Harvard University: A guide for Indian Students

Harvard University is one of the most prestigious and renowned universities in the world, with a history of academic excellence, groundbreaking research, and influential alumni. Located in Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA, Harvard offers a wide range of undergraduate, graduate, and professional programs in various fields of study. Harvard is also home to a diverse and vibrant community of students, faculty, and staff from different backgrounds, cultures, and perspectives.

If you are an Indian student who dreams of studying at Harvard, you may have many questions and doubts about the admission process, the eligibility criteria, the tuition fees, the scholarships, the academic programs, and the campus life. In this article, we will try to answer some of the most common and important questions that you may have, and provide you with some useful tips and resources to help you prepare and apply for Harvard.

Why study at Harvard as an Indian Student?

There are many reasons why studying at Harvard can be a rewarding and enriching experience for Indian students. Here are some of the benefits of choosing Harvard as your study destination:

  • Academic reputation and quality: Harvard is consistently ranked among the top universities in the world by various international rankings, such as the QS World University Rankings, the Times Higher Education World University Rankings, and the Academic Ranking of World Universities. Harvard is also known for its high standards of teaching, learning, and research, and its faculty members include many Nobel laureates, Pulitzer Prize winners, MacArthur fellows, and other eminent scholars and experts in their fields. Harvard offers more than 3,700 courses across 50 departments and 12 schools, covering a wide range of disciplines and interests. Harvard also has a flexible curriculum that allows students to explore their passions and pursue their goals.
  • Diversity and inclusion: Harvard is committed to fostering a diverse and inclusive environment for its students, faculty, and staff, and to promoting a culture of respect, belonging, and mutual support. Harvard has more than 6,500 international students from over 150 countries, representing about 23% of the total student population. Harvard also has various programs and initiatives to support the academic, social, and cultural needs of international students, such as the Harvard International Office, the Harvard Foundation for Intercultural and Race Relations, the Harvard College Office of BGLTQ Student Life, and the Harvard College Women’s Center. Harvard also has many student organizations, clubs, and events that celebrate the diversity and richness of its community, such as the Harvard South Asian Association, the Harvard India Conference, the Harvard Holi Festival, and the Harvard Diwali Celebration.
  • Financial aid and scholarships: Harvard is one of the most generous universities in the world when it comes to providing financial aid and scholarships to its students, especially to those who demonstrate financial need. Harvard has a need-blind admission policy for all applicants, which means that the admission decision is made without considering the applicant’s financial situation. Harvard also has a need-based financial aid policy, which means that the financial aid package is determined by the applicant’s demonstrated financial need, not by their academic merit or other factors. Harvard meets 100% of the demonstrated financial need of all admitted students, regardless of their nationality or citizenship. Harvard also offers various scholarships, fellowships, grants, and loans to help students cover their tuition fees, living expenses, travel costs, and other educational expenses. Some of the scholarships available for Indian students include the Horace W. Goldsmith Fellowship, the Boustany MBA Harvard Scholarship, the Robert S. Kaplan Life Sciences Fellowship, and the Need-Based Fellowships.
  • Career opportunities and outcomes: Harvard is one of the most sought-after and respected universities by employers and recruiters around the world, and its graduates have access to a wide range of career opportunities and outcomes in various sectors and industries. Harvard has a dedicated career services office that provides career counseling, guidance, and resources to its students and alumni, such as the Office of Career Services, the Harvard Business School Career and Professional Development, and the Harvard Law School Office of Career Services. Harvard also has a strong and active alumni network, with more than 400,000 alumni worldwide, who can offer mentorship, advice, and connections to its students and graduates. Harvard alumni include many prominent and influential leaders, innovators, and changemakers in various fields, such as politics, business, law, medicine, science, arts, and social service.

How to apply for Harvard as an Indian Student?

The application process and requirements for Harvard vary depending on the level and type of program that you are applying for. However, there are some common steps and documents that you need to follow and submit for any Harvard application. Here are some of the general steps and documents that you need to complete and prepare for applying for Harvard as an Indian student:

  • Choose your program and check the deadlines: The first step is to choose the program that you are interested in and that matches your academic background, goals, and interests. You can browse the official website of Harvard and its schools and departments to find out more about the programs, courses, faculty, and research areas that are available. You can also use the Harvard Course Catalog to search for courses by keyword, subject, or school. Once you have chosen your program, you need to check the application deadlines and the admission cycle for that program. Harvard has different application deadlines and cycles for different programs and levels, such as Early Action, Regular Decision, and Transfer for undergraduate programs, and Round 1, Round 2, and Round 3 for MBA programs. You need to make sure that you submit your application and all the required documents by the specified deadline for your chosen program.
  • Complete the online application form and pay the application fee: The next step is to complete the online application form and pay the application fee for your chosen program. Harvard accepts the Common Application and the Coalition Application for undergraduate programs, and the Harvard-specific application for graduate and professional programs. You need to create an account on the application platform and fill out the application form with your personal, academic, and extracurricular information. You also need to pay the application fee, which may vary depending on the program and the application platform, but is usually around $90 for undergraduate programs and $105 for graduate programs. You can pay the application fee online with a credit card or send a check or money order to Harvard. You can also request a fee waiver if you have financial difficulty paying the fee.
  • Submit your standardized test scores: Another important step is to submit your standardized test scores for your chosen program. Harvard requires all applicants to submit standardized test scores from either the SAT or ACT for undergraduate programs, and from the GRE or GMAT for graduate programs. Harvard also requires all international applicants to submit standardized test scores from either the TOEFL or IELTS to demonstrate their English language proficiency. You need to take these tests well in advance of the application deadline and request the testing agencies to send your official score reports to Harvard. You can also self-report your scores on the application form, but you will need to send the official score reports if you are admitted. Harvard does not have a minimum score requirement for any of these tests, but you should aim to score as high as possible to increase your chances of admission. You can check the average test scores of the admitted students for your program on the official website of Harvard or its schools and departments.
  • Submit your academic transcripts and marksheets: You also need to submit your academic transcripts and marksheets for your previous and current education. You need to submit your official transcripts and marksheets from all the schools, colleges, and universities that you have attended or are currently attending. You need to request your school or college to send your official transcripts and marksheets directly to Harvard, or upload them on the application platform. You also need to submit your predicted or final grades for your current education, such as your Class 12 board exams or your bachelor’s degree exams. You also need to submit your degree certificates or diplomas if you have completed your education. If your transcripts and marksheets are not in English, you need to submit a certified translation along with the original documents. You also need to submit a credential evaluation report from a recognized agency, such as WES or ECE, if your education system is different from the US system. You can check the specific requirements and guidelines for submitting your academic transcripts and marksheets for your program on the official website of Harvard or its schools and departments.
  • Submit your letters of recommendation: You also need to submit your letters of recommendation from your teachers, professors, or mentors who can attest to your academic abilities, achievements, and potential. You need to submit at least two letters of recommendation for undergraduate programs, and at least three letters of recommendation for graduate programs. You need to ask your recommenders to write and send their letters of recommendation directly to Harvard, or upload them on the application platform. You need to choose your recommenders carefully and ask them well in advance of the application deadline. You should choose recommenders who know you well and can provide specific examples and details of your academic performance, accomplishments, and goals. You should also provide your recommenders with your resume, transcript, and personal statement, and inform them of your chosen program and the deadline. You can check the specific requirements and guidelines for submitting your letters of recommendation for your program on the official website of Harvard or its schools and departments.
  • Submit your personal statement and essays: You also need to submit your personal statement and essays for your chosen program. Your personal statement and essays are your opportunity to showcase your personality, interests, passions, and motivations to the admission committee. You need to write and submit your personal statement and essays on the application platform, or upload them as attachments. You need to follow the instructions and prompts for writing your personal statement and essays for your program. You need to write your personal statement and essays in a clear, concise, and compelling way, and highlight your strengths, achievements, and goals. You also need to explain why you are interested in your chosen program and how it aligns with your academic and career aspirations. You also need to demonstrate your fit and contribution to the Harvard community and culture. You can check the specific requirements and topics for writing your personal statement and essays for your program on the official website of Harvard or its schools and departments.

What are the tuition fees and living expenses for Harvard as an Indian Student?

The tuition fees and living expenses for Harvard vary depending on the level and type of program that you are enrolled in, and the duration and mode of study. However, here are some of the estimated tuition fees and living expenses for Harvard for the academic year 2024-2025, based on the official website of Harvard and its schools and departments:

ProgramTuition Fees (per year)Living Expenses (per year)
Undergraduate$54,160$24,070
MBA$77,350$34,050
Law$67,081$28,200
Medicine$66,581$30,800
Engineering and Applied Sciences$54,880$24,070
Education$51,904$24,070
Design$54,496$24,070
Divinity$25,376$24,070
Public Health$51,200$24,070
Arts and Sciences$49,448$24,070

These are the approximate costs and may vary depending on the exchange rate, inflation, and other factors. You also need to consider other expenses, such as travel, health insurance, books, and personal expenses. You can use the Harvard Financial Aid Calculator to estimate your financial aid and net cost for Harvard.

How to prepare for Harvard as an Indian Student?

Preparing for Harvard as an Indian student can be a challenging and competitive process, but also a rewarding and fulfilling one. Here are some of the tips and resources that can help you prepare and succeed in your Harvard application and admission:

  • Start early and plan ahead: One of the most important tips for preparing for Harvard is to start early and plan ahead. You need to research and choose your program, check the deadlines and requirements, take the standardized tests, gather the documents, write the essays, and submit the application well in advance of the deadline. You also need to prepare for the possible interviews, visa applications, and pre-departure arrangements. You should create a timeline and a checklist for your Harvard application and admission, and follow it diligently and consistently.
  • Focus on your academic excellence and potential: Another important tip for preparing for Harvard is to focus on your academic excellence and potential. You need to demonstrate your academic achievements, abilities, and interests through your transcripts, test scores, letters of recommendation, and essays. You need to maintain a high GPA and score well on the standardized tests. You also need to show your intellectual curiosity and passion for learning through your course selection, extracurricular activities, and research projects. You should also highlight your academic goals and how they align with your chosen program and Harvard’s mission and vision.
  • Showcase your extracurricular involvement and leadership skills: Another important tip for preparing for Harvard is to showcase your extracurricular involvement and leadership skills. You need to demonstrate your involvement and contribution to your school, community, and society through your extracurricular activities, clubs, organizations, and events. You need to show your leadership skills and potential through your roles, responsibilities, and achievements in your extracurricular activities. You should also highlight your interests, hobbies, and talents that make you unique and diverse. You should also show your commitment and impact to the causes and issues that you care about and how they relate to your chosen program and Harvard’s values and culture.
  • Seek guidance and feedback from others: Another important tip for preparing for Harvard is to seek guidance and feedback from others. You need to seek guidance and feedback from your teachers, counselors, mentors, and peers who can help you with your Harvard application and admission. You should ask them for advice, suggestions, and recommendations on your program choice, test preparation, document submission, essay writing, and interview preparation. You should also ask them for feedback and revisions on your application materials, such as your transcripts, test scores, letters of recommendation, and essays. You should also seek guidance and feedback from current or former Harvard students or alumni who can share their experiences, insights, and tips on studying at Harvard.
  • Be yourself and be confident: The final and most important tip for preparing for Harvard is to be yourself and be confident. You need to be yourself and be confident in your application and admission process. You need to express your authentic self and voice in your application materials, such as your transcripts, test scores, letters of recommendation, and essays. You need to be confident in your abilities, achievements, and potential in your interviews and interactions with the admission committee and the Harvard community. You need to be yourself and be confident in your reasons, motivations, and goals for studying at Harvard and how you can fit and contribute to the Harvard community and culture.

We hope that this article has provided you with some useful information and tips on studying at Harvard as an Indian student. Harvard is a dream destination for many Indian students who aspire to pursue higher education abroad. Harvard is also a challenging and competitive destination that requires a lot of preparation and dedication. However, if you follow the steps and tips mentioned in this article, you can increase your chances of getting admitted to Harvard and fulfilling your academic and career dreams. We wish you all the best for your Harvard application and admission. 🙌

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