If you’ve heard the expression, “the most difficult thing about Harvard is getting admitted,” this is a most accurate statement. In reality, it’s very difficult to fail out of Harvard. Sure, Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg dropped out, but they didn’t fail out. Neither did Robert Frost, Matt Damon, or William Randoph Hearst. Failing out of Harvard is not an easy feat – you have to really work hard at that. Harvard College Admissions makes it another story entirely to get in, however, as this, too, is no easy feat.

Harvard Admission, Harvard University Admissions, Harvard University Admission

Getting into Harvard is as tough as it gets in highly selective college admissions. Staying in is easy (photo credit: chensiyuan).

With Harvard’s grade inflation, about half of the grades awarded are either A’s or A-‘s.  In fact, Harvard has a rule that not more than 50 percent of any graduating class can graduate with honors. So for every graduating class, the top 5% graduate summa cum laude, the top 15% graduate magna cum laude, and the top 30% graduate cum laude.  Harvey C. Mansfield, a Harvard professor of government, acknowledges that professors award a preponderance of A’s because they don’t want to discourage students who are accustomed to getting A’s throughout high school. As ridiculous as that may sound, this is nevertheless the case.

In the aftermath of 9/11, administrators at Harvard College considered eliminating grade inflation, but professors took a stance and decided that because of 9/11, the student population needed to recover and that the timing was wrong. Can you imagine this national tragedy impacted the conversation at Harvard about grade inflation? Since then, the issue of grade inflation has not been revisited.

Founded in 1636, Harvard University is the oldest post-secondary institution in the U.S. In 1977, Harvard College merged with Radcliff College, a nearby women’s liberal arts school and became coeducational. Prior to that, beginning in 1963, students who attended Radcliffe College earned a Radcliffe-Harvard degree. In 1999, when Radcliffe was formally merged with Harvard, female undergraduates then earned a Harvard degree.

With approximately 6,700 undergraduates, Harvard College has the third highest undergraduate population in the Ivy League, trailing only Cornell University and the University of Pennsylvania. Another 15,000 students are enrolled in Harvard’s graduate and professional schools. The campus is centered on Harvard Yard, where most of the freshmen live. The charming, New England town of Cambridge is the home of two of the world’s best colleges (Harvard and MIT). When students run out of what to do in town, they’re only 3 miles away, and a quick T from downtown Boston, the home of approximately 50 colleges and universities. While Harvard students don’t necessarily interact with students from other area colleges, the city of Boston is ranked as one of the best college towns in the nation.

Harvard has a work hard, play not-so-hard mentality. The university has its share of talented athletes and, as a result, athletics are big time at Harvard as students come out to cheer for their favorite Crimson teams. While fraternities and sororities don’t dominate the social scene, the residential houses host most of the parties.

Harvard has state of the art facilities, a brilliant and accomplished faculty who are world-class scholars, and ambitious, accomplished, and talented students. Since only the best and the brightest are accepted at Harvard, students meet their challenges head-on. The program in general education requires that students pass one half-course in each of eight categories: 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; and United States in the World. During the first week of each term, students enjoy the shopping period where they can sample courses they wish to take.

For the Class of 2023, out of a total applicant pool of 43,330 and with 1,950 students accepted, the overall Harvard College admissions rate was 4.5%, the lowest in Harvard’s history and the lowest of all the Ivy League colleges.

Check out this post on Harvard standout Jeremy Lin!

Harvard University Admissions Statistics

Harvard University Overall Accept. Rate Regular Decision Accept. Rate Regular Decision Apps Accepted Regular Decision Apps Received Early Decision / Action Accept. Rate Percent of Class Filled by Early Apps Early Decision / Action Apps Received Early Decision / Action Apps Accepted Expected Number of Students to Enroll Total Apps Received Total Apps Accepted
2026 3.19% 2.34% 1,214 51,814 7.87% n/a* 9,406 740 1,665 61,220 1,954
2025 3.4% 2.6% 1,223 47,349 7.4% n/a* 10,086 747 1,665 57,435 1,970
2024 4.9% 3.2% 1,085 33,824 13.9% n/a* 6,424 895 1,665 40,248 1,970
2023 4.5% 2.8% 1,015 36,372 13.4% n/a* 6,958 935 1,665 43,330 1,950
2022 4.6% 2.8% 998 36,119 14.5% n/a* 6,630 964 1,665 42,749 1,962
2021 5.2% 3.4% 1,118 33,033 14.5% n/a* 6,473 938 1,670 39,506 2,056
2020 5.2% 3.4% 1,119 32,868 14.9% n/a* 6,173 918 1,660 39,041 2,037
2019 5.3% 3.2% 1,013 31,388 16.5% n/a* 5,919 977 1,660 37,305 1,990
2018 5.9% 3.5% 1,031 29,603 21.1% n/a* 4,692 992 1,660 34,295 2,023
2017 5.8% 3.8% 1,134 30,167 18.4% n/a* 4,856 895 1,660 35,023 2,029
2016 5.9% 4.2% 1,260 30,054 18.2% n/a* 4,231 722 1,661 34,285 2,032
2015 6.2% 6.2% 2,158 34,950 n/a* n/a* n/a* n/a* 1,655 34,950 2,158
2014 6.9% 6.9% 2,110 30,489 n/a* n/a* n/a* n/a* 1,655 30,489 2,110
2013 7% 7% 2,046 29,112 n/a* n/a* n/a* n/a* 1,655 29,112 2,046
2012 7.1% 7.1% 1,948 27,462 n/a* n/a* n/a* n/a* 1,675 27,462 1,948
2011 9% 6.2% 1,183 18,947 21.8% n/a* 4,008 875 1,675 22,955 2,058
2010 9.3% 6.9% 1,305 18,881 20.8% n/a* 3,872 804 1,684 22,753 2,109
2009 9.1% 6.4% 1,189 18,583 21% n/a* 4,213 885 1,650 22,796 2,074
2008 10.3% 7.1% 1,123 15,861 23.3% n/a* 3,889 906 1,650 19,750 2,029
2007 9.8% 6.8% 906 13,366 15.1% n/a* 7,620 1,150 1,650 20,986 2,056

* n/a = not applicable since an EA policy was in place

3 Comments

  • priya says:

    can i have the list of students who were given sat training by Ivy Coach and got admitted into ivy league colleges…?

    • Bev Taylor says:

      Hi Priya,

      You must be kidding.

      The confidentiality of our students is a top priority of ours. If your daughter worked with us, would you want everyone to know? Likely not.

      But feel free to peruse our testimonials page. There are real names there. They area searchable people. Then, peruse the websites of every other college admissions consulting and testing company. See if they use full names or if they write things such as: “John, Parent of Member of Harvard Class of 2018.” Do you know how many Johns are in each Harvard class? That means nothing.

      We don’t ask students and parents for testimonials because we value their privacy. But a few have asked to have testimonials on our site over the years and those are up.

  • Marcos says:

    Hello, do you offer “International Coaching”? I’m a Junior from Mexico who is really interested on entering Harvard, what is my first step?