. The Crimson have won four national titles in the long history of the school and while they are competitive in the bigger sports of football and basketball they have seen much success in fencing where they won the 2006 NCAA team championship in men’s and women’s combined fencing. They also won the ECAC Rowing Trophy in 2002 and 2004, men’s hockey National Championship in 1989, and women’s men’s hockey National Championship in 1999. Harvard also captured six national golf titles, but it was before the NCAA sanctioned them in 1934 and also won four national soccer titles from 1911-1958.

While Harvard is one of if not THE top university when it comes to academics, it is also a very big party school. There is no lack of parties to be found on campus as well as the many bars and pubs in the Cambridge area. There are many frat parties that are always happening, mainly on the weekends, and there are nine fraternities and six sororities associated with the university.

Costs of Studying at Harvard

Harvard is, arguably, the most elite university in the United States and it is very expensive to attend. However, for undergraduate and graduate students there is quite a lot of financial aid available. They state on the website that, in terms of tuition, their “goal is to make sure it remains manageable for you.” for the 2018-2019 Harvard school year the tuition for undergrads is $71,650. This just an average of the cost for attending Harvard for one year and if a prospective student is eligible for financial aid they can also receive travel allowance and personal expenses. The breakdown of the costs of Harvard are as follows:

  • Tuition $46,340
  • Fees $4,080
  • Room $10,609
  • Board $6,551
  • Estimated personal expenses $4,070
  • Estimated travel costs $5,000

Obviously, the further a student of Harvard is from the more the travel expenses will be. This is especially the case with the many students that are from out of the country. The costs can vary greatly from the undergraduate and graduate programs the university.

Harvard Campus

The Harvard campus is very beautiful, especially in the fall with the leaves changing, which is par for the course in New England. The architecture is not only visually stunning, but ranges from classic red brick buildings to very modern ones such as the Harvard Graduate School of Design center. The campus is easy to walk around and is well set up with many walking trails and paths. There are walking tours available at all times of the year and some of the graduate programs also have specific walking tours. The library at the university is the biggest academic and private library system in the world. One of the main hubs on campus is the Richard A. and Susan F. Smith Campus Center and that is something that should not be missed when visiting the campus. In the middle of the campus is the historic University of Harvard Yard, which is where most of the freshman at the university live and attend classes.


Harvard is located in Cambridge, Massachusetts and is on the banks of the Charles River. Cambridge is a part of the Boston metropolitan area and has a population of just over 105,000. All around the campus there are many cafes, shops, theaters, and restaurants. In Harvard Square there are sporting events, street performances, and concerts. It is also easy to get around the area, as from Harvard Square you have access to the MBTA, which is Boston’s public transportation network. Near the campus is also the Boston Waterfront, where there are many things to do and see.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: How much money will I make with a Harvard University degree? A: Typically, with an undergraduate degree from Harvard University graduates can expect to start around $70,000 per year. The amount is more than that for those who earn a graduate degree and will differ depending on what type of degree is earned. Of all of the Ivy League schools Harvard graduates not only have the highest median earnings, but also the highest earnings potential. Q: How does the accreditation process work?A: Students have the ability to transfer to Harvard from other schools in America as well as the world over. The university will honor coursework completed and students can transfer up to 16 semester-long courses. 16 courses is two-years of schooling, so for most undergraduate degrees students have two more years to complete their studies and receive a Harvard degree. In order for undergrads to be eligible to transfer to Harvard they must have completed one full year of academic coursework, but not more than two years. They would have had to complete courses that can be compared to the ones offered at Harvard in their liberal arts curriculum as well as have earned a C, or the equivalent to a C, better.Many students also transfer to Harvard for their graduate work and the register will look at the previous college in the coursework and grades to see if the prospective student will be able to transfer into a graduate program. Q: Can I sit in on classes when looking into applying for university? A: Prospective students can sit in on classes at Harvard, as the registrar will have a list of classes where this is possible. Q: What is the weather like at Harvard? A: Being in New England you can expect to get the real feel of all four seasons. In the summer, it can be very hot and humid, the winter has cold and wet weather and the area does see a lot of snow, and in the spring and fall it is very temperate.

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