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United States

Yale vs Harvard

Yale vs Harvard: which is better?

Yale vs Harvard – which is the best Ivy League university?

Yale vs Harvard: both are private, not for profit US Ivy League universities, with very high research output. Both are synonymous with academic excellence, and always feature in the Top Twenty global university rankings. There are differences between them, some minute, others more significant.

This blog will sum up the views of alumni, present students and researchers, to provide you with a well-rounded picture of Yale vs Harvard – so that you can answer the question “which is better?” yourself.

In the end, your verdict will depend on what you value – whether weather conditions and location are important to you, for example – and, of course, on what you intend to study. Harvard has outstanding business and medical schools, while Yale is renowned for its school of law. Similarly, Harvard is ranked No.1 in 12 out of 48 subjects, while Yale is also in the top ten for 12 subjects. As a rough rule of thumb, Yale is stronger in art, music, drama and architecture, while Harvard attracts business-orientated students, and those who wish to study STEM subjects and medicine.

Let us start by looking at areas where there is no, or very little, difference between the universities, namely:

The table, below, summarises how these two world-class institutions differ, across a range of areas.

Which are the differences between Yale and Harvard?


New Haven, Connecticut

New Haven

Four-year residential college system; students are allocated to a college on admission

On undergraduate courses

Gaining an in-depth understanding of theory and academic issues. Yale is a high-minded university, with  an interest in social justice and environmental issues. It is involved with the government and a range of non-profit sectors.

Collegiate Gothic

Harkness Tower

Sterling Memorial Library

Sterling Law Building

500,000 including alumni

Yale students tend to visit New York for leisure and entertainment purposes, because New Haven , while a lively and walkable town, cannot compare with the Big Apple, in terms of choice. The journey takes under two hours, by train or car.

Yale’s campus shuttle service runs round the clock and is free, connecting the campus with New Haven train station


Cambridge, Massachusetts


1+3 residential college system; students are sorted into their Houses at the end of the first year

On postgraduate studies

Developing marketable skills.

Harvard encourages business success and focusses on the private sector.

American Georgian colonial redbrick

Widener Library
Harvard Yard
Harvard Square

8,000,000 tourists who can take virtual tours, independent tours by downloading the Harvard app, or organised group tours.

Cosmopolitan Boston, with its galleries, eateries and historical backdrop has a European feel and is very popular with Harvard students. The subway journey takes approximately 18 minutes, while a taxi will get you to Boston in 8.

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How to study in the USA

Yale vs Harvard - how can I apply to university in the USA?

Graduating from Harvard and Yale opens the door to many opportunities, wherever you may find yourself in the world. These universities have produced presidents and Nobel prizewinners, scientists and Pulitzer Prize-winning writers, heads of state, explorers, poets and statesmen. Walking around the campuses is an overwhelming and somewhat humbling experience, when you consider all the Greats who have hurried down these paths, worked in the libraries and pushed the boundaries of human knowledge and understanding. You too could follow in their footsteps.

Coming full circle, we return to the original question, whether Yale is better than Harvard. Yale is prettier, I believe, while Harvard has very, very slightly more cachet. Yale students mention happiness more than their Harvard peers, but they all agree that these Ivy League universities shaped their lives, and gave them the best possible start in their careers – as well as an amazing network of friends and colleagues to take with them into the future.
In the end, when it comes to deciding where to apply, you should follow your heart and see if it pushes you towards Yale or Harvard.

I am interested in applying to the Ivy League – what is my next step?

Get in touch with us here at Elab, follow us on social media either by giving us a call or dropping us an email. We have a team of experienced US specialists, who are ready to guide you through the application process and entry exams, answer any questions you may have, and provide you with information on the university, the Ivy League and life in the USA.

Contact Elab and let us start working together to build your profile and get you a place at Yale or Harvard university!

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