Harvard College vs Harvard University: What Truly Sets Them Apart?

Harvard is one of the world’s most prestigious educational institutions. It consists of Harvard College and Harvard University. Despite their similar names, these organizations have diverse functions, academic offerings and student experiences.

Many intending students dream of studying at these institutions due to their high prestige. They receive lots of applications each year; however, only a fraction tend to be admitted due to competition.

Have you been wondering about the difference between Harvard College and Harvard University?

In this piece, we’ll compare Harvard College vs Harvard University.

Harvard College vs Harvard University

Harvard University

Harvard University is a comprehensive higher education institution with a diverse range of graduate and professional programs.

Various Schools and Programs

Harvard University is home to various prestigious schools, including the Harvard Business School, Harvard Law School, Harvard Medical School and many more.

Each school focuses on a specific academic discipline, providing a diverse range of programs and research possibilities.

Graduate and Professional Education

Harvard University is synonymous with superior learning. It offers graduate and professional programs for students seeking specialized knowledge and expertise in a variety of subjects.

Research Opportunities

One of Harvard University’s strengths is its focus on research. The university encourages groundbreaking research across disciplines, which contributes to advancements in a variety of fields.

Harvard College

Harvard College is Harvard University’s undergraduate liberal arts institution, where students receive a thorough and holistic education.

It is the largest of Harvard University’s schools  and it is of particular importance to college-bound high school students because it houses undergraduate programs.

According to CBS, Harvard College is the most difficult college to get into, with a mere 3.4% acceptance rate.

Despite the odds, Harvard College has an undergraduate enrollment of 9,900 students from various backgrounds.

While Harvard College provides both BA and BS degrees, BAs are more common—between November 2019 and May 2020, the college awarded 1,493 Bachelor of Arts degrees and just 49 Bachelor of Science degrees.

Harvard College provides more than 3,700 courses in 50 undergraduate disciplines of study, known as specializations.

Concentrations are divided into four primary areas of interest: Arts and Humanities, Engineering and Applied Sciences, Sciences, and Social Sciences at the heart of all Harvard College liberal arts programs.

A third of the undergraduate curriculum meets the school’s standards for General Education, Distribution, Quantitative Reasoning with Data, Expository Writing and Languages.

Harvard College believes that the liberal arts teach students critical thinking, reasoning, analysis and effective communication—all of which are necessary for success in any discipline.

Liberal Arts Focus

The liberal arts are central to Harvard College’s curriculum and students are encouraged to explore a variety of topics before deciding on a specialty. This technique promotes critical thinking and a broad viewpoint.

House System

Harvard College’s distinctive house structure develops a sense of community among its students.

Undergraduates are selected at random to one of the residential houses where they live, interact and participate in group activities.

Holistic Learning

Harvard College emphasizes comprehensive learning by blending classroom instruction with extracurricular activities, research opportunities and a dynamic campus life. This technique promotes students’ intellectual and personal development.

Tips to Apply to Harvard College

Admission to Harvard is a significant accomplishment, whether it is Harvard College or Harvard University.

Nonetheless, admission to a Harvard graduate program is often thought to be easier than admission to an undergraduate school.

Here are some tips to increase your chances of being accepted to Harvard as an undergraduate.

1. Take a Rigorous Courseload

Top test scores and an amazing GPA aren’t enough to impress admissions officers at prestigious universities like Harvard; you’ll also need a tough course load packed with difficult classes.

Harvard is looking for individuals who can handle a tough academic schedule, as well as students who challenge themselves by taking challenging classes.

If your high school offers AP classes, take them. It is recommended that you take between seven and twelve AP courses during your high school experience.

Begin with one AP class your freshman year and work your way up to three or four by your junior and senior years.

AP coursework in common fields of study, especially those that fit with Harvard’s core curriculum, is seen as more beneficial than other courses.

2. Get Strong Test Scores

Almost everyone who goes to Harvard has excellent test scores. While they may not set you apart from the competition, you will need them for consideration. Harvard’s middle 50% scores are as follows:

SAT: 1460–1570 • ACT: 33–35

The middle 50% range refers to the 25th percentile (lower end) and the 75th percentile (upper end).

This range is a solid indicator of the type of exam performance required to get into Harvard—the higher your score, the better your chances.

3. Create an Impressive Extracurricular Profile

Extracurricular activities or endeavors outside of the classroom, are one way to distinguish yourself from other candidates.

In the eyes of college admissions authorities, not all extracurricular activities are equal. However, winning a famous award such as the Jack Kent Cooke Young Artist Award is quite intriguing.

Extracurricular activities can account for up to a quarter of admissions decisions at highly selective institutions such as Harvard.

One of the most significant aspects of extracurriculars is to prioritize quality over quantity. Also, choose extracurricular activities that you are passionate about.

Schools are more concerned with achievement and success than with the activities themselves, though controversial activities should be avoided.

4. Write Engaging Essays

While extracurricular activities show admissions officers where your interests and passions are.

Essays, on the other hand, allow you to discuss your hobbies and passions while also showcasing your ambitions, revealing aspects of your personality, and demonstrating why you belong on Harvard’s campus.

Whether you’re applying through the Common Application or the Coalition Application, you should compose a captivating essay that avoids cliché topics.

Remember, you’re attempting to demonstrate that you can succeed on campus—proofread carefully to eliminate stupid punctuation and spelling errors and ensure that your tone and style are consistent.

Harvard also allows applicants to submit an extra essay. Although it is not compulsory, submitting a supplemental essay is strongly suggested.

The reason is that it allows you to explain why you belong at Harvard and highlight aspects of your life that are not mentioned in other parts of the application.

Whatever you write about, be sure to emphasize qualities that Harvard appreciates, such as selflessness, leadership, and intellectual curiosity.

Harvard College vs Harvard University

The key distinctions between Harvard College and Harvard University include:

1. Purpose and Focus

Harvard College primarily serves undergraduate students and emphasizes a liberal arts curriculum. Harvard University, on the other hand, serves a broader range of students through its graduate and professional programs.

2. Student Body Composition

Harvard College enrolls only undergraduate students, resulting in a close-knit community of young intellectuals. Harvard University, on the other hand, has a varied student body of students, graduates, and professionals.

3. Degrees Offered

Harvard College awards Bachelor’s degrees, but Harvard University offers a variety of degrees, including Master’s, Ph.D., J.D., M.D., and more, through its different schools.


So, Harvard College and Harvard University do share the same name, but they serve distinct educational purposes.

Harvard University’s diverse approach and graduate programs complement Harvard College’s focus on undergraduate liberal arts education.

Both Harvard College and Harvard University have had an indelible impact on academia, science and society. Their graduates have made major contributions to different sectors, influencing worldwide conversation and innovation.

This piece, Harvard College vs Harvard University, shows that both schools seek to develop well-rounded, accomplished individuals who leave a lasting impression on the world.


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