Harvard College is the undergraduate division of Harvard University. It is located in Cambridge, Massachusett, where it was established in 1636 as the “New College” by the Great General Court (Britain’s colonial legislature). It was renamed Harvard College just three years later in 1639, in honor of John Harvard, one of the college’s first donors. It is considered the oldest higher education in the United States as well as one of most prestigious.
The school’s first students graduated in 1642. In 1666 Caleb Cheeshahteaumuck, a native American and aborigine, graduated from Harvard – the first indian to graduate from college during the colonial period. While historically Harvard was an all male school, today it is completely coeducational.
As a division within Harvard University, Harvard College is in charge of various matter relating to undergraduate students, including advising, admissions, student life, housing, and athletics. However, undergraduate instruction is the responsibility of Faculty of Arts and Science department at Harvard University.
Havard College admits about 8% of undergraduate applicants each year, which equates into about 2,000 students. Of all applicants accepted, about 75% end up attending. Harvard is a highly selective higher education institution, and only smartest and brightest get in. Over 90% of students admitted to Harvard are first time college freshman. The college accepts very few transfer students from other colleges and universities.
Harvard College is one of the few undergraduate schools that awards the Artium Baccalaureus (A.B.), a four-year degree that, for all intents and purposes, is the same as the Bachelor of Art (B.A.) awarded by most four-year colleges and universities. However, many entering students who’ve complete AP courses in high school are able to complete Harvard’s AB degree in just three years. At the undergraduate level, Harvard also awards the Scientiarum Baccalaureus (S.B.), usually a five year degree, somewhat similar to the Bachelor of Science awarded at other higher education institutions. Finally, Harvard College offers a Master of Arts (M.A.) in Music, in partnership with the New England Conservatory of Music.
About a year and half into their undergraduate program, students are required to select a field of concentration – commonly referred to an “academic major” at other universities. Harvard College offers 50 undergraduate fields of concentration for students to choose from. Students may also select a secondary field (a.k.a. “minor”), or they may declare a joint concentration (a.k.a. “double major”) where they choose to pursue an undergraduate degree in two fields of study. Finally, undergraduate students have the option of designing their own program known as a special concentration.
While completing their undergraduate degree, students must fulfill general education requirements in eight areas of study. These include:
- Aesthetic and Interpretive Understanding
- Culture and Belief
- Empirical and Mathematical Reasoning
- Ethical Reasoning
- Science of Living Systems
- Science of the Physical Universe
- Societies of the World
- United States in the World
Harvard’s undergraduate academic experience is designed around the motto “know a little of everything, and one thing well”, an adage by Abbott Lawrence Lowell (a past Harvard president). To this end, Harvard’s undergraduate curriculum focuses on introducing students to an array of intellectual areas as they pursue an in-depth education in on concentration.
Online Degrees and Courses Through Harvard Extension
Through Harvard Extension School, Harvard College offers students the opportunity to earn a certificate, take an online course, or work toward a degree online. Currently, Harvard offers over 200 online courses for students to choose from covering 60 academic fields. Many of Harvard’s non-credit online courses are open to the public. In order to take courses that count toward a degree, a student must first be accepted to Harvard College and have declared their concentration (major). Most degrees offered at Harvard are not entirely online but have online components. Classroom attendance and participation is still required of undergraduate students.
86 Brattle Street
Cambridge, MA 02138
Fax: (617) 495-8821
Contact: William Fitzsimmons
Dean of Admissions
86 Brattle Street
Cambridge, MA 02138
Total undergrads: 6,678
First-time degree-seeking freshmen: 1,666
Degree-seeking undergrads: 6,678
Graduate enrollment: 9,789
College has an application fee: Yes
Regular application fee: $65
Online application fee: $65
Percent applicants admitted: 8%
Percent of students who return for sophomore year: 97%
Area, Ethnic, Cultural, & Gender Studies
African-American Studies B
Arts, Visual & Performing
Art History/Criticism/Conservation B
Biological & Biomedical Sciences
Computer & Information Sciences
Computer Science B
Engineering Science B
English Language & Literature
English Language & Literature – General B
Foreign Language & Literature
History – General B
Liberal Arts & Sciences
Liberal Arts & Sciences B
Applied Mathematics B
Classical/Ancient Mediterranean/Near Eastern Studies B
Natural Resources & Conservation
Environmental Studies B
Philosophy & Religion
Atomic/Molecular Physics B
Psychology – General B
Degree levels for each major are designated by the following letters:|
B = Bachelor’s degree
C = Certificate or diploma
*We do not guarantee the accuracy of information on this page. All information is subject to change. You should confirm all information with a college admissions officer.