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There is no single academic path we expect all students to follow, but the strongest applicants take the most rigorous secondary school curricula available to them. An ideal four-year preparatory program includes four years of English, with extensive practice in writing; four years of math; four years of science: biology, chemistry, physics, and an advanced course in one of these subjects; three years of history, including American and European history; and four years of one foreign language.
Yes. Although schools provide different opportunities, students should pursue the most demanding college-preparatory program available.
The Admissions Committee recognizes that schools vary by size, academic program, and grading policies, so we do not have rigid grade requirements. There is no single academic path we expect all students to follow, but the strongest applicants take the most rigorous secondary school curricula available to them. We do seek students who achieve at a high level, and most admitted students rank in the top 10-15% of their graduating classes.
We have worked hard for many years to learn about schools in the U.S. and around the world. Our careful study of different schools, curricula, and educational systems benefits, too, from information we receive directly each year from schools, extensive personal communication we have with school personnel, and the interview reports we receive from our alumni/ae, who meet thousands of applicants to the College each year. We can always learn more, so we welcome information students think might be helpful to the Admissions Committee in understanding their accomplishments in their school communities.
No. While we understand there are differences in the overall strengths of secondary schools, we are most interested in how well applicants have taken advantage of available resources.
We ask students to provide Secondary School Reports from the college counselor of each school they have attended in their last two years of secondary school.
Yes. We value any information that helps us form a complete picture of an applicant's academic interests and strengths.
Harvard requires applicants to submit the results of either the SAT Reasoning Test or the ACT with writing component. All applicants, must also submit the results of two SAT Subject Tests. The Admissions Committee continues to consider test results in light of students' educational opportunities.
Please note that in order for your application to be considered complete,we must have your official test scores submitted directly to Harvard by the testing agency on your behalf.
Directions for sending your official scores to the admissions office can be found at www.collegeboard.com/student/testing/sat/scores/sending.html for the SAT and SAT Subject Tests and www.actstudent.org/scores/send/ for the ACT. Harvard College official codes are 3434 for the SAT and 1840 for the ACT.
Applicants can use the Application Status Website to check whether we have official scores on file.
If we do not receive your official scores from the testing agency, we will be unable to make a decision on your file. Please plan accordingly.
Harvard does not have clearly defined, required minimum scores; however, the majority of students admitted to the College represent a range of scores from roughly 600 to 800 on each section of the SAT Reasoning Test as well as on the SAT Subject Tests. We regard test results as helpful indicators of academic ability and achievement when considered thoughtfully among many other factors.
To satisfy our application requirements, applicants must take two SAT Subject Tests. Students should not submit two Subject Tests in mathematics to meet this requirement. Candidates whose first language is not English should ordinarily not use a Subject Test in their first language to meet the two Subject Tests requirement. . Applicants may wish to convey the breadth of their academic interests by taking tests in different subjects. All students are encouraged to submit additional Subject Tests (which may include one in a student’s first language), Advanced Placement or International Baccalaureate test results, or any other evidence of the breadth and depth of their academic accomplishments.
We consider a student's best test scores, but it is generally our experience that taking tests more than twice offers diminishing returns.
Teachers who know the applicant well and who have taught him or her in academic subjects (preferably in the final two years of secondary school) most often provide us with the most valuable testimony.
While we can make careful evaluations with required recommendations, we are happy to read helpful letters from people directly familiar with applicants' lives outside the classroom. Such letters are not necessary, however, and it is generally advisable to submit no more than two or three.
When and where possible, we try to arrange for applicants to meet with alumni/ae in or near their school communities. No candidate is at a disadvantage if an interview cannot be arranged. In the U.S., Canada and the U.K., an alumnus/a will contact an applicant directly by phone, email, or letter if such an interview is possible. If you live outside these areas, please check our website for country-specific instructions.
If paying the $75 fee would cause undue financial hardship for your family, we encourage you to request a fee waiver. You should contact your guidance counselor for assistance in obtaining the waiver. Information on the College Board fee waiver program is available at http://www.collegeboard.com/student/apply/the-application/922.html. Your counselor may use the College Board form, or your school’s own form. If no form is available, your counselor may choose to write a personal letter testifying that he or she is familiar with your family’s financial circumstances and believes payment would cause hardship.
If you submit a form signed by authorized school personnel, you can assume it will be accepted. If we have any questions, we will contact you.
The $75 application processing fee can be paid online through the online application system (either the Common Application or the Universal College Application). Please note that the Common Application and Universal Application websites are operated independently, and their respective offices are better able to assist you with specific logistical issues you may encounter while submitting the application forms or your fee through their sites.
You may also send a check drawn on a US bank in US dollars to:
Harvard College Admissions
86 Brattle Street
Cambridge, MA 02138
Please be sure to write the name and date of birth of the applicant on the check!
If you paid on-line, your e-mail confirmation is your receipt. If you paid by check, your cancelled check (or image sent by your bank) is your receipt. We do not send any other acknowledgment of payment. If payment is missing, we will contact you.
Important note: Payments are tracked only by Harvard's database. Please disregard any notification of payment status posted on the Common Application or Universal College Application website.
If your question has not been answered, please submit your question to email@example.com. One of our staff members will respond to your inquiry as soon as possible.
There is no formula for gaining admission to Harvard. Academic accomplishment in high school is important, but the Admissions Committee also considers many other criteria, such as community involvement, leadership and distinction in extracurricular activities, and work experience. The Admissions Committee does not use quotas of any kind. We rely on teachers, counselors, headmasters, and alumni/ae to share information with us about applicants' strength of character, their ability to overcome adversity, and other personal qualities--all of which play a part in the Admissions Committee's decisions.
Each case is different. Harvard seeks to enroll well-rounded students as well as a well-rounded first year class. Thus, some students distinguish themselves for admission due to their unusual academic promise through experience or achievements in study or research. Other students present compelling cases because they are more "well rounded" -- they have contributed in many different ways to their schools or communities. Still other successful applicants are "well lopsided," with demonstrated excellence in one particular endeavor -- academic, extracurricular, or otherwise. Some students bring perspectives formed by unusual personal circumstances or experiences. Like all colleges, we seek to admit the most interesting, able, and diverse class possible.
Most applications are read by two or more members of the Admissions Committee, and are considered very carefully in a series of committee meetings where a majority vote is required for admission. The entire process requires several months.
No. All students begin study in September to benefit from special programs designed for freshmen.
The Admissions Committee does not use quotas of any kind.
The application process is the same for all candidates. Among a group of similarly distinguished applicants, the daughters and sons of College alumni/ae may receive an additional look.
No. We encourage students with athletic talent to contact our Athletic Department for information about any of Harvard's 41 varsity athletic teams.
No. We request, however, that students submit the Common Application or the Universal College Application and the Harvard Application Supplement by December 1 if possible. Receipt of these two forms allows us to expedite application processing and to arrange personal interviews more quickly.
No. There are no quotas for individual schools, communities, states, or countries. A student's application is compared rigorously with others from around the globe.
Yes. Our wait list includes the strongest applicants whom the Committee was not able to admit but might still wish to consider for admission if spots in the entering class open later. The wait list is not ranked. In some years, we have admitted no one from the wait list; in others, we have admitted more than 100 candidates.
Harvard College wants to do everything possible to help the students we enroll make the most of their opportunities, avoiding the much reported "burnout" phenomenon that can keep them from reaching their full potential. Harvard's overall graduation rate of 97%, among the highest in the nation, is perhaps due in part to the fact that so many students take time off, before or during college. The Admissions Committee encourages admitted students to defer enrollment for one year to travel, pursue a special project or activity, work or spend time in another meaningful way - provided they do not enroll in a degree-granting program at another college. Most fundamentally, it is a time to step back and reflect, to gain perspective on personal values and goals, or to gain needed life experience in a setting separate from and independent of one's accustomed pressures and expectations. Deferrals for two-year obligatory military services are also granted. Each year, between 40 and 80 students defer their matriculation to the College, and all report their experiences to be uniformly positive; virtually all would do it again. After graduation, large numbers of Harvard students take time off before beginning work or graduate school.
For more thoughts on the advantages of taking time off you can read "Time Off or Burn Out for the Next Generation" written by William R. Fitzsimmons, Dean of Admissions, Harvard College, Marlyn McGrath, Director of Admissions, and Charles Ducey, Director or the Bureau of Study Counsel, Harvard University.
No. Students admitted under an Early Decision program at another college must withdraw any pending application to Harvard and are not eligible for admission.
After students receive notification from Harvard's Early Action program (around December 15), they are free to apply to any institution under any plan, including binding programs such as Early Decision II.
Yes. Students may apply to any college or university with a non-binding rolling admissions process.
Yes. Students may apply to any public college/university.
Yes. You may apply in the fall to any institution under its Regular Decision program.
Competition for early admission to Harvard College always has been rigorous. Given the nearly 35,000 candidates applying from around the world, and the relatively modest size of each entering class (about 1650 students), the Admissions Committee must act with great care in making Early Action Decisions. As a result, many strong applicants were deferred.
While it is impossible to predict individual admission decisions, past students whose applications were deferred have been admitted at various rates, often approximating the rate for Regular Decision candidates. Over the next few months, your application will be reviewed again, supplying another opportunity for eventual admission.
Further updates may enhance your prospects, although in most cases, the essential details already are on file with the Admissions Committee. Information should be limited to significant developments in your high school career.
Despite what you may hear or read, in public or private forums, no; this is wholly unnecessary. Our decisions are made by a committee of admission officers, including faculty members, no single one of whom is responsible for shaping the outcome of deliberations. As you can imagine, the admissions staff member who read your application will appreciate your patience and restraint.
Yes. Our generous financial aid program is fully available to candidates who have been deferred from Early Action and admitted in March – as well as those admitted from our waiting list later. Please review our financial aid policies and procedures at the Financial Aid Office website.