Office of Admissions
86 Brattle Street
Cambridge, MA 02138
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Harvard University includes Harvard College and the following graduate and professional schools: the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, the Business School, the Design School, the Divinity School, the School of Education, the John F. Kennedy School of Government, the Law School, and the Schools of Dental Medicine, Medicine, and Public Health.
The residential plan for undergraduate students is an essential part of the Harvard experience. Every student is assured a place in College housing for four years. Freshmen live in one of the several dormitories in Harvard Yard, the oldest and most central part of the campus. At the end of the freshman year, students move into residential Houses in which they will live for the remainder of their undergraduate careers. The House system provides a smaller community for students within the larger University environment. Each House has a resident senior faculty member who is called the master, a senior tutor or dean, a tutorial staff, a library, and dining facilities. All Houses are coeducational, and much of the social, athletic, extracurricular, and academic life centers on the House.
Location and Community
Harvard College is located in Cambridge, Massachusetts, a city on the banks of the Charles River, across from Boston. Metropolitan Boston is a pleasant mixture of New England culture and urban vitality. Both Boston and Cambridge enjoy a history of tradition and innovation, as illustrated by their concert halls, libraries and bookstores, museums, theaters, coffeehouses, shops, and sports arenas. The cultural and recreational opportunities are countless and easily accessible. Beaches and mountains are within easy reach.
Harvard’s goal is to provide students with the freedom to design individual academic programs within the structure of a broadly based liberal arts curriculum. Students must complete at least 32 one-semester courses during their four years, chosen from the more than 3,500 courses available in the humanities, social sciences, and natural sciences. A one-semester course in expository writing is required of all freshmen.
At the end of the freshman year, students choose a field of concentration. During the next three years, they take a minimum of 12 one-semester courses chosen from that field and related fields. Except in a few fields, sophomores are assigned a tutor within their chosen field of concentration. The tutorial group meets weekly to investigate assigned topics or areas of special interest. Juniors and seniors may elect to pursue tutorials on an individual basis, thus enabling them to study an issue in depth. The culmination of the tutorial program is the senior thesis. Cross-registration in other faculties of Harvard University and with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology is also available.
The Core Curriculum courses are specially designed to fulfill students’ requirements outside of their fields of concentration. Seven one-semester courses are required, chosen from eleven areas of intellectual inquiry that include literature and arts, historical study, social analysis, moral reasoning, science, foreign cultures, and quantitative reasoning. This core program gives students an appreciation of disciplines other than their chosen concentration. Before graduation, students are also required to demonstrate proficiency in a foreign language and competence in certain areas of data analysis.
Harvard’s Advanced Standing Program is designed for undergraduates who plan to graduate in three years or plan to complete the A.B./A.M. program in four years. This is a choice made at the end of two years of study at Harvard. To be eligible for this, students who have taken College Board Advanced Placement tests need a total of 4 full credits, earned by scoring a 5 on a minimum of four qualified AP exams.
Each year, freshmen can elect to participate in one of 125 Freshman Seminars. The seminar format is designed for those freshmen who are eager to work independently or within small groups on special topics, under the guidance of a professor well known in his or her field.
A large number of students receive credit each year for work done away from the Harvard campus under the auspices of a variety of programs that are sponsored by foreign and American universities. Undergraduates interested in study-abroad programs are counseled on an individual basis about program applications, academic credit, and financial assistance.
Harvard’s faculty is an outstanding group of scholars, teachers, and researchers. The Faculty of Arts and Sciences consists of approximately 700 full-time members, all of whom hold the highest degree in their fields; they may be assisted by teaching fellows who are doctoral candidates. Many of the courses with the largest enrollments are taught in small sections of about 20. In contrast, the great majority of classes are taught with very small enrollments, and the tutorial system provides individual instruction. In fact, the median class size is 10. Because teaching and scholarship are both highly valued at Harvard, a freshman may well be taught by a Nobel Prize winner or a distinguished scholar.
Harvard offers more than forty areas in which an undergraduate may specialize. Some of these fields of concentration are AfroAmerican studies, anthropology, applied mathematics, astronomy, biochemical sciences, biology, chemistry, classics, computer science, Earth and planetary sciences, East Asian studies, economics, engineering and applied sciences, English, environmental science and public policy, folklore and mythology, Germanic languages and literatures, government, history, history and literature, history and science, history of art and architecture, linguistics, literature, mathematics, music, Near Eastern languages and literatures, philosophy, physics, psychology, religion, Romance languages and literatures, Sanskrit and Indian studies, Slavic languages and literatures, social studies, sociology, statistics, visual and environmental studies, and women’s studies. Within fields, there are various options for specialization, and it is possible to combine major fields or to devise special concentrations. Almost all undergraduates pursue an A.B. degree (only the engineering and applied sciences concentration offers an S.B. degree program).
Facilities and Resources
The University library system consists of the Harvard College Library and the libraries of the graduate and professional schools. Together these libraries house more than 15 million volumes, constituting the largest university library collection in the world.
The University Museum includes the Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology, the Botanical Museum, the Museum of Comparative Zoology, and the Mineralogical Museum. The Fogg and Sackler museums house a collection of paintings, drawings, and sculpture. Contemporary exhibits are featured regularly at the Carpenter Center for Visual Arts. The Loeb Drama Center seats 500 in the auditorium and houses a small experimental theater.
More than a dozen buildings are used exclusively for the classrooms, laboratories, and museums of the natural sciences. There are computers available for use in the science center and all residence halls. All student rooms have Internet network access.
Harvard offers more than 300 student organizations. Some groups are long-established, such as the Hasty Pudding Club and Phillips Brooks House; others reflect the changing interests, attitudes, and politics of the times. Students find organized activities in dance, drama, government, journalism, music, religion, social service, visual arts, and a variety of other special interest areas.
Diversity is the hallmark of the Harvard experience. The college's students come from all areas of the United States and several foreign countries; from cities, suburbs, small towns, farms; from public and private schools; and from all parts of the economic spectrum. Students' interests are as varied as their origins. There are confirmed academics, whose college experiences center in the library, the lab, the seminar; volunteers who combine social work in the Cambridge community with their academic work; journalists who organize their lives around newspaper deadlines; artists, athletes, actors, musicians, political organizers. Young men and women come to Harvard and Radcliffe with a wide variety of ultimate goals-many with no clearly defined goals at all. What they have in common are keen intellectual curiosity and well defined interests. They seek a university with the resources to enable them to follow those interests to their limits, whether their chosen area is philosophy or photography, literature or low-temperature physics. The seek, too, an intellectual community, a group of fellow students and teachers with whom they can share their interests and discover new ones. Harvard students find, offer the kind of scope they want. A curriculum with almost 3,000 courses and over 40 areas of concentration; a library system containing more than 11 million volumes, a full-time faculty of over 700; the resources of ten professional schools and other research centers within Harvard University; the varied cultural and educational offerings of the Boston metropolitan area; a myriad of student organizations focusing on politics, the arts, communications, social service, athletics, and recreation; and a housing system that combines the intimacy of a small college with the rich and stimulating environment of a university. Campus Organizations include the African Students Association, Asian-American Students Association, Latin American Students Association, Harvard Native American Program and the Foundation for Intercultural and Race Relations. These are the raw materials of the undergraduate experience. Minority students are involved in all facets of the undergraduate experience and leave well prepared to enter a wide variety of careers and graduate programs.
The increasing number of minority students on campus has been accompanied by the development of student organizations serving the diverse communities. These groups foster genuine communities on campus. Activities now range from peer counseling, Big Sister/Big Brother networks, and study groups to social functions and intercollegiate conferences. The number and size of student organizations have expanded so that today there is a wide variety of opportunities for participation at any level, whether helping to organize events or just attending and enjoying the wealth of activities. Through their efforts, the student organizations bring new perspectives on education to Harvard.
Over twenty-five years ago, the percentage of minority students at Harvard was a fraction of one percent. Today, minority students comprise over one-third of the total student population. We take pride in this significant change and in the profound impact that minority students and alumni have made on this community. Their contributions and their continued impact on society redefine opportunities and create new aspirations.
The Audrey and Stephen Currier Memorial Scholarship Fund and the Radcliffe Martin Luther King Scholarship provide funds for minority students on the basis of financial need.
Sports / Varsity Athletics
The Department of Athletics offers forty-one intercollegiate sports programs for men and womenmore than any other college in the country. In addition, there is a comprehensive system of intramural and recreational sports. The extensive athletic facilities include six basketball courts, forty squash courts, two swimming pools, and forty-eight tennis courts. Also available are facilities for aerobics, baseball, fencing, field hockey, football, hockey, lacrosse, martial arts, racquetball, rowing, soccer, track, water polo, weight lifting, and wrestling. Houses have their own intramural teams, and there are sports clubs run by students.
Costs for tuition and fees are $44,990, and room and board is $16,660. Estimated personal expenses, books, supplies, and similar costs were $2795; travel expenses vary.
Financial Aid / Scholarships
All admissions decisions at Harvard College are made without consideration of a candidate’s financial need, and all financial aid awards at Harvard College are based on need. More than 70 percent of the undergraduates receive some form of financial assistance. Financial aid is provided in the form of scholarships, loans, and term-time employment. Family income and a number of other factors are considered in determining need. Any students who feel they may need financial assistance are encouraged to apply. Financial aid applicants who are U.S. citizens are required to submit the CSS Financial Aid PROFILE, the FAFSA, and copies of their family’s tax returns by February 1. International students are required to file the Financial Statement for Students from Foreign Countries (FSSFC) by the same date. Applicants are usually notified of their aid awards at the same time they are notified of the admission decision.
Admission Requirements / Application
Undergraduates come from every state and nearly 100 countries. More than 20,000 applicants from both public and private schools compete for 1,675 places in the freshman class. The Admissions Committee seeks a diverse group of students who are intellectually capable, socially aware, and mature. The committee considers not only academic achievement but also students’ extracurricular talents and potential for contributing to the Harvard community.
Applicants should present a high school transcript, two letters of recommendation from teachers, one letter of recommendation from a school counselor, scores on the SAT or the ACT and any three SAT Subject Tests. Applicants must also submit a personal essay and, if at all possible, meet with an alumnus or alumna for an interview in their local area. The credentials of all applicants are considered in depth, and full attention is given to each candidate’s particular strengths and abilities as well as personal qualities.
The Regular Action deadline is January 1; decisions are mailed in early April. Students who apply to transfer into the sophomore or junior year should submit their applications by February 15. They may express a preference to enter in the fall or the spring. The College also accepts a few visiting students each fall and spring from well-qualified candidates who are currently matriculated at another college and wish to spend a term studying at Harvard.
For application forms and additional information, students should contact:
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