Detailed Overview of the Harvard University

The Harvard University is one of the most popular private Universities in the world. It is situated in Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA. The University is also a member of the Ivy League. It was founded on 8th September, 1636 by a general vote of the Great & General Court of the Massachusetts Bay Colony. Thus, Harvard is the oldest institution for higher education in the USA.

Originally, this university was called the New College. On 13th March, 1639, it was named the Harvard College, after the principal donor, John Harvard. He was a former student of the Cambridge University. The first official reference to Harvard as “University”, and not a “College” occurred in 1780 in the Massachusetts constitution.



As mentioned earlier, Harvard is considered one of the most prestigious universities in the world. It even has the largest endowment for any academic institution at $22.6 billion in 2004. The second largest is the Yale University at nearly half the amount of endowment. In 2005, the Harvard University was ranked first in joint place with the Princeton University by the US News. Before 2004, Harvard was in second and third place for five consecutive years. In 2004, the Times Higher Education Supplement gave first rank to Harvard University.

Harvard University employs a faculty of about 2,300 professors. The faculty serves about 13,000 graduate and 6,650 undergraduate students. Admission to the Harvard University is very competitive, and the overall undergraduate acceptance rate is around 10%. According to industry experts, Harvard is the first most selective college in the USA. The other four including Yale, Caltech, Princeton and MIT.

Harvard University recently returned from the unrestricted Early Action Policy. According to this policy, students could apply early to Harvard and some other schools. The University adopted a single choice non-binding Early Action Policy. According to the new policy, a student can apply early to just a single school. This is the same policy adopted by Stanford and Yale.

The school color is just a shade richer than red. However, it’s brighter than burgundy. Most people refer to this color as crimson, which is also the name given to the daily newspaper and Harvard sports teams. This color was unofficially adopted by a general 1875 vote given by the student body.

However, the association with red can be traced back to 1858. Charles William Eliot, a graduate student who later became Harvard’s president. bought some red bandanas for the crew. He wanted the crew to be easily distinguished by spectators at sports events.

Currently, Harvard has nine faculties. These have been listed below. The list has been written in a chronological order of the faculties’ foundation :

● The Faculty of Arts & Sciences, the Division of Engineering & Applied Sciences, serving together :

1) Harvard College – the Undergraduate portion of the University – 1636

2) The Graduate School of Arts & Sciences – 1872

3) The Harvard Division of Continuing Education. It includes the Harvard Summer School and the Harvard Extension School.

● The Faculty of Medicine – It includes the Medical School (1782). It also includes the Harvard School of Dental Medicine (1867). It was the first dental school in the United States.

● Harvard Divinity School – 1816

● Harvard Law School – 1817

● Harvard Business School – 1908

● The Graduate School of Design – 1914

● The Graduate School of Education – 1920

● The School of Public Health – 1922

● The J.F Kennedy School of Govt. – 1936

The Harvard University has generally taken a lot of students from famous American private preparatory schools, including the Lawrenceville School, Phillips Exeter Academy, St. Paul’s School, Groton School, Phillips Andover Academy, Milton Academy and more. However, most undergraduates come from many different public schools throughout the United States, and other parts of the world.

Harvard University has always had some close ties to Boston Latin School. It is the oldest public school in the USA. It was founded in 1635. The earliest incoming classes at Harvard were mostly from Boston Latin. Even today, more than a dozen students matriculate to Harvard every year from the Boston Latin School.

Harvard features a lot of strong departments. These departments are ranked among some of the best faculties in the world. Even some lesser known departments at the Harvard University have significant global influence. For instance, the Department of African & African-American studies is quite popular in the world.

Another good example is the Judaic Studies Department. It was headed by renowned Professor Harry Austryn Wolfson. The Harvard University is proud of the $5 million Judaica Library. The library has categorized and identified books by font type, ink type, pagination style, paper thickness, binding method, and many other factors.


The University’s main campus is conveniently located right next to the Harvard Square, Central Cambridge. It’s approximately 3.2 km or 2 miles from the main MIT campus. Almost every undergraduate lives on the campus. Most first year students live in dormitories near or in the Harvard Yard. Some “upperclass” students live in the twelve residential houses. They serve as dormitories as well as admin units of the Harvard College.

Nine houses in the Harvard are situated quite close or along the Northern banks of the famous Charles River. Thus, they are also called the River Houses. The other residential houses in the University are conveniently located close to the Radcliffe Quadrangle. It’s also called the Quad, and is located about half a mile North-West of the Harvard Yard. These residential houses were occupied by Radcliffe College students until Radcliffe’s residential system was merged with Harvard.

There’s also a thirteenth house called the Dudley House. Although the Dudley House is non-residential, it still fulfills the needs of some off campus undergraduates and graduate students, including the members of the Dudley Co-Op.

It serves as the same social and administration housing complex as other residential houses do for students living on the campus. The house has been named after Thomas Dudley. He signed the charter of the Harvard College, while acting as the Governor of Massachusetts Bay Colony.

Harvard’s residential houses have been paired with Yale’s residential colleges in various sister relationships. The Business School, The Medical School, the University Stadium, and various other athletic facilities are conveniently located across the famous Charles River in Boston. Recently, Harvard also acquired more land in Boston (Allston neighborhood). The Harvard University is planning to move some of its facilities in this place.

Harvard is one of the most prestigious universities in the world. Admission to the Harvard University is very difficult, and requires a strong resume. Harvard has been featured in many Hollywood movies, and former students include various celebrities from different parts of the world.

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