When Do Harvard Decisions Come Out?

Harvard University Buildings
April 23, 2024
Expert Reviewed


Reviewed by:

Former Admissions Committee Member, Columbia University

Reviewed: 4/23/24

We don’t have the exact college decision-date details & dates yet, but we’ll update this article as soon as the specific dates are available. 

There truly is no place like Harvard University as a place of prestige and excellence.

Harvard is among the top institutions, not just in the U.S. but the entire world! Unfortunately, a highly selective and competitive admissions process is the price you must pay for a world-renown education. With an acceptance rate of around 3-4% in recent years, Harvard is one of the most difficult universities to get admitted to.

It takes an extreme amount of dedication and consistent performance in all aspects of the application to fully craft an application profile that would convince the admission committee to let you get into a place like Harvard! 

By now, you might be wondering: “how long does it take for the sacred judgment to come out after I submit everything?” There’s no need to worry! This article will discuss all you need to know about Harvard and give you an in-depth breakdown of how long it takes for admission decisions to come out.

About Harvard

Harvard University is one of the eight Ivy League schools. Due to its educational excellence, vibrant and engaging campus communities, and a strong commitment delivering the best experiences for its students, Harvard is considered by many to be the most prestigious and professionally promising post-secondary university in the country.

Harvard was founded all the way back in 1636. Today there are a total of 35,276 students who study at Harvard, and more than 400 thousand alumni. These statistics reveal how impactful and prominent Harvard University is. 

Harvard is also one of the most selective colleges in the U.S. For the 2028 school year Harvard University’s overall acceptance rate of merely 3.59%, the lowest of all Ivy League schools, and tied with Stanford University for the second-lowest of all schools in the U.S. 

Getting an offer of admission takes excellence in both academic and extracurricular aspects. It takes lots of careful preparation and persistence to finish an application that gives you an edge over the countless applicants who are just as hungry and passionate as you are. Overall, it is a long and unforgiving journey.

But hey, who said difficulties should deter anyone from trying? You know what they say: you miss one hundred percent of the shots you don’t take. For end-to-end expert advice on the Harvard application process, take a look at our complete Harvard guide.

What Are the Ways I Can Apply to Harvard?

Still want to apply to Harvard? Good! You might be asking: how specifically can you apply to Harvard? 

Regardless of your year level, both domestic and international students are welcome to apply. For first-year applicants, there are two options when applying: Restrictive Early Action and Regular Decision. Regardless of which you choose, your application must be completed through either the Common App or the Coalition App.

Early Decision

Applicants wanting to apply early may take the restrictive early action option. This is essentially early action, but with a limit. Once you apply with this program, you are not allowed to apply for early action anywhere else in the U.S, and all previously submitted early applications are automatically forfeited.

Restrictive Early Action usually starts at the beginning of September of your senior year and ends at the beginning of November.

Regular Decision

Regular decision starts shortly after Early Decisions ends. The application period usually ends at the beginning of January.

First-year Application Requirements

Both restrictive early action and regular decision have roughly the same minimal application requirements for both domestic and international applicants. For all first-year applications, your application must include the following:

  • $85 Application fee (or fee waiver)
  • School Report and high school transcript 
  • Teacher Report (2)
  • Personal Essay
  • Midyear School Report (after your first semester grades)
  • Standardized Test Scores
  • Final School Report (for admitted students only)

Let’s break these down in full detail!

School Report

Your school report includes information about your high school, a counselor letter, and your high school academic transcript. Note that your transcript might not include grades for your senior year, which is why a midyear report is required. Further information about this school report can be found in your application.

Paying the Application Fee

Both early and regular applications have a fee of $85. You can pay online with a credit card through the Common Application or Coalition Application websites. Alternatively, you can send a check or money order to Harvard College Admissions. Keep in mind that you must include the applicant’s legal name if you wish to pay with this method.

To make the application process accessible for all students, Harvard offers fee waivers to applicants with financial trouble paying the application fee. You may request your fee waiver during your application process. Requesting a fee waiver will not have any effect on your application whatsoever.

Teacher Reports

Instead of recommendation letters, you need to get two teachers in different academic subjects to complete the Teacher Evaluation forms, which can be found while applying. These two teachers should know you well, so they can fill out the forms with helpful information.

Although recommendation letters are not required for applying, you can still submit additional letters if you wish. You can do so after you submit your application, as you will receive your application confirmation email, which will contain a personalized link for you to send to your recommenders.

Personal Essay

Harvard requires that you submit a personal essay with your application. Essay topics can be found while completing the Common Application or the Coalition Application. The possible essay topics are quite broad, with some common ones including:

  • “Some students have a background, identity, interest, or talent that is so meaningful they believe their application would be incomplete without it. If this sounds like you, then please share your story.
  • The lessons we take from obstacles we encounter can be fundamental to later success. Recount a time when you faced a challenge, setback, or failure. How did it affect you, and what did you learn from the experience?
  • Reflect on a time when you questioned or challenged a belief or idea. What prompted your thinking? What was the outcome?
  • Describe a problem you've solved or a problem you'd like to solve. It can be an intellectual challenge, a research query, an ethical dilemma-anything that is of personal importance, no matter the scale. Explain its significance to you and what steps you took or could be taken to identify a solution.”

In general, essays will ask you to write about important experiences, challenges, passions/goals, or any other examples of self-reflection, self-discovery, or self-improvement. Having a vast variety of essay questions can make it easier to find a great prompt for you to express yourself and impress the admissions committee.

Mid-year School Report (after your first semester grades)

The mid-year school report must be completed by your school counselor or another school official. This report is requested so that the admission committee knows how well you are doing in the first half of your senior year and how prepared you are for entering university at the moment. Your midyear school report must contain all mid-term grades of the year.

Note that Restrictive Early Action applicants are not required to submit the midyear report by the early application deadline in nearly November. However, suppose you applied during Restrictive Early Action and got deferred to Regular Decision. In that case, you must submit the midyear report and transcript as soon as your midyear grades are available.

Final Score Report (For Admitted Students Only)

If you get an offer of admission and choose to enroll, you are required to send a Final School Report containing your finalized official transcript as soon as your final grades become available. Usually, you must send in your report no later than July 1st. We recommend seeking the help of a school counselor or any other school official when completing your Final School Report.

Supplemental Material (Optional)

Do you have any other documents that will help convey your skills, talents, and interests? Well, don’t hesitate to include them in the application as well! These supplemental materials can include anything from essays, awards and honors, certificates, test scores, and much more! Note that you can also submit materials acquired after you submit your application!

Standardized Test Scores (Optional)

You might be asking: “but what about the ACT or SAT scores?” Harvard has recently posted an update: applications for Fall 2023 to 2026 no longer require standardized test scores due to COVID-19 causing limited access to testing centers. 

Sticking to its holistic approach to the admissions process, Harvard ensures students who don’t submit their test scores will not be disadvantaged during their application review. Harvard also encourages applicants to decide which materials to send that they believe would best convey their accomplishments in secondary school. 

That being said, submitting a great test score will improve your chances like before. Due to how competitive Harvard is, you’ll likely need a very high score to influence your chances positively, so definitely weigh your circumstances before you submit. 


Harvard also has an application program specifically for transfer students. 

It is worth noting that Harvard accepts fewer transfer applicants than first-year applicants. As of now, Harvard admits 12 transfer students each year on average. Although there are also much fewer transfer applicants than first-year applicants, the acceptance rate for transfer applicants is still very low.

To be eligible for transfer applications, you must have completed at least one continuous academic year in a full-time degree program at one college and not more than two academic years. If a student has completed more than two years of college at another institution, they are no longer eligible for transfer. 

However, students too advanced in their studies to qualify for transfer may still study at Harvard by applying to the Visiting Undergraduate Students (VUS) Program. This program welcomes students enrolled in colleges and universities around the world to spend a semester or full-year studying at Harvard. 

Students enrolled part-time are also not eligible unless they have previously completed one full-time, continuous academic year. 

Transfer Application Requirements

Like first-year applicants, transfer students must submit their applications through either the Coalition Application or Common Application. The application fee is also $85. Like first-year applicants, submitting ACT or SAT scores is also optional. 

Additionally, transfer applications require the completion and inclusion of the following documents, all of which usually can be obtained from the university faculty staff:

  • College/Dean’s/Registrar’s report
  • Official College Transcript
  • College Instructor Recommendations (2)
  • Official High School Transcript

When Do Harvard Decisions Come Out?

So when do Harvard decisions come out if you have submitted your application?  

Well, as mentioned before, we don’t have the exact date when the decision will come out just yet. But we have a rough estimate, and we can use last year’s dates as rough references. Of course, the dates this year may be different than before, but don’t worry: we will update this article once the exact dates come out.

Early Decision

Harvard only offers restrictive early action. The admission decision for restrictive early action will usually come out around mid-December

Regular Decision

Regular application opens shortly after the early application ends. The admission decisions for regular applicants usually come out around late March

Decisions for Transfer

Application decisions for transfer will usually come out in June. Keep in mind that transfer applications also end quite late, the deadline for all transfer applications and financial aid materials is March 1st.

Pros and Cons of Each Harvard Application Program

Now that we’ve gone through each application method, let’s go through the advantages and disadvantages of each application option.

Early Decision

For many other schools, applying early may increase your chances, as it signals commitment, passion, and eagerness, all traits that admission committees value. 

However, Harvard explicitly states that applying early will not impact the applicant’s chances of getting accepted. As stated on the official school website: “Harvard does not offer an advantage to students who apply early. Higher Restrictive Early Action acceptance rates reflect the remarkable strength of Restrictive Early Action pools.” 

That doesn’t mean applying early doesn’t have its perks. If you want to receive your decision earlier, restrictive early action is the right move for you. With a school as selective as Harvard, it’s very difficult to say you’ll get admitted, so when you apply, you very likely have a back-up plan. Applying early will give you more time to make adjustments to your backup plans.

If you don’t get accepted in the early round, there is a chance that your application will be deferred. This means your application profile will be reviewed again with the rest of the regular application pool. Being deferred essentially gives you a second chance to make adjustments to your profile and further increases your chances of being accepted.

That being said, it is ill-advised to submit a poorly prepared application early. Remember: in Harvard, applying early won’t have any positive effects on your chances of getting admitted. Therefore, you must prioritize quality over timing. If you feel like you need more time, definitely apply for regular decision instead. 

You should only apply early if you’ve finished preparing your application early enough and have ample time to polish your application profile. You should never submit an application in haste. 

Regular Decision

Applying for a regular decision will give you more time to complete and improve your application. This additional time can be very helpful but you’ll have more time to complete everything needed, and also get more chances to edit your application. More specifically, you’ll have more time to increase your academic performance. 

The additional time can give you one chance to retake the SAT or ACT. You could even get opportunities to partake in any additional senior year extracurricular achievements. Your teachers and counselors can also write more effective recommendation letters on your behalf, further increasing your chances of getting accepted. 

On the flip side, one major disadvantage for regular application is less time to adjust once the decisions are out. The decision for regular application comes out at the end of March, which is more than three months later than the decision for early application. This certainly gives you less flexibility to adjust and act on your backup plans if your application to Harvard flops.

That said, the additional time that regular application gives is invaluable. If you are confident that you can use this time wisely, regular decision is the way to go!


Transferring will offer you a chance to enter Harvard even after you’ve already started university elsewhere. But beware that a transfer application is just as strict as a first-year application. You should only take this option if you’re very confident that you’ll do better in college than in high school.

FAQs: When Do Harvard Decisions Come out?

So, When do Harvard Decisions come out? Below we’ll provide the answers to some frequently asked questions. 

1. What Are the Minimum GPA Requirements for Application?

Harvard does not have a minimum requirement for your GPA.

2. Will I Receive Confirmation Of Application?

Yes.  After you submit your application, you will be sent an email confirmation with a PIN to access the Applicant Portal.  

If you have not received your confirmation email, please check your spam/junk folder. If you can’t find your confirmation email there, double-check the application system you used and ensure you actually clicked "Submit" and not just "Save." 

If you still cannot locate your application confirmation email, you should contact Harvard at your earliest convenience to inquire about your application. You may find the contact information that you should go to can be found in the Application Portal or call 617-495-1551.

3. When is Harvard’s Application Deadline?

Harvard’s Restriction Early Application deadline is November 1st, the deadline for the Regular Application deadline is January 1st, and lastly, the Transfer Application deadline is March 1st.

4. What is Ivy Day?

Normally, all eight Ivy League schools will release the regular decisions online on the same day. That day is called Ivy Day.

5. What is the Acceptance Rate for Harvard?

As of now, Harvard’s acceptance rate sits at 3.41%. Harvard’s early application acceptance rate is 7.56%. However, this does not mean early application makes it easier to get admitted. As mentioned before, Harvard reviews early applicants and regular applicants under the exact same criteria. 

Final Thoughts

The admission decision for early action usually comes out in mid-December, whereas the Harvard decision for the regular application comes out in late March, and the decision for transfer applicants comes out in June. 

As grueling as the waiting period is, remember that the real hard part is the preparation of your application. If you do your best and use your time wisely to make your profile as polished as you possibly can, the wait will certainly be worth it.

Of course, even if you didn’t get the offer, you still deserve a big pat on the back for having the self-confidence and grit to give it a try. Either way, applying to Harvard is a long and unforgiving road. Impatience will do no good for you. You must take each step with care, and eventually, before you know it, the challenges will be over. Best wishes on your applications!

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