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Mission, Vision, and History


John Harvard Statue


The mission of Harvard College is to educate the citizens and citizen-leaders for our society. We do this through our commitment to the transformative power of a liberal arts and sciences education.

Beginning in the classroom with exposure to new ideas, new ways of understanding, and new ways of knowing, students embark on a journey of intellectual transformation. Through a diverse living environment, where students live with people who are studying different topics, who come from different walks of life and have evolving identities, intellectual transformation is deepened and conditions for social transformation are created. From this we hope that students will begin to fashion their lives by gaining a sense of what they want to do with their gifts and talents, assessing their values and interests, and learning how they can best serve the world.


Harvard College will set the standard for residential liberal arts and sciences education in the twenty-first century. We are committed to creating and sustaining the conditions that enable all Harvard College students to experience an unparalleled educational journey that is intellectually, socially, and personally transformative. 

A Brief History

When you attend Harvard College, you become a part of the rich, storied history of the nation’s oldest institutions of higher learning. Founded in 1636, Harvard has undergone countless changes over the centuries, yet has always maintained its core as a haven for the world’s most ambitious scholars.

Students studying in Lamont Library


Harvard was founded in 1636 and named for its first donor, the Reverend John Harvard.

Harvard Hall


Many of Harvard’s historic buildings, several of which date back to the 18th century, still stand today.

Students sitting in Harvard Yard

Diversity and Accessibility

The 20th century saw substantial efforts to open Harvard’s doors to an increasingly broad range of students.

Radcliffe Yard


Radcliffe College was founded in 1879 “to furnish instruction and the opportunities of collegiate life to women and to promote their higher education.”