What are your chances of acceptance?

Your chance of acceptance
Harvard University
Harvard University
Duke University
Duke University
Your chancing factors
Unweighted GPA: 3.7
SAT: 720 math
| 800 verbal


Low accuracy (4 of 18 factors)

How to Get into Harvard in 2024: Admissions Stats + Tips

What’s Covered:



Founded in 1636, Harvard is the oldest university in the U.S. as well as one of the most prestigious. But with an acceptance rate under 4%, precious few applicants get to pull up into the Yard on move-in day.


FAQs About Applying to Harvard


What is Harvard’s acceptance rate?


Harvard’s acceptance rate for the Class of 2027 was 3.5%. The early action acceptance rate was 7.6%.


What GPA and SAT/ACT score do you need for Harvard?


As of the 2024-2025 applications cycle, Harvard will once again be requiring all applicants to submit either an SAT or ACT score. 


Harvard has been test-optional for several years, so the most recent testing data available may not perfectly translate to the coming application cycle, but recently the middle 50% of accepted students had an SAT score between 1490-1580, or an ACT score between 34-36.


What kind of students does Harvard look for? 


The college isn’t looking for one specific “type” of student. They simply want students who have proven to be successful in what they do, as they’re likely to be successful in the future, and their achievements will reflect well on the school. 


Harvard also emphasizes a dedication to improving society, as they state in their mission: “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.”


What extracurriculars do you need for Harvard?


Students accepted to Harvard have a wide range of interests. You don’t need to be good at everything; in fact, it’s easier to stand out if you have one or two highly-developed interests with impressive achievements, as that will show admissions officers what you have to offer that no other applicant does


If you want to get into a super selective school like Harvard, we recommend finding your passion and aiming for achievements at the state or national level. In other words, shoot for Tier 2 or even Tier 1 extracurriculars to maximize your chances.


How Hard Is It to Get Into Harvard?


Harvard is traditionally among the nation’s most challenging colleges to gain admission to, and it’s only getting more difficult. In 2023, Harvard welcomed just 1,965 students out of the 56,937 who applied, for an acceptance rate of just 3.5%


Of the almost 60,000 applicants for Harvard’s Class of 2027, 9,544 of them applied early action; of those, 721 were accepted for a 7.6% early action acceptance rate.


While Harvard’s acceptance rate is incredibly low, your personal chances of acceptance depend on your profile strength. CollegeVine can help figure out how you personally stack up—our free admissions calculator uses your grades, test scores, and extracurriculars to estimate your odds of acceptance and give you tips to improve your profile!


Average Academic Profile of Accepted Harvard Students


This data is from Harvard’s 2023-2024 Common Data Set, which is the most recent available, and it refers to the admitted Class of 2027.




The average high school GPA of Harvard’s Class of 2027 was between a 3.9 and a 4.0—74.02% of this class graduated high school with a 4.0.




As noted above, the middle 50% SAT and ACT scores of Harvard’s Class of 2027 were 1490-1580 and 34-36


Class Rank


Harvard doesn’t typically publish the average high school rank of accepted students, but competitive applicants almost always graduate at, or near, the top of their class—94.4% of the Class of 2027 graduated in the top 10 of their high school class, and 99.38% were in the top quarter. 


What is Harvard Looking for?


At top-tier schools like Harvard, almost every applicant has an outstanding academic record, so great grades and superb standardized test scores are not enough to wow admissions officers. What can help you stand out from other applicants is aligning with their institutional values beyond simply intelligence.


For example, Harvard values students who are engaged in their community and have demonstrated leadership. They prioritize students who have made an impact in their school, team, neighborhood, etc. through volunteer or charity work, or who have taken on leadership roles within those communities.


Students can demonstrate these qualities in their activities list, and can go into more detail about them in their personal statement and/or Harvard-specific supplemental essays.


Additionally, Harvard wants to see genuine intellectualism–a true passion for one’s academic interests and a love of learning. Successful applicants will have taken initiative to pursue unusual coursework, research, fieldwork, interdisciplinary studies, and so on, not just earned exceptional grades and test scores.


How Harvard Evaluates Applications


According to their 2023-2024 Common Data Set, the following factors are “considered” at Harvard:


  • Rigor of secondary school record
  • GPA
  • Standardized test scores
  • Application essay
  • Recommendations
  • Interview
  • Extracurricular activities 
  • Talent/ability 
  • Character/personal qualities 
  • First generation 
  • Alumni/ae relation
  • Geographical residence
  • Volunteer work 
  • Work experience 


And these are “not considered”:


  • Religious affiliation
  • Class rank
  • State residency 
  • Level of applicant’s interest 


Since affirmative action was overturned in June 2023, Harvard can no longer directly consider a student’s racial or ethnic status when making their admissions decisions.


How to Improve Your Chances of Getting into Harvard 


1. Earn a 4.0, while taking the most challenging classes available


Almost three-quarters of students accepted to Harvard during the most recent admissions cycle had a 4.0. The best way to improve your chances of acceptance is to have extremely strong academic credentials—while completing the most challenging coursework available. At top-tier schools like Harvard, you want to show you’re ready to thrive in a rigorous academic environment, and standard-level courses alone won’t demonstrate that.


Selective schools like Harvard use the Academic Index (AI) to weed out unqualified applicants. This is a single score that represents the strength of your GPA, test scores, and class rank (if your school ranks). If your AI isn’t up to par, Harvard admissions officers may not even read the rest of your application. 


If your GPA is lower, and you’re earlier on in your high school career, check out our tips for increasing your GPA. If you’re a junior or senior, it will be harder to increase your GPA, so the easiest way to increase your Academic Index is to get an excellent SAT or ACT score.


2. Aim for a 1580 SAT and 36 ACT (the 75th percentile)


The middle 50% of Harvard’s Class of 2027 earned SAT scores of 1490-1580 and ACT scores of 34-36. Any score in the middle 50% is good, but of course, the higher in the range you score, the better your odds of admission are.


Harvard does not officially superscore standardized test scores, but does evaluate the highest test scores in each section across test dates. So, they see and consider all test results, including your highest, but pay attention to the low scores as well. 


If you took the SAT or ACT more than once, you may choose to send all of your scores, but be aware that they will see any relatively lower section scores, not just the higher ones.


These scores are incredibly high and are near-perfect, if not perfect (the 75th percentile ACT score at Harvard is a perfect 36). It’s really hard to get these scores! To improve your SAT/ACT score, check out these free CollegeVine resources:



3. Cultivate at least one or two Tier 1-2 extracurriculars (find your “spike”)


For selective institutions like Harvard, extracurricular activities can play a large role in admission decisions. Up to 25% of an admissions decision can be determined by a student’s activities outside of the classroom, as admissions officers want to see that you’ll contribute to their institution in a range of ways. While it’s true that there is no such thing as a bad extracurricular activity, some extracurricular activities are more impressive than others.  


Admissions officers evaluate extracurriculars using four tiers, with one being the most exceptional and four being the most common. For example:


  • Tier 1 represents the rarest and most impressive of achievements, such as being a state-ranked student-athlete or winning a prize in a national academic competition.

  • Tier 2 includes activities that showcase students’ larger achievements, such as being elected student body president or making the state orchestra.

  • Tier 3 activities include smaller achievements, such as being editor of the school paper or treasurer of the history club.

  • Tier 4 activities include general membership in student clubs and sports teams, as well as other casual hobbies.


Aspiring Harvard students should aim for at least a couple of Tier 1-2 activities. It doesn’t matter the area of interest; Harvard just wants to see you succeed in something you’re passionate about, as that indicates you’re likely to continue being successful in this area in the future. Rather than doing a bunch of unrelated activities at a mediocre level, try to hone one or two interests and develop a “spike.”


4. Write engaging essays


Harvard has plenty of applicants with stellar profiles. Use your personal statement to demonstrate a unique voice and character. If the admissions officer can’t get you out of their mind, they are much more likely to advocate for you when it comes time to make difficult decisions between equally qualified candidates. 


You’ll also want to set yourself apart by demonstrating your fit for Harvard specifically in the school-specific supplemental essays. In these essays, you’ll want to highlight your personality traits and accomplishments that aren’t already evident in other areas of your application, and that align especially well with Harvard’s high standards for applicants.


5. Ace Your Interview 


While interviews generally play a minor role in the college admissions process, at a school like Harvard where the margins between applicants are razor thin, you want to have as many gold stars on your application as possible. To ensure you crush your Harvard interview, familiarize yourself with the interview process and prepare for the types of questions commonly asked of an applicant


If you aren’t offered an interview at Harvard, don’t worry! Who gets an interview is determined by the number of Harvard alumni in your area, so there simply wasn’t someone available to interview you. 


Not getting an interview doesn’t say anything negative about your application. The interview is optional for a reason, as admissions officers get all the information they need from your main application.


6. Recommendation Letters 


Letters of recommendation help paint a picture of who you are. Like any good painter, you want to be in control of the whole work. However, there are compliments and aspects of your personality that only your recommenders can share.


Harvard requires you to send recommendations from two teachers you know well from different academic subjects. Make sure you talk to your recommenders about your broader goals for college, your reasons for applying to Harvard specifically, and the qualities you hope to highlight to admissions officers.


Your school counselor will also include a recommendation letter, which will provide context for your academic and extracurricular achievements within your high school. For example, they can help Harvard understand how your course rigor stacks up, given the offerings. 


7. Apply Early Action


The Harvard Class of 2027’s 7.6% early action acceptance rate is substantially higher than its overall acceptance rate of 3.5%, so this application pathway offers some applicants an excellent opportunity to improve their odds of admission.


Harvard offers restrictive early action (REA), a non-binding program that places no obligation on you to enroll if admitted. Applying REA to Harvard does restrict you from applying early decision, and from applying early action at any private college, but you can apply early action to any public college or university.   


Do note that 7.6% is still an incredibly low rate, so applying early is no guarantee of anything, and under the REA policy, you’re unable to apply to most other institutions early. However, if Harvard is your top choice, you likely should take advantage of the early boost–just make sure you’ve evaluated the decision from all angles first.


How to Apply to Harvard




Application Timeline


Notification Date 

Early Action

November 1

December 15 (roughly)

Regular Decision

January 1

March 31 (roughly)


Application Requirements


Harvard accepts both the Common Application and the Coalition Application, and requires the personal statement regardless of which platform you use. Other requirements include:


  • Harvard’s supplemental essays
  • SAT or ACT
  • Any AP, IB, or other scores from standardized exams you have taken (optional)
  • Two letters of recommendation from teachers
  • A school report and letter of recommendation from your counselor
  • High school transcript
  • A midyear report


How to Calculate Your Chances of Acceptance at Harvard


Because no one factor will guarantee you acceptance to a school as selective as Harvard on its own, your head may be spinning as you try to figure out how all the different pieces of your application will be weighed. 


Don’t worry, though—CollegeVine’s free chancing engine is here to help! This tool evaluates a variety of factors like grades, course rigor, standardized test scores, and extracurriculars to estimate your odds of being accepted at over 1,600 schools across the country, including Harvard.


The chancing engine will also give you suggestions for how to improve your chances of acceptance at Harvard, for example by taking a more challenging slate of courses or earning a leadership position in one of your extracurriculars. And remember that there are plenty of aspects of your application that aren’t quantifiable, like your essays and rec letters, which could also boost your chances. Best of luck!


Interested in learning more about Harvard? Check out these other informative articles: 


Short Bio
A graduate of Northeastern University with a degree in English, Tim Peck currently lives in Concord, New Hampshire, where he balances a freelance writing career with the needs of his two Australian Shepherds to play outside.