Does Harvard Accept CBSE

Does Harvard Accept CBSE? Exploring the Admissions Process for Indian Students

Harvard University is one of the world’s most prestigious institutions of higher learning. As such, it is no surprise that many students from India aspire to attend this Ivy League university.

However, one question often arises is whether Harvard accepts the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) curriculum.

Does Harvard Accept CBSE

Harvard is one of the most prestigious universities in the world, and it is natural for Indian students to wonder whether Harvard accepts the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) curriculum. 

The answer is yes. Harvard University welcomes applications from students who have completed their education under the CBSE curriculum.

Harvard University is known for its rigorous admission process, and it evaluates applicants based on several factors, including academic performance, extracurricular activities, personal qualities, and more.

While having a CBSE background does not guarantee admission to Harvard, it is not a disadvantage.

Harvard has a long history of admitting students from India, many of whom have come from CBSE schools.

The university values diversity and recognizes that students from different educational backgrounds bring unique perspectives and experiences to the classroom.

Indian students who have completed their education under the CBSE curriculum can apply to Harvard through the Common Application or the Coalition Application. 

However, it is essential to note that admission to Harvard is highly competitive, and students need to have exceptional academic records, extracurricular achievements, and personal qualities to stand out from the thousands of applicants.

Harvard’s Admission Requirements

Harvard University is globally renowned for its rigorous academic standards and stringent admissions process.

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Getting into Harvard is exceptionally competitive, as the university sets high standards that applicants must meet.

Grades and GPA

Harvard University values applicants who have demonstrated outstanding academic performance. While there is no strict GPA threshold, most admitted students typically hold GPAs of 3.9 or higher on a 4.0 scale.

Standardized Test Scores

In addition to solid grades, Harvard also requires applicants to submit standardized test scores. The university accepts both the SAT and the ACT, and successful applicants typically score in the 99th percentile or above.

English Language Proficiency

As Harvard is an English-language institution, applicants whose first language is not English must demonstrate proficiency. This can be done by submitting TOEFL, IELTS, or other English proficiency test scores.

Personal Qualities and Qualifications

Harvard looks for applicants with exceptional personal qualities and qualifications, such as leadership, creativity, and a commitment to service.

This can be demonstrated through extracurricular activities, community service, and other experiences outside of the classroom.

Admission Requirements

To apply to Harvard, you must complete either the Common Application or the Coalition Application and include additional materials as required.

These application forms will request information about your background, academic history, extracurricular activities, and essays.


Harvard does not have specific subject requirements, but the university looks for applicants with a rigorous course load, including advanced coursework in various subjects.

Standardized Tests and Scores

In Harvard University’s admissions process, standardized test scores hold significant importance. Typically, applicants are expected to furnish scores from at least one standardized test. Yet, in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, Harvard has occasionally granted exceptions in recent years. 

Here is a breakdown of the standardized tests that Harvard accepts:


When applying to Harvard, you can submit either SAT or ACT scores. The SAT score scale ranges from 400 to 1600, while the ACT score scale goes from 1 to 36. 

Harvard doesn’t set a strict minimum score requirement. Nevertheless, on average, accepted students tend to score around 1500 on the SAT and approximately 34 on the ACT.


While the GRE and GMAT are not required for undergraduate admissions, they are necessary for specific graduate programs at Harvard. 

The GRE is a standardized test assessing verbal reasoning, quantitative reasoning, and analytical writing abilities, whereas the GMAT is tailored for students seeking admission to business schools.

The minimum score requirements for these exams vary by program, so students should check with their specific department for more information.


Harvard University asks international students who don’t speak English as their first language to take language tests. They can choose between two tests: TOEFL or IELTS.

You must score at least 100 on the internet-based test to meet the TOEFL requirement. If you opt for the IELTS, your overall score should be 7.5, with no individual band score below 7.0.

For Indian students, Harvard does accept scores from the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE). However, there is no specific CBSE score threshold; these scores are merely one of the many considerations during the admissions process.

Application Process

Harvard University accepts applications from students all over the world. The application process is rigorous, and prospective students must meet the requirements and deadlines.

Common and Coalition Application

Harvard University allows applicants to use either the Common Application, which becomes available on August 1, or the Coalition Application, which becomes available on August 15.

Transfer applicants can apply using either application from September 1. Both applications require applicants to provide basic information about themselves, their academic background, and their extracurricular activities.

Supporting Materials and Documents

In addition to the Common or Coalition Application, applicants must submit supporting materials and documents. 

These include official transcripts from all secondary schools attended, letters of recommendation from teachers or other adults who know the applicant well, and standardized test scores. 

Harvard does not require applicants to submit SAT Subject Test scores, but they may choose to do so if they believe it will enhance their application.

Interviews and Personal Statements

Harvard may invite some applicants to participate in an interview as part of the application process. Interviews are conducted by alumni volunteers and are offered on a first-come, first-served basis. 

Applicants must also submit a personal statement, an opportunity to showcase their personality, experiences, and goals.

Deadlines and Fees

Harvard has two application deadlines: November 1 for Early Action and January 1 for Regular Decision. Early Action is a non-binding application process allowing students to receive admissions before Regular Decision applicants. 

The application fee for Early Action and Regular Decision is $75, but fee waivers are available for students who demonstrate financial need.

Financial Aid and Scholarships

Harvard College offers various financial aid and scholarship options to help students from all backgrounds afford their education. These options include need-based aid, scholarships, student employment, and loans.

Over half of Harvard undergraduates, precisely 55%, receive need-based scholarships. Families with incomes below $85,000 are exempt from financial obligation to support their child’s education. 

For families earning between $85,000 and $150,000, the expected contribution falls within zero to ten percent of their annual income.

Families earning over $150,000 may still qualify for financial aid, and families at all income levels with significant assets are asked to pay more than those without assets.

Harvard University offers a variety of scholarships to help students with their tuition and fees. These scholarships consider factors like academic performance, participation in extracurricular activities, and financial need.

These scholarships from Harvard University include full funding, covering everything from tuition and fees to living expenses. They are available to domestic and international students based on their academic accomplishments and potential.

Indian Students at Harvard

Harvard University is one of the most prestigious universities in the world, attracting students from all over the globe. Indian students are no exception, with a significant number of them attending Harvard every year. 

According to student visa data from 2019, around 213,062 students from India chose to pursue their education at American colleges and universities. Among these students, about 527 attended Harvard University.

Indian students at Harvard come from diverse backgrounds and bring many experiences and perspectives. They are known for their academic excellence, leadership skills, and commitment to positively impacting the world.

Many Indian students have become leaders in their fields, making significant societal contributions.

Indian students seeking admission to Harvard University must meet the same demanding academic criteria as students from other nations.

This includes attaining a minimum score of 85% in their 10+2 examinations and achieving a minimum of 70% in CBSE/ICSE assessments. 

However, Harvard also looks beyond academics and considers a student’s extracurricular activities, essays, recommendation letters, and other factors when making admissions decisions.

Harvard provides a supportive environment for Indian students, with various resources and programs to help them succeed.

The Harvard India Student Group, for example, is a student-run organization that aims to promote Indian culture and support Indian students at Harvard. 

The South Asian Association is another student organization that promotes awareness and understanding of South Asian cultures.

Comparison with Other Universities


When comparing Harvard with other universities, MIT often comes to mind. Both universities are located in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and are highly regarded institutions. However, there are some critical differences between the two. 

While Harvard has a broader focus on liberal arts and humanities, MIT primarily focuses on science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields.

MIT is also known for its cutting-edge research and innovation, particularly in artificial intelligence, robotics, and computer science.

Ivy League Universities

Harvard is among the eight Ivy League universities, including Brown, Columbia, Cornell, Dartmouth, Penn, Princeton, and Yale. These universities are known for their academic excellence, prestigious reputations, and selective admissions processes. 

While each Ivy League university has its unique strengths and areas of focus, they all commit to providing a top-notch education to their students.


Harvard is located in Cambridge, Massachusetts, which is also home to MIT and several other prestigious universities. Cambridge is a vibrant and diverse city with a rich history and culture. 

It is known for its intellectual atmosphere, world-class museums, and beautiful parks and gardens. Students at Harvard have access to all Cambridge offers, including a wide range of cultural and recreational activities.

Extracurricular Activities and Personal Character

Harvard University values its students’ personal character and extracurricular activities as much as their academic achievements.

Therefore, the admissions committee looks for students with leadership skills, passion, and commitment to their interests and community.

Engaging in extracurricular activities like sports, music, theater, or community service can make a difference in admissions by helping applicants distinguish themselves.

Harvard encourages students to pursue their interests and passions outside of the classroom and provides them with numerous opportunities to do so. 

With over 450 student-run organizations, including publications, orchestras, community service programs, and intercollegiate athletic teams, Harvard students can find activities that align with their interests and values.

Moreover, Harvard looks for students who have demonstrated leadership skills and positively impacted their community.

Therefore, applicants who have taken leadership roles in their extracurricular activities or volunteered for community service projects are more likely to be admitted.

Harvard values qualities like being honest, caring, and strong. They want students who have faced challenges, learned from them, and become better people.

Harvard also looks for students who have helped their communities and shown they care about others.

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