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Application Process

Required Forms, Test Scores, and Evaluations

We look forward to learning about you through your application.

You start by submitting a complete application with the following materials:

  • Application and supplements
  • $75 application fee or a simple fee waiver request
  • Secondary School Report (including transcripts) and Mid-Year School Report
  • Two teacher evaluations
  • ACT or SAT (with or without writing)
  • Two SAT Subject Tests (recommended, except in the case of financial hardship)
  • Optional: AP, IB, or other examination results

Application

We accept the Common Application, the Universal College Application, and the Coalition Application. Each is treated equally by the Admissions Committee. Complete and submit your materials as soon as possible to ensure full and timely consideration of your application. If you use the Common Application, you must submit your application before your supporting materials (Secondary School Report, Teacher Reports, etc.) can be released to a college. Until you submit your own application sections, no part of your application will be transmitted to the Harvard Admissions Office. The Universal College Application does not require this same process.

When we receive your application

We will send an acknowledgment of receipt within two weeks of receiving your application. If you have not received an acknowledgment after two weeks, please contact us. Choose the category “Your Submitted Application,” then the subject “Confirm Receipt of Application” in the drop-down menu, or call 617-495-1551. 

Please note: we will not begin processing applications until late September, so the earliest acknowledgements will be sent in mid-September.

Application fee

  • You may pay your application fee online with a credit card via the Common Application, Coalition Application, or the Universal College Application websites.
  • You may also send a check or money order to Harvard College Admissions, 86 Brattle Street, Cambridge, MA 02138. Please include the applicant’s name with the payment.
  • Fee waivers: Do not let the application fee prevent you from applying! In the spirit of our honor code, if the fee presents a hardship for you or your family, the fee will be waived. You or your guidance counselor may use one of the official forms, or your counselor—or  you yourself—may simply write a short email asking us to waive your fee. See more about fee waivers in our Frequently Asked Questions.

Harvard supplements

Complete the Harvard Questions with the Common Application. If you are using the Universal College Application, complete the Harvard supplement and submit it online or mail it to the Admissions Office.

School Report and Mid-Year School Report (including transcripts)

These forms must be completed by your school counselor or other school adviser. Ask that the School Report form be completed and returned to our office as soon as possible.  Your school also must submit an official high school transcript, preferably submitted online through Parchment/Docufide or Scrip-safe International. The Mid-Year Report should be returned in February with your latest grades.

If you have attended more than one high school in the past two years, we request that your previous guidance counselor(s) or school official(s) submit a statement on your behalf about your time at that school. Please ask them to send their statement to Harvard College Admissions at 86 Brattle St. Cambridge, MA 02138 or fax it to (617) 495-8821.

Teacher evaluations

Ask two teachers in different academic subjects who know you well to complete the Teacher Evaluation forms.

standardized test scores

We require all applicants to submit the ACT or SAT, but you may choose to submit with or without the writing component. If you choose to submit Subject Tests, it is more useful to choose only one mathematics test rather than two. Similarly, if your first language is not English, a Subject Test in your first language may be less helpful. You should submit scores from tests taken in the past three years.

While we recommend two SAT Subject Tests, you may apply without them if the cost of taking the tests represents a financial hardship or if you prefer to have your application considered without them. If you were eligible for a fee waiver from the SAT or ACT, you are eligible for unlimited free score reports to be sent to institutions to which you are applying. We recommend you use your free score reports to share your scores with Harvard. Standardized testing is only one component of our admissions process and your application will be evaluated on the basis of all of the other information that you submit. Read more about Subject Tests here.

Beginning with the 2018-2019 application cycle (students applying for Fall 2019 admission), applicants may provide self-reported SAT and ACT test scores (including Subject Tests, Advanced Placement, IB, etc.). Admitted students who decide to enroll at Harvard College will be required to submit official test scores.

You are free to use the College Board Score Choice option or the similar option offered by the ACT. Our official codes are 3434 for the College Board SAT Reasoning and Subject Tests and 1840 for the ACT if you are submitting official test scores as part of your application.

When registering for tests, use your name as it will appear on your Harvard application. Using a nickname may prevent your scores from matching the rest of your application in our database.

There are no score cutoffs, and we do not admit “by the numbers.” For the ACT, we will evaluate your highest composite score and any other scores you choose to share with us.  We take into account your educational background when reviewing your scores. 

Students who attend well-resourced schools throughout their lives tend to do well on standardized testing. Those without such advantages can also do well by studying widely and deeply over a long period of time on their own with the help of family or school or community organizations. Research indicates that short-term test preparation usually has little effect, but the free “test prep” now offered by the SAT and the ACT might make a significant difference for students who follow their programs for extended periods of time. Such free programs could help to level the playing field for students from under-resourced high schools by providing the academic skills that will serve them well on standardized tests and also in college.

Standardized tests provide a rough yardstick of what a student has learned over time and how that student might perform academically in college – but they are only one of many factors considered in our admissions process. High school grades can also be helpful in assessing readiness for college courses but secondary schools around the country and the world employ a wide variety of grading systems – and some students have no grades at all from their schools or are home-schooled.

There is no “one size fits all” rule about which curriculum to study during secondary school years. Students should challenge themselves by taking courses deemed appropriate by their teachers and counselors. But some students believe that “more is always better” when it comes to AP, IB or other advanced courses. While some students prosper academically and personally by taking large numbers of such courses, others benefit from a more balanced approach that allows them additional time for extracurricular and personal development. For example, not everyone needs to enroll in calculus if another algebra or a statistics course would be a better fit. Even the best students can be negatively affected by taking too many courses at once, and might benefit instead from writing, reading or research projects on subjects of great interest to them. To avoid the “burnout” often seen among secondary school students, please refer to our article, Time Out or Burn Out for the Next Generation.

Information for Homeschooled Students

Each applicant to Harvard College is considered with great care and homeschooled applicants are treated the same as all other applicants. There is no special process, but all relevant information about your educational and personal background is welcome.  In addition to the application, all applicants are required to submit standardized tests, a transcript (you may create your own), and recommendations. If the application fee presents a hardship for your family, simply request a fee waiver.

Hear from Harvard students who were homeschooled, in the Harvard Gazette article ‘Homeschooled en route to Harvard.’

Misrepresentation of credentials

Be completely accurate in your application materials. If we discover a misrepresentation during the admissions process, you will be denied admission. If you have already been admitted, your offer will typically be withdrawn. If you have already registered, your admission will normally be revoked, and we will require you to leave the College. Harvard rescinds degrees if misrepresentations in application materials are discovered.

The determination that an application is inaccurate or contains misrepresentations rests solely with the Admissions Office and will be resolved outside the student disciplinary process.

Updates

Do not resend your application in order to make updates. If you need to update your identification or contact information, or send updates, additional information, or corrections, please do so via the Applicant Status Portal.

Facts About Financial Aid

$0

Amount that parents making less than $65,000 are expected to contribute.

Ninety percent of American families would pay the same or less to send their children to Harvard as they would a state school.

VISIT HARVARD

John Harvard Statue in front of University Hall

Stroll through Harvard Yard, ask Admissions staff all your questions, and feel the warmth of the Harvard community. See tour dates and times.

Admissions APPLICATION TIPS

Get step-by-step tips for completing your application.