The Ivy Coach Daily

May 9, 2024

How to Get Into Harvard University

A red brick building with a green door is featured at Harvard University.

Maybe you’ve watched one of the many “how to get into Harvard” movies out there, and felt inspired to throw your hat in the ring. Maybe you’ve simply heard about Harvard’s reputation for excellence and prestige, and set your sights on the Ivy League university. Many try and fail to achieve admission into Harvard, which ranked #3 on the 2024 US News & World Report annual college ranking. What sets apart those chosen few who make it through the Crimson gates?

What Is Harvard University?

Located just outside Boston in scenic Cambridge, MA, Harvard College consists of a student body with 7,240 undergraduates. According to the 2022-23 Common Data Set, 3,471 full-time undergraduate males and 3,735 undergraduate females are currently enrolled. The Class of 2027 profile reveals that 15.4% of current first-years come from outside of the United States, and 15.9% come from within New England. As far as the intended field of study, 16% say they will concentrate in the humanities, 28.2% in the social sciences, and 49.2% in STEM.

How to Get Into Harvard University

Harvard Admissions Requirements

Getting into Harvard is no small feat. Every year, countless students with perfect grades and test scores face rejection. But all hope is not lost. By reviewing the characteristics of competitive applicants, and the strategies they use to gain admission, a clearer picture of how to get in emerges.

Harvard GPA Requirements

The Harvard College Office of Admissions and Financial Aid states that they conduct a “Whole Person Review” of applications that evaluates each applicant “in context.” This is a fancy way of saying that there is no minimum GPA or testing requirement, as academic performance is just one of several dimensions that are evaluated. However, Harvard still values students who have challenged themselves by taking the most rigorous coursework available to them. 

Does Harvard Look at Class Rank?

According to the 2022-23 Common Data Set, 74.3% of enrollees in the Class of 2027 had a 4.0 GPA in high school. 20.47% had a GPA between 3.75 and 3.99, and 4.04% had a GPA between 3.5 and 3.74. 92.2% of enrollees graduated in the top tenth of their high school class, and 97.6% graduated in the top quarter. The average weighted high school GPA for a student admitted to the Class of 2027 was 4.2.

Is a 4.0 (or higher) necessary to be admitted to Harvard? Not necessarily, but it sure does help!

Harvard SAT/ACT Score Requirements

Harvard recently announced that SAT/ACT testing requirements have been reinstated for the upcoming application cycle. Students will be required to submit either an SAT or an ACT score.

Amongst members of the Harvard Class of 2027, 55% submitted SAT scores and 28% submitted ACT scores. 

Mid 50% Range1,490 — 1,58034 — 36

Does Harvard Superscore Students’ SAT or ACT scores?

superscore combines the highest section scores from each individual test sitting for admissions evaluation. Harvard does not superscore test results. However, they “note” the highest test scores from each sitting.

At Ivy Coach, we caution against submitting more than one test administration for admissions evaluation. It shows Harvard that you had to work harder than many to achieve your highest scores, and that your testing performance has inconsistencies. That said, while it’s not ideal, sometimes students have no choice but to superscore.

What High School Courses Does Harvard Require?

Harvard recommends the following high school curriculum to prepare for the academic rigor of the College:

It is not advisable to take history (or any core subject, for that matter) for fewer than four years. Highly selective institutions across America look for students who have excelled in their core subjects for all four years of high school. What’s more, foreign language study should begin by eighth grade.

What Extracurriculars Does Harvard Look For in Applicants?

There is no silver bullet extracurricular activity that will automatically wow Harvard admissions officers. Applicants should focus their efforts on pursuing their one passion or speciality to the fullest extent possible. Harvard prizes such “well-lopsided” students who “contribute significantly to the education of their classmates.”

Harvard admissions officers build incoming classes that are “dynamic, talented, and diverse.” Well-rounded students do not cut it, because they do not contribute much to the variety of an incoming class. The world-class painter, groundbreaking scientist, or budding politician, on the other hand, will always stand out over the well-rounded applicant.

Harvard University Application Requirements

Harvard accepts both The Common Application and the Coalition Application. Students must submit a counselor letter of recommendation, two teacher letters of recommendation, their standardized test results, and Harvard-specific supplemental essay responses. 

Let’s focus on each individual component and discuss how students should complete them to give them the best shot of admission.

Who to Ask For Letters of Recommendation

Applicants to Harvard should ask two teachers — ideally two junior year teachers in core subjects — in addition to their school counselor for letters of recommendation.

Does Harvard Require an Alumni Interview?

No, any interviews conducted with Harvard alumni are at the discretion of the admissions committee. Students will only be assigned to interview with a Harvard alum if they live in a designated interview area. Across all highly selective colleges, the interview component of any given application is one of the least important aspects.

What are Harvard’s Supplemental Essay Topics?

Essays, on the other hand, are one of the most important aspects of a competitive college application. In addition to The Common Application Personal Statement or the Coalition essay, Harvard applicants have to complete the Harvard supplemental essay questions, a.k.a. “The Harvard Questions.” 

The Harvard Questions are as follows:

“Each question has a 200 word limit. 

Harvard University Application Deadlines

Harvard’s two admissions rounds are termed Restrictive Early Action and Regular Decision. 

Restrictive Early Action applications are due on November 1st of each year. Admission through this round is non-binding. Regular Decision applications are due on January 1st of each year. 

Harvard University Acceptance Rate and Statistics

The competitiveness of Harvard admission is notorious across the world, but just how competitive is the process? For admission to the Class of 2027, 56,937 students applied, and 1,966 were accepted, for a 3.5% overall acceptance rate.

How Much Does Harvard University Cost?

In the 2024-25 academic year, the full cost of attendance for undergraduates at Harvard will be $82,866, which breaks down as follows: 

How Ivy Coach Helps Students Get Into Harvard

We at Ivy Coach are not daunted by the Harvard hype. We know what they’re looking for, and it shows! 93% of Ivy Coach’s package clients earned admission in Harvard’s Early Action round over the past five years. 

If you’re interested in Ivy Coach’s assistance in optimizing your child’s case for admission to Harvard, fill out our complimentary consultation form, and we’ll be in touch.

You are permitted to use (including the content of the Blog) for your personal, non-commercial use only. You must not copy, download, print, or otherwise distribute the content on our site without the prior written consent of Ivy Coach, Inc.


If you’re interested in Ivy Coach’s college counseling,
fill out our complimentary consultation form and we’ll be in touch.

Get Started