Consider if Early Action is Right for You
Applying to Harvard under the Restrictive Early Action program empowers you to make a college choice early. Early applicants apply by the November 1 deadline and hear from us by December 15.
Early Action is a non-binding early program, meaning that if you are admitted you are not obligated to enroll. If you apply to Harvard under our Early Action program, you may also apply at the same time to any public college/university or to foreign universities but you are restricted from applying to other private universities’ Early Action and Early Decision programs.
You have the flexibility and freedom to apply to other institutions during the regular decision round, and you have until May 1 to compare your admission and financial aid offers. We require that you apply only to Harvard College during the Early Action round. (See the frequently asked questions below for policy clarification.)
Harvard does not offer an advantage to students who apply early. Higher Early Action acceptance rates reflect the remarkable strength of Early Action pools. For any individual student, the final decision will be the same whether the student applies Early Action or Regular Decision.
Considering if you should apply Early Action or Regular Decision
Regular Decision offers important practical advantages in the later application deadline (January 1). You will have more time to complete the application components—more time for you to edit and proofread your portions of the application and more time for your teachers and counselors to become familiar with you before they write on your behalf. You may also want to consider whether your application would be strengthened by senior year extracurricular achievements or improved academic performance.
If your record and accomplishments have been consistently strong over time, Early Action may be an attractive choice. You don’t have to commit to coming to Harvard, but you will learn earlier if it is an option for you.
Answering your policy questions
Applying to Harvard
If I apply restrictive early action to Harvard, may I apply to another private college's early action program (restrictive or not)?
No. However, you may apply Early Action to any public college/university or to foreign universities.
If I apply restrictive early action to Harvard, may I apply to another college's early decision program?
After students receive notification from Harvard’s Early Action program in mid-December, they are free to apply to any institution under any plan, including binding programs such as Early Decision II.
I am also applying to colleges outside of the U.S. May I apply to them at the same time as I apply Early Action to Harvard?
May I apply to another college under its Regular Decision plan before I receive Harvard's decision on my Restrictive Early Action application?
Yes. You may apply in the fall to any institution under its Regular Decision program.
Why was my application deferred?
Competition for early admission to Harvard College has, in recent years, been especially rigorous. Given more than 35,000 candidates applying from around the world, and the relatively modest size of each entering class (about 1,660 students), the Admissions Committee must act with great care in making Early Action Decisions. As a result, many strong applicants are deferred.
I was deferred. Is there really any chance that I still can be admitted?
It is impossible to predict individual admission decisions. Past students whose applications were deferred have been admitted at various rates, often approximating the rate for Regular Decision candidates. Over the next few months, your application will be reviewed again, supplying another opportunity for eventual admission.
I was deferred. What can I do to improve my chances of admission?
Further updates may enhance your prospects, although in most cases, the essential details already are on file with the Admissions Committee. Additional information should be limited to significant developments in your high school career.
Do I need to communicate directly with the admissions staff member who read my file about my deferral?
Despite what you may hear or read elsewhere, no; this is wholly unnecessary. Our decisions are made by a committee of admission officers, including faculty members, no single one of whom is responsible for shaping the outcome of deliberations.
Facts About Financial Aid
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.