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What is the difference between Harvard College and Harvard University?

Harvard College founded in 1636, is the oldest institution of higher education in the United States. Harvard College offers a four-year undergraduate, liberal arts program for students seeking their first degree. There are about 6,600 undergraduates at the College, with nearly equal numbers of men and women. In addition to Harvard College, Harvard University includes 10 graduate and professional schools, all of which offer programs for students who already hold their first degrees and seek advanced training in their fields through master's or doctoral programs. All 10 graduate and professional schools maintain their own admissions offices and teaching faculties, and they are run independently of Harvard College. For information about Harvard's graduate programs, please contact these schools' admissions offices directly.


• What is a "liberal arts & sciences" education?

Commitment to liberal arts & sciences is at the core of Harvard College’s mission: before students can help change the world, they need to understand it. The liberal arts & sciences offer a broad intellectual foundation for the tools to think critically, reason analytically and write clearly. These proficiencies will prepare students to navigate the world’s most complex issues, and address future innovations with unforeseen challenges. Shaped by ideas encountered and created, these new modes of thinking will prepare students for leading meaningful lives, with conscientious global citizenship, to enhance the greater good.

Harvard offers General Education courses that show the liberal arts and sciences in action. They pose enduring questions, they frame urgent problems, and they help students see that no one discipline can answer those questions or grapple with those problems on its own. Students are challenged to ask difficult questions, explore unfamiliar concepts, and indulge in their passion for inquiry and discovery across disciplines.

Courses

• How many courses does Harvard offer?

Harvard offers more than 3,700 courses. For a complete copy of the course catalog, please visit registrar.fas.harvard.edu.

• Are there exchange programs with other Greater Boston colleges?

You may cross-register in courses offered at MIT, which is a 10-minute trip from Harvard Yard. You may also enroll in graduate-level courses at the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences as well as at many of Harvard's professional schools.

• Can I fulfill academic requirements with previous coursework?

Harvard does not accept credit for coursework completed before matriculation. Beginning with students entering in the Fall of 2020, students will no longer be able to apply for "Advanced Standing". Learn more on the Office of Undergraduate Education website.

• Can I concentrate in business, journalism, law, or medicine?

While you can take courses related to these fields, Harvard's academic programs are not pre-professional, in that they do not provide vocational training. Many Harvard graduates plan to continue their education in professional or graduate schools, often in these fields. Please note that both medicine and law are postgraduate programs in the United States. If you are not a U.S. citizen but wish to continue your education in a professional program, particularly in an American medical school, we advise you to consult specific graduate and professional programs in advance to understand those schools' admissions and financial aid policies concerning international students.

• What should I know about Harvard's science and engineering programs?

Science and engineering have long been priorities at Harvard. There are more than two dozen state-of-the-art facilities for science research at Harvard, and new computer science and chemistry laboratories opened in 2008. Moreover, forty-one of our former and current science faculty members have won Nobel Prizes. About half of recent entering students intend to major in the natural sciences, engineering, computer science or mathematics. Read more about engineering and applied science at www.seas.harvard.edu.

• How easy is it to change my concentration?

About a third of undergraduates change fields after declaring their concentrations, which students do midway through their sophomore year. You would simply change concentrations in consultation with your departmental advisers. Learn more about the breadth of Harvard's academic programs.

• Are there required first-year classes?

Harvard requires all first-year students to fulfill the expository writing requirement, a one- or two-semester course depending on placement. Otherwise, you may enroll in any Harvard College courses in which you are interested and for which you are prepared.

• Must I register for courses before they begin?

No. You will enjoy a week-long "shopping" period at the start of each semester during which you visit classes and compare curricular choices before registering for classes.

Faculty

• What percentage of faculty members teach undergraduates?

Virtually 100 percent.

• Is it possible to get to know my professors?

Yes. In addition to weekly office hours, students often spend time with their professors before and after class. There are also many occasions when professors take meals in Harvard's 12 residential dining halls; attend gatherings in the residences of Faculty Deans, who are themselves Harvard faculty members; and participate in other programs and special events.

• How large are classes?

Some introductory courses as well as several other popular courses have large enrollments. Yet, the median class size at Harvard is 12. Of the nearly 1,300 courses offered last fall, for example, more than 1,000 of them enrolled 20 or fewer students.

Campus Life

• What will my room look like?

Most first-year dorms have suites for three to six students. Suites contain from two to four bedrooms and a common room. A few have their own baths, though most share a bathroom with other suites. The First-Year Experience Office assigns students to suites rather than to particular bedrooms, and in almost any suite students should expect to share a bedroom for at least part of the first year. Some dorms contain doubles, usually one fairly large room with a shared bath.

• Where will I take my meals?

First-year students all eat together in Annenberg Hall. During sophomore through senior year, students typically eat in the dining hall located within their Houses, although students can choose to eat at other House dining halls as well. See more about dining.

• What extracurricular opportunities are available?

There are more than 450 student-run organizations at Harvard, among them dozens of publications, five orchestras, an extensive community service program, more than 40 intercollegiate athletic teams, and a broad assortment of other activities—artistic, musical, political, and social. We encourage and support extracurricular opportunities as these provide important settings for personal growth and friendships. Visit the Dean of Students website for more information about extracurriculars.

• What security measures are in place at Harvard?

Harvard has a comprehensive public safety program that includes a full campus police force, a walking escort service, a campus-wide shuttle service, emergency phones, lighted pathways and a computer-card key system operating in all residential buildings. Read Harvard's "Playing It Safe" handbook at the Harvard University Police Department website.

• Is on-campus housing guaranteed?

Harvard guarantees housing for all four years. First-year students live in one of the 17 dormitories in or adjacent to historic Harvard Yard. Self-selected groups of students are assigned to one of 12 residential Houses for the final three years of undergraduate study. About 350 to 500 students live in a House, each of which includes its own dining hall, library, advising staff, and many other resources. Read more about residential life.

• Must I live on campus?

You must live in Harvard housing your first-year at the College. A very small percentage of students choose to live off-campus their following years. Most students and alumni consider the House system one of the hallmarks of their Harvard experiences. Considering the diversity of student backgrounds, interests, and talents, Harvard's residential program enhances the degree to which students learn from one another.

Resources

• Are there research opportunities for undergraduates?

Yes - available to students as early as their freshman year. You may find research projects through individual inquiries with departments and professors, through the Harvard College Research Program, or through the Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship Program. The Faculty Aide Program links professors to undergraduates interested in becoming research assistants. Read more about these programs on the Student Employment Office website.

• What sort of study abroad programs are available?

Harvard students study abroad in classroom, laboratory, and field-based immersion programs throughout the world. In addition to greatly expanded study abroad opportunities, other international experiences such as public service internships and employment are offered. Generous funding is available for all students both during the school year and the summer. For more information about study abroad, visit the Office of International Programs website.

• Does Harvard provide specific resources for undocumented students?

Harvard supports all of its students. The Office of Diversity Education & Support can help direct undergraduate undocumented students to advisers and counselors in the Bureau of Study Counsel, Office of Career Services, Harvard International Office, Student Employment Office, and University Health Services who can assist them. For legal questions, Harvard students can contact the Harvard Immigration & Refugee Clinic. Assistance is also available through Act on a Dream, a student organization that serves as a resource for undocumented undergraduates at the College.

• What advising and support services are available?

Woven into Harvard's residences are a variety of academic and other advising resources that make the residential experience at Harvard distinctive. First-year students benefit from the guidance that resident proctors provide about living in Cambridge and studying at the College. Each House also has its own staff of advisers called resident tutors who are similar to first-year proctors but with expertise in particular academic and professional fields. Harvard offers extensive advising resources of other kinds. If you need extra help in coursework, you can turn to the Academic Resource Center. The Office of Career Services offers career counseling. The University maintains its own outstanding health services. The Undergraduate Financial Aid Office will help you with financial aid issues, and the Student Employment Office will help place you in jobs on and off campus. Finally, if you are an international student, the International Office is there for your special needs.

• Does Harvard provide services if I have a disability?

Yes. The Accessible Education Office (AEO) assists students with any impairment limiting their ability to walk, see, hear, speak, learn, or write. Based on each student's successful strategies, the Center collaborates with faculty and staff to ensure individualized accommodation. Accessible housing and transportation are also available. Read more about the AEO.

Life After Harvard

• How successful are Harvard students in gaining admission to graduate schools or finding employment after graduation?

Our graduates enjoy an extraordinarily high rate of success receiving job offers and admission to graduate and professional schools. Resident tutors in each of the twelve residential Houses assist students applying to graduate schools and fellowship programs. The Office of Career Services offers all undergraduates a range of job and internship counseling and placement. Foreign citizens should be aware that some special policies pertain should they seek employment in the U.S. after graduation.

• Will attending Harvard College affect my chances of admission to Harvard University's graduate programs in business, medicine, or law?

Graduate programs are separate from and independent of Harvard College, and each makes its own admissions decisions. Yet, Harvard College is almost always the best-represented undergraduate institution at Harvard's graduate schools. In some programs, particularly at Harvard Medical School, foreign citizens may have a smaller representation.

• What is Harvard's graduation rate?

The College's graduation rate is normally 98 percent, among the highest at American colleges and universities. Everyone admitted to Harvard has the ability to complete all academic requirements successfully.



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