【School profile】 Harvard University
Harvard University is a private, Ivy League research university in Cambridge, Massachusetts, established 1636, whose history, influence and wealth have made it one of the world's most prestigious universities. Harvard is a large, highly residential research university. The nominal cost of attendance is high, but the University's large endowment allows it to offer generous financial aid packages. Harvard's alumni include eight U.S. presidents, several foreign heads of state, 62 living billionaires, 335 Rhodes Scholars, and 242 Marshall Scholars. To date, some 150 Nobel laureates, 18 Fields Medalists and 13 Turing Award winners have been affiliated as students, faculty, or staff.
Harvard was formed in 1636 by vote of the Great and General Court of the Massachusetts Bay Colony. In the early 20th century, the student body was predominately "old-stock, high-status Protestants, especially Episcopalians, Congregationalists, and Presbyterians"—a group later called "WASPs" (White Anglo-Saxon Protestants). By the 1970s it was much more diversified. In 1945–1960 admissions policies were opened up to bring in students from a more diverse applicant pool. Harvard graduate schools began admitting women in small numbers in the late 19th century, and during World War II, students at Radcliffe College began attending Harvard classes alongside men. The first class of women was admitted to Harvard Medical School in 1945. Since the 1970s Harvard has been responsible for essentially all aspects of admission, instruction, and undergraduate life for women, and Radcliffe was formally merged into Harvard in 1999. Drew Gilpin Faust, the Dean at Radcliffe, became the first female president of Harvard in 2007.
The university offers 46 undergraduate concentrations (majors),134 graduate degrees, and 32 professional degrees. The four-year, full-time undergraduate program comprises a minority of enrollments at the university and emphasizes instruction with an "arts and sciences focus". Between 1978 and 2008, entering students were required to complete a core curriculum of seven classes outside of their concentration. Since 2008, undergraduate students have been required to complete courses in eight General Education categories: Aesthetic and Interpretive Understanding, Culture and Belief, Empirical and Mathematical Reasoning, Ethical Reasoning, Science of Living Systems, Science of the Physical Universe, Societies of the World, and United States in the World. Harvard offers a comprehensive doctoral graduate program and there is a high level of coexistence between graduate and undergraduate degrees.
Harvard's academic programs operate on a semester calendar beginning in early September and ending in mid-May. In many concentrations, students can elect to pursue a basic program or an honors-eligible program requiring a senior thesis and/or advanced course work.