College Profile: Harvard University

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Harvard University (incorporated as The President and Fellows of Harvard College) is a private university in Cambridge, Massachusetts, U.S., and a member of the Ivy League. Founded in 1636 by the colonial Massachusetts legislature, Harvard is the oldest institution of higher learning in the United States. It is also the first and oldest corporation in North America. Initially called "New College" or "the college at New Towne", the institution was named Harvard College on March 13, 1639, after a young clergyman named John Harvard—a graduate of England's Emmanuel College, Cambridge (a college of the University of Cambridge) and St Olave's Grammar School, Orpington in the United Kingdom—who bequeathed the College his library of four hundred books and £779 (which was half of his estate). The earliest known official reference to Harvard as a "university" occurs in the new Massachusetts Constitution of 1780. During his 40-year tenure as Harvard president (1869–1909), Charles William Eliot radically transformed Harvard into the pattern of the modern research university. Eliot's reforms included elective courses, small classes, and entrance examinations. The Harvard model influenced American education nationally, at both college and secondary levels. Eliot also was responsible for publication of the now-famous "Harvard Classics", a collection of "great books" from multiple disciplines, published by P. F. Collier and Sons beginning in 1909, that offered a college education "in fifteen minutes a day of reading." The collection soon became known as "Dr. Eliot's Five-Foot Shelf." During his unprecedentedly influential presidency, Eliot, a prolific book and magazine writer and widely traveled speaker in the pre-radio age, became so widely recognized a public figure that by his death in 1926, his name (and, not coincidentally, Harvard's) had become synonymous with the universal aspirations of American higher education. In 1999, Radcliffe College, founded in 1879 as the "Harvard Annex for Women", merged formally with Harvard University, becoming the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study. Harvard's library collection contains more than 15 million volumes, making it the largest academic library in the United States, and the fourth among the five "mega-libraries" of the world (after the Library of Congress, the British Library, and the French Bibliothèque nationale, but ahead of the New York Public Library). Harvard is consistently ranked number one in international college and university rankings, and has the largest financial endowment of any non-profit organization except for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, standing at $38.7 billion as of 2008.
Massachusetts Hall
Cambridge, MA
617-495-1000 (general)
617-495-1581 (financial aid)
617-495-1551 (admissions)


General Information
Other Names
Type Private not-for-profit, 4-year or above
Control Private not-for-profit
Size 20,000 and above
Campus Setting City: Midsize
Calendar System Semester
Title IV Eligibility Participates in Title IV federal financial aid programs
Relgious Affiliation Not applicable

College Student Services Offered
Yes Remedial ServicesYes Academic/career counseling service
Yes Employment services for studentsYes Placement services for completers
Yes On-campus day care for students' children   

College Special Learning Opportunities
Yes ROTCNo Distance learning opportunities
Yes ROTC: ArmyYes Study abroad
Yes ROTC: NavyNo Weekend/evening college
Yes ROTC: Air Force   

Sources: National Center for Education Statistics (NCES)
More info

Harvard University Website

Admissions Considerations & Recommendations
Open admission policy No
Admission test scores Required
TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language Neither required nor recommended

Applicants (most recent fall period)
Admissions (most recent fall period)
Percentage of Students Submitting Test Scores
SAT Percentile Scores
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ACT Percentile Scores
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Percentage Receiving Financial Aid
Average Amount of Financial Aid Received
Average Tuition for Full-Time Undergraduates
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Average Tuition for Full-Time Graduates
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Comprehensive Fee for Full-Time Undergraduates
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Per Credit Hour Charge for Part-Time Undergraduates
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Per Credit Hour Charge for Part-Time Graduates
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Student Body
30,955 Student Body SizeYes On-Campus Housing
34,216 Fall Applicants12,993 Total Dormitory Capacity
1,989 Fall Admissions

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College Levels Offered
No Less than one year certificateNo One but less than two years certificate
Yes Associate's degreeNo Two but less than 4 years certificate
Yes Bachelor's degreeYes Postbaccalaureate certificate
Yes Master's degreeYes Post-master's certificate
Yes Doctor's degreeYes First-professional degree
Yes First-professional certificate

All Academic Programs
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