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Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology are two of the finest universities in the world, with a stellar reputation for having the best academics, first-rate facilities, multicultural diversity, and passionate communities (MIT). Given how highly regarded they are, deciding between them for a study year can take time and effort. Before delving into the contrasts and parallels between the two, let’s quickly review their respective histories.



In this article, we will compare and contrast two of the top universities in the United States: the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Harvard University. We will explore the similarities and differences between the two schools, including their academic programs, campus life, and reputation. Whether you are a prospective student looking to choose between these two institutions, or simply want to learn more about them, this article will provide valuable information.

Harvard University

The oldest institution in the United States is Harvard University, founded in 1636. Located in Cambridge, Massachusetts, this esteemed research university belongs to the Ivy League and welcomes visitors worldwide. As one of the most prestigious institutions in the world, Harvard has nearly 30,391 students enrolled for the 2020–2021 academic year, including 8,527 undergraduate and 21,864 graduate students. 19,030 full-time and 11,361 part-time students were registered as a present, with a gender split of 14,509 male students and 15,882 female students.

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Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)

Private land-grant research institution, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, with its headquarters in Cambridge, Massachusetts. This university, sometimes known as MIT, has a mile-long urban campus that runs beside the Charles River. It was founded in 1861 to advance Science, engineering, and technology-related research, discovery, and innovation.

With a total enrollment of 11,254 students, including 4,361 undergraduates, the university has a relatively small student body.


  • These two are initially picky regarding their admittance rates, with 5% for Harvard and 7% for MIT.
  • Both are in Cambridge, Massachusetts, although they had very different beginnings. These two are neighbors.
  • STEM programs are only available to students majoring in engineering and technology at Harvard and MIT.


  • The MIT campus has a population of 80,000 but not more than 200,000. In contrast, the Harvard University campus is classified as a city with a minimum population of roughly 100,000 and fewer than 250,000.
  • Harvard enrolls roughly 7,000 students, compared to 4,600 at MIT.
  • Harvard’s class ratio is 72%, whereas MIT’s is 71%.

The difference between the Harvard University Campus and the MIT Campus

Weather and Location

Although both are located in Cambridge, Harvard and MIT are thought to make up a sizable portion of Boston’s population due to their distance. Given that Cambridge sits on the water, it can get a little chilly sometimes and is pleasant for boat rides in the summer. Harvard’s campus resembles a suburban area. In contrast, MIT is more urban and integrated with the city, with a superior perspective of the metropolitan skyline. 

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University Type

MIT and Harvard are private universities, however, one belongs to the Ivy League, and the other does not. Despite not being an Ivy League school, MIT remains a distinguished college.

Grades and Rankings

Even though they vary yearly, the rankings for MIT and Havard are nearly identical. Harvard is ranked number two in the US News, number one in Forbes, number one in the specialty, number two in the Times, and number three in education. In contrast, MIT is ranked first in the niche, fourth in Forbes, sixth in higher education, and fourth in US News.



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Academics comparison between Harvard University and MIT. 

Academic Programs

Both Harvard and MIT are renowned for their top-notch academic offerings, while MIT focuses on the sciences and technology, while Harvard emphasizes the liberal arts. 


MIT majors include Science, engineering, technology, computer science, biology, and mathematics. The university is divided into five schools: 

  • School of Architecture and Planning
  • School of Engineering
  • MIT Sloan School of Management
  • School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences
  • School of Science

Harvard majors include history, economics, and Social Science. The institution comprises 13 schools which include:

  • Business School
  • Harvard College
  • Divinity School
  • Division of Continuing Education
  • Graduate School of Arts & Sciences
  • Graduate School of Design
  • John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences
  • Graduate School of Education
  • Kennedy School
  • Law School
  • Medical School
  • School of Dental Medicine
  • T.H. Chan School of Public Health
  • Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study
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To clarify more fully, Harvard University is the same as the freshman college for undergraduates in Cambridge. Harvard University also offers courses in other academic fields, including theatrical arts, music, political science, writing, and women’s and gender studies.


The acceptance rates to MIT and Harvard are meager, at 5% and 7%, respectively. One of the reasons it is difficult to get into these universities is because MIT students have a high school GPA of 4.17, while Harvard students have a 4.18 GPA. You will need a robust application and solid academic credentials for any of these universities.

The average standardized exam score for Harvard students is 1534, while it is 1535 for MIT students.


Tuition and Fees

The tuition at Harvard is approximately the same as that at MIT. MIT’s tuition is $53,790 per year, whereas Harvard’s is $52,962. However, both schools offer generous financial aid to help students in need.

Tuition is waived for students whose families make less than $65,000 annually, but MIT does not get any funding from students whose families make less than $90,000.


97% of Harvard University’s students live on campus. Around 73% of MIT students live on campus, while the remaining students are members of fraternities, sororities, and independent living organizations allowed by MIT.

In conclusion, MIT and Harvard are world-class universities with a lot to offer their students. While they may have some differences in academic programs and campus life, they both share a commitment to providing high-quality education and a range of opportunities for their students to succeed. Ultimately, deciding which school to attend will depend on individual factors and preferences. However, MIT and Harvard are excellent choices for anyone looking to further their education and achieve their academic and career goals.

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