How to Get into Harvard University? Find Out Score Requirements, Acceptance Rate, Application Tips

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Yocket Editorial Team

Updated on Oct 8, 2021

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When searching for the best universities in the world, the name of Harvard university is sure to pop up more than once. The name ‘Harvard’ is synonymous with high quality education, state of the art facilities, world renowned faculty, excellent research output, etc. Many students dream of studying in this prestigious institution and are constantly looking for answers to- how can I get into Harvard university? In this blog we answer all your questions including how to get into Harvard university, what does it take to get into Harvard university, etc. So, let’s get started!

Overview of Harvard University

Before understanding what does it take to get into Harvard, let us first know a little more about Harvard. Located in Cambridge, Massachusetts, Harvard University is one of the oldest universities in the United States. It is a member of the prestigious Ivy league institutions and is one of the most respected institutions worldwide. The university consists of the undergraduate Harvard College, 12 graduate and professional Schools, and the Harvard Radcliffe Institute. More than 31,000 students are enrolled in Harvard in different programs, over 11% of which are international students.

Established

1636

Ranking

Times Higher Education: 3rd

QS Global World Rankings: 3rd

US News Rankings: 1st

Student: Faculty Ratio

5:1

Popular Courses

Law

Psychology

Engineering

Architecture

Mathematics

Biological Sciences

Business Management

Acceptance Rate of Harvard University

Harvard is one of the most competitive colleges to get into, not only in the US but also in the world. The average acceptance rate of Harvard is somewhere between 4-5% which means that of the 100 students that apply to Harvard only 4 or 5 are accepted.

According to Harvard, for the class of 2025 (i.e., acceptance rate for 2021), the college accepted 2,320 of 57,786 applicants, the admit rate was thus a mere 4 percent.

Let us take a look at the acceptance rates at Harvard in the last 5 years.

Year

Acceptance Rate

2016

4.2%

2017

5.2%

2018

4.6%

2019

4.5%

2020

4.9 %

How to Get into Harvard University: Score Requirements

The next questions that follow are: how to go in Harvard university, what are the GRE scores to get into Harvard, how much GPA do you need to get into Harvard, how much marks do you need to get into Harvard, etc. Let’s try to break down the score requirements and criteria of admission into the following parts:

  • GPA requirements

  • Standardised Test Score requirements- SAT/ ACT or GRE/GMAT

  • English Language Proficiency Test Scores - IELTS/ TOEFL

GPA Requirements

A good overall academic profile is one of the main factors that help to keep you in the race for Harvard. Remember that the level of competition is extremely high for Harvard, therefore, being amongst the top students in your class will definitely brighten your chances.

Many schools at Harvard specify a minimum GPA. Although it is not very high, it is the basic eligibility without which your application won’t be accepted.

Average GPA of the admitted Students at Harvard is around 4.18

However, if your GPA is low, it does not mean that you won’t be able to make it to Harvard. If your GPA is low, make sure that the other parts of your application are extremely impressive. A high SAT or ACT score can also help you get notice and compensate for the lower GPA. The whole idea is to be able to compete effectively against other higher GPA applicants.

Standardised Test Score Requirements

Apart from a good GPA, having high scores in your standardised scores is also important.

SAT Requirements

Most schools at Harvard have their own minimum SAT requirements. Your SAT score is good enough to depend on the average score of the other applicants, therefore, having a high score gives you an advantage.

The 25-75th percentile (the middle 50% students admitted) of Harvard admitted students had SAT scores of 1460-1580.

Some schools in Harvard may allow you to send SAT scores from more than one test known as superscoring. This means that you can take the SAT multiple times and then submit only the tests that give you the highest Superscore. So, the application readers will take the highest score from one section and add it to the highest score from another section irrespective of the test date.

ACT Requirements

Just like SAT, Harvard schools also come up with the minimum ACT requirements.

The 25-75th percentile of Harvard admitted students had an ACT Composite score of 33-35.

The schools at Harvard allow students to choose the ACT scores they want to send. Therefore, if you have taken multiple tests, you can only send your highest one.

Apart from this, Harvard also requires you to take the SAT Essay/ ACT Writing section. Therefore, performing extremely well in these sections is of immense importance as well.

GRE Score Requirements

Just like undergrad admissions, the admission to graduate programs at Harvard is extremely competitive. So, if you are looking for GRE scores to get into Harvard, you must know that most graduate schools do not specify a GRE cut-off for their programs.

However, a look at the average scores of students admitted to Harvard can serve as an indicator of the requirements.

The average GRE scores for most admitted students at Harvard can range between:

Verbal: 155 - 166

Quant: 155 - 170 for Quant

Analytical Writing: 4.5-5.0

Many programs may require scores of over 160 i.e., 90th percentile or above.

It is important to remember that score requirements vary widely with the program. Quant expectations are higher for math and science related programs such as computer science, while Verbal expectations are higher for reading and writing related programs such as English Literature.

GMAT Score Requirements

Getting admission to the Harvard Business School is quite competitive just like other streams. A good GMAT score is essential to get admission into the management programs at the university.

Harvard reports its GMAT score for admitted students in terms of class median, rather than average. The GMAT median for Harvard Business school is 730.

IELTS/ TOEFL Score Requirements

International students should also submit the scores of their English language proficiency tests to Harvard. The scores may vary from one program to another, so make sure you check with the specific program and school.

Most Schools at Harvard accept the TOEFL and IELTS scores of around 80 and 7.5, respectively.

How to get into Harvard University: Other Requirements

The answer to how to get into Harvard University is not as simple as getting good scores. All good universities including Harvard will consider your application holistically. This means that you must ensure that your overall application stands out in comparison to the other applicants.

My academic credentials weren’t the cream in any way and applying to the Mecca of education and the Medina of Public Health was definitely an extremely long shot. Evidently, they made their decision based on the holistic profile – a point all of us have heard many times over, but find it hard to digest in general. I hold my experience out as a flashlight to assert that one should never be scared to take a step.

-Abhijith Asok, Data Science Program, Harvard University

Here are a few areas that need your attention:

Essays

A great essay is one of the most important components of Harvard University admission requirements. Make sure your essay pitch is strong, reflects your unique experience, ambition, and character.

SOPs and LORs

All universities, including Harvard, understand that no one is perfect. It is as important to know your weaknesses as it is to know your strengths. Therefore, make sure your Statement of Purpose (SoP) should have a couple of your weaknesses as well.

Also, letters of recommendation (LORs) play a very important component in your application. Make sure to choose your recommenders wisely. Most universities demand at least one recommendation from the university. So, if you are reading this and currently in college, make sure you have done some good work and maintain good relations with at least one professor.

Suggested Read: Sample LOR for MS

Resume & Portfolios

Some Harvard graduate schools like the Harvard Business School require applicants to submit a resume. For some courses having relevant work experience really helps make all the difference to your application.

Certain courses related to artwork and design require applicants to submit portfolios of their work. In order to get into Harvard, you must ensure that your portfolio is diverse and truly demonstrates the artist in you.

Additional Requirements

Harvard statesWe give careful, individual attention to each applicant. We seek to identify students who will be the best educators of one another and their professors… Our admissions process enables us to give deliberate and meticulous consideration of each applicant as a whole person.”

Therefore, if you are wondering about how do I get into Harvard, you must also focus on building up an overall diverse profile with a strong focus on extracurricular activities and volunteering work. These should highlight four aspects:

  • Growth and Potential: The admission officers wish to assess whether you have been pushing yourself to reach your potential.

  • Interests and Activities: They are interested to know about your passion, learning, leadership abilities and commitment.

  • Personal Character: The university is interested to know the choices you’ve made, your openness to new ideas, & personal traits such as maturity, self-confidence and concern for others.

  • Community Participation: Harvard is interested in students that can handle different aspects of College life, contribute to the Harvard community, and perform under pressure.

How to Apply for Harvard University?

You can apply to Harvard using any one of the following portals:

  • Coalition Application

  • Common Application,

  • Universal College Application

These portals can be used to apply for undergraduate as well as graduate level programs. The Harvard application fee is 75 USD.

Start your application process for Harvard as early as possible. This will give plenty of time to perfect it.

Once you have selected the portal, be sure to send in all of the following:

  • Standardised Test Scores

  • English Language proficiency proof

  • Official transcripts

  • Essays

  • Statement of Purpose

  • Letters of Recommendation - at least 3

  • Resume - wherever required

The Harvard application must be submitted before the submission of supporting materials. Make sure you submit all Harvard supplements or questions along with the application. This will help the admission committee to assess your application better.

Helpful Tips to Prepare for Harvard

Now if you are thinking how do I get into Harvard, you need to prepare right away. Here are a few tips that will come in handy:

  1. Do Your Research: Research well on the university and programs you wish to apply for. Based on that, you need to start working on your profile, SoP, contacting recommenders etc.

  2. Start Preparation Early: Make sure you start your preparation early. Focus on getting extremely good grades at your school and also start preparing for the standardised exams. Practice taking tests at home.

  3. Build your overall profile: Harvard is looking for something beyond academics. Work on building up your overall profile - work experience, volunteer work, extracurriculars, etc.

  4. Use Student Groups for Information: Join the Yocket group for Harvard University or other social media groups with other fellow applicants for discussions and gaining more information.

  5. Don’t Underestimate yourself: Don’t underestimate yourself or your profile. Harvard admissions work very differently. What might actually work in your favor, might be some point in the corner, which you yourself thought was irrelevant. You do this only once in life, so give it your best shot and let the rest come through as it would.

Getting into Harvard is a dream for many students and you can fulfill this dream if you focus and start your preparation early. Remember that although getting into Harvard is difficult, it is not impossible.

All the Best!

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