You know you have what it takes to be a Harvard student — you have a stellar extracurricular activity list, standardized test score, personal essay, and letter of recommendation. However, you have a 3.0 GPA only. Does this mean that you should refrain from sending an application to Harvard, your dream school?
In general, students with a 3.0 GPA still have a chance to get into Harvard, provided that the application can demonstrate that they are what the university is looking for exactly. In some instances, hooks, such as being an athlete, allow applicants to get admitted into Harvard, even with a low GPA.
If you think you should kiss your dream of becoming a Harvard student goodbye because your GPA is low, think again. Did you know that some applicants with a stellar 4.0 GPA still get rejected by Harvard?
That’s because there are many other things that the school’s admissions officers look for when judging applicants, not just the GPA. Besides standardized test scores, personal essays and recommendation letters, hooks, which we will discuss in this article, are also taken into consideration — so don’t stop reading now.
But before that, let’s talk about this matter…
harvard university acceptance rate gpa
What GPA do you need to get into Harvard University? Applicants require exceptionally good grades to get into Harvard. The average high school GPA of the admitted freshman class at Harvard University was 4.04 on the 4.0 scale indicating that primarily A students are accepted and ultimately attend.
Harvard Acceptance Rate
You’re right about one thing: Harvard is a highly selective school. In 2018, the overall admissions rate at Harvard was only 4.6%, meaning admissions officers rejected more than 95 out of every 100 students who applied. Moreover, as we’ve written elsewhere, that overall rate includes Harvard’s early action acceptance rate, which is higher than the Harvard’s regular decision rate. That means that in reality, the regular admission rate at Harvard closer to 3%!
In addition, the college admissions process gets more competitive every year, as more domestic and international students alike apply. That means you need to really stand out. These admissions statistics are a little scary, but don’t fear. Once you know what Harvard is looking for, you can better tailor your college application to meet their expectations.
Harvard GPA Requirements
Let’s start with your grade point average (GPA). Harvard admissions officers will calculate based on your high school transcript, which you’ll submit with your overall application.
Last year, the reported average GPA of an admitted high school student at Harvard was a 4.04 out of 4.0, what we call a “weighted” GPA. However, unweighted GPAs are not very useful, because high schools weight GPAs differently. In truth, you need close to a 4.0 unweighted GPA to get into Harvard. That means nearly straight As in every class.
SAT and ACT Requirements
Harvard, like the rest of the Ivy League and most other colleges, requires either the SAT or ACT for admission. They have no preference between them, so choose the test that’s a better fit for you, thoroughly prepare for it, and plan to take it multiple times.
The average SAT score totals and ACT composite scores for students admitted to Harvard varies (see table below). However, keep in mind that unless you fall into certain privileged categories (athletes, legacies, donors, etc.), your SAT/ACT score should be closer to the 75th percentile than the 25th percentile to ensure you’re maximizing your chances of admission.
What GPA do you need to get into Harvard University?
Harvard University’s average GPA is 4.18. Harvard University does require GPA. This average GPA means Harvard University is brutally selective – the most competitive applicants in the world are already applying to the school, in hopes of taking up residence in Cambridge, and, somehow, you need to be better. Generally speaking, if your GPA is not at least equal to 4.18 then Harvard University may be a reach. However, Harvard University considers the ENTIRE application – we can make up for a weak GPA with more factors that we’ll discuss below. If your GPA is equal to or greater than 4.18, you’re sitting right in the sweetspot.
*BEFORE CONTINUING PLEASE NOTE: GPA and “prestige” DO NOT mean a college is right for you. Harvard University may seem amazing on paper, but you may hate it… That’s why 700,000 students transfer colleges every year – they end up going to the wrong school. It’s crucial to watch the videos on CampusReel and make sure you can envision yourself on Harvard University’s campus. These Harvard University admission statistics do not sufficiently tell you what a college or university is like.
What is Harvard University’s acceptance rate?
Last year Harvard University’s acceptance rate was 5.58. However, check out how the acceptance rate has changed over time.
|Acceptance Rate||5.0 %||5.0 %||5.58 %|
As you can see, Harvard University is a little easier to get into than last year.
Acceptance rate alone does not indicate your likelihood for getting into Harvard University – it’s a very high level understanding of the true competition. Use the acceptance rate as a general guide for curating a list of 10-15 schools that fall into different ranges of competitiveness. Then, use the below data to get a deeper understanding of how your application will compare to the rest of the pool.
What are your chances at Harvard University? Your SAT Score Check this box if you are not submitting an SAT score Your ACT Score
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This free college chances tool calculates your acceptance chances at Harvard University or any other U.S. college
Please note all chances are estimates based on test score and GPA averages.
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Admissions Rate: 4.7%
If you want to get in, the first thing to look at is the acceptance rate. This tells you how competitive the school is and how serious their requirements are.
The acceptance rate at Harvard is 4.7%. For every 100 applicants, only 5 are admitted.
This means the school is extremely selective. Meeting their GPA requirements and SAT/ACT requirements is very important to getting past their first round of filters and proving your academic preparation. If you dont meet their expectations, your chance of getting in is nearly zero.
After crossing this hurdle, youll need to impress Harvard application readers through their other application requirements, including extracurriculars, essays, and letters of recommendation. Well cover more below.
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The Basics of Harvard Admission
Before anything else, let’s take a quick look at the fundamentals of gaining admission into Harvard.
Students who have been dreaming about getting their college degrees from Harvard ever since they graduated from middle school or even before they entered middle school know that they will have to submit things when applying to Harvard. Let’s take a quick look at these basics:
Having a solid academic background is almost necessary for a senior high school student’s application to be taken into account by Harvard’s admissions officers.
Generally speaking, the average GPA of students welcomed by Harvard into its campus is 3.9 unweighted and 4.15 unweighted. With most colleges and universities in the US accepting an unweighted 3.0 GPA, it’s quite evident that Harvard wants above-average students.
But, as always, there are exceptions to the rule. It’s possible for Harvard to accept a student with a 3.0 GPA but with a compelling story. Similarly, it’s possible for Harvard to reject a student with a 4.0 GPA but with qualities that do not impress the Ivy League’s admissions officers.
As a matter of fact, as much as 12% of accepted students at Harvard have a 3.0 GPA, at least.
Standardized test scores
Everyone knows that Harvard is a highly selective institution. This means that the Ivy League school has a preference for applicants with high SAT and ACT scores.
Although it’s true that the average SAT scores Harvard accepts range from 1460 to 1580, applicants whose SAT scores are closer to the ceiling are preferred by Harvard.
The same is true when it comes to ACT scores — the school accepts ACT scores ranging from 33 to 35, but it prefers a score that’s closer to 36, the perfect ACT score.
But keep in mind that, these days, Harvard is a test-optional school.
This means that applicants do not have to submit their SAT or ACT scores. As a matter of fact, in early 2021, Harvard announced that it would continue to be a test-optional school for one more academic year due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
So, in other words, it currently doesn’t matter to Harvard what your standardized test scores are.
This may change at any time, however.
Filling out and submitting the application form is one of the most important steps for students who would like to go to Harvard. It can be done through the Common Application (Common App), Coalition Application (Coalition App) or Universal College Application (UCA) — Harvard does not prefer any one of them.
There are many things that you will need to provide in the application form. However, the highlight is the section where you talk about extracurricular activities.
According to aninterview with the then Dean of Admissions at Harvard, William R. Fitzsimmons, the admissions officers scrutinize application forms for extracurricular distinction and personal qualities.
They also check out the strength of character, ability to exercise sound judgment, and intellectual imagination of applicants.
Up to ten extracurricular activities can be included in the application form. However, you do not have to fill all ten blank spaces. It’s a good idea for you to focus on those you’re really involved with or passionate about.
When it comes to providing a list of extracurricular activities, quality is more important than quantity.
Your application form can only say so much about you. The things that make you shine can be divulged in your personal essay. Needless to say, your essay provides you with the opportunity to tell Harvard’s admissions officers why they should pick you over other applicants dying to attend Harvard.
Ensure that your personal essay, which is in response to one of the many essay prompts the Common App, Coalition App or UCA provides, is teeming with things about you that you cannot include or expound on in your application form.
It’s also a definite must that you write the application essay using your authentic voice.
Try to keep your personal essay between 500 to 550 words and less than 650 words — it will seem incomplete if you make it too short, and it will be hard or time-consuming to read if you make it too long.
Besides a personal essay, you may also submit a supplemental essay that’s completely optional.
It’s true that your personal essay and supplemental essay can say so much about you, including things that the admissions officers won’t be able to find on your application form.
But Harvard’s admissions officers want to get to know you so much better, which is why they also require applicants to submit recommendation letters.
When applying to the Ivy League school, you will have to submit two letters of recommendation. One is from your high school counselor. The other is from your teacher — any teacher of your preference.
Due to this, it’s a smart move to choose a teacher who knows you very well and will say a lot of positive things about you.
Most likely, you have no choice which counselor should write your letter of recommendation since most high schools have only one counselor. However, it’s a different matter with teachers, so choose wisely.
In some instances, the person you will approach may ask you to draft your letter of recommendation.
Just before we proceed to the next topic…
According to Harvard’s admissions officers themselves, there is no such thing as a typical Harvard student.
Every applicant is provided with enough attention for them to know whether or not he or she would make for a wonderful addition to the campus. Generally speaking, they want someone who will inspire others during and beyond college.
Here are some of the things that the school’s admissions officers look for:
It’s not just your GPA that matters when applying to Harvard — many other things can impact your application status. It’s because of this why you may have a 3.0 GPA and still get admitted into Harvard, or you may have a 4.0 GPA and still be kept from going to the elite US school.
And this brings us to another important matter that every student who would like to go to Harvard but their GPA of 3.0 is causing them to have doubts: a hook.
If you have a hook (there are several different hooks), you can have peace of mind that you have increased chances of becoming a Harvard student.
Read on to get to know a hook more and learn how it could be your ticket to earning a college degree from Harvard, even if your GPA is not high enough in the eyes of the school’s admissions officers.
All About Hooks in College Admissions
When it comes to getting admission into a college or university, especially one that’s elite or highly selective, having high grades and being an exceptional student, as discussed above, are equally important.
In some instances, a solid academic background can help a student who cannot impress enough with his or her personal essay or extracurricular activities get accepted. Likewise, an applicant who’s not the brightest can be accepted due to having distinctive traits, qualities, or experiences.
There is one more thing that admissions officers, including the ones that decide which applicants get to go to Harvard and which ones get to attend another school, consider in the admissions process, and it’s called a hook.
With a hook, an applicant with a 3.0 GPA or less-than-stellar application form can go from uninspiring to traffic-stopping!
Basically, a hook is anything — a trait, characteristic, talent, etc. — that an applicant possesses to give him or her an extra advantage in the admissions process.
Most of the time, it’s something that the college or university is looking for or needs.
A hook can come in two different forms:
Let’s now take a look at the various college admissions hooks:
In some instances, it’s not a great GPA or SAT score that can get you admitted into an Ivy League school. Suppose one or both of your parents are Harvard graduates.
In that case, there is a huge possibility for you to become a Harvard graduate, too, in the future just by being a legacy student — someone who has a close family member who attended Harvard.
If you are a primary legacy student, which means that your mother or father, or both, graduated from the Ivy League school you are applying to, the same research said that you have a 50/50 chance of gaining admission into the elite school of your liking — the increase in the percentage of probability of admission jumps from 23.3% to 45.1%.
Did a grandparent or sibling of yours go to the Ivy League of your dreams?
No worries! That’s because being a secondary legacy student provides you with a 13.7% increase in the probability of admission to a top-notch school.
Can you score multiple three points in a game of basketball effortlessly each time?
Then you could be admitted into Harvard trouble-free even with a GPA of 3.0 only, thanks to your superior basketball skills that Ivy League basketball coaches are constantly on the hunt for — admissions and athletics are practically interwoven at Ivy League schools.
As a proof, to date, there are four NBA players who once played for the Harvard Crimson:
Among all the US colleges and universities, Harvard has the most number of athletic teams — 42. This means that there are lots of athletic spots to fill.
As a matter of fact, up to 20% of admitted students at Harvard are athletes.
One of the allegations involved bribing coaches to label applicants as athletic recruits, even though they didn’t know how to play any sport.
Harvard is a diverse school, with a white undergraduate population of 37.1% only.
When applying to Harvard, you will be asked to describe yourself as a member of one or more ethnic groups, from American Indian, Alaskan Native, Latin American, Pacific Islander to multiracial.
Like numerous other elite schools in the US, Harvard is aggressively recruiting students coming from underrepresented minorities. What’s more, there are great financial aid opportunities available for them. Unfortunately, unlike before, Harvard no longer releases acceptance rates by racial and ethnic groups.
In 2020, however, Harvard was charged with discrimination against Asian-American applicants.
It’s because of this why the Ivy League school was pressured to reveal its admission criteria and process used for judging applicants, and this showed that recommendation ratings, academic scores, and personal ratings are the most important ones.
Sometimes, a lack of natural gifts can be compensated with generous financial gifts from an applicant’s parents.
As a matter of fact, the discrimination charge against Asian-American applicants that Harvard received, the one we talked about earlier, uncovered that the school’s admissions process favors applicants related to generous donors.
For instance, Jared Kushner, who served as a senior advisor to the 45th president of the US, Donald Trump, gained admission into Harvard despite having a run-of-the-mill academic record.
Refrain from assuming that just because your parents can afford to donate a huge sum of money, you can get admitted into the Ivy League school, even if you have a terrible GPA and SAT scores.
Harvard is the wealthiest school on the face of the planet — your parents will have to donate an astounding amount of money for the admissions officers to favor your application over someone else’s.
Still, no matter how wealthy your family is, it’s unlikely for Harvard to consider you if your application is far from being on the “almost admit” pile.
The acceptance rate at Harvard is anywhere from 4% to 5% only.
But the children of Harvard faculty have an acceptance rate of 47%.
If a parent of yours is an educator at Harvard, then you have an almost 50/50 chance of getting admitted into the Ivy League — it’s that easy to go to Harvard for being a faculty child.
Per academic school year, about 20 children of faculty members apply to Harvard.
A lot of people think that stars are just pretty faces. Believe it or not, many of them are beauty and brains, too, as evidenced by listings of celebrities that attended Harvard you can easily find on the internet.
Some of the most well-known TV and movie personalities that went to the school include:
In 1992, actor, screenwriter and producer Matt Damon dropped out of Harvard while trying to earn a degree in English. Despite this, in 2013, he was invited back to the school to receive the Harvard Arts Medal for his impressive contribution to arts via the media industry.
Being popular can definitely make you easily noticeable, including to Harvard’s admissions officers.
However, besides being famous, you will still need to be smart to be admitted into the Ivy League school. Or you can do something so remarkable while working in the entertainment industry to go to Harvard with a 3.0 GPA.
When it comes to applying to Harvard, a high GPA is not everything.
It’s true that a solid academic performance can help increase your chances of getting admitted into the Ivy League school. But Harvard is looking for well-rounded students who can positively impact the school, their classmates, and the community after getting their college degrees.
This means that being an intelligent student is not enough. However, because of various positive traits and the so-called hooks, it’s possible to go to Harvard even with a 3.0 GPA.
Can I get into Harvard with a 3.5 GPA? ›
A 3.5 GPA will be highly competitive, and admission can be reasonably expected at many colleges. Still, it's not the most competitive at places like Harvard, Yale, and Dartmouth, which, on average, accept students with GPAs exceeding 4.0.What GPA is accepted at Harvard? ›
To be considered for admission to Harvard, you must earn top grades in high school. The Harvard Crimson reports that the average reported GPA of entering freshmen in the class of 2022 was 3.90 on a 4.0 unweighted scale. According to College Data, the average weighted GPA of freshmen matriculates is 4.18.Is 3.0 A good GPA for Harvard? ›
Academic Standing Requirements for Graduate Programs
After being admitted with a 3.0 or higher GPA, you must maintain a cumulative GPA of B (3.0) to be considered in good academic standing. If your GPA falls below 3.0, you are in poor academic standing.
To get to Harvard your GPA has to be at least a 4.0 and even then if you get in your lucky but they require at least a 4.18 GPA only .What's the lowest GPA Harvard accepted? ›
You should also have a 4.18 GPA or higher. If your GPA is lower than this, you need to compensate with a higher SAT/ACT score. For a school as selective as Harvard, you'll also need to impress them with the rest of your application. We'll cover those details next.What is the highest GPA ever? ›
A GPA higher than 5.0 is rare, but school point systems are occasionally structured so that students taking advanced classes can rack up bonus points. One student even managed to land a stunning 10.03 GPA by taking 17 advanced classes at a school that awarded bonus points.What is the hardest school to get into? ›
- 1) Harvard University.
- 2) Columbia University.
- 3) Caltech.
- 4) Stanford University.
- 5) MIT.
- 6) Princeton University.
- 7) Yale University.
- 8) Brown University.
In truth, you need close to a 4.0 unweighted GPA to get into Yale. That means nearly straight As in every class.What is the SAT cut off for Harvard? ›
Harvard SAT Score Analysis (New 1600 SAT)
There's no absolute SAT requirement at Harvard, but they really want to see at least a 1460 to have a chance at being considered.
None of the Ivy League schools have a minimum GPA requirement for applications, which means anyone can apply regardless of their GPA.
How hard is it to fail out of Harvard? ›
In reality, it's very difficult to fail out of Harvard. Sure, Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg dropped out, but they didn't fail out. Neither did Robert Frost, Matt Damon, or William Randoph Hearst. Failing out of Harvard is not an easy feat – you have to really work hard at that.What is a 4.17 GPA? ›
|4.0 Scale||4.3 Scale||100 Points Scale|
|3.88 ~ 3.91||4.17 ~ 4.21||98|
|3.84 ~ 3.87||4.12 ~ 4.16||97|
|3.80 ~ 3.83||4.08 ~ 4.11||96|
|3.75 ~ 3.79||4.03 ~ 4.07||95|
Yes, Harvard accepts some really accomplished students but they also take kids who are just nice, hardworking kids. The old adage is that your chances of getting in are much higher if you apply. Definitely apply because you never know what'll happen!What is the hardest college to get into in the world? ›
Stanford University has the lowest acceptance rate of all universities on this list. Its admission rate for 2021 was 3.9%.What is the lowest SAT score for Ivy League? ›
The minimum SAT score to get into an Ivy League school ranges from 690 to 730 for the reading section and from 700 to 730 for the math section. Getting 700 or 710 (or higher) on both of these sections will give you an advantage at most Ivy League universities.Can I get into Harvard without SAT? ›
We will allow students to apply for admission without requiring ACT or SAT test results. Consistent with Harvard's whole-person admissions process, standardized tests are only one factor among many.What GPA is needed for MIT? ›
There is no minimum required GPA, but competitive applicants generally have a GPA of 3.5 or above, and mostly A's in mathematics and science courses. Testing must be completed by the October test date for spring (February) entry and by the March test date for fall (September) entry.What GPA is required for Oxford? ›
If your graduate course at Oxford requires a 'first class undergraduate degree with honours' in the UK system, you will usually need an overall GPA of at least 3.7 out of 4.0 or 4.5 out of 5.0.
GPAs did not exist when Einstein was in school. Albert was brilliant since childhood. He detested authoritarian teachers and he earned a reputation for being a poor student because of his anti authoritarian attitude.What GPA is most common? ›
The average high school GPA in the US is 3.0, which also accounts for roughly 35% of students who don't end up applying for college. However, for college applicants, the average GPA is more likely between 3.5 and 4.0.
Who got a 10.03 GPA? ›
That's right - Patel has a 10.03 GPA. A 4.0 GPA is normally considered perfect, so how it is possible that Patel's GPA is so much higher than that? "I took a lot of online, AP and dual enrollment classes, and it was mostly the AP and dual enrollment classes, I think pushed it over the edge," she said.What is the easiest ivy to get into? ›
What's the easiest Ivy League school to get into? While all Ivy League schools have a low acceptance rate, Cornell University has the highest acceptance rate among them. Cornell's acceptance rate is 11%, but try not to get too hung up on the numbers.What is the richest school? ›
Stanford, California, U.S.
You must have a 3.0 GPA (3.4 for non-residents) or higher and no grades lower than a C in required high school courses. You can also substitute SAT subject tests for courses. If you don't meet the requirements, it is possible to gain admission with a high enough score on the ACT/SAT plus on two SAT subject tests.What GPA is needed for Stanford? ›
There is no minimum GPA or test score, nor is there any specific number of AP or honors courses you must have on your transcript in order to have your application reviewed or be admitted to Stanford.What GPA is needed for Columbia? ›
Incoming freshmen at the traditional campus should have: A 3.0 or higher high school GPA (on a 4.0 scale)Does Harvard look at middle school grades? ›
No, Harvard does not look at middle school grades. However, developing good study habits and work ethic during middle school can build the foundations for your high school marks and academic achievements that Harvard will look at.What is the highest SAT score ever recorded? ›
Hari, from Colorado, achieved 1600 on the SAT, the highest SAT score ever recorded. He also received a perfect score of 36 on the ACT.How much does it cost to apply to Harvard? ›
The $85 application fee or a fee waiver request. You may send the application supplements at a later date, preferably no later than 2 weeks after the application deadline.
Is a 3.5 GPA good for Ivy League? ›
It may be difficult to get into an Ivy League school with a 3.5 GPA. Most Ivy League schools require that applicants have an average GPA of 4.0.What university will accept a 3.5 GPA? ›
|Boston University||Boston, MA||3.59|
|Carnegie Mellon University||Pittsburgh, PA||3.72|
|Chapman University||Orange, CA||3.68|
|New York University||New York, NY||3.71|
A 3.5 GPA is equal to a 90% average. Many employers and graduate programs use a 3.5 GPA as the benchmark. However, outside of the top 10 graduate schools, the average GPA for law, medical, and business graduate school are as much as 0.74 below 3.5.What is the lowest GPA for Yale? ›
You should also have a 4.14 GPA or higher. If your GPA is lower than this, you need to compensate with a higher SAT/ACT score. For a school as selective as Yale, you'll also need to impress them with the rest of your application.Can you get a 5.0 GPA? ›
An “A” in a more approachable class, for instance, would receive a grade of 4.0, whereas an “A” in a more challenging course would receive a grade of 5.0 and a GPA of 5.0. A student's weighted grade point average rises as they finish AP or advanced placement courses (GPA or grade point average adjustment).Is a 4.5 weighted GPA good? ›
A 4.5 GPA indicates that you're in very good shape for college. You're most likely in high level classes earning As and high Bs. 99.74% of schools have an average GPA below a 4.5. You can apply to colleges and have a good shot at getting admitted.What is the easiest Ivy to get into? ›
What's the easiest Ivy League school to get into? While all Ivy League schools have a low acceptance rate, Cornell University has the highest acceptance rate among them. Cornell's acceptance rate is 11%, but try not to get too hung up on the numbers.Is Harvard the easiest Ivy? ›
Harvard is the oldest institution of higher education in the US and consistently ranks #1 hardest Ivy League to get into. Founded in 1636, Harvard offers students a world-class education from some of the most brilliant professors in the world.What is the average GPA in America? ›
The average high school GPA in the US is 3.0, which also accounts for roughly 35% of students who don't end up applying for college. However, for college applicants, the average GPA is more likely between 3.5 and 4.0.What is a 96 GPA on a 5.0 scale? ›
|Letter Grade||Percentage||AP/IB GPA|
What majors have the lowest GPA? ›
Science majors tend to have lower GPAs on average, with chemistry being the major with the lowest average GPA. Meanwhile, education majors earn the highest GPAs on average.What GPA is a dean's list? ›
The exact dean's list GPA requirements will depend on each particular pool of students, but is usually at least a 3.5 GPA. To be eligible, you'll also need to be a full-time student taking a minimum number of credits (often around 12 credits).What is a good major GPA? ›
Most commonly, students graduate cum laude (Latin for "with praise") when they earn a 3.5-3.7 GPA, magna cum laude ("with great praise") when they earn a 3.7-3.9 GPA, and summa cum laude ("with highest praise") when they earn a 3.9 GPA or higher.