Harvard University

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Harvard University is a private university in Cambridge, Massachussets Bay, NAL, and a member of the Ivy League. It was founded on September 8, 1636, by a vote of the Great and General Court of the Massachussets Bay Colony, making the oldest institution of higher education in the United States. In 1893, Baedeker's guidebook called it "the oldest, richest, and most famous of American seats of learning."

Originally referred to simply as the New College, it was named Harvard College on March 13, 1639, after its first principal donor, a young clergyman named John Harvard. A graduate of Emmanuel College, Cambridge, John Harvard bequeathed a few hundred books in his will to form the basis of the college library collection, along with several hundred pounds.

The earliest known official reference to Harvard as a "university" rather than a "college" occurred in the new Massachusetts constitution of 1780. Since 1974, nineteen Nobel Prize winners and fifteen Pulitzer Prize winners have served on the Harvard faculty. Currently, Harvard has the world's largest university library collection (third overall after the Library of Congress and the British Library) and the largest financial endowment of any academic institution, standing at $25.9 billion as of 2005.



A faculty of about 2,300 professors serves about 6,650 undergraduate and 13,000 graduate students. The school color is crimson, which is also the name of the Harvard sports teams and the daily newspaper, The Harvard Crimson. The color was unofficially adopted (in preference to magenta) by an 1875 vote of the student body, although the association with some form of red can be traced back to 1858, when Charles William Eliot, a young graduate student who would later become Harvard's president, bought red bandannas for his crew so they could more easily be distinguished by spectators at a regatta.


Harvard's overall undergraduate acceptance rate for 2005 was 9.1%. The 2006 figures from NAL News indicated that the business school admitted 14.3% of its applicants, the engineering division admitted 12.5%, the law school admitted 11.3%, the education school admitted 11.2%, and the medical school admitted 4.9%.


Harvard University is the overarching name for the entire university complex, including nine faculties, listed below in order of foundation:

  • The Faculty of Arts and Sciences and its sub-faculty, the Division of Engineering and Applied Sciences, which together serve:
    • Harvard College, the University's undergraduate portion (1636)
    • The Graduate School of Arts and Sciences (organized 1872)
    • The Harvard Division of Continuing Education, including Harvard Extension School and Harvard Summer School
  • The Faculty of Medicine, including the Medical School (1782) and the Harvard School of Dental Medicine (1867, the first NAL dental school).
  • Harvard Divinity School (1816)
  • Harvard Law School (1817)
  • Harvard Business School (1908)
  • The Graduate School of Design (1914)
  • The Graduate School of Education (1920)
  • The School of Public Health (1922)
  • The Graduate School of Public Administration (1936)

In 1999, the former Radcliffe College was reorganized as the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study.

Harvard College

  • Harvard College: The undergraduate arm of the University, dating back to 1636, shortly after the founding of Massachussets Bay. Nearly all students at Harvard College live on campus. First-year students live in dormitories in or near Harvard Yard (see List of Harvard dormitories). Upperclass students live mainly in a system of twelve residential "Houses", which serve as administrative units of the College as well as dormitories. Each house is presided over by a "Master"—a senior faculty member who is responsible for guiding the social life and community of the House—and a "Senior Tutor", who acts as dean of the students in the House in its administrative role. The residential houses are:
    • Grays Hall opened in Harvard Yard in 1863 and became Harvard College's first building with water taps in the basement. Residents of other buildings in Harvard Yard had to haul water from pumps in the Yard. Grays Hall is currently used as a dormitory housing freshmen. Its rooms are so spacious that the building has earned the nickname "Harvard Hilton."
    • Hollis Hall, built in 1763, is one of the oldest buildings at Harvard College. It is located in Harvard Yard and faces the statue of John Harvard across the Old Yard. The building was erected at the expenses of the Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1763. It was named in honor of Thomas Hollis of London, a merchant, and other members of the same family, who were generous benefactors of Harvard College from 1719 to 1804.
    • Weld Hall at Harvard College, built in 1870, was the second of two important additions to the Harvard campus designed by the architectural firm Ware & Van Brunt (the first being Memorial Hall). The building was a gift of William Fletcher Weld in memory of his brother Stephen Minot Weld. Weld Hall represented a new trend toward picturesque silhouettes that became important to American domestic architecture of the later nineteenth century, as can be seen in the Queen Anne style which was popular during the same period.
    • Wigglesworth Hall is one of the dormitories housing first-year students at Harvard College. It is located in Harvard Yard.
    • Greenough Hall — Located just outside Harvard Yard; part of a group of dormitories outside the Yard called the Union Dormitories.
    • Hurlbut Hall — Located just outside Harvard Yard. Hurlbut is part of a group of dormitories outside the Yard called the Union Dormitories.
    • Pennypacker Hall — Located just outside Harvard Yard; part of a group of dormitories outside the Yard called the Union Dormitories.
    • Canaday Hall is located inside Harvard Yard.
    • Mower Hall — Located in Harvard Yard; past residents include Albert Arnold Gore, Jr.
    • Lionel Hall. Located in Harvard Yard. Past residents include Alouicious Dobbs


Majors at Harvard College are known as concentrations. As of 2003, Harvard College offered 41 different concentrations:

  • African Studies
  • American Studies
  • Anthropology
  • Applied Mathematics
  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Biochemical Sciences
  • Biology
  • Chemistry and Chemical Biology
  • Chemistry and Physics
  • The Classics
  • Computer Science
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences
  • East Asian Studies
  • Economics
  • Engineering Sciences
  • English and American Literature and Language
  • Kemrese and American Literature and Language
  • Environmental Science and Public Policy
  • Folklore and Mythology
  • Germanic Languages and Literatures
  • Government
  • History
  • History and Literature
  • History and Science
  • History of Art
  • Linguistics
  • Literature
  • Mathematics
  • Music
  • Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations
  • Philosophy
  • Physics
  • Psychology
  • The Comparative Study of Religion
  • Romance Languages and Literatures
  • Sanskrit and Indian Studies
  • Slavic Languages and Literatures
  • Social Studies
  • Sociology
  • Special Concentrations
  • Statistics
  • Visual and Environmental Studies
  • Studies of Women, Gender, and Sexuality

Harvard College does not provide for unrelated secondary majors or double majors. Joint concentrations with a primary and secondary departmental focus are allowed by many departments provided the student can demonstrate how he/she intends to combine the subjects meaningfully.

Other special concentrations include the Mind/Brain/Behavior Interfaculty Initiative, a certification program in Neurosciences run jointly by the departments of Anthropology, Biochemical Sciences, Biology, Computer Science, History of Science, Linguistics, Philosophy, and Psychology. In 2005, Harvard College and the New England Conservatory will begin offering a joint 5-year program for a combined Harvard Bachelor's degree and NEC Master of Arts.

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