Harvard University is a private Ivy League research university in Cambridge, Massachusetts, established in 1636. Its history, influence and wealth have made it one of the most prestigious universities in the world.
Established originally by the Massachusetts legislature and soon thereafter named for John Harvard (its first benefactor), Harvard is the United States’ oldest institution of higher learning, and the Harvard Corporation (formally, the President and Fellows of Harvard College) is its first chartered corporation. Although never formally affiliated with any denomination, the early College primarily trained Congregationalist and Unitarian clergy. Its curriculum and student body were gradually secularized during the 18th century, and by the 19th century Harvard had emerged as the central cultural establishment among Boston elites. Following the American Civil War, President Charles W. Eliot’s long tenure (1869–1909) transformed the college and affiliated professional schools into a modern research university; Harvard was a founding member of the Association of American Universities in 1900. James Bryant Conant led the university through the Great Depression and World War II and began to reform the curriculum and liberalize admissions after the war. The undergraduate college became coeducational after its 1977 merger with Radcliffe College.
The University is organized into eleven separate academic units—ten faculties and the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study—with campuses throughout the Boston metropolitan area, its 209-acre (85 ha) main campus is centered on Harvard Yard in Cambridge, approximately 3 miles (5 km) northwest of Boston; the business school and athletics facilities, including Harvard Stadium, are located across the Charles River in the Allston neighborhood of Boston and the medical, dental, and public health schools are in the Longwood Medical Area. Harvard has the largest financial endowment of any academic institution in the world, standing at $32.3 billion as of June 2013.
Harvard is a large, highly residential research university. The nominal cost of attendance is high, but the University’s large endowment allows it to offer generous financial aid packages. It operates several arts, cultural, and scientific museums, alongside the Harvard Library, which is the world’s largest academic and private library system, comprising 79 individual libraries with over 18 million volumes.
It has many eminent alumni. Eight U.S. presidents and several foreign heads of state have been graduates. It is also the alma mater of 62 living billionaires and 335 Rhodes Scholars, both the most in the country. To date, some 150 Nobel laureates have been affiliated as students, faculty, or staff.
Harvard’s 209-acre (85 ha) main campus is centered on Harvard Yard in Cambridge, about 3 miles (4.8 km) west-northwest of the State House in downtown Boston, and extends into the surrounding Harvard Square neighborhood. The other three are located in a residential neighborhood half a mile northwest of the Yard at the Quadrangle (commonly referred to as the Quad).
Apart from its major Cambridge/Allston and Longwood campuses, Harvard owns and operates Arnold Arboretum, in the Jamaica Plain area of Boston; the Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection, in Washington, D.C.; the Harvard Forest in Petersham, Massachusetts; the Concord Field Station in Estabrook Woods in Concord, Massachusetts and the Villa I Tatti research center in Florence, Italy. Harvard also operates the Harvard Shanghai Center in China.
The Faculty of Arts and Sciences has primary responsibility for instruction in Harvard College, Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, and the Harvard Division of Continuing Education, which includes Harvard Summer School and Harvard Extension School. There is also the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study.
Harvard is governed by a combination of its Board of Overseers and the President and Fellows of Harvard College (also known as the Harvard Corporation), which in turn appoints the President of Harvard University. There are 16,000 staff and faculty. Harvard’s 2,400 professors, lecturers, and instructors instruct 7,200 undergraduates and 14,000 graduate students.
Undergraduate admission to Harvard is characterized by the Carnegie Foundation as “more selective, lower transfer-in”. Harvard is a large, highly residential research university. The university has been accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges since 1929. The university offers 46 undergraduate concentrations (majors), 134 graduate degrees, and 32 professional degrees. For the 2008–2009 academic year, Harvard granted 1,664 baccalaureate degrees, 400 master’s degrees, 512 doctoral degrees, and 4,460 professional degrees.
Joint programs with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology include the Harvard-MIT Division of Health Sciences and Technology, the Broad Institute, The Observatory of Economic Complexity, and edX.
Through need-based aid to students and graduates, Harvard University provides access to education and preserves the broadest range of career choice options in a variety of field-related and public service fields. The undergraduate financial aid program measures the ability of students to pay tuition, fees, and living expenses — and the ability of graduates to repay education loans — then awards need-based aid to all who qualify for assistance
Harvard’s academic programs operate on a semester calendar beginning in early September and ending in mid-May. Undergraduates typically take four half-courses per term and must maintain a four-course rate average to be considered full-time. In many concentrations, students can elect to pursue a basic program or an honors-eligible program requiring a senior thesis and/or advanced course work. Students graduating in the top 4–5% of the class are awarded degrees summa cum laude, students in the next 15% of the class are awarded magna cum laude, and the next 30% of the class are awarded cum laude. Harvard has chapters of academic honor societies such as Phi Beta Kappa and various committees and departments also award several hundred named prizes annually.
Harvard is a founding member of the Association of American Universities and remains a research university with “very high” research activity and a “comprehensive” doctoral program across the arts, sciences, engineering, and medicine. Research and development expenditures in 2011 totaled $649.7 million, 27th among American universities.
The Harvard University Library System is centered in Widener Library in Harvard Yard and comprises nearly 80 individual libraries holding over 18 million volumes. According to the American Library Association, this makes it the largest academic library in the United States, and one of the largest in the world.
Harvard operates several arts, cultural, and scientific museums. The Harvard Art Museums comprises three museums. The Arthur M. Sackler Museum includes collections of ancient, Asian, Islamic and later Indian art, the Busch-Reisinger Museum, formerly the Germanic Museum, covers central and northern European art, and the Fogg Museum of Art, covers Western art from the Middle Ages to the present emphasizing Italian early Renaissance, British pre-Raphaelite, and 19th-century French art. The Harvard Museum of Natural History includes the Harvard Mineralogical Museum, Harvard University Herbaria featuring the Blaschka Glass Flowers exhibit, and the Museum of Comparative Zoology. Other museums include the Carpenter Center for the Visual Arts, designed by Le Corbusier, housing the film archive, the Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology, specializing in the cultural history and civilizations of the Western Hemisphere, and the Semitic Museum featuring artifacts from excavations in the Middle East.
Harvard has been highly ranked by many university rankings. In particular, it has consistently topped the Academic Ranking of World Universities (ARWU) and THE World Reputation Rankings Harvard has several fight songs, the most played of which, especially at football, are “Ten Thousand Men of Harvard” and ” HYPERLINK “http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harvardiana” \o “Harvardiana” Harvardiana.”
For more information about Harvard University please visit: http://www.harvard.edu