Harvard University

About Harvard University

Harvard University was established in 1636 by the Massachusetts government. It is internationally known for its academic excellence and research. Today, Harvard is the oldest standing institution of higher education in the United States.

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The History of Harvard University

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Harvard was originally founded as a way to educate the Protestant clergy. However, its curriculum and students became secular throughout the 18th century.

Harvard emerged as a center of culture among Boston elites by the 19th century. During the 20th century, Harvard’s reputation grew and the college experienced growth in its student population.

Bequeathing his library of four hundred books and half his estate to the institution, John Harvard is the namesake of the university, which now has the largest academic library system and the largest endowment in the United States. A statue of John Harvard stands in front of University Hall and is probably one of Harvard’s best known landmarks.

Harvard Campus Setting

Harvard  university Square Jorge Cancela

Harvard Square has all the fun! Photo by Jorge Cancela

In this part of Cambridge, Harvard University is the main focal point for visitors and natives alike.

Situated in the center of town, Harvard Square is a bustling area full of cafes, bookshops, and specialty stores. Students enjoy the feeling of a city, with a beautiful, historic campus as well.

Close to nearby Boston and Brookline, Harvard students are only a bus or subway ride away from more universities and downtown life.

There are also many hotels near Harvard where visitors can stay. Prospective students can take tours of Harvard to get a feel for the campus and learn about the university.

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Study at Harvard! Photo by the Gates Foundation

Areas of Study

Harvard University has twelve degree granting schools, which offer the following:

  • 46 undergraduate majors
  • 134 graduate degrees
  • 32 professional degrees

Applying to Harvard University is highly competitive.

For the class of 2014, the acceptance rate was 6.9 percent (out of more than 30,000 applicants), the lowest acceptance rate in Harvard’s history.

Harvard university Yard

Harvard Yard

Harvard University Student Body

Students come from all areas of the world to visit Harvard and experience academic excellence, with over 20,000 students in both graduate and undergraduate studies across schools in Cambridge and Boston.

Clubs and Activities

With over 400 student organizations on campus, Harvard offers many opportunities for learning outside of the classroom.

Harvard athletes compete in 41 intercollegiate sports in the NCAA, Division I. Students are always encouraged to get involved in clubs or activities even if they do not have experience in that particular field.

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Harvard University Fun Facts

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Actress Natalie Portman is a Harvard alum!

  • Harvard has a vigorous alumni network, which includes many prominent celebrities. Actress Natalie Portman went to Harvard while filming Star Wars.
  • Eight U.S. Presidents have graduated from Harvard, including current President Barack Obama.
  • Additionally, 75 Nobel Laureates have been affiliated with the university as students, faculty, or staff.
  • Harvard University also plays a role in pop culture, referenced in many novels, plays, films, and other cultural works, such as William Faulkner’s The Sound and the Fury, the television show Gilmore Girls, and the movie The Great Debaters.