Harvard University has unrivaled recognition in the world thanks to the level of its teaching and research, the resources available on campus, its performance in athletic competitions, and the availability of numerous museums and libraries.

Every year it attracts the best profiles from all over the world and is the dream of more than one French student. So if you think you have a chance of joining university, here is our complete guide to studying at Harvard University.

Key figures from Harvard University

  • Present in the top 10 or even the top 3 in the world since the creation of university rankings
  • The first university in the world in terms of reputation (According to the Times University Ranking)
  • Around 43,000 applications each year
  • Around 1,700 candidates join a course each year
  • A selection rate of 4% of applications received, among the best profiles in the world
  • 13% of international students from all over the world
  • A majority of students receive substantial financial aid to follow their course, European students included
  • $40.9 billion in funds in 2019 from donations (i.e. 169% of the annual budget for higher education and research in France in the same year)

The world ranking of Harvard University

Harvard University is known for being one of the best universities in the world, and on several occasions, it has even occupied first place in several international rankings. When is today? The university continues to occupy the top 10 in the world in major rankings as you can see in the table below:

World rankings20212020
Times University Rankings3rd place _7th place _
Shanghai University Ranking1st place _1st place _
Financial Times Global MBA Ranking1st place (2020)2nd place (2019)

Note that the Times University Ranking also has a “global reputation” criterion, highlighting the recognition of the university throughout the world. At this level, the university has maintained first place in the world for years, as its reputation and the recognition of its training are part of the professional world and even popular culture.

In fact, by joining Harvard University, you are joining a course within the most recognized establishment in the world, nothing more and nothing less! But as you might expect, not everyone can access it.

What are your chances of getting into Harvard?

With a selection rate oscillating between 4% and 5% depending on the year, and an exceptional reputation attracting only the best profiles, it is extremely difficult to join a course at Harvard University.

For example, the SAT score of 75% of American students joining university is between 1460 and 1600 out of a total maximum score of 1600 points.

But what does a score above 1460 on the SAT mean? Quite simply in the top 3% of American students nationally. Only 25% of admitted students score lower, although they maintain an excellent academic record.

What results should I obtain in France to meet Harvard’s criteria?

1 – Academic results:

It is difficult to make a direct conversion of university expectations to international students. Keep in mind that this is mostly the top 3% of American students, and the expectations are potentially similar for international students.

It is essential to be among the best students in your establishment, and that you almost systematically obtain an average higher than 16/20 in each term from the Third to the Terminale class.

2 – The SAT skills test:

Harvard University will also ask you when compiling your file to take the SAT at a testing center to include the score in your file.

The SAT is just one of many factors considered by Harvard’s admissions board, but a score too far behind other applicants will penalize you heavily. It is therefore necessary to aim for at least 1460 points to put all the chances on your side.

3 – The TOEFL English test:

The second important point is the TOEFL English test. Marked out of 120, you will need to obtain a minimum score of 80 or even 85 to ensure admission to Harvard. This generally corresponds to an average of 14/20 upon leaving high school, an accessible level.

Why study at Harvard University?

Harvard is a dream for many students mainly thanks to its unrivaled reputation, its iconic campus, and its quality teaching.

However, Harvard University is not for everyone, and there are good and bad reasons to want to study there.

Good reasons to study at Harvard:

  •  You have an academic record of excellence, as well as an English level of at least C1.
  • You are ready and perfectly capable of putting together a solid application file in English
  • You are looking for training that will open doors for you all over the world, whether academic or professional
  • You continually aspire to academic and professional and wish to develop a high-level career

Bad reasons to study at Harvard:

  •  You want to get the “best” from your studies in the United States and apply to the best American establishments despite an unsuitable or average academic record.
  • You want to develop your level of English in the USA to obtain a satisfactory level.
  • As the courses are taught in English and the academic level is high, a level of English below C1 risks being problematic and must be improved before applying.
  • You hope to finance your studies completely with external financial aid and scholarships.
  • Harvard University does offer considerable financial aid based on your household income (see “  Financial aid at Harvard  ”). But in the majority of cases, you will still have to pay more than $10,000 per year all costs included.
  • If you want to study in the United States more generally without a specific establishment, we advise you to broaden your horizons to universities of all levels to guarantee admission to at least one of them.

Discover the campus and student life at Harvard University:

In the center of the Harvard College campus, there are numerous houses or “Houses” where students live in communities between different courses and levels of study, as well as members of the university’s faculties. Each house has a specific environment allowing students to develop and be part of a community.

From Europe, the Harvard campus can be visited in several ways:

  • You can browse the campus map directly on the official university portal.
  • You can browse the blogs of students or travelers who have discovered the campus in different ways. We particularly recommend Mathilde’s blog, the Harvard College student blog, or this article on College Vine.
  • You can explore the campus and student life through the different YouTube videos available.
  • Among the best, we find videos from YouTubers like Hafu Go, Sienna Santer, and Josh Drean.
  • For more classic videos, you can turn to the official YouTube channel of Harvard University, including videos presenting the campus in the fall or even “  Anything can happen at Harvard  ”.

What are the key dates for preparing your application file?

Preparing an application for a university in the United States requires a lot of preparation and time, and Harvard is no exception! For Harvard University, all key dates are accessible on their dedicated page for first-year entry.

It is therefore necessary to start preparing your file 12 to 15 months before the planned university start date to avoid any disappointment and pass all the necessary tests successfully.

Participating in the “Early Action Candidates” program and being admitted will also allow you to dedicate more time to seeking financial aid, with potentially more conviction thanks to your admission offer already in hand.

Read also: The Best Medical Schools in The United States

Please note that whatever the type of application chosen, the final selection of the university is made on May 1st. You will therefore have as much time to choose your higher education establishment.

Read also: Cambridge University in the United Kingdom: The Complete Guide