Harvard vs Yale: Battle of the Ivy Leagues

02/02/202215 minute read
Harvard vs Yale: Battle of the Ivy Leagues

It is the dream of many ambitious high school students to study at an Ivy League such as Harvard or Yale. It’s no secret Ivy League universities are renowned for their beautiful campuses, esteemed faculty, diverse communities, extensive resources, and ample job opportunities for graduates.

According to the QS World University Rankings, Yale and Harvard are among the top-ranked Ivy League schools. The academic and extracurricular offerings at each university are unique. For most students, one stands out as the ideal fit. What makes each university unique, and how do you decide which Ivy League university is right for you? What is Harvard known for, and is Yale better than Harvard?

We're here to help you better understand the differences between Harvard and Yale, so keep reading to learn more!

Harvard vs Yale Overview

Harvard University is one of the most highly ranked and globally respected academic institutions in the world. The private, medium-sized liberal arts university offers 4-year undergraduate programs, made up of the undergraduate college and 11 other postgraduate institutions, including the highly ranked Business School, Law School, Medical School and John F. Kennedy School of Government. Founded in 1636, it was named for the college’s first benefactor, the young minister John Harvard, who, upon his death in 1638, left his library and half his estate to the institution.

Did you know: Harvard is the oldest university in the US and has educated seven US presidents!

Yale University is a highly regarded, medium-sized, private liberal arts university that offers undergraduate and graduate study and is organized into 14 schools: the original undergraduate college, the Yale Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, and 12 professional schools. Yale was founded in 1701 but didn't receive its name until 1718 when merchant Elihu Yale donated 417 books, cloth goods, and a portrait of King George to the New Haven college.

Did you know: the Yale Daily News is the oldest college daily newspaper in the US, published every weekday since 1878!

LocationCambridge, MassachusettsNew Haven, Connecticut
Number of Students6,755 (approx)6,092 (approx)
QS World University Ranking 2022514
Class of 2025 Acceptance rate 3.43%4.62%
Average GPA3.7-4.03.7-4.0
Average SAT/ACT scoresSAT: 1460-1580 ACT: 32-35SAT: 1460-1570 ACT: 32-35
Tuition$51,904 USD$59,950 USD
Median starting salary for graduates$69,000 USD$68,472 USD

Location Overview

Yale and Harvard are both located in New England in the Northeastern region of the United States. Getting to experience the fall foliage of New England for the first time will be a memorable experience for many international students. But which university has a better location? Is Yale better than Harvard? It all depends on your personal preference. Check out the differences between Harvard and Yale below!

CityCambridge, Massachusetts — across the Charles River from Boston. The city boasts a diverse intellectual community and cultivates a vibrant social setting. Furthermore, the city is home to many universities, so students can easily work together across institutions.New Haven, Connecticut. Although located in a small city, Yale is considered one of the world's most beautiful college campuses and is big enough that students don’t feel the need to leave. In the case that they do, New York City is just a 90-minute drive away.
WeatherAs both Harvard and Yale are located in New England, you can expect all four seasons, from summers averaging 25°. Celsius to winters as cold as 0° Celsius.

Academics Overview

Harvard and Yale both offer excellent academic opportunities

There are a wide variety of academic subjects in which Harvard and Yale excel - here are some of the most popular!

Social Sciences

These concentrations consider big questions about peoples and societies past and present, investigating phenomena large and small. Students studying Social Science conduct research into human cognition, behavior, values, health, and policy with the goal of gaining insight into the social challenges that exist across communities.


Students in Harvard's Molecular and Cellular Biology program are interested in understanding the intersection of modern research in cellular biology with medicine and society. At Yale, students can choose a major from 4 biological science concentrations:


Mathematics is the science of order, and mathematicians seek to identify instances of order as well as to formulate and understand concepts leading to our perception of order in complicated situations. Yale's offerings reflect the various aspects of mathematics, from its role as a scientific language to its cultural significance and its capacity as a model of abstract reasoning.

Computer and Information Sciences

Harvard's computer science curriculum provides students with a great deal of flexibility. Students can combine their studies with other fields, including mathematics, physics, economics, and psychology.

Similarly, the Yale Department of Computer Science is closely related to mathematics and engineering and collaborates with other disciplines, such as psychology, economics, medicine, statistics, music, and more.


Harvard's history concentration emphasizes critical reading skills, evidence evaluation, and persuasive writing. It prepares students for careers in business and academia.

While at Yale, students majoring in History study centuries of human experimentation and innovation. These courses prepare students to be effective storytellers and analysts who can craft arguments that appeal to a broad audience.

Other Popular Majors at Harvard and Yale

Harvard: Psychology

As part of the psychology concentration at Harvard, students learn about cognitive, social, and psychological processes such as attention, perception, memory, reasoning, and decision-making.

Yale: Engineering

Engineering majors gain expertise in designing technological systems that benefit society. Through this course, students gain a greater understanding of how new products affect politics, the economy, and society.

Student Body Overview

Student Body

Median class size1220
Total student population23,73112,060
Undergraduate population5,222 (Fall 2020)4,664 (Fall 2020)
International student size12%21%
Student-Faculty ratio7:16:1

Tuition Overview

Tuition Harvard Yale

Although elite universities in the United States tend to charge high tuition rates, Ivy League schools offer some of the most generous financial assistance. Undergraduate tuition rates at Harvard and Yale for 2021-2022 are $51,904 and $59,959, respectively. After considering additional costs such as fees, accommodation, travel, and personal expenses, the annual cost to attend either Harvard or Yale is about $81,000 - $85,000.

Harvard vs Yale 2021–2022 Tuition and Fees
Room (Housing) and Board (Meal Plan)$21,130$17,800
Total estimated cost of attendance$85,060$81,575

Financial Aid/Scholarships Overview

Crimson Education can help you apply for financial aid

There is no denying that the sticker price of attending a top university can be quite expensive. No matter your reasons for pursuing an education, the cost of tuition shouldn't stop you from achieving your goals.

While the figures mentioned above may seem out of reach for most, the good news is that many prospective students at Harvard or Yale would qualify for financial aid! 

At most Ivy League universities, students who make under a certain annual income are not expected to pay anything at all. In fact, over 20% of families at Harvard pay nothing, and over half of Harvard's undergraduate students receive need-based aid through the university's financial aid program

Yale, on the other hand, admits students irrespective of their ability to pay and promises to meet 100% of demonstrated financial needs — this includes international students! ?Current families of students at Yale who make less than $75,000 pay nothing!

If you’re looking to learn more about financial aid from Crimson’s Admissions Experts, check out this resource on How Financial Aid Works & How To Apply For Financial Aid.

Harvard vs Yale Application Overview

How can college counselors help with your college application

Both Harvard and Yale are highly competitive academic universities, and candidates must meet minimum GPA requirements. While grades and accolades are important at these top universities, both universities consider each applicant holistically, beyond academics.

Harvard considers every aspect of an applicant - from extracurricular activities to their personal interests and endeavors, as well as their plans beyond university studies. Through essay questions and supplemental information, admissions officers at Harvard want to know how you plan to make the most of your time at the university. Be sure to checkout our guide on How To Get Into Harvard!

If you want your application to stand out at Yale, you have to bring it to life! Every part of your application should be a window into your character. Admissions committees are more likely to admit you if they can envision you on campus, participating in student clubs and organizations, and taking advantage of their extensive resources. Check out our blog on How To Get Into Yale to learn more about what they look for.

If you want to learn how to boost your overall application to top universities and make sure your application stands out, download our free eBook on How to Crush Your US College Application!

Which is better, Harvard or Yale?

No matter which university you attend, you will receive an excellent education. Keep in mind that academics are the most important factor to consider when making your decision. Examine the course descriptions thoroughly or consider attending open days at each university to get a feel for them. You might also consider getting in touch with alumni from Harvard or Yale.

If you still have questions about which universities to apply to, please feel free to contact us! We can connect you with one of our academic advisors who can assist you with the admissions process.