Understanding Harvard’s acceptance rate is crucial for prospective students. In recent years, Harvard’s acceptance rate has hovered around 4-5%, making it one of the most selective colleges globally. [1]

In this blog, we will explore the Harvard acceptance rate in recent years, factors that affect it, and how Dukes Plus can help your application succeed.

The recent history of Harvard acceptance rates

In the last decade, Harvard’s acceptance rates have noticeably decreased, ranging from highs of 5.9%, and lows of 3.2%. This demonstrates the competitive nature of Harvard University’s admission process. The data from Harvard College admissions office, shows the admission rates for Harvard’s Class of 2018 to 2027[2]:

Harvard acceptance rates: Class of 2018 to 2027

Class ofApplicantsAdmittedAdmit RateYield Rate

The latest Harvard admission cycle

For the Class of 2025, Harvard reported an acceptance rate of approximately 3.4%, the lowest in College history. A 1.5% decrease from the already low 4.9% acceptance rate for the Class of 2024. [3] [4] [5]

This continues the trend of Harvard becoming increasingly selective, a reflection not only of the university’s prestige but also the growing pool of highly qualified applicants each year.

Comparing various Harvard University acceptance rates

When comparing various acceptance rates within Harvard, it’s essential to look at different segments of the applicant pool, including Early Action (EA) applicants and Regular Decision (RD) applicants. 

These distinctions provide insight into the nuances of Harvard’s admissions process and the varying levels of competitiveness among different groups.

Harvard acceptance rate: Early action (EA)

Historically, the early action (EA) acceptance rate is higher than the overall acceptance rate. For example, the Harvard EA acceptance rate for the class of 2027 is 7.5%, compared to the 3.4% admit rate for all applicants. [6] [7]

Although the acceptance rate is higher, it’s crucial to note that competition remains stiff, and the majority of EA applicants are deferred to the regular decision (RD) pool.

Harvard acceptance rate: Regular decision (RD)

The regular decision (RD) application process is more competitive, with a lower acceptance rate compared to early action (EA) applicants. For example, the Harvard RD acceptance rate for the class of 2027 is 3.4%, compared to the 7.5% admit rate for EA applicants. [8] [9]

The RD applicant pool is broader and more varied, including students who may have applied EA to Harvard and other institutions.

Factors that affect the Harvard acceptance rate

The acceptance rate at Harvard University, like that of other highly selective institutions, is influenced by a combination of factors including the applicant pool and the university’s internal admissions process.

Understanding these factors can provide insight into the dynamics behind the low acceptance rates and the competitive nature of gaining admission. Here’s a breakdown of the primary factors:

Quality and size of the applicant pool

The quality of applicants to Harvard is exceptionally high, with many students showcasing outstanding academic records, test scores, and extracurricular achievements. Over the years, Harvard has also seen a significant rise in the number of applications. For example, the total number of applicants for the class of 2025 rose by over 17,000 (42%) when compared to the class of 2024. A larger applicant pool with a fixed number of available spots naturally leads to a lower acceptance rate. [10]

Holistic admissions process

Harvard University’s holistic admissions process is designed to evaluate applicants based on a broad range of factors beyond just academic achievements. [11]

This method aims to understand the full spectrum of an applicant’s capabilities, interests, and personal qualities. Key components of this process include evaluating academic records, extracurricular activities, personal essays, and letters of recommendation. 

These elements help the admissions committee gauge an applicant’s intellectual curiosity, leadership potential, resilience, creativity, and how they might contribute to, and benefit from, Harvard’s community.

How does the Harvard acceptance rate compare with other Ivy League schools?

Harvard University is part of the prestigious Ivy League, a group of eight highly selective universities known for their academic excellence, historical significance, and social prestige. 

Within the Ivy League, acceptance rates vary, reflecting each institution’s unique characteristics, applicant pool size, and admissions criteria. According to Forbes, here’s how Harvard’s acceptance rate and admissions policies compare to its Ivy League peers for the class of 2027[12]:

Ivy League Class of 2027 Acceptance Rates

Ivy League SchoolClass of 2027 Total ApplicationsClass of 2027 Total AcceptancesClass of 2027 Overall Admission Rates
Brown University51,3022,6095.0%
Columbia University57,1292,2463.9%
Cornell UniversityNot ReportedNot ReportedNot Reported
Dartmouth College28,8411,7986.0%
Harvard University56,9371,9423.4%
University of Pennsylvania59,000 Plus2,400Not Reported
Princeton UniversityNot ReportedNot ReportedNot Reported
Yale University52,2502,2754.35%

Why is the Harvard acceptance rate so low?

Harvard University’s acceptance rate is not merely a statistic; it reflects the university’s mission and vision to cultivate a community that is rich in diversity, intellect, and potential for impact. [13]

Ultimately, the journey towards Harvard University is a profound exploration of one’s aspirations, capabilities, and the impact one wishes to make in the world—a journey defined by learning, resilience, and the unwavering pursuit of excellence.

How can Dukes Plus help your Harvard application succeed?

At Dukes, we provide support for applications to various universities across the world, including Harvard. Our programs offer personalised guidance, and strategic advice to strengthen your Harvard application. 

We can support you to identify and showcase your unique strengths, align your application with Harvard University’s values, and effectively communicate your accomplishments and potential contributions to the admissions committee. For more information on how Dukes can assist with your Harvard application, please visit our private US admissions consulting page. Alternatively, you can contact us here, and we can help you submit a winning application.


[1], [2], [3], [4], [5], [6], [7], [8], [9], [10], [11], [12], [13]