harvard university
United States

Harvard University

What makes Harvard University so special and how can you become a Harvard alumni?

Harvard University was established in 1636 in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and is probably the best known, most prestigious and most highly rated private research university in the world. A member of the Ivy League, and the oldest university in the USA, Harvard is the alma mater of eight American presidents, 62 billionaires, numerous Pulitzer Prize and Academy Award winners, 150 Nobel prize winners  and 108 Olympic medallists. And this is just the tip of an enormous iceberg…

The Harvard name is an open sesame; its influential alumni network spans the globe; and its reputation for academic excellent, groundbreaking research and producing leaders in every field of human endeavour is second to none. Not surprisingly, Harvard received over 40,000 applications for every 2000 places and thus only accepts 5 per cent of applicants. You could be one of them!

Is Harvard only for the rich?


Harvard is one of five need-blind universities in the US, which means that your financial ability to pay its $70,000 dollar fee for each year of your studies is not taken into account by the admissions board. If you are offered a place, and your annual family income is below $65,000, all your expenses will be covered by the university. Yes, your tuition fees, accommodation, food, books etc will all be included.

Approximately 60 per cent of Harvard students receive some kind of financial aid, and this is possible because Harvard is heavily endowed and  currently has some $41 billion in its coffers. The university is looking for excellence and is quite prepared to pay for it. International students are treated exactly the same as domestic students and are eligible for fully-funded scholarships.

What are the academic requirements for getting in to Harvard?

Since competition for places is so intense, you need to make sure that your SAT (or ACT) scores are outstanding. International students should aim to get at least 1500 (out of 1600) in the SAT, with an average score of 750 and upwards (out of 800) in each section. Remember, Harvard’s reputation rests on its prolific research and the admissions department is looking for people who can contribute, and not simply absorb knowledge. Only one third of the students at Harvard are undergraduates, because of this emphasis on research studies, and while grades and scores are not the only criteria for acceptance, they do matter.

You will need to submit school reports and  teachers’ reports, and while Harvard University no longer insists on applicants doing the SAT essay, you can write the optional essay suggested in the supplementary Harvard paper and answer two 150-word questions, in order to show the admissions department more of who you are and what you offer the university.

IELTS scores are also optional, but as is the case with the optional essay, I believe you would be well advised to submit everything!

If you want to discuss the Harvard entry requirements in greater detail, call Elab and we will go through the papers and  processes and answer any questions you may have.

Has anyone ever scored 1600- or close –  in the SAT?

Getting the perfect score is not unknown, as the following examples show:

  • Bill Gates scored 1590
  • Mark Zuckenberg scored 1600
  • as did Ben Affleck and Will Smith.

What are the admissions board looking for?

Applicants are evaluated according to a number of criteria: their community involvement; their personal qualities and character; their distinctive talents and interests; their leadership potential and, in general terms, whether the background they come from will help Harvard maintain diversity in the student community.

Approximately 41 per cent of those who are offered a place are so-called “legacy admissions”, which means that their parents or grandparents went to Harvard – like Franklin and Theodore Roosevelt, for example. Don’t let this deter you from applying, after all your children could, in turn, become legacy students.

What is  the Harvard University campus  like?

Harvard is spread over three campuses. Cambridge campus is the original site and houses undergraduates around Harvard Yard in a number of single-sex dorms.

Just across the Charles River lies the expanding Alston campus, while Longwood campus, for students of medicine, dentistry and public health,  is a short hop away from Cambridge. Harvard University has 10 degree-awarding schools, including Harvard College, its renowned  School of Law and the Radcliffe Institute  for Advanced Study. These are located across the three campuses, sharing the largest academic library system in the world, and glorious Annenberg Hall which features in so many photographs of Harvard and looks just like Hogwarts’ dining hall.

What accommodation will I find at Harvard?

Nearly every student (99 per cent) lives on site in a dorm. Each single-sex dorm has tutors and faculty deans in residence, and has its own dining hall, library and recreational facilities. The dorms are the hubs of social life at Harvard, somewhere you will relax, make friends and share interests and ideas. At the end of your first year, as a freshmen  you will be assigned to a particular house, on Housing Day, a riotous Harvard tradition .

Where can I eat on campus?

Undergraduates can enjoy the all-you-can-eat local produce offered at Annenberg Hall, go to one of the many cafes on site, or try out the food at another House, if you are invited as a guest by a resident. The Harvard meal plan includes ordering packed lunches, caters to every dietary need and is said to provide high quality dishes .

What are the most popular majors at Harvard?

It is often said that Harvard is best for the arts and Stanford  for the sciences, but this is debatable, as you can see from the following list:

  • Natural sciences
  • Politics and government
  • Social sciences
  • Biology
  • Mathematics
  • Computer science
  • Econometrics and quantitative economics
  • Public health
  • History

What facilities does Harvard offer its students?

The short answer here is the best of everything: 400 societies, theatres, museums, athletic and sporting facilities – you name it, you will find it at Harvard. The Harvard Crimson newspaper will keep you in touch with the many events and activities on campus, and if you want to get away from the academic environment, elegant,  cosmopolitan Boston is close by .

What is Primal Scream?

This famous/infamous event takes place at midnight on the night before exams begin, and those who are brave enough to suffer the cold, strip naked and run round Harvard Yard, encouraged by the screams of their peers –  who watch out of their dorm windows and encourage them to run faster.

Is Harvard University for me?

If you are looking for a life-changing, challenging four years at the world’s most respected university, then look no further than Harvard. You too can be part of the academic elite and create memories which will last you a lifetime.

Call Elab and let us start preparing your application and work together to maximise your chances of being accepted at the unique university which is Harvard.