Harvard Graduate School Acceptance Rates 2023 — The Admit Lab

Philippe Barr, PhD
7 min readApr 27, 2023

Are you a student applying to Harvard Graduate School? Chances are, you’re feeling overwhelmed and stressed. Everyone knows that Harvard Graduate School acceptance rates are low, which can be intimidating. But here’s the thing — don’t get too worked up over it!

Sure, getting accepted into Harvard won’t be easy but luckily there are steps you can take right now to help put yourself ahead of the competition and up your chances of success. In this blog post, I’ll show you why graduate school application rates shouldn’t induce fear — instead, they should motivate you as an aspiring scholar who seeks to study at one of the world’s most renowned institutions!

Harvard 101

Harvard University, founded in 1636, is a prestigious institution of higher education in the United States renowned for providing limitless learning opportunities. Its alumni include notable figures from various fields, and it is considered an excellent choice for advanced education. Harvard University, which has consistently ranked among the top universities in the world since its inception, has secured the 5th position in the QS World University Rankings 2023. This can be attributed to its world-class teaching facilities, expert faculty, and wonderful opportunities it provides.

Let’s talk numbers

According to US News & World Report, the overall Harvard Graduate School acceptance rates are just 4%. That means that out of every 100 applicants, less than five get in. The university has more than 22,000 students enrolled. Of these, 15,250 are enrolled in graduate and professional studies programs. Competition for PhD and other professional courses is tough, with an acceptance rate of 3.1%. Approximately 5% of international students enroll in post-graduation programs every year.

Harvard University is known for being one of the most challenging universities to get into in the United States. The application process, requirements, and extracurriculars are notoriously rigorous. The admission office carefully screens all candidates based on various factors such as academics, volunteer work, extracurricular activities, statement of purpose, and letters of recommendation.

It’s also important to keep in mind that the Harvard graduate school acceptance rates are calculated by dividing the number of accepted applicants by the number of total applicants. This means that if you don’t apply, you won’t have a chance of being accepted at all. So even if the acceptance rate is low, you should still give it a shot and apply anyways.

Do your research

Before you start filling out your application, make sure you know what kind of program you’re applying to. What are the admission requirements? What are the specific guidelines for your field of study? What kind of research is being conducted by the faculty members? It’s also important to note that graduate school acceptance rates differ depending on the program you’re applying to. For example, the Computer Science program has an acceptance rate of around 20%, while the Education program has a rate of about 5%. So, if you’re interested in Harvard, make sure to research the acceptance rates for your desired program specifically.

GPA Requirements

To increase the chances of getting into Harvard, having a strong academic record is crucial. Harvard is highly competitive, so ranking among the top students in your class can make a significant difference. Moreover, some Harvard schools have a minimum GPA requirement, which is not very high, but failing to meet it will result in the rejection of your application. The GPA typically achieved by Harvard students is 4.18.

Even if your GPA is low, it doesn’t necessarily mean that Harvard won’t accept you. Ensure that the other aspects of your application are exceptional if your GPA is low.

Focus on making yourself a standout candidate.

Focusing solely on acceptance rates can be detrimental to your application process. Instead, you should invest your time and energy into crafting a strong application, including well-written essays, strong letters of recommendation, and impressive extracurricular activities. These factors, along with strong academic achievements, are what truly set applicants apart.

The GMAT or GRE scores are critical components of the Harvard Graduate School application process. While there is no official minimum score required at Harvard, keep in mind that the average GMAT score for admitted students over the past few years was 728, while the average GRE score was 162. Aiming for these scores is a great way to increase your chances of acceptance.

Furthermore, Harvard’s admissions team looks at more than just grades and test scores. They want to see a well-rounded individual who can bring unique perspectives and experiences to their community. Another way to improve your chances is by showing off your leadership skills. Harvard looks for applicants who have made an impact in their community, whether through volunteering, community service, or other types of leadership roles. So make sure to highlight any activities or roles you’ve held outside of the classroom that demonstrate your leadership abilities. So don’t be afraid to showcase your passions and interests in your application — this could be what sets you apart from other impressive applicants.

Take your time with your application.

I know you’re anxious to send it off, but don’t rush it. This is your chance to make a lasting impression on the admissions committee. Your personal statement should demonstrate your academic prowess, your research interests, and your future career goals. Don’t be afraid to talk about your weaknesses or setbacks, and how you overcame them. The committee is not just looking for academic merit, but also for a potential contributor to their community.

Here are some additional helpful tips to improve your application:

  • Focus on your strengths when studying for admission exams to improve your scores.
  • Write an original statement of purpose that reflects your vision.
  • Keep a clear record of all your academic achievements and transcripts.
  • Explore all the available opportunities and choose the one that you think is most suitable for you.
  • Ensure that you carefully complete the application process and double-check for any errors before submitting.

Letters of recommendation are crucial

You want someone on your side who knows you academically and personally, and who can vouch for your potential to thrive at Harvard. They should highlight your academic achievements, research or work experience, and, most importantly, your character. Don’t be shy to ask your professors or supervisors for a letter — the worst they can say is “no.”

Don’t put all your eggs in one basket

Harvard is a prestigious institution, but it’s not the only one out there. Keep your options open and apply to other programs as well. Who knows? You might find a better fit or even a full scholarship at another university. Remember, success is not defined by the name on your degree, but by the knowledge and experience you gain along the way.

Final Words

Taking all this into account, it is understandable why the Harvard graduate school acceptance rates are so low. Competition is stiff, but if you invest the right amount of time and energy into showcasing yourself adequately in your application package, you have nothing to fear. Preparing a winning portfolio should always be taken seriously, no matter what the stakes are. You might even decide to enlist professional help for fine-tuning your work and making sure that the details hold their own next to succeeding applicants.

For those feeling overwhelmed by the whole college admissions process, don’t worry — there is an entire industry devoted to preparing applications for competitive universities such as Harvard or Yale. So go ahead and take charge of your future; who knows, maybe one day soon you’ll open your mail and find that prized acceptance letter in your hands. And if not, at least you gave it your best shot! If you’re looking for some help in this regard — check out our graduate school application services and let us assist you on your journey towards higher education success!

“I wanted to offer some thoughts on working with Philippe through the whole process. In summary, Philippe helped me with 3/4 of my essays and a quick resume scan. I applied to Stanford, Harvard, Wharton, and MIT Sloan, and was accepted to three, waitlisted at Stanford.
I’d highly recommend Philippe across the board.” — Admitted to Harvard Business School

With a Master’s from McGill University and a Ph.D. from New York University, Philippe Barr is the founder of The Admit Lab. As a tenure-track professor, Philippe spent a decade teaching and serving on several graduate admission committees at UNC-Chapel Hill before turning to full-time consulting. With more than seven years of experience as a graduate school admissions consultant, Philippe has stewarded the candidate journey across multiple master’s and Ph.D. programs and helped hundreds of students get admitted to top-tier graduate programs all over the world.

Originally published at https://admit-lab.com on April 27, 2023.

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Philippe Barr, PhD

I am Philippe Barr, founder of The Admit Lab, a graduate school admissions consultancy that helps students get admitted into grad school: https://admit-lab.com/