How to Study at Harvard as an Indian Study ?

Everyone dreams of studying at any of the most prestigious universities around the globe including Harvard, Cambridge, Oxford, The Ivy League and some others. However, as an Indian student studying abroad sometimes remain just a wishful thinking and that too studying at these premium universities seems like a far fetched idea.

The application process to Harvard is so complex that many people just leave it in between. It is tedious task, and you must start as earlier as possible because it generally takes almost a year to complete the application process.

So this is post is comprehensive guide on ‘How to Study at Harvard University as an Indian Student’. Follow the steps to effectively complete your application and increase the chances of your acceptance.

1. Digital Application

Most universities have now made digital applications mandatory. Harvard University has had digital applications for many years now. The digital application is the first thing you should submit, because once they formally receive your duly filled in application form, only then are your other application materials like transcripts and test scores accepted by the university’s admissions office.

Of course, be sure to check the deadline of the digital application. The sooner you submit it, the better it is, as admissions offices sometimes keep pre-shortlisting students based on these. So submitting your digital application before deadline/asap is one of the first Harvard University admission requirements for Indian students. 

Check Out: Application requirements for Harvard College

2. Application Fee

The digital application has to be submitted with the application fee, which may be $90 or so depending on the College or graduate school you’re applying to. You can check the application fee in your school’s website. Some schools may even waive the application fee if requested by students who have financial difficulty paying it.

Read: 6 Highly Rewarding New Age Careers Which You Should Aim At

3. Standardized Test Scores

There are many different types of standardized admission tests. And schools almost always require you to digitally transmit the scores of the required test(s). Here are some examples of tests required by different schools:

1. Harvard College requires standardized test scores from either the SAT or ACT (with or without writing). They even recommend submitting two SAT subject tests, neither of which may be the SAT II English Language Proficiency Test (ELPT).

2. Harvard Law School (HLS) requires the score of LSAT to be submitted.

3. Harvard Business School (HBS) and Harvard Kennedy School (HKS) accept Graduate Record Exam (GRE) or Graduate Management Admissions Test (GMAT) test scores.

4. Many Harvard graduate schools such as Ed School and Design school accept GRE scores.

So check your school’s website to see which score they accept. Please note that the GRE/GMAT/LSAT/SAT scores need to be sent to the university directly from the testing service, otherwise they’re not reviewed. So be sure to take your school’s institution code with you before you appear for the test.

Additionally, make sure to take an early test date so as to ensure the testing service sends your scores to your school before the deadline. Schools only accept recent test scores, mostly a GRE/LSAT needs to have been taken within 5 years of the deadline. So check your school’s website to see if your old score is still vaild or not (they give exact dates).

If you’ve taken more than one GRE test, some schools check your scores from both tests to compare your performance over time. So keep that in mind before you make up your mind to take the test again.

Also check out: IIM Indore – Cutoffs, Campus, Admission Process, Fests, Notable Alumni

4. English Language Test – TOEFL

All international students, including Indians are required to take the standardized English language tests, especially if their native language is English. In India, even if you’re raised as bilingual or went to English-medium school or college, you still need to submit your TOEFL score. Some Harvard schools also require a minimum TOEFL score from all applicants. So make sure to check that while preparing to take the test.

5. Transcripts

Harvard University admission requirements for Indian students include transcripts, marksheets or grade reports. You’ll need to submit the official transcripts from any previous schools, colleges or universities you have received a degree or credit.

To apply to Harvard College, you need to submit Secondary School Report (including transcripts) and Mid-Year School Report for College. For applying to grad schools, submit a hard copy of your college degree transcripts/attested marksheets, reflecting all the subjects you took, and your marks/grades for each semester/exam. They need to be attested by your college registrar so as to appear official/ authentic.

If your college does not issue marksheets or transcripts, submit an official letter from them listing courses and examinations taken, grades, and degrees and dates of degrees received.

If you were homeschooled, you may be required to create your own marksheets. Or get a letter from your parents/tutors about the exams taken. Or your scores from any standardized tests/exams you’ve taken.

You may also like: Top 5 Highest Paying Jobs Without a Degree

6. Letter of Intent/ Statement of Purpose

This is one of the most important parts of Harvard University admission requirements for Indian students. Or any student for that matter. Your LoI/SoP should be 1-2 pages long and originally describe your experience, ambition, and why you’re applying to the particular program. It should basically identify why you’re the perfect candidate to be admitted, and how it will help you with your long-term passion or goal.

There can be so many tips I can give with writing a winning essay, so I’ll save those tips for another article. But do more research on your Harvard school’s admission website to see what exactly they expect from this letter. Ultimately, this letter sets you apart from other applicants, and helps to seal the deal!

Also read: IIM A – Cutoffs, Campus, Admission Process, Fests, Notable Alumni

7. Letters of Recommendation

Every Harvard school requires applicants to submit 2-3 letters of recommendation, depending on the school you’re applying to. So check your school’s admission page to see how many are required. They may even specify who these letters should ideally be from. If you have work experience, it’s typically a good idea to submit at least one letter from your employer. If you’re fresh out of college or school, a letter or two from your college dean or senior professor is a good idea. For example, Harvard College application requires two teacher evaluations.

Get letters from professors or employer of authority, but those who really know about your work, so that they can give a glowing letter of recommendation. Some schools even call up and ask your recommender to verify the letter or ask further questions about you.

8. Resume

Not all Harvard grad schools require applicants to submit a resume. For example, Harvard Business School requires applicants to submit a business resume. Mostly, graduate schools that prefer work experience may require resumes. It may even be optional, so check on your school’s website admission requirements to cross-check.

9. Portfolio

Certain schools like Harvard Graduate School of Design require applicants of certain degree programs to submit a design portfolio. For these schools, portfolio is one of the most important Harvard University admission requirements. The portfolio requires you to visually represent your scholarly, academic and/or professional work. Here are the requirements specified on the GSD website for portfolio:

Pages: 30 max (Cover pages or table of contents don’t count)
File Size: 40MB max
Page Layout: 12” x 18” or A3, two-page spreads should be combined into one page (recommended).
Color Format: RGB (recommended).
Resolution: 150 dpi (recommended).

Be sure to check the updated requirements at the time of your application before you put together the portfolio. It needs to be submitted digitally, and may even be accompanied with a video portfolio.

10. Interview

Harvard College and some grad schools allow applicant interviews. Not all Harvard schools recommend interviews as a part of the admission process. So this is something that you want to check on the school’s admission page. Sometimes, the school you applied to may also inform applicants via telephone that an interview is necessary to finally judge their application.

For example, Harvard Business School (HBS) invites applicants for 30-minute interviews. If they are invited, they have to participate, either in person or on Skype.

Harvard University Scholarship

Almost 50 percent of the class receives need-based fellowships every year. Those who are planning to study in Harvard need to know the important dates for applying to these scholarships. You need to follow these dates and plan your finances accordingly.

Scholarship nameScholarship provider
Boustany MBA Harvard ScholarshipBoustany Foundation
Horace W. Goldsmith FellowshipHorace W. Goldsmith Foundation and Richard L. Menschel
The Robert S. Kaplan (MBA 1983) Life Sciences FellowshipRobert S. Kaplan
Need-Based FellowshipsHarvard Business School
HGSE Financial AidHarvard Graduate School of Education

Harvard University Scholarship Eligibility Conditions

The Harvard University scholarships can be categorized into four sections namely prospective students, prospective international students, current (enrolled) students, and current (enrolled) international students. Prospective international students need to apply for prospective international students’ scholarships. Apart from this, there are other eligibility criteria for applying for a scholarship.

Scholarship nameEligibility criteria
Boustany MBA Harvard ScholarshipExcellent academic backgroundCandidates can apply only after receiving admit for the Harvard MBA programmeShortlisted candidates need to give an interview
Horace W. Goldsmith FellowshipApplicant must have completed a bachelor degree TOEFL Score not less than 109 IELTS Score not less than 7.5 PTE Score not less than 75 GMAT/GRE Scores Relevant work experience Applicant must have served in full-time leadership roles in a nonprofit Shortlisted candidates need to give an interview
The Robert S. Kaplan (MBA 1983) Life Sciences FellowshipApplicant must have completed a bachelor degree TOEFL Score not less than 109 IELTS Score not less than 7.5 PTE Score not less than 75 GMAT/GRE Scores Relevant work experience Applicant must have outstanding credentials in life sciences disciplines Shortlisted candidates need to give an interview
Need-Based FellowshipsTOEFL Score not less than 109IELTS Score not less than 7.5PTE Score not less than 75GMAT/GRE ScoresRelevant work experienceApplicant must have excellent academic/professional performanceShortlisted candidates need to give an interview
HGSE Financial AidStudents pursuing an Ed. L.D, Ed.M., or a Ph.D. programme at Harvard Graduate School ofEconomics can apply for this scholarship

Harvard University Scholarship Application Process

It is important to know how to apply for a scholarship? Students need not apply separately for some scholarships, as they are auto-considered for the financial aid at the time of the application process. While for some of the scholarships, candidates need to submit a separate application.

Scholarship nameApplication process
Boustany MBA Harvard ScholarshipAfter checking the eligibility criteria applicants need to send all the documents toadmissions@boustany-foundation.org
Horace W. Goldsmith FellowshipStudents will be auto-considered for this scholarship when they apply for the course, they need not send a separate application
The Robert S. Kaplan (MBA 1983) Life Sciences FellowshipStudents will be auto-considered for this scholarship when they apply for the course, they need not send a separate application
Need-Based FellowshipsStudents will be auto-considered for this scholarship when they apply for the course, they need not send a separate application
HGSE Financial AidCandidates need to apply to the official HGSE financial aid application page
How To Study at Harvard University as an Indian Student

Prashant Tiwari


Hi Peeps!! I am Prashant, a blogger by passion and an entrepreneurial enthusiast. I have written more than hundreds of articles and on a variety of issues and have fallen in love with helping people by means of meaningful blogging and articles. My aim is to add value to all my reader's life. If you feel that this post has benefitted you in any way then do share it with others to help them. Happy Reading!!


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3 thoughts on “How To Study at Harvard University as an Indian Student

  1. Could you write on how to study abroad for free for MBA or MBBS or Physics and Maths PhD.

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