Harvard Admissions Requirements

Harvard Admissions Requirements: Everything You Need to Know

Harvard University is one of the most prestigious universities in the world, and it is no surprise that many students aspire to attend this institution. 

However, the admissions process at Harvard is highly competitive, with only a tiny percentage of applicants being accepted each year. As a result, prospective students must understand and meet Harvard’s admission requirements to increase their chances of being accepted.

Harvard has rigorous and comprehensive admission requirements. These include submitting academic transcripts, standardized test scores, and recommendations from teachers and guidance counselors.

Additionally, applicants must complete several short-answer questions and a personal essay, which provide insight into their character, interests, and goals. 

Meeting these requirements does not assure admission to Harvard, as the university assesses applicants using various criteria.

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Understanding and meeting Harvard’s admission requirements is essential for any student who hopes to attend this prestigious institution. 

The competitive nature of Harvard’s admissions process means that applicants must present themselves in the best possible light to stand out among thousands of other applicants. 

General Admission Statistics

Renowned for its prestige and selectivity, Harvard University receives applications from thousands of students worldwide yearly, all vying for a coveted spot in the incoming class.

Here are some general admission statistics for Harvard over the past few years:

  • For the class of 2025, Harvard received a total of 57,435 applications.
  • The acceptance rate for the class of 2025 was 3.4%.
  • Admitted students scored an average of 1520 out of 1600 on the SAT.
  • The average ACT score for admitted students was 34 out of 36.
  • 50.4% of admitted students identify as students of color.
  • 23.4% of admitted students are first-generation college students.
  • 10.4% of admitted students are international students.

While these statistics may seem daunting, it’s important to remember that Harvard looks for more than just academic achievement in its applicants. In addition to solid grades and test scores, Harvard values community involvement, leadership, and extracurricular activities.

Harvard’s admissions process is holistic, meaning that the admissions committee considers all aspects of an applicant’s profile when deciding. This includes essays, letters of recommendation, interviews, and academic and personal achievements.

Undergraduate Admissions

Harvard University is a highly selective institution that receives many applications each year. To be considered for undergraduate admission, prospective students must submit a complete application package with several components. 

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Application Deadlines

Harvard University offers two deadlines for undergraduate applications: Early Action and Regular Decision. Early Action applicants submit their applications by November 1 and receive their admissions decisions by mid-December. 

Regular Decision applicants submit their applications by January 1 and receive their decisions by late March. It is important to note that Harvard University has a strict deadline policy, and applicants who miss them will not be considered for admission.

Application Components

Applicants seeking undergraduate admission to Harvard University are required to submit a comprehensive application package, which should include the following components:

  • School Report: This report is completed by the applicant’s high school guidance counselor and provides information about the applicant’s academic record, course load, and school profile.
  • Transcript: Applicants must submit an official transcript that includes grades from all high school years.
  • Teacher Reports: Submit two teacher recommendations that offer insight into the applicant’s academic abilities, intellectual curiosity, and personal qualities.
  • Standardized Test Scores: Applicants must submit either the SAT or ACT scores. While these tests are optional, they are highly recommended as they provide additional information about the applicant’s academic abilities.

Selection Criteria

Harvard University employs a holistic review process when evaluating undergraduate applications. This means that admissions officers consider various factors when making admissions decisions, including academic excellence, extracurricular activities, leadership, and personal qualities. 

Academic achievement holds significance, but it isn’t the sole criterion. Admissions officers also seek students who have displayed leadership, taken initiative, and shown dedication to their communities.

Graduate Admissions

Harvard University is one of the most prestigious universities in the world, and the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences is a highly competitive program for graduate students. To be considered for admission, students must meet specific general requirements.

General Requirements

Applicants must possess a bachelor’s degree or equivalent from a recognized institution. Furthermore, a minimum GPA of 3.0 on a 4.0 scale is required, with some programs having higher GPA prerequisites. International applicants should demonstrate their English proficiency by providing TOEFL-iBT or IELTS scores. Additionally, specific programs may necessitate GRE scores.

MBA Admissions at Harvard Business School

The MBA program at Harvard Business School is one of the most competitive in the world. The school looks for candidates with leadership potential, analytical skills, and a passion for positively impacting their communities.

Applicants must have a bachelor’s degree or equivalent from a recognized institution. The school requires at least two years of work experience, although most candidates have significantly more. 

GMAT scores are required, and the average score for admitted students is around 730. Interviews are required for all applicants who are invited to interview.

International Students

Harvard University is proud to have a diverse international student community with students from over 150 countries. International students comprise about 12% of the undergraduate and 28% of the graduate and professional student body. 

Harvard welcomes applications from international students and offers resources to help them navigate the application process.

International applicants are required to meet the exact admissions requirements as domestic applicants. They must submit the Common Application or Coalition Application and the required supplements. 

Harvard does not have a preference for either application and treats each application equally. However, international applicants must also meet additional requirements, such as demonstrating English proficiency and obtaining a student visa.

International applicants can choose from the TOEFL, IELTS, or Duolingo English Test to prove their English skills. Harvard University doesn’t set a minimum score, but applicants should aim for an IELTS score of 7.5. or TOEFL score of at least 100.

International applicants should also be aware of the importance of early application rounds. Harvard offers a Restrictive Early Action (REA), non-binding program that allows students to apply to other schools. 

In early November, the REA deadline looms, and by mid-December, decisions are announced. As for Regular Decisions, the deadline falls in early January, and decisions are disclosed in late March. 

International students, take note that you may be eligible for financial aid, but be prepared for a different application process compared to domestic students, which might involve additional paperwork.

Selection Philosophy

Harvard University has a holistic approach to selecting students for its undergraduate programs. The admissions committee considers various factors beyond academic performance, including community involvement, leadership, character, and extracurricular activities.

Harvard values students who have positively impacted their communities through volunteer work and leadership roles. The university believes these experiences demonstrate students’ commitment to making a difference and their potential to contribute to the Harvard community.

In addition to extracurricular activities, Harvard also considers a student’s personal qualities, such as resilience, creativity, and intellectual curiosity. These qualities are evaluated through application essays, letters of recommendation, and interviews.

Harvard’s selection philosophy is not solely based on test scores or grades. The admissions committee looks for students with a passion for learning, a willingness to engage with diverse perspectives, and a desire to impact the world positively.

Tips and Recommendations

Several tips and recommendations can help applicants present the best possible application when applying to Harvard. These strategies can help applicants stand out and increase their chances of acceptance.

One of the most critical aspects of the application is the personal essay. Applicants should take the time to craft a compelling essay that showcases their personality, experiences, and goals. 

They should focus on writing about the most salient experiences and be true to themselves. Harvard admissions officers seek authenticity and originality in personal essays, so applicants should avoid writing what they think the admissions office wants to hear.

In addition to the personal essay, applicants should prepare effectively for interviews. The interview allows applicants to showcase their personality and interest in Harvard. 

Applicants should research the school and be prepared to answer questions about why they want to attend Harvard and what they hope to achieve there. They should also be ready to ask thoughtful questions about the school and its programs.

Finally, guidance on presenting the best possible application is essential. To achieve this, applicants must meticulously review the application requirements and ensure they have included all required information and documentation.

They should also consider including supplemental materials, such as a resume or additional essays, to showcase their achievements and interests.


Harvard University is one of the most prestigious universities in the world, and as such, it has a highly competitive admissions process. The school receives thousands of applications yearly, but only a tiny percentage of those applicants are accepted.

Prospective Harvard students should be aware that the admissions process is highly competitive. They should aim for excellence in both their application and personal growth.

They should also know the application requirements, such as submitting transcripts, test scores, and recommendations.

While the admissions process may seem daunting, it is essential to remember that Harvard is looking for students who are not only academically talented but also have a passion for learning and a commitment to making a difference in the world. 

Students who are dedicated to their studies and have a strong sense of purpose are more likely to be successful in the admissions process.

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