Harvard University - How Hard It Is to Get into?

Meridean Overseas
Meridean Overseas

Updated On 22 August 2023 & Read Time 10 minutes



Have you also ever dreamt of taking admission into Ivy League universities, the most prominent universities in USA? This dream might sound surreal, Isn’t it? Now when we think of Ivy League universities, it is impossible not to think of Harvard University.


Harvard University is one of the best universities in USA. It has highly renowned worldwide for its academic excellence and research facilities. But many international students assume that it is very difficult or almost impossible to get admitted in Harvard University.


But is it even true? Read this blog till the end to know how difficult it is to enrol at Harvard University.


Harvard University - A Dreams Unversity for Study Abroad Aspirants

Before heading further, let’s explore some important details of Harvard University.

In Cambridge, Massachusetts, on September 8, 1636, Harvard was established as the first college in the American colonies. Harvard University was formally established by a resolution of the Massachusetts Bay Colony's Great and General Court. It is one of the oldest universities in USA. Currently, the university is home to more than 25,000 undergraduate and graduate students from more than 150 countries, making it a culturally diverse place to study and enjoy. The university is divided into 12 graduate schools, which are dedicated in providing all its specialised courses.


Apart from this, the university is highly valued worldwide. Various national as well as world ranking organisations rank Harvard University in a good position for its overall performance in academics. QS World University Ranking (2024) has placed the university in 4th position in the world. Whereas, the Times Higher Education and US News & World Report have ranked the university in 2nd and 3rd place in the world, respectively. Now if we talk about the national ranking, then the US News & World re[ort has placed the university in 1st position in the US, making it the best choice for international students.


Top Courses to Study at the Harvard University

No matter what career you choose to enter, Harvard University offers a plethora of courses to help you achieve your dream career.


Harvard University offers more than 100 undergraduate and more than 150 graduate level courses. However, the university is quite famous for specific courses, which are:

  • Mathematics

  • Psychology

  • Economics

  • Physics

  • History

  • Sociology

  • MBA

  • Biochemistry

  • Finance

  • Liberal Arts

  • English Literature

  • Music


Acceptance Rate At the Harvard University

Every year, Harvard University receives a high volume of applications from different parts of the world. It is a dream university for lakhs of international students.


The acceptance rate at Harvard University was 4% in the year 2022. However, the acceptance rate keeps changing year to year, depending upon the level and type of courses you are applying for and seat availability.


Now, if we talk about the application acceptance rate at the university for undergraduate and postgraduate courses separately, then the acceptance rate for the undergraduate courses is slightly higher than for the postgraduate courses. For undergraduate courses, the acceptance rate is around 5%, whereas for graduate level courses, the acceptance rate is around 3%.


Eligibility Criteria to Enrol at Harvard University

Before planning to take admission into Harvard University, it is very important for international students to know the basic eligibility criteria. So, here we have provided general eligibility criteria for international students to enrol at Harvard University at the undergraduate as well as postgraduate levels:


For undergraduate students:


  • Demonstrate a strong academic record with excellent grades in your high school coursework. Generally, for Harvard, students require a minimum of 95% in their 12th CBSE board. Hence, make sure that the course for which you are applying must have some relevance to subjects that you have studied at your high school level.


  • You'll likely need to submit standardised test scores, such as the SAT or ACT, since Standardised admission tests help the university to examine the students' academic abilities on common ground. In SAT, students must try to achieve scores between 1460-1580. On the other side, in ACT, students require a score somewhere between 33-35 in order to get admission to Harvard University.


  • Some international students might also need to submit English language proficiency scores (TOEFL, IELTS, etc.) if English is not their native language. To enrol at Harvard, you may require a minimum overall IELTS score of 7.0 (or an equivalent score in any other English proficiency test which is accepted by the university)


For Graduate courses:


  • An undergraduate degree with a minimum GPA of 4.18. Also, make sure that you are able to show the relevancy between your undergraduate and graduate courses or between your work experience and graduate course.


  • For certain graduate courses, Harvard University requires standardised admission test scores, such as GMAT and GRE. Generally, these exams are used to apply for business-related courses. In order to crack the Harvard University admission process, students are required to achieve a minimum 730 score in the GMAT or a minimum of 160 in the GRE. 


  • Students from non-English speaking countries are required to demonstrate their language skills through proficiency tests such as IELTS, TOEFL, and PTE; for graduate courses, students require an overall IELTS score between 7.0-7.5 depending upon the course (or equivalent score in any other proficiency test which is accepted by the university. 


Documents Required to Enrol at Harvard University

Now, while applying to the university, international students require a few important academic as well as personal documents, which are mentioned below.


  • Academic Transcripts: Provide official transcripts from your secondary (10th) and high school (12th) showing your academic performance. Whereas in the case of graduate courses, students also require an undergraduate degree and transcript.


  • Letters of Recommendation (LOR): Submit letters of recommendation from teachers or other individuals who can attest to your character and abilities. For undergraduate courses, students require a minimum of 2 LORs from their academic institution. Whereas for graduate courses, students require a minimum of 3 LORs, including one from the organisation in which you have worked.


  • Statement of Purpose (SOP): Write a compelling and well-crafted personal statement that showcases your interest and motive to select that particular course at Harvard.


  • Updated CV: A CV is quite important for the application process as it reflects your academic background and work history.


  • Certificate of Extracurricular Activities: If you have any involvement in extracurricular activities, leadership roles, volunteer work, or other accomplishments outside of the classroom, then to show it’s a certificate. Since these certificates demonstrate your extra abilities.


  • Certificate of Work Experience: If you have any field-relevant work experience, you can show it through certificates.


  • Proof of Finances: Studying at Harvard University involves a huge cost. So before enrolling to the university, students must make sure that they arrange all their finances well in advance. Also, at the time of applying for the visa, one must have all the documents as proof that you have enough finances to bear the cost of studying and living in US.



Tips to Make Your Application Standout

The admission committee at Harvard University carefully assess all the applications and then select the best out of all. Here are some tips to get admission into Harvard University and make your application stand out from other applicants:


  • Maintain a high GPA and excel in challenging courses. Overall, strong academic performance is a fundamental requirement to get enrolled in Harvard.


  • Achieve high scores on standardised tests like the SAT or ACT, as these scores demonstrate your academic readiness.


  • Remember that field-relevant work experience also showcases your practical knowledge of the subject and thus gives you an advantage.


  • Write a compelling and authentic statement of purpose that showcases your personality, experiences, and values. Remember, SOPs are a very crucial part of your application process. Use this as an opportunity to tell your story.


  • Secure letters from teachers, mentors, or employers who can speak to your strengths, character, and accomplishments. Make sure your LORs prove skills that are relevant to your course.


  • Engage in meaningful extracurricular activities that reflect your passions, leadership, and commitment over time.  The certificates of extracurricular activities give you an extra advantage.


  • Try to highlight a variety of achievements in areas like academics, sports, arts, community service, or research. Along with this, show how your activities have made a positive impact on your community or the world around you.


  • Highlight any unusual or formative experiences that set you apart from other applicants.


  • Research Harvard's values and mission, and tailor your application to demonstrate how you align with them. Also, check the specific course requirements for which you apply and then plan accordingly. If applicable, submit supplemental materials like a portfolio (for arts-related programs) or research papers.


  • If offered an interview, make a strong impression by articulating your passions, goals, and experiences clearly. Apart from this, discuss the challenges you've faced and how you've grown from them as admission committees appreciate resilience.


  • Explain how you will contribute to the university's community and how you'll take advantage of its resources. In addition, try to show how you can add value to the university as an international student through your SOPs and in the interviews.


  • Consider applying through an early decision or early action program if Harvard offers one. Applying early allows the admission committee to assess your profile closely due to fewer number of applications and thus increases the chances of getting an offer letter.


  • Ensure your application is error-free, well-organised, and reflects your best work. 



Q: What GPA is required for Harvard?

A: The GPA required to enrol at Harvard University depends upon the course for which you are applying. However, the average GPA required to study at Harvard University is 4.18.


Q: Is Harvard University worth it for international students?

A: Harvard University is one of the most prestigious and oldest universities in USA. It is highly recognised for its academic excellence and research facilities. Therefore, enrolling at Harvard University is definitely worth it for international students.


Q: Is Harvard expensive for Indian students?

A: Yes, Harvard University can be a little expensive compared to other universities in the US. However, the quality of education, employment opportunity, and other facilities that Harvard University provides exceeds the tuition fee it charges.



In conclusion, it might seem a little difficult to get admission into Havard University due to its prestigious reputation and a large number of well-qualified applicants. However, with the right guidance and a strong academic profile, one can easily secure admission into the university. Moreover, it's important for international applicants to carefully review the admission requirements, deadlines, and any additional materials that might be required.


If you are still unsure or would like to get deeper insight, we encourage you to have a word with our team of expert counsellors at Meridean Overseas Education Consultants (MOEC). If you are unable to travel to our offices, we offer online counselling services via our website. Our dedicated counsellors will provide you with the best guidance regarding your application to study in USA. Apart from this, our expert counsellors will also provide assistance in the visa process for your successful study abroad journey. Don't hesitate to contact us at application02@meridean.org or call us at 1800-1230-00011.

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