Harvard College is the undergraduate liberal arts college of Harvard
University. Founded in 1636 in Cambridge, Massachusetts, it is the
oldest institution of higher learning in the United States and one
of the most prestigious in the world.
3 House system
5 Student organizations
6 Notable alumni
7 Fictional alumni
10 Further reading
11 External links
Main article: History of Harvard University
View of the ancient buildings belonging to Harvard College, Cambridge,
Mass., New York Public Library
View of freshman dormitories in Harvard Yard
The school came into existence in 1636 by vote of the Great and
General Court (colonial legislature, second oldest in British America)
Massachusetts Bay Colony—though without a single building,
instructor, or student. In 1638, the college became home for North
America's first known printing press, carried by the ship John of
London. Three years later, the college was renamed in honor of
deceased Charlestown minister John Harvard (1607–1638) who had
bequeathed to the school his entire library and half of his monetary
Harvard's first instructor was schoolmaster Nathaniel Eaton
(1610–1674); in 1639, he also became its first instructor to be
dismissed, for overstrict discipline. The school's first students
were graduated in 1642. In 1665,
Caleb Cheeshahteaumuck (c.
1643–1666) "from the
Wampanoag … did graduate from Harvard, the
first Indian to do so in the colonial period."
Lt Gov William Stoughton, (1631–1701), Colonial Governor: 1694–99,
1700–01; circa 1700 overlooking one of the buildings of Harvard
The colleges of England's Oxford and Cambridge Universities are
communities within the larger university, each an association of
scholars sharing room and board. Harvard's founders may have
envisioned it as the first in a series of sibling colleges on the
English model which would eventually constitute a university—though
no further colleges materialized in colonial times. The Indian College
was active from 1640 to no later than 1693, but it was a minor
addition not operated in federation with Harvard according to the
English model. Harvard began granting higher degrees in the late
eighteenth century, and it was increasingly styled Harvard University,
Harvard College was increasingly thought of as the
university's undergraduate division in particular.[citations needed
Harvard College is responsible for undergraduate admissions,
advising, housing, student life, and athletics – generally all
undergraduate matters except instruction, which is the purview of
Harvard University's Faculty of Arts and Sciences. The body known as
President and Fellows of Harvard College
President and Fellows of Harvard College retains its traditional
name despite having governance of the entire University. Radcliffe
College (established 1879) originally paid Harvard faculty to
repeat their lectures for women students. Since the 1970s, Harvard has
been responsible for undergraduate governance matters for women; women
were still formally admitted to and graduated from Radcliffe until a
final merger in 1999.
About 2,000 students are admitted each year, representing between five
and ten percent of those applying; of those admitted, approximately
three-quarters choose to attend. Very few transfers
Midway through the second year, most undergraduates join one of fifty
standard fields of concentration (what most schools call academic
majors); many also declare a secondary field (called minors
elsewhere). Joint concentrations (combining the requirements of two
standard concentrations) and special concentrations (of the student's
own design) are also possible.
Harvard College concentrations lead to the Artium Baccalaureus
(A.B.), normally completed in four years, though students leaving high
school with substantial college-level coursework may finish in three.
A smaller number receive the Scientiarum Baccalaureus (S.B.). There
are also special degree programs, such as a five-year program leading
to both a Harvard undergraduate degree and a Master of Arts from the
New England Conservatory of Music.
Undergraduates must also fulfill the General Education requirement of
coursework in eight designated fields:
Aesthetic and Interpretive Understanding
Culture and Belief
Empirical and Mathematical Reasoning
Science of Living Systems
Science of the Physical Universe
Societies of the World
United States in the World
Each student's exposure (via "Gen Ed") to a range of intellectual
areas, while pursuing a chosen concentration in depth, fulfills the
injunction of Harvard past-president
Abbott Lawrence Lowell
Abbott Lawrence Lowell that
liberal education should produce "men who know a little of everything
and something well."
In 2012, dozens of students were disciplined for cheating on a
take-home exam in one course. The university instituted an honor
code beginning in the fall of 2015.
The total annual cost of attendance, including tuition and room and
board, for 2015–2016 was $60,659. Under financial aid guidelines
adopted in 2012, families with incomes below $65,000 no longer pay
anything for their children to attend, including room and board.
Families with incomes between $65,000 to $150,000 pay no more than 10%
of their annual income. In 2009, Harvard offered grants totaling
$414 million across all eleven divisions;[further explanation needed]
$340 million came from institutional funds, $35 million from federal
support, and $39 million from other outside support. Grants total 88%
of Harvard's aid for undergraduate students, with aid also provided by
loans (8%) and work-study (4%).
Lowell House in autumn
Nearly all undergraduates live on campus, for the first year in
dormitories in or near
Harvard Yard (see List of Harvard dormitories)
and later in the upperclass Houses—administrative subdivisions of
the College as well as living quarters, providing a sense of community
in what might otherwise be a socially incohesive and administratively
daunting university environment. Each house is presided over by a
senior-faculty Faculty Dean, (until 2016 called the house's Master)
Allston Burr Resident Dean (usually a junior faculty member)
supervises undergraduates' day-to-day academic and disciplinary
well-being. The Faculty Dean and Resident Dean are assisted by other
members of the Senior Common Room—select graduate students (called
tutors), faculty, and University officials brought into voluntary
association with each house. Many tutors reside in the House, as do
the Faculty Dean and Resident Dean. (Terms such as tutor, Senior
Common Room and Junior Common Room—the House's undergraduate
members—reflect a debt to the residential college systems at Oxford
and Cambridge from which Harvard's system took inspiration.)
The Houses were created by President Lowell in the 1930s to combat
what he saw as pernicious social stratification engendered by the
private, off-campus living arrangements of many undergraduates at that
time. Lowell's solution was to provide every man—Harvard was
male-only at the time—with on-campus accommodations throughout
his time at the College; Lowell also saw great benefits flowing from
other features of the House system, such as the relaxed discussions
(academic or otherwise) which he hoped would take place among
undergraduates and members of the
Senior Common Room
Senior Common Room over meals in
each House's dining hall.
The way in which students come to live in particular Houses has
changed greatly over time. Under the original "draft" system, Masters
negotiated privately over the assignment of "rising sophomores" (that
is, current freshmen, who will be sophomores in the coming academic
year) considered most—or least—promising. From
the 1960s to the mid-1990s, each student ranked the Houses according
to personal preference, with an impersonal lottery resolving the
oversubscription of more popular houses. Today, groups of one to eight
freshmen form a block which is then assigned, essentially at random,
to an upperclass house.
The "River" Houses.
Harvard Yard at top center.
South of Harvard Yard, near the Charles River, are the nine River
John Winthrop House
The construction of the River houses was financed largely by a 1928
Edward Harkness who, frustrated in his attempts
to initiate a similar project at his alma mater, eventually offered 11
million dollars to Harvard.[a] Two of the new houses, Dunster and
Lowell, were completed in 1930.
Construction of the first River houses began in early 1929, but
the land on which they were built had been assembled decades before.
After graduating Harvard in 1895, Edward Waldo Forbes (grandson of
Ralph Waldo Emerson) found himself inspired by the Oxford and
Cambridge systems during two years of study in England; on returning
to the United States he set out to acquire such land between Harvard
Yard and the
Charles River as was not already owned by Harvard or some
associated entity. By 1918 that ambition had been largely fulfilled
and the assembled land transferred to Harvard.
The three Quad Houses (in the Radcliffe Quadrangle) enjoy a
residential setting one-half mile (800 m) northwest of Harvard Yard.
These were built by
Radcliffe College and housed Radcliffe College
students until the Harvard and Radcliffe residential systems merged in
1977. They are:
A thirteenth house, Dudley House, is nonresidential but fulfills, for
some graduate students and the (very few) undergraduates living off
campus, the administrative and social functions provided to on-campus
residents by the other twelve houses.
Harvard's residential houses are paired with Yale's residential
colleges in sister relationships.
Main article: Harvard Crimson
By the late 19th century critics of intercollegiate athletics,
including Harvard president Charles William Eliot, believed that
sports competition had become over-commercialized and took students
away from their studies, and they called for reform and limitations on
all sports. This opposition prompted Harvard's athletic committee to
target 'minor' sports—basketball and hockey—for reform and
regulation in order to deflect attention from the major
sports—football, baseball, track, and crew. The committee made it
difficult for the basketball team to operate by denying financial
assistance and limiting the number of overnight away games in which
the team could participate. Several losing seasons, negative attitudes
toward the commercialization of intercollegiate sports, and the need
for reform contributed to basketball's demise at Harvard in 1909.
Today Harvard, one of the eight members of the Ivy League,
claims[clarification needed] to have the largest Division I
intercollegiate athletics program, with 41 varsity teams and over
Begun in 1852, the Harvard–
Yale Regatta is the oldest
intercollegiate athletic rivalry in the United States. Better known is
the annual Harvard-
Yale football game—"The Game", to
insiders—first played in New Haven, Connecticut, in 1875, and now
played on the Saturday before Thanksgiving, making it one of many
significant games played on "Rivalry Day."[clarification needed]
Main article: List of
Harvard College undergraduate organizations
Harvard has hundreds of undergraduate organizations. The Phillips
Brooks House Association acts as an umbrella service organization.
In an effort to marginalize organizations that "contribute to a social
life and a student culture that for many on our campus is
disempowering and exclusionary", students entering in the fall of
2017 or later who join unrecognized single-sex organizations (such as
single-sex "final clubs", fraternities, and sororities) will be barred
from campus leadership positions such as team captaincies, and from
receiving recommendation letters from Harvard requisite for certain
scholarships and fellowships.
See also: List of
Harvard University people
Buckminster Fuller (expelled)
Ryan Max Riley
Harold M. Weintraub
Bill Gates (did not graduate)
James Halperin (did not graduate)
William Randolph Hearst
William Randolph Hearst (rusticated)
Mark Zuckerberg (did not graduate)
Robert M. Solow
Prince Lucien Campbell
Edwin H. Baker Pratt
Nicholas D. Kristof
Sanford J. Ungar
Harvard Law School
Harvard Law School § Notable people
Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.
William S. Burroughs
E. E. Cummings
John Dos Passos
W. E. B. Du Bois
T. S. Eliot
Performing arts – music, theater, and film
Matt Damon (did not graduate)
Tommy Lee Jones
Ralph Waldo Emerson
Charles Sanders Peirce
Henry David Thoreau
Philip Warren Anderson
Thomas S. Kuhn
J. Robert Oppenheimer
Neil deGrasse Tyson
John Quincy Adams
Sir George Downing
Pedro Albizu Campos
Edward M. Kennedy
John F. Kennedy
Robert F. Kennedy
Joseph Stevens Buckminster
Aga Khan IV
Amy Farrah Fowler (show: The Big Bang Theory)
Charles Emerson Winchester III
Emily Sweeney (show: The Big Bang Theory)
James "Toofer" Spurlock
Oliver Barrett IV
Method Man (movie: How High)
Montgomery (Monty) Kessler (With Honors)
Quentin Compson (did not graduate)
Redman (movie: How High)
Samuel Parris as a character in The Crucible
Thurston Howell III
Tyrone Slothrop (novel: Gravity's Rainbow)
Rafael Barba (show: Law and Order:
Special Victims Unit)
Toby Curtis (show: Scorpion)
^  Harkness' gift was anonymous, at least at first. "I have
forgotten the gentleman's name," Harvard's President Lowell told the
faculty in making the initial announcement. "I told him I would."
^ As of 1 March 2018[update]. "Harvard at a Glance". Harvard
University. Retrieved 1 March 2018.
^ Rudolph, Frederick (1961). The American College and University.
University of Georgia Press. p. 3. ISBN 0-8203-1285-1.
^ Keller, Morton; Keller, Phyllis (2001). Making Harvard Modern: The
Rise of America's University.
Oxford University Press.
pp. 463–481. ISBN 0-19-514457-0. Harvard's professional
schools... won world prestige of a sort rarely seen among social
institutions. (...) Harvard's age, wealth, quality, and prestige may
well shield it from any conceivable vicissitudes.
Spaulding, Christina (1989). "Sexual Shakedown". In Trumpbour, John.
How Harvard Rules: Reason in the Service of Empire. South End Press.
pp. 326–336. ISBN 0-89608-284-9. ...[Harvard's] tremendous
institutional power and prestige (...) Within the nation's (arguably)
most prestigious institution of higher learning...
^ "The instrument behind New England's first literary flowering".
Harvard University. Retrieved 2014-01-18.
^ "Rowley and Ezekiel Rogers, The First North American Printing Press"
(PDF). Maritime Historical Studies Centre, University of Hull.
^ Samuel Eliot Morison, Three Centuries of Harvard, 1636–1936 (1986)
^ Monaghan, E. J., 2005, p. 55, 59
^ Schwager, Sally (2004). "Taking up the Challenge: The Origins of
Radcliffe". In Laurel Thatcher Ulrich (ed.). Yards and Gates: Gender
in Harvard and Radcliffe History. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.
pp. 87–115. ISBN 1-4039-6098-4. CS1 maint: Extra
text: editors list (link)
^ Radcliffe Enters Historic Merger With Harvard. The Harvard Crimson
(Report). Retrieved May 6, 2016.
^ Thompson, Daphne (1 April 2015). "Harvard Accepts Record-Low 5.3
Percent of Applicants to Class of 2019". The Harvard Crimson.
Retrieved 10 August 2015.
^ Jan, Tracy (30 March 2009). "Harvard admission rate dips to 7
percent". The Boston Globe. Retrieved 13 April 2011.
^ Yield Holds Steady For 2013 – Harvard News Office
^ A record pool leads to a record-low admissions rate Archived
2008-05-03 at the Wayback Machine. – Harvard News Office
^ Menz, Petey. "The Real 1%: Harvard Admits 15 Transfer Students". The
Harvard Crimson. Retrieved 7 March 2015.
^ Lewis, Harry R. (2007). Excellence Without a Soul: Does Liberal
Education Have a Future?. PublicAffairs. p. 48.
^ Perez-Pena, Richard (February 1, 2013). "Students Disciplined in
Harvard Scandal". The New York Times. Retrieved September 15,
^ Patel, Dev A.; Watros, Steven R. (May 7, 2014). "Faculty Approves
College's First Honor Code, Likely Effective Fall 2015". The Harvard
Crimson. Retrieved August 10, 2015. "Likely beginning in the fall of
2015, all College students will be required to make a regular
affirmation of integrity, the nature and frequency of which will be
determined next year"...
^ Harrington, Rebecca (September 14, 2012). "Song of the Cheaters".
The New York Times. Retrieved September 15, 2013. "...an honor code, a
system ... Harvard has long resisted
^ a b "Cost of Attendance". Harvard University. Retrieved August 10,
^ "Harvard increases financial aid to low-income students". The
Harvard Gazette. September 1, 2011.
Harvard College Office of Residential Life (2008). "History of the
House System". Retrieved 2008-04-20. [permanent dead link]
^ Morison, Samuel Eliot (1936). Three Centuries of Harvard:
1636–1936. pp. 476–478.
^ a b c Bethell, John (1998). Harvard Observed: An Illustrated History
of the University in the Twentieth Century. Cambridge, Massachusetts:
Harvard University Press. pp. 102–103.
^ "Gifts - 1928-1929" (Press release).
Harvard University News Office.
June 20, 1929. HU 37.5,
Harvard University Archives, Cambridge, Mass.
"This figure [of gifts and legacies received during the year] includes
$5,444,000 received from E. S. Harkness to defray the expenses of
constructing the first Harvard houses."
^ John B. Fox, Jr. (2007). The Faculty of Arts and Sciences at Harvard
University, 1686–1933. President and Fellows of Harvard College.
^ "Harkness and History". Harvard Magazine. November 2013. Retrieved
11 November 2015.
^ Lowe, Charles U. "The Forbes Story of the Harvard Riverside
Associates: How Harvard Acquired the Land on which
Lowell House was
Built," February 20, 2002.lowell.harvard.edu Archived 2010-04-09 at
the Wayback Machine.
^ Sacks, Benjamin J. "Harvard's 'Constructed Utopia' and the Culture
of Deception: the Expansion toward the Charles River, 1902-1932," The
New England Quarterly 84.2 (June 2011): 286–317.
^ Sofen, Adam A. "Radcliffe Enters Historic Merger With Harvard, April
^ Marc Horger, "A Victim of Reform: Why Basketball Failed at Harvard,
1900-1909," New England Quarterly 2005 78(1): 49-76,
^ "Student Organization List". osl.fas.harvard.edu. Retrieved
^ Khurana, Rakesh. "Letter concerning membership in unrecognized
single-gender social organizations" (PDF).
^ Stephanie Saul. (2016) Harvard Restrictions Could Reshape Exclusive
Student Clubs The New York Times, May 6, 2016
Thomas S. Kuhn
Thomas S. Kuhn (2000) The Road since Structure, edited by James
Conant and John Haugeland. Chicago: University of Chicago Press
Gookin, Daniel, Historical Collections, 53: Railton, "Vineyard's First
Harvard Men," 91-112.
King, Moses, Harvard and its surroundings, Cambridge,
Massachusetts : Moses King, 1884
Monaghan, E. J. (2005). Learning to Read and Write in Colonial America
Massachusetts Press. Boston: MA
Sibley's Harvard Graduates
Wikimedia Commons has media related to Harvard University.
Wikisource has the text of the
Encyclopaedia Britannica (9th ed.)
article Harvard College.
List of Harvard BA Graduates Class from 1642 to 1782
List of Harvard BA Graduates Class from 1783 to 1886
Coordinates: 42°22′26″N 71°07′01″W / 42.374°N
71.117°W / 42.374; -71.117
President Drew Gilpin Faust
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