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Harvard University Admissions

ivy league harvard admissions

Get Into Harvard

About Harvard University

Harvard University ranks at #2 in U.S. News and World Report rankings of National Universities. Founded in 1636, it is both the oldest and most competitive of the Ivy League schools, admitting just 4.5% of applicants for the Class of 2023. Today, approximately 6,700 undergraduate students attend classes on Harvard’s urban campus in Cambridge, MA.

Almost all Harvard undergraduates (97%) live in on-campus housing throughout their college careers. All first-year students live with other freshmen in shared suites on Harvard Yard, allowing them to form strong bonds with each other. At the end of freshman year, students are welcomed into one of twelve residential Houses, each of which offers students a close-knit community within the larger college. Houses present students with a variety of educational and recreational opportunities, ranging from seminars and film screenings to intramural sports teams.

Harvard offers students many other extracurricular opportunities, including over 450 student organizations and 125 community service programs through the Phillips Brooks House Association. Harvard also holds multiple arts festivals each year — including Cultural Rhythms, ARTSFirst, and Yardfest — while Harvard’s extensive library system houses the oldest collection in the United States and the largest private collection in the world. In addition, Harvard students have the opportunity to participate in or cheer on Harvard’s athletic teams, which compete in the NCAA Division I Ivy League.

Academically, Harvard offers students the opportunity to pursue a wide variety of subjects. Undergraduates at Harvard University can choose from more than 50 concentrations, as well as a range of secondary fields, many of which offer interdisciplinary study. (As of 2017, the most popular majors were economics, government, and computer science.) Undergraduate students at Harvard also have the ability to cross-register at most of Harvard’s 10 graduate schools and at MIT. For musicians, Harvard offers dual-degree programs with the New England Conservatory and the Berklee College of Music, allowing students to earn both a Bachelor of Arts and a Master of Music degree simultaneously.

One of the most exciting opportunities for a Harvard undergraduate is the ability to conduct high-impact research with world-renowned faculty. Over the past few years, students have received more than $7 million in research support from more than 60 organizations, ranging from academic departments to scientific research initiatives.

Applying to Harvard

Students can apply to Harvard in either the early or regular rounds. For students who choose to apply early, Harvard offers a Restrictive Early Action option (REA), with an application deadline of November 1. The regular application deadline is January 1.

REA is non-binding, meaning that admitted students do not have to attend Harvard. Students applying to Harvard REA may also apply to public or foreign schools in the early round. However, students applying REA are not allowed to apply to any other private schools under either Early Action or Early Decision programs. In other words, a student applying REA to Harvard could also apply early to Penn State (public) and St. Andrews (foreign), but he or she would not be able to apply Early Decision to Brown or Early Action to Georgetown.

Students can apply to Harvard using the Common Application, Universal Application, or Coalition Application. Harvard requires all applicants to complete the SAT or ACT (with or without writing). Students can self-report test scores on their applications, although admitted students will be required to submit official score reports. Harvard also recommends that students submit two SAT Subject Tests, except in cases where the cost of test-taking would be a financial hardship. (Based on our experience working with applicants for the past 20+ years, we know that most successful Harvard applicants submit at least four Subject Tests.) Harvard particularly recommends that international students consider submitting Subject Tests, as these students “are unlikely to be admitted on the basis of SAT or ACT alone.” (For more, see Harvard’s notes about Subject Tests here.)

Applicants will typically have the opportunity to carry out an in-person interview, usually after their application is submitted. In the U.S., students can generally hold interviews either on campus or with a regional Harvard representative in or near their community. International students may be able to carry out an interview with a local representative, although students’ candidacy will not be negatively affected if no interviews are available in their country. Applicants should check Harvard’s informational page on interviews to see if interviews are available in their area.

Harvard Admissions Wrap Up

Harvard accepted 4.92 percent of applicants to its Class of 2024. This year, Harvard received a total of 40,248 applications compared to 43,330 for the Class of 2023. With 1,980 admitted students to the Class of 2024, the rate of admission increased from 4.50 to 4.92 percent for the combined SCEA and regular decision. In the early round, Harvard University received 6,424 applications and accepted 895, for an admit rate of 13.93%. The SCEA admit rate is substantially higher than the regular decision acceptance rate of below 3 percent.

Last year, Harvard accepted a record-low 4.50 percent of applicants to its Class of 2023. Harvard received a total of 43,330 applications compared to 42,749 for the Class of 2022 when the school admitted 1,962 students resulting in an overall admissions rate of 4.49 percent. With 1,950 admitted students to the Class of 2023, the rate of admission dropped to 4.50 percent for the combined SCEA and regular decision. In the early round, Harvard University received 6,958 applications and accepted 935, for an admit rate of 13.44 percent.

Get Into Harvard – The Student Perspective

Inspire

Here at Top Tier Admissions, we’re fortunate to work with some amazing families and even more spectacular students. Their hard work, focus, determination and dedication to following our proposed roadmap and application strategy helped these students make the cut at Harvard and become a part of the Class of 2020. Like notable alums President Barack Obama, President John F. Kennedy and Mark Zuckerberg, Harvard’s Class of 2020 is poised to inspire and uniquely influence their peers and professors alike.

Here is some advice from a couple of our students most recently accepted to Harvard:

“I couldn’t be more grateful to Top Tier Admissions for their assistance in formulating and executing my application strategy! I learned that it is important for applicants to not be deterred from applying to top schools by fear or insecurity, as the most selective are often the least predictable, and to know that very well-crafted essays, which always take a seemingly unreasonable amount of time and revision to finish, can make a meaningful difference in the quality of an application.”

– J.A., Application Boot Camp 2015 (Harvard, Class of 2020)

“Don’t be deterred from reaching for your top schools. I was told by every counselor I met that it was ‘foolishness’ to apply to Harvard, and instead to Early Decision to a school that I didn’t like. By all means work your hardest, and then reach for the stars.”

– C.C., Application Boot Camp 2015 (Harvard, Class of 2020)

Top Tier Admissions Can Help:

"Thank you so much for all your time and work with N over these last few months. N found his experience at Boot Camp to be incredibly helpful and he very much enjoyed meeting you and working with all the Top Tier counselors as well as the other students. The process was educational for N in so many ways- thank you, thank you, thank you!"
–M.T., Application Boot Camp parent
"I want to thank you, again, for a fantastic Top Tier Boot Camp experience. As a second time Top Tier family, we drank your Kool Aid fully and completely, and it paid off! You know your stuff; you manage to thread the needle with a mix of tough love and compassion (for both the students and their parents - no small feat) and you run a super-efficient 4-day program."
–R.R., Application Boot Camp parent
"I got my acceptance letter over the weekend from Middlebury!! I’m officially a Panther!!! 🙂 Thank you for all of your help; I could not have made it through 1st quarter without ABC!!!"
-S.F., Application Boot Camp student
"Dear Michele, I just wanted to let you know that I just got accepted into Dartmouth for ED! I’m overjoyed and incredibly excited to continue my academic journey in New Hampshire. Thank you so much! You were always there to answer so many of my questions and were incredibly supportive of me; I couldn’t have done it without you and the Top Tier team!"
–B.S., Application Boot Camp student
"Thank you! He could not have done it without you."
–P.W., Application Boot Camp parent
"Thank you so much!! He couldn’t have done it without your amazing team!"
–H.O., Application Boot Camp parent
"We just got the news! Northwestern Class of 2024! She’s over the moon. This would not have happened without the advice and guidance along the way from all of the folks at Top Tier Admissions! From the advice on how to structure her supplemental info, including how to position her interests and activities relative to her major, the advice to take a college course this summer, and the amazing work that was done during Boot Camp, Top Tier is the absolute best and I know we have you to thank for her acceptance!!! Happy Holidays and thank you from the bottom of my heart!"
–P.S., Application Boot Camp parent
"Michele and team - Just wanted to pass along the great news that J got admitted today to Pitzer, her first choice ED school. Thanks for all the amazing support you've provided H and J over the past few years. They both learned a lot from the process and, of course, benefited greatly. We now get to celebrate the holidays with a sigh of relief!"
–V.J., Application Boot Camp parent
"Happy Holidays to you and your families. J is so thrilled about attending Middlebury College next fall (and we are thrilled for her) and we appreciate all your assistance. It was so exciting for her to get the official acceptance last week. She loved her time at ABC and still keeps in touch with the group of friends she made. Boot Camp was tough, but she thoroughly loved it. She’s a grinder so the intensity and complete immersion didn’t bother her at all. She loved working with all of you and cherishes having another little group of friends that she bonded with in Boston. Don’t fire your caterer - she’s a big fan of the food at Boot Camp."
–W.R., Application Boot Camp parent
"B, you helped me with my application during Boot Camp this past summer and I wanted to let you know that I committed to UPenn last night! Thank you so much for helping to transform my supplements into something readable. Boot Camp DEFINITELY helped me get in and made the process a lot less stressful. Thank you so much for all of your help!"
–B.A., Application Boot Camp student
"We wanted to thank you for your guidance, counsel and support through T’s application process. Your advice has been instrumental to his success and, more importantly, you gave him the confidence boost he needed to apply early at Princeton. We will continue to recommend Top Tier services to our friends and will always be grateful for what you did. We hope we can stay in touch and wish you a wonderful holiday season."
–K.L.T., Application Boot Camp parent
"We are excited to report that B was accepted ED to Duke University and has committed to attend next fall. We’ll forward a picture once our first Duke swag order arrives. Duke was her clear first choice and we are all very happy! We are also very pleased with the assistance we received from all of you at Top Tier and are confident that the guidance we received over the last seventeen months helped B wind up with this great outcome. So, thank you!"
–E.R., Application Boot Camp parent
"I am ecstatic to report that I got into my ED school: University of Chicago! Thank you so much for all your help and willingness to work through draft after draft until I got it right."
–W.D., Application Boot Camp student
"I am happy to report that we found out this evening that L has been accepted to Boston College! We are SO excited! And for your records, he was also accepted at Villanova and invited to the honors program. Thank you all so much for your help and support! We would have been lost without you!"
–M.J., Application Boot Camp student
"I wanted to extend my personal thanks for all your help with my son's application process and essays. Your Bootcamp proved to be well worth the investment and per your advice I stayed away from the temptation of even reading my son's essays until he was accepted. The bottom line is that he was accepted into his top choice of UChicago and in his acceptance letter his essay was specifically mentioned. Furthermore, this was a reach school for him which made the acceptance even more sweet. Your methods and advice were instrumental in his success and I cannot thank you enough for making my son's aspirations real!!"
–L.T., Application Boot Camp parent
"I'm not sure if my daughter told you yet, but she was accepted ED to Dartmouth in December. So, two for two with the W sisters-- thanks Top Tier Admissions!"
–G.W., Application Boot Camp parent x2
"I wanted to let you know that I got into my first choice, Boston College, early decision. I'm so excited. Thank you all so much for everything, I'm so grateful!"
–L.K., Application Boot Camp student
"Thank you to Mimi who wrote my personalized report back in junior year, to the entire team, and definitely to E! My quick acceptance into Cornell owes much to your insights and guidance. Although I have been accepted to Cornell, the process with Top Tier has made me want to stay competitive in college — whether for internships, or for graduate schools later in life. I thank you for that!"
–P.O., Application Boot Camp student
"WE MADE IT!!! THANK YOU SO MUCH! I COULDN'T HAVE DONE IT WITHOUT YOU!"
–L.J., Application Boot Camp student
“Once again, I am so impressed with your program. I am amazed at the sheer 
amount B. accomplished in four days! Equally as important, she feels
 really great about her essays. She loved working with each of you as well as 
A. (a great pairing for her!).  

I know how hard each of you worked this week; I hope you get to enjoy some
 well-deserved R&R!” –N.G., Application Boot Camp parent
"G is excited to go to her first choice, the University of Miami! She continues to say that Application Boot Camp was the best investment we ever made for her education." –R.J., Application Boot Camp parent
"I liked the process of having multiple people read my essays before finalizing a draft. This made me confident that my essays were clear and concise while also captivating to a diverse audience. Everyone was also patient and encouraging. Boot Camp took away so much stress coming into Senior Fall, allowing me to focus on my academics and earning my highest term average ever." –S.A., Application Boot Camp student
"I know first hand how you run your business.  Off the charts ethical! We look forward to continuing our relationship with Top Tier's Application Boot Camp."
-Parent of Application Boot Camp (Dartmouth) students
"Thank you so much for your help and guidance. I wouldn't have been able to do it without you and the Top Tier Admissions Team! I'm still in between UPenn and Georgetown, but I will make sure to visit both."
–S.I., Application Boot Camp student
"Clearly, Application Bootcamp and Top Tier took a lot of anxiety out of the whole situation. Our children know a number of kids who did not get into their top choice ED school, only to be devastated and stressed as they are without a plan for ED II and regular decision and have not worked on a range of essays for other schools. So while F & J’s EA-only strategy is not for everyone but made sense for them since they did not have a clear lead school when they were applying, being prepared made all the difference. The help Bootcamp provided in honing their voice and words into essays that reflect their intent was fantastic. In the end, it is all about having choices they are happy with, and I am happy to say they both have those now!"
–F.A., parent of Application Boot Camp students
"E., I just wanted to let you know that I got into Barnard Early Decision! Thank you for everything you have done!!! I can’t tell you how much I appreciate everything you did for me! Thank You!!" - H.L., Personal Boot Camp student
Barnard, Class of 2023
"I wanted to say thank you again for all your help! I got into UPenn, Cornell, Barnard, Wellesley, Wesleyan, Tufts, University of Michigan, and Wake Forest, and am waiting to hear from Georgetown; I think I'm leaning towards UPenn. Thank  you so much for all your guidance; I don't think I could have done it without your help!" --I.R., Application Boot Camp student
"We are thrilled! Duke is absolutely fantastic and is the exact right fit for K. Application Boot Camp definitely helped her get into Duke during their most selective year in history, a year in which they turned away well over 2,000 Valedictorians. Thank you!" -Y.R., parent of ABC student accepted to 9 top-tier colleges
Y.R.
"Boot Camp was the most incredible experience. It made me push myself into thinking about my future and prepared me to send in all my applications. I am so thankful that I got the help I needed at Boot Camp because it made my application process effortless once I had completed my essays. I think that the colleges were able to clearly see my goals and ambitions through the writing of my essays. I believe this helped me have a very successful application process." –P.K., Application Boot Camp student
Barnard Class of 2022
"I just wanted to say thank you for all the help that I received during Boot Camp! I was able to do so much work and gain so much knowledge about the procedure of applying to college. I am so blessed to have had you as my best resources. I will definitely keep you posted when I start hearing from schools and thank you very much for all your help and feedback once again.” – L.L, Application Boot Camp student

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