Share Meals, Make Traditions, Build Community
In the spring of your freshman year, the housing lottery will place you in one of our 12 Upperclass Houses, each accommodating between 350 and 500 students. The first of their kind in America, our Houses offer the experience of a small-college community within the broader framework of the University.
The Houses provide a wealth of opportunities for students to participate in academic, recreational, and cultural activities over their next three years.
A 13th House, Dudley House, offers a social and academic gathering place for undergraduates who have been granted permission to live off campus.
At the end of your first year, you will form a small rooming group with your classmates. Together, you will be assigned to live in one of the 12 Houses.
Assignments arrive on Housing Day—one of the most exciting and festive days of the year, when freshmen are introduced to their new communities to experience the ways and traditions of the House.
Housing Day begins with upperclass students visiting the freshman dorms to greet their newest housemates. Then you are welcomed into the life of your new Houses by a celebration at Annenberg Hall.
While each house has a unique personality and cultivates its own traditions—from the Adams House Pool Theater to the Lowell House bells—all Houses offer a number of amenities including a library, a lounge known as the “Junior Common Room,” and recreational and functional spaces, like a woodshop, recording studio, or grill.
Each House has a senior House leader. They make the House a home. The Faculty Deans eat their meals with students in the dining hall, sponsor student-planned events for the house, coordinate the House Tutors, and host gatherings in their private residences. The Faculty Deans’ professional, intellectual, and recreational interests inflect the House’s communal and cultural life, which helps to make each House a distinctive, close-knit community.
As part of our advising program, resident and non-resident tutors representing many fields of study are available in every entryway to help you with academic matters, fellowships, and graduate school admission.
Tutors also organize and participate in each House’s intellectual, cultural, and extracurricular activities, such as discussion and language tables, House sports, drama, music, art, and community service activities.
A large number of department tutorials and course sections meet in the Houses, allowing you to share meals with your professors and section leaders in the evenings, before or after class.
Traditions and activities
Creating a comfortable and dynamic environment for learning is the key feature of the Harvard House system. Houses are places where learning occurs all the time, whether in the dining hall while you share meals with teachers and classmates, visit with suitemates in your common rooms, or attend office hours with tutors, the dean, or the faculty dean. In your House, you can use art-making spaces, go to a yoga class, or take House tutorials and seminars for credit.
Houses field their own athletic teams in intramural sports ranging from hockey and rowing to squash and ultimate Frisbee. The Straus Cup is won annually by the House with the highest standing at the year’s end.
Each House has its own student-led House Committee, which is responsible for building community by organizing and sponsoring many House activities.