Applying to Harvard After Your Service
Individuals who have served in the U.S. military bring valuable perspectives to our community. Harvard College does not have a separate admissions process for veterans. High academic standards, leadership in non-academic areas, and personal qualities will form the basis for all of our admission decisions. However, the many and unique experiences which constitute military service at all levels usually become an important part of a veteran’s applicant file.
Apply as a First-Year or Transfer Student
The first thing you will need to determine is your eligibility to apply, either as a first-year or transfer student. If you have not completed a full year of college course work, you may be able to apply as a first-year student. If you have completed more than one year’s worth of college courses, but not more than two years in total, you may apply as a transfer student. Individuals with more than two years of college course work are considered ineligible for admission to Harvard College. Also, please note that military training courses will not count for entrance either as a first-year or transfer student.
Harvard is a member of Service to School’s VetLink program. This program provides advising and support to veterans throughout the college application process.
Financial Aid For Your Harvard Education
Harvard College participates in the Yellow Ribbon Program. Veterans typically receive benefits through the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, in addition to the Post 9/11 GI Bill programs. Harvard’s generous need-based financial aid program may supplement or even replace the use of veteran’s benefits toward the total cost of attendance. We also honor requests to waive the application fee if you feel it presents a hardship on your or your family. Don’t let the cost stand in the way of pursuing a Harvard education.
Use our Net Price Calculator to get a quick estimate of how much Harvard will really cost you.
US Military Veterans
Does Harvard accept credit earned from classes taken during my time in the military?
Admitted transfer students may be eligible to transfer up to a maximum of sixteen course credits. The transfer admissions team is not able to tell applicants which courses will be eligible for transfer credit during the application process. The Faculty of Arts and Sciences Registrar’s Office evaluates transcripts for all admitted transfer students to determine course transferability once a student has been admitted. College courses similar to those available to Harvard undergraduates are likely transferable. Online courses are generally not eligible for transfer credit. Exceptions are rare and are made at the discretion of the Registrar’s Office.
As a military veteran, my high school grades do not reflect my current work ethic and commitment to my studies. How does this impact my application?
We consider an applicant’s full range of experiences and growth from those experiences, especially for veterans. A weak high school transcript does not necessarily mean you will not be a compelling candidate for Harvard. Look at your high school transcript with a critical eye, identify what your weaknesses in the classroom might have been and think about what you have done since that time to address those weaknesses. Be prepared to explain any steps you have taken to improve.
I took college or community college courses before/during my time in the military. Am I eligible to apply as a transfer student?
To be eligible to transfer to Harvard College, you must have satisfactorily completed at least one continuous academic year in a full-time degree program at one college by your anticipated date of matriculation at Harvard, and not have completed more than two years total in college. Once a student has completed more than two years of college coursework at another institution, regardless of the courses taken, that student is no longer eligible for transfer admission to Harvard. Our office cannot make exceptions to this policy as it is set by the Harvard faculty. We recognize that military service may impact a student’s access to classes. Please contact us at [email protected] if you have specific questions about your situation.
What other documents or materials would be helpful to provide a complete picture of who I am for my application?
As a US military veterans, it may be helpful for you to obtain DD214, evaluations, letters of endorsement from current NCOs or Officers who are around you every day, know what you do and how you have contributed to the team.
I have been away from school for a while during my military service. Do I still need to submit letters of recommendation?
We fully understand that high school teachers may not remember you or still be at your school. We normally suggest that you get a similar set of letters from people who know you well in your current phase of life, such as commanding officers or other professors/instructors (if you have pursued any coursework since high school). Helpful letters might address how you dealt with adversity, stress, or other challenges, how you got along with your peers and how you have maximized opportunities available to you – all critical components to success at Harvard and beyond.
How can I interview if I am unable to leave my military base or am deployed at sea?
Interviews are not required for admission. If you are contacted for an interview and are not able to leave base, please call our office (617-495-1551) so that we may assist. If you are applying as a transfer student, please know that interviews are not routinely offered to transfer applicants. In cases where it is difficult to reach an applicant we may request a phone or Skype interview.
Is it possible to enroll at Harvard College and complete my coursework remotely while remaining on active duty?
Harvard College does not presently offer an option to work toward a degree remotely. Harvard Extension School offers more flexible options for students seeking opportunities to study remotely. Learn more about the Extension School’s undergraduate degrees.
My high school files no longer exist because the school closed or was destroyed by a fire/storm/war. What are my options?
In order to process your application, we will need to be able to verify your graduation. Therefore, you may want to reach out to the district or state level agency that manages educational records. They may be able to provide proof of graduation or other documents. In addition, since the armed forces require a high school diploma or GED to enlist, they may be able to assist you in confirming your graduation status.
I am a US military veteran. Should I apply as a first-year or transfer student?
To be eligible to transfer to Harvard College, you must have satisfactorily completed at least one continuous academic year in a full-time degree program at one college by your anticipated date of matriculation at Harvard, and not have completed more than two years total in college. Please note that once a student has completed more than two years of college coursework at another institution, regardless of the courses taken, that student is no longer eligible for transfer admission or freshman admission. Our office cannot make exceptions to this policy as it is set by the Harvard faculty.
If you do not meet the above requirements and have not yet completed one continuous academic year in a full-time degree program at one college, then you may apply for freshman admission to Harvard College. Please note that if you are eligible to apply as a freshman that any college coursework you have completed would not transfer to Harvard College.
Is there a separate or different admissions process for military veterans?
There is no separate or different admissions process for applicants who are or will be veterans. Applicants with less than one year of college credit may apply as first-year students and those with between one and two years of college credit may apply as transfer students. Please visit the U.S. Military Veterans page to learn more about admissions and financial aid.
I have not taken the SAT or ACT because I’m on active duty, what do I do?
Because the standardized test component of the application is required, you should look into options that allow you to take either the ACT or SAT as soon as possible. Depending on when your active duty ends, you may need to apply for admission the following year.
How long are my SAT/ACT scores valid?
SAT and ACT scores are valid for a period of three (3) years. You may still self-report scores that are no longer valid. However, it would be more helpful to the Admissions Committee to have current scores if possible.
Veterans Financial Aid
Can veterans receive financial aid? Are there any specific financial aid programs for veterans?
You are eligible to apply for financial aid. However, there are no Harvard financial aid programs specifically designed for veterans. We have a generous need-based financial aid program, and all first-year and transfer students applying to Harvard may also apply for financial aid. Please visit the Applying for Aid page for an overview of our program. Eligible veterans may also consider using VA Benefits; helpful information can be found at http://sfs.harvard.edu/veteran-military-benefits.
Is Harvard a Yellow Ribbon school?
Yes. Harvard University is proud to help veterans continue their educations by participating in the Yellow Ribbon Program. As a part of the University, the Harvard College Financial Aid Office administers Yellow Ribbon Funds for its eligible undergraduate students. The aid provided by the government is treated like all outside awards, and students receive a matching amount from the College.
Student Life and Support
- Does Harvard have any student groups or alumni groups for veterans?
Do students who are veterans have to live on campus?
No, while Harvard College is predominantly residential, some students do not live in College housing. Undergraduates living off campus may elect to be members of Dudley House. This option has appealed to a number of students, including married students and students who wish to be part of a fully non-residential community. Students who are part of Dudley House are eligible for meal contracts in Dudley House and are included in all social and cultural activities sponsored by the House. They are “deaned” by the Allston Burr Resident Dean of Dudley House and are advised for purposes of fellowship and professional school application by Dudley House tutors.