Harvard University is a private Ivy League school located in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Founded in 1636, it is the oldest institution of higher learning in the United States. The school is named after its first benefactor: John Harvard. It is the most selective university in the nation, and it often tops the rankings of the best national universities. Harvard is also the nation’s wealthiest school with an endowment reaching $37 billion.
Because of its wealth, academic reputation, influence, and rich history, Harvard is one of the most prestigious universities in the world.
Harvard University Acceptance Rate
Harvard University has an acceptance rate of 4.6%, making it an exceptionally selective school. Admission depends on several factors such as personal qualities, academic prowess, and extracurricular activities.
In the past few years, only 7-10% of applicants were admitted even though more than 85% of them were academically qualified. Harvard attracts many of the best students around the globe. Most of those admitted rank in the top 10-15% of their respective graduating classes.
Harvard does not have its own institutional form. Students may apply through the Common Application and the Universal Application. The Common Application is a straightforward process: students write an essay topic of their choice, provide their biographical details, send a transcript, and submit a summary of their extracurricular life. Applicants are also required to request recommendations from two teachers and a counselor.
There’s no single formula through which a student is admitted. Each application is reviewed by the committee with great care. Their goal is to identify and admit exemplary students who will likely make an impact not only during their college years but also beyond.
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Admitted Students Profile
Students in Harvard mirror a diverse range of perspectives, interests, and backgrounds. All 50 states of the United States are well-represented. There are also students from over 70 foreign countries. Almost 70% of the student body are graduates of public high schools.
The college has been entirely coeducational since 1977. At the time, Harvard joined forces with Radcliffe in a unique partnership. The Harvard community takes pride in its student body that hair from different ethnic, socioeconomic, and religious backgrounds.
Based on recent records, a total of 31,566 students have enrolled in Harvard University. 9,950 students have pursued undergraduate programs while 21,616 students were admitted for graduate programs. Based on gender distribution, Harvard is home to 15,841 male and 15,725 female students.
The undergraduate tuition and fees of Harvard University in 2019 amounted to $50,420. For graduate school, tuition and fees are $47,562. 4,311 students or 43.33% of the enrolled undergraduates have received financial assistance in the form of scholarships or grants that approximately amount to $47,145.
Harvard adheres to a need-blind admissions process. This means an applicant will be evaluated without regard for the family’s capacity to pay. Around 70% of students in the university are given financial aid. The average financial package that comes with a grant, loan and campus job was around $40,000 in recent years.
Harvard is a culturally-rich university. It has historic buildings and various state-of-the-art research facilities. Due to its Cambridge location, the school allows students easy access to downtown Boston. It’s also close to hundreds of interesting establishments.
Students can take up a vast array of academic resources and offerings. Those who are taking up their A.B. or S.B. can select from about 3,500 classes each year and more than 40 fields of concentration/majors. Throughout eight semesters, students need to pass 32 semester-long courses as a requirement for graduation.
The concentration includes almost half of the course load divided over the four years. Examples of fields students can major in are biological sciences, literature, folklore and mythology, computer science, linguistics, economics, history, and engineering. Some students take up joint concentrations or create their own.
The Harvard community is known for its interest in relaxing and socializing. But because most students are involved in two to three extracurriculars, they tend to have a busy schedule. All told, the school has more than 400 official student organizations on campus. These groups include a marching band, five orchestras, two jazz bands, a gospel choir, and a glee club.
There are also a daily and a weekly newspaper, dozens of political and literary publications, a student government, more than 60 theater productions annually, debate teams, religious groups, and minority and other organizations focused on public service.
The campus fields 41 varsity athletic teams. This is more than any other college or university in the United States. In recent years, Harvard athletes have won Ivy League championships in different sports. These include men’s and women’s soccer, women’s basketball, men’s tennis, baseball, football, men’s and women’s squash, and men’s and women’s crew.
They have also won NCAA Division I championships in women’s lacrosse, men’s and women’s hockey, crew, and squash.
One of the highlights of the school year in the athletic front is the Harvard-Yale football game. Harvard’s long-time athletic rivalry with Yale is intense in every sport where they play against each other. This competition comes to a climax in the fall during the annual football meeting. Dating back to 1876, this momentous event is often dubbed as “The Game.”
Below is a list of the most famous Harvard University graduates:
- 2nd President of the United States John Adams (AB, 1755; AM, 1758)
- 6th President of the United States John Quincy Adams (AB, 1787; AM, 1798)
- 19th President of the United States Rutherford B. Hayes (LLB, 1845)
- 26th President of the United States and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Theodore Roosevelt (AB, 1880)
- 32nd President of the United States Franklin D. Roosevelt (AB, 1903)
- American author, political activist, and lecturer Helen Keller (AB, Radcliffe College, 1904)
- 35th President of the United States John F. Kennedy (AB, 1940)
- President of Liberia and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Ellen Johnson Sirleaf (MPA, 1971)
- 11th Prime Minister of Pakistan Benazir Bhutto (AB, Radcliffe College, 1973)
- 43rd President of the United States George W. Bush (MBA, 1975)
- Founder of Microsoft Bill Gates (COL, 1977; LLD, 2007)
- Former Secretary-General of the United Nations Ban Ki-moon (MPA, 1984)
- Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States Elena Kagan (JD, Harvard Law School, 1986)
- 44th President of the United States and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Barack Obama (JD, 1991)
- Former First Lady of the United States Michelle Obama (JD, 1988)
- Co-Founder of Facebook Mark Zuckerberg (COL, 2006)