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 2023: 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 2026 was 3.2%. The early action acceptance rate was 7.8%.


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


Harvard is test-optional, but of students who submitted scores, the middle 50% SAT range was 1480-1580 and the middle 50% ACT range was 33-36.


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. 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. 


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. Harvard welcomed just 1,984 students out of the 61,221 who applied for a record-low acceptance rate of 3.2%


Of the 60,000+ applicants for Harvard’s class of 2026, 9,406 of them applied early action; of those, 740 were accepted for a 7.8% 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—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 2021-2022 Common Data Set, which is the most recent available, and it refers to the admitted class of 2025.




The average high school GPA of Harvard’s class of 2025 is 4.2—72.91% of the class of 2025 graduated with a 4.0.




The middle 50% SAT and ACT scores of Harvard’s class of 2025 are 1480-1580 and 33-36


Class Rank


Harvard doesn’t publish the average high school rank of the students accepted to its class of 2025, but competitive applicants commonly graduate at, or near, the top of their class—93.1% of the class of 2025 graduated in the top 10 of their high school class. 


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 fitting the type of student they’re looking for. 


For example, Harvard values students who are engaged in the community and have demonstrated leadership, prioritizing the admission of students who’ve made an impact in their community through volunteer and charity work or leadership over those with spotless academic records. Students can demonstrate these qualities both in their supplemental essays and with the extracurricular activities they pursue. 


Intellectualism is a quality Harvard places a great deal of importance on, particularly in the social sciences and humanities. Applicants with interesting academic backgrounds who have combined their academic passions with research, fieldwork, and other extracurricular involvement have a leg up over other candidates. 


How Harvard Evaluates Applications


According to their 2021-2022 Common Data Set, the following factors are “considered” at Harvard:


  • Course rigor
  • GPA
  • Test scores
  • Essay
  • Recommendation letters
  • Interview
  • Extracurricular activities 
  • Talent/ability 
  • Character/personal qualities 
  • First generation 
  • Legacy
  • Geographical location
  • Racial/ethnic status 
  • Volunteer work 
  • Work experience 


And these are “not considered”:


  • Religious affiliation
  • Class rank
  • State residency 
  • Applicant interest 


How to Improve Your Chances of Getting into Harvard 


1. Achieve at least a 4.2 while taking the most challenging classes available


The average high school GPA of admitted students to Harvard’s class of 2025 was 4.2 and almost three-quarters of them had a 4.0. The best way to improve your chances of acceptance is to have extremely strong academics—and to complete the most challenging coursework available. Competitive candidates to a top-ten school like Harvard have often completed upward of 12 AP courses


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 a higher test score.


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


The middle 50% of Harvard’s class of 2025 earned SAT scores of 1480-1580 and ACT scores of 33-36. Any score in the middle 50% is good, however, the higher in the range you score, the better your odds of admission are.


Harvard does not superscore standardized test scores but evaluates the highest test scores in each section across test dates.


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:



Due to the challenges presented by COVID-19, Harvard was test-optional for the 2020-2022 admissions cycles, and has extended that policy for the 2022-2023 cycle. CollegeVine recommends you take either the SAT or ACT if you can do so safely, as students who submit scores are accepted at higher rates than those who do not. 


A general rule of thumb for applying to a college with test-optional admissions is to submit scores so long as they’re at, or above, the 25th percentile for accepted students.


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. 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 achieve success in your passion, as this indicates to them that you’re likely to be successful in the future. Rather than do 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 both aren’t already evident in other areas of your application and align especially well with Harvard’s high standards for applicants.


5. Ace Your Interview 


Harvard considers your interview when making admissions, although interviews generally play a minor role in the overall admissions process. College interviews are often more a stumbling block than an opportunity. Don’t let the Harvard interview trip you up—familiarize yourself with the interview process, know how to prepare for it, and have an understanding of the types of questions commonly asked of an applicant


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. 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 the teachers first about what you would put in that letter if you were the one writing it and make sure to follow the 9 rules for requesting letters of recommendation from teachers

7. Apply Early Action/Early Decision


Harvard’s class of 2026’s 7.8% early action acceptance rate is substantially higher than its overall acceptance rate of 3.2%, this 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 all other private college early action programs, but you can apply early action to any public college or university.   


How to Apply to Harvard




Application Timeline


Notification Date 

Early Action

November 1

December 16

Regular Decision

January 1

April 1 


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 (optional)
  • 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


Learn more about Harvard 


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



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, thoughCollegeVine’s free chancing engine is here to help! This tool evaluates a variety of factors like grades, course rigor, standardized test scores (if you have them), 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!

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.