Harvard University

Harvard University Student Enrollment and Financial Aid Info

Located in Cambridge, MA, Harvard University is an Ivy League school that offers bachelor's, master's and doctoral degree programs. Read about the pros and cons of the school, plus ranking, tuition and admission information.

Is Harvard University the School for You?

Harvard University is situated a short distance from Boston, Massachusetts, in Cambridge. This private institution offers undergraduate and graduate degree programs in subjects ranging from medicine and law to government and business. Founded in 1636, Harvard is the oldest university in the nation and one of the premiere research institutions in the world. Check out the following list of pros and cons to see if Harvard University is right for you.


  • It's an Ivy League school
  • 4-year graduation rate is 47 percentage points higher than the national average
  • Average student debt upon graduation is almost $15,000 less than the national average
  • Student-to-faculty ratio is 7:1, compared the national average of 16:1
  • Endowment has grown by 15% between 2010 and 2011


  • Total yearly cost is about $18,000 above the national average for 4-year, private not-for-profit universities
  • Acceptance rate is around 60 percentage points lower than the national average

About Harvard University

More than 6,000 undergraduate and 13,000 graduate students are enrolled at Harvard University on an annual basis. This Ivy League school was ranked #1 in the nation by U.S. News & World Report as of 2013. Its alumni include eight U.S. presidents and several Nobel Laureates. U.S. News & World Report also noted that Harvard University's $32 billion endowment was the largest in the country for the 2011 fiscal year.

Harvard University offers approximately 3,500 courses through 15 colleges and schools. As an incoming freshman, you could pursue one of 40 fields of study available through the university's undergraduate Harvard College. Bachelor's degree programs are offered in such areas as political science, psychology, social science and literature. Other schools at Harvard offer graduate programs in education, design, medicine and engineering, to name a few.

Compared to the national average acceptance rate of 65.5%, Harvard University's admissions process is extremely competitive. Only 6% of applicants were accepted in 2011, according to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES). If you get in, however, you'll be enrolled in a school with a 4-year graduation rate that's significantly higher than the national average of 40%. NCES reported that 87% of students who began their bachelor's degree programs in 2005 graduated within four years. As many as 97% completed their programs in six years of study.

Harvard University can also offer you the financial aid needed to finish your degree program with less debt than graduates of some other 4-year schools. The national average student debt for 2011 was $26,660. According to U.S. News & World Report, the average debt accrued by Harvard students in this same year was $11,780. This was despite the fact that the total cost of tuition, fees and living expenses for the 2011-2012 academic year was $56,000, which was well above the national average cost of $37,971 for 4-year, private not-for-profit schools.

Admissions & Financial Aid at Harvard University

As mentioned above, it's exceptionally difficult to get into Harvard University. College Board reports that 87% of incoming freshmen had a high school GPA of over 3.75, while the middle 50% of accepted applicants scored between 700 and 800 on the critical reading, writing and math portions of the SAT. The middle range of ACT scores was between 32 and 35.

To apply, you can submit either a Common Application or the Universal College Application along with the Harvard Application Supplement. You may also need to include an international or home schooling supplement depending on your circumstances. Other application requirements include SAT or ACT scores, high school transcripts, two teacher evaluations, school reports and a $75 application fee.

Harvard University accepts students on a need-blind basis, meaning applicants are admitted regardless of their ability to pay. While Harvard is an expensive school, College Board reported that 100% of admitted students had their financial needs met for the 2010-2011 academic year. The university offers student employment opportunities, scholarships, grants and loans to offset the cost of enrollment. According to NCES, 66% of first-year students received grant or scholarship aid from Harvard itself during this period, for an average award of just under $36,000.

Application and Tuition Info
Regular Application Deadline (2013-2014) January 1st*
Financial Aid Application Deadline (2013-2014) February 1st*
Admission Notification Date (2013-2014) April 1*
Application Fee (2013-2014) $75*
Acceptance Rate (2011-2012) 6%**
Tuition & Fees (2011-2012) $39,851**
Average Financial Aid Package (2010-2011) $46,794 for first-year students*
Percent of Students with Need Met (2010-2011) 100%*
Average Student Debt at Graduation (2011) $11,780***
Student Loan Default Rate (2009) 1%**

Life at Harvard University

Harvard University is situated in Cambridge, MA, which is very close to Boston if you crave the environs of a larger city. However, as a first-year student, you'll be required to live on campus in one of the university's 58 housing facilities. Options include apartments for single students and married couples, co-ed dorms, cooperative housing and special housing for students who have disabilities.

You could also participate in a large number of student organizations relating to a wide variety of interests, including drama, music, broadcasting and dance. Writers and artists have many options as well. For instance, the university is home to the Harvard Crimson and the Harvard Lampoon, in print since 1876. Former notable Lampoon presidents include comedian and late-night talk show host Conan O'Brien and novelist John Updike. Several club, intramural and NCAA Division I sports teams are offered as well.

Additionally, the Office of Career Services at Harvard University offers advising services to current students and alumni. Resources for finding jobs and internships are also available. The center assists students interested in attending graduate school as well.

Student Life Info
Campus Setting Small city*
Student Population (2011) 6,657 undergraduate and 13,215 graduate students***
Male-to-Female Student Ratio (2011) 51% to 49%**
% of Full-Time Students (2011) 70%**
% of In-State Students (2011) 13%**
% of International Students (2011) 10%**
Retention Rate (2011) 98%***
Campus Housing Available Yes***
% of Students Living on Campus 98%***
Number of Libraries Over 70****
Extracurricular Activities 447 student organizations***
Noteworthy Unique facilities include an observatory, an experimental forest and a museum of Scandinavian and Germanic Art*

Article Sources: *College Board, **NCES College Navigator, ***U.S. News and World Report, ****Harvard University.

School Contact Information

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