What is the Difference Between Harvard College and Harvard University?


Harvard University, one of the most prestigious institutions in the world, is often regarded as a single entity. However, it comprises various schools, including Harvard College, which was founded in 1636 and stands as the oldest institution of higher education in the United States. In this article, we will explore the key distinctions between Harvard College and Harvard University to provide a clearer understanding of their roles and offerings.
What is the difference between Harvard university and HAVARD college

Harvard College: The Oldest Chapter:

Historical Significance: Harvard College was established in 1636, making it the oldest part of Harvard University. This historical significance bestows a sense of tradition and legacy upon the College, making it a symbol of academic history in the United States.

Undergraduate Focus: Harvard College primarily focuses on undergraduate education, offering a four-year liberal arts program. Students at the College receive a well-rounded education in various subjects, which fosters critical thinking, problem-solving, and a broad understanding of the world.

Harvard University: A Multifaceted Institution

Diverse Schools: Harvard University comprises 12 graduate and professional schools. These schools cover a wide spectrum of disciplines, from the Harvard Law School to the Harvard Medical School, each with its unique academic and professional focus.

Advanced Programs: These schools cater to students who already possess their first degrees and are seeking advanced training through master’s or doctoral programs. This means that Harvard University provides opportunities for individuals at various stages of their academic and professional journeys.

Undergraduate Experience at Harvard College

Student Population: Harvard College has around 6,600 undergraduates, with nearly equal numbers of males and females. This relatively small undergraduate population fosters a sense of community, close faculty-student interactions, and a personalized educational experience.

Liberal Arts Emphasis: The College provides a liberal arts education, emphasizing a broad range of subjects. Students are encouraged to explore a diverse array of disciplines, developing a foundation for lifelong learning and adaptability.

Graduate and Professional Schools at Harvard University

Independence: Each of the 12 graduate and professional schools within Harvard University maintains its own admissions offices and teaching faculties, operating independently of Harvard College. This autonomy allows these schools to tailor their programs to the specific needs of their disciplines and students.

Diverse Fields: These schools offer advanced programs in various fields, including law, medicine, business, and more. Harvard’s graduate schools are renowned for their excellence and innovation, attracting top scholars and professionals.

Admissions and Contact Information

Admissions Process: Harvard College and the graduate schools have separate admissions processes. The College typically focuses on assessing the potential of undergraduates, while the graduate schools evaluate the qualifications of those who have already earned their undergraduate degrees.
Contact Information: Prospective students interested in Harvard’s graduate programs should reach out to the respective schools’ admissions offices directly. Each school has its admission requirements and application procedures, which are distinct from Harvard College’s undergraduate admissions.

Harvard University’s Reputation and Influence

Global Recognition: Harvard University’s collective reputation is renowned worldwide, drawing students and faculty from across the globe. Its distinguished history and outstanding academic achievements make it a symbol of excellence in higher education.

Impact on Higher Education: Harvard’s commitment to academic excellence and research has had a profound influence on the landscape of higher education. The institution’s research, innovations, and contributions have shaped and continue to shape numerous academic fields and global policy decisions. Harvard’s legacy extends beyond its campus, impacting education and society as a whole.


In summary, while Harvard College and Harvard University share a name and a storied history, they serve distinct educational purposes. Harvard College offers undergraduate education with a focus on the liberal arts, whereas Harvard University is a vast institution encompassing numerous graduate and professional schools, providing advanced training in various fields. Understanding this difference is crucial for prospective students and anyone interested in the world of academia. Harvard’s legacy, whether through its College or its diverse graduate programs, continues to shape the future of education and research.

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