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Harvard University: Academics, Admissions & Tuition Info

Research Harvard University in Cambridge, MA. Learn about its admission info, degree programs and financial aid to make an informed education decision.

About Harvard University

Harvard is the oldest higher education institution in the nation. Founded in 1636, it began with just nine students. Harvard now has about 323,000 living alumni, including almost 52,000 living abroad. Among the school's current and former faculty members are 44 Nobel Prize winners. Harvard's library collection has some 17 million volumes, and the school motto, 'Veritas,' means 'Truth' in Latin.


There are 12 schools within Harvard University, plus the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study. The schools include the Law School, the Business School and the Divinity School. Harvard College provides undergraduate education.

Before the end of their third term in residence, undergraduates must choose a concentration from one of the 45 that Harvard offers. Concentration coursework comprises 40%-45% of the overall undergraduate program. General education coursework, including writing and foreign language classes, comprises another 30%-35% of the coursework, and electives make up the remaining courses.

As of 2010-2011, social sciences and biological/biomedical sciences were the most popular undergraduate areas of study. Among graduate students, education was the most popular area of study, followed by business, management, marketing and related services.


For 2013 undergraduate admissions, the deadline for Early Action applicants is November 1st. The Regular Decision application deadline is January 1st; however, Harvard suggests applying by December 1st if possible. The Common Application and the Universal College Application are both accepted. Early Action applicants will be notified by December 15th, while Regular Decision applicants will receive notification by April 1st.

For Fall 2011, 34,950 undergraduate applications were received. Of those applicants, 6% were admitted, and 76% of those admitted actually enrolled. Of the first-time students who were admitted for Fall 2011, 90% submitted SAT scores and 32% submitted ACT scores. The middle 50% of the ACT scores submitted fell between 32 and 35 (English), 31 and 35 (math), 8 and 10 (writing) and 31 and 35 (composite). The middle 50% of submitted SAT scores fell between 700 and 800 for math and 690 and 790 for both critical reading and writing.

The undergraduate class admitted for Fall 2011 was 51% female and 49% male. Of those students, 15% were Asian, 8% were Hispanic and 6% were African American.

Tuition & Financial Aid

For the 2011-2012 school year, the cost breakdown for full-time beginning undergraduate students was as follows: tuition and fees, $39,851; books and supplies, $1,000; on-campus room and board, $12,801; and other expenses, $2,348. Total on-campus costs for the 2011-2012 school year were approximately $56,000; they were expected to total $59,200 for the 2012-2013 academic year.

Throughout its history, Harvard has provided financial assistance to students in need. There are no merit or athletic awards for undergraduates; all awarded aid is based on financial need. For the 2012-2013 year, $172 million in need-based aid was awarded, and 60% of all undergraduate students benefited. Students from families with household incomes below $60,000 may have their tuition fully covered by the university under the Harvard Financial Aid Initiative.

School Type 4-year, private not-for-profit**
Degrees Offered Associate's degree, bachelor's degree, post-baccalaureate certificate, master's degree, post-master's certificate, doctoral degree**
Religious Affiliation None**
Academic Calendar Semesters***
School Setting Midsize city**
Student Body 27,392 (10,305 undergraduates) as of 2011**
Student Housing 95% of undergraduates live on campus*
Schools and Departments 12 schools and 33 departments*
Student-Faculty Ratio 7 to 1**
Most Popular Fields of Study by Degree Level (Number of Recipients) In 2010-2011:
Bachelor's: Economics, general (209)
Master's: Business/commerce, general (942)**
Undergraduate Graduation Rates 87% in 4 years and 97% in 6 years for students who began in Fall 2005**
Undergraduate Admission Rate About 6% for Fall 2012*
Entering Class Size 1,594 in Fall 2011**
First-Year Retention Rates 97% for full-time students who started in Fall 2010**
Middle 50% of SAT and ACT Composite Scores for Admitted Undergraduates SAT: 690-800
ACT: 31-35**
Application Due Date January 1st (for 2013 admission)*
Decision Notification Date April 1st (for 2013 admission)*
Tuition $59,200 (total anticipated cost for 2012-2013)*
Financial Aid Sources Available (Percent of Undergraduates Receiving It) For 2010-2011: Federal grants (18%), state and local grants (4%), institutional scholarships and grants (66%), federal loans (3%)**
Percent of Students Receiving Some Form of Aid 81% of full-time beginning undergraduate students in 2010-2011**

Sources: *Harvard University, **National Center for Education Statistics, ***U.S. News & World Report.

School Contact Information

  • Address: Office of Admissions and Financial Aid, Harvard College, 86 Brattle Street, Cambridge, MA 02138
  • Phone: 617-495-1551
  • Website:

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