Harvard university entry requirements

Updated April 17, 2017

The oldest institution of higher learning in the U.S., Harvard University, was founded in 1636. The college, which is the undergraduate portion of Harvard, admits students from all 50 states and more than 80 countries, according to the university's website. Harvard notes on its website that most admitted undergraduates ranked in the top 10 to 15 per cent of their high school graduating classes.

Freshman Applicants

Prospective Harvard undergraduates who attended secondary school in the U.S. or Canada and have not previously enrolled in an institution of higher learning can apply following the freshman application procedures. Students must take the SAT or ACT along with two SAT subject tests. Harvard also requires applicants to submit two recommendations from high school teachers and a secondary school report, which a school counsellor completes. Applicants can mail in Harvard's Common Application or submit it online. The university notes that it reads applications in order of receipt beginning on December 1. Applicants can complete an optional interview with Harvard alumni in their area.

International Applicants

Prospective Harvard undergraduates from outside the U.S. and Canada follow the same timeline for admissions as students in the United States. However, students applying from abroad must follow additional instructions when submitting an admissions application. Translations of teacher recommendations from another language into English must include the translator's name as well as an untranslated copy of the translated materials. Foreign applicants must also submit the SAT English proficiency test and international financial aid application. Harvard recommends interviews for international applicants, but they are not required.

Transfer Applicants

Harvard's transfer program admits a small number of highly qualified applicants who have a demonstrated academic need to transfer into Harvard. Admission depends on a review of college grades and recommendations from faculty members. Factors such as intellectual curiosity, creativity and independent thinking also weigh into the admission process for transfer students. Transfer applicants also submit high school transcripts, a financial aid application and scores from the SAT subject test. Competitive transfer applicants usually have verbal and math SAT scores of 600 or better.

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About the Author

A.K. Jayne has written and edited print and online content since 2006. In addition, she has legal assistant/paralegal experience in areas including wills and trusts and family law. Her articles have appeared in the "Philadelphia Inquirer," "New Jersey Record" and "Burlington County Times." Jayne completed an Associated Press internship and is an alumna of Syracuse University’s Newhouse School of Public Communications.