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Exploring Excellence: A Deep Dive into HYPSM Institutions

08/05/202421 minute read
Exploring Excellence: A Deep Dive into HYPSM Institutions

The most prestigious universities in the world are often grouped together informally or by association. A well known association is UK’s Russell Group which comprises 24 of the most prestigious universities in the country like Oxford and Cambridge. In the US, the Ivy League is one of the most admired associations, setting the standards for world-class prestige and academic excellence. 

A quick search can also reveal other informal associations such as the G5 and HYPSM. While these labels can be confusing, they still contain the world’s top universities. In this article, we’ll delve deeper into the HYPSM label and explore its individual institutions.

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What does HYPSM stand for?

HYPSM is an acronym for the top five universities in the US: Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Stanford, and MIT.

HYPSM Profile
QS RankingUniversityFounding DateLocationNotable Alumni
4Harvard1636Cambridge, MassachusettsBarack Obama Bill Gates Neil deGrasse Tyson
16Yale1701New Haven, ConnecticutHilary Clinton George Bush Meryl Streep
17Princeton1746Princeton, New JerseyJeff Bezos Michelle Obama Wentworth Miller
5Stanford1885Stanford, CaliforniaSergey Brin Reed Hastings Phil Knight
1MIT1861Cambridge, MassachusettsBuzz Aldrin Kofi Annan Dr. Amar Bose

Navigate down the table for additional information.


Founded in 1636, Harvard was the first university in America. Originally named “New College”, it was later renamed in 1639 as Harvard College in gratitude to its first major benefactor, John Harvard.

The school’s mission is to educate citizens and leaders of society through a transformative liberal arts and sciences education. In the classroom, Harvard students are exposed to novel ideas, alternative perspectives, diverse modes of thinking, and are strongly encouraged to step outside their comfort zone. Harvard believes that their approach gives students an opportunity for self-assessment, discovering what they want to do with their unique skills and how they can use it to impact the world.

Harvard is home to 25,000 students, 20,000 faculty and staff, and over 400,000 alumni worldwide. With more than 50 concentrations across the Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) and Bachelor of Science (B.S.), Harvard students can explore various interests. Economics, Computer Science and Government are the top three concentrations in recent years.

The Harvard Experience

Student Life

A Harvard education is more than just coursework. As an Ivy League institution, Harvard’s athletics programme has been a unifying force across the community with nearly 80% of students involved in some form of athletics. Home to 42 nation-leading intercollegiate sports teams, Harvard prides themselves on their leadership and commitment to competitive excellence. In fact, the university believes that their students can grow and learn various life lessons through athletic participation, nurturing habits for healthier and more rewarding lives. With even more club sports, recreation programmes, and Intramural programmes, there’s something for everyone.

Outside of athletics, Harvard has more than 500 student organisations that span a variety of interests and passions. Combined with a collaborative residential life, students get the opportunity to build lifelong friendships and learn from multicultural perspectives!

Student Support

Harvard is deeply invested in their students’ success. Throughout their academic journey, students will receive access to various advising resources that assist students in achieving their academic goals. Students can receive support in essay writing, degree advising, and postgraduate planning.

Students can also access unique academic opportunities such as independent research or studying abroad. Harvard students regularly engage in world-class research, making meaningful contributions across various disciplines. Students get the opportunity to collaborate with renowned faculty researchers or even lead their own projects. There are a multitude of research opportunities and funding available!

Student wellbeing and mental health is strongly emphasised with the availability of comprehensive resources. The school provides various online programmes and physical workshops to create safe and supportive spaces for personal discussions. Peer counselling, LGBTQ+ groups, and guided meditations are just some programmes available. To further cultivate this culture, Harvard is also offering a $2,000 grant for students or faculty members who want to lead new initiatives that promote mental health and wellbeing.

Admissions Tips

There is no formula for admission and Harvard takes your entire profile into consideration. Other factors like your extracurricular activities and leadership involvement are key indicators of your personal qualities and character!

One of Crimson’s students, Nicholas, who has successfully landed a spot in Harvard, suggests the importance of staying true to yourself and first ensuring that the university is the best fit for you. Finding the intersection between who you are as a person and what Harvard is looking for is vital for strategising your application. Additionally, spending your time wisely during high school and taking as many meaningful opportunities as possible can provide a key edge in your profile.

Read: How To Get Into Harvard: Admission Requirements & Guidance


Founded in 1701, Yale’s mission was to instruct the youth in the arts and sciences and prepare them for leadership. The university was only renamed “Yale” in 1718 in honour of Elihu Yale’s generous donation.

Yale strives to continuously expand its pedagogy, research excellence, and student diversity, with over 15,000 students and 29,000 staff and faculty members. Yale’s comprehensive undergraduate education is aimed at developing specialised skills and cultivating broader intellectual, moral, civic, and creative capacities. As a result, Yale graduates become more curious and engaged citizens, and active learners who thrive across multiple disciplines.

Students can pursue either a B.A. or B.S. degree and choose from over 120 subjects. In 2023, Economics, Political Science, and History are the top three Yale majors.

The Yale Experience

Student Life

Yale’s residential colleges are an essential component of its ecosystem. Its 14 colleges provide an intimate sense of social and intellectual connection while fostering a sense of motivation to contribute outside of school. Yale also believes that these dynamic spaces have a strong potential to revitalise and extend the mind!

Student learning is further complemented through a multitude of university-wide events across a range of topics. Yale invites scholars, experts, and leaders from various backgrounds to lead panel discussions, lectures, workshops, and more. Additionally, to foster inclusivity and a sense of identity, Yale has four cultural centres that serve as dedicated social hubs for students from various ethnicities.

The arts is a fundamental aspect of a Yale education and students have unparalleled access to an extensive range of creative opportunities. With over 500 performances and screenings, students can immerse themselves in any aspect of the arts from performing arts to writing arts.

Yale has a robust athletics programme with over 30 mens’ and womens’ varsity teams, 40 club sports, and an intramural programme. They’re each designed with various levels of commitment and competitiveness to maximise participation. Like Harvard, Yale recognises the importance of athletic participation as it reinforces the community of its residential colleges while imparting valuable life skills.

Student Support

Yale students enjoy a comprehensive range of support services from writing and language tutoring to wellbeing support. Residential college and peer tutors are also available for subject-specific support in STEM, humanities, and social sciences.

To help students navigate their degree, Yale’s Academic Strategies Programme is designed to empower students and help them maximise their Yale experience. Personalised workshops and individual mentoring sessions are offered to address each student’s unique goals for effective strategy planning.

STEM undergraduates are eligible for further support with ample mentoring, research and pre-professional opportunities! Yale also provides all students with career and postgraduate advising, and employment and internship preparatory resources. Yale’s comprehensive student support demonstrates their commitment to developing future-ready leaders.

Research is fundamental at Yale with students consistently making discoveries and developing new technologies over the years. In fact, 95% of undergraduate science majors perform research with Yale faculty. With access to extensive funding, resources, and facilities, all students have equal opportunity to expand their learning. Through the first-year Summer Research Fellowship, even freshmen can receive grants and faculty member support to perform original research. Meanwhile, the Science, Technology, and Research Scholars (STARS) programme is another initiative aimed at supporting socioeconomically disadvantaged students while accelerating their STEM careers.

Admissions Tips

Yale looks for students who have the potential to become future leaders with their support. An ideal student should possess a combination of these qualities:

  • individuals who are able to maximise Yale’s resources
  • individuals who exhibit a drive to push the boundaries of their abilities
  • Individuals who can contribute most significantly to the Yale community
  • individuals with an altruistic nature

Every component of your application is important to secure admission. Here are a few tips from Yale:

  • Your high school transcript is the most important document in the application. Be sure to take a broad range of challenging courses while performing well
  • Teacher and counsellor recommendations are important as they also provide insights into your intellectual curiosity and classroom impact. Yale looks for students who have taken full advantage of the opportunities available
  • There are no score cutoffs for standardised tests; scores below Yale’s 80% middle score range do not disqualify the applicant
  • An authentic personal statement is important. Writing openly and honestly about your interests and personal experiences is crucial. It should sound like the writer while effectively portraying a full picture of themselves

Read: How To Get Into Yale: Breaking Down Admission Requirements With Our College Admission Experts


Founded in 1746, the College of New Jersey is the fourth oldest college in the US. It was officially renamed as Princeton University in 1896 when it earned its university status. With the informal motto, “In the Nation’s Service and the Service of Humanity”, Princeton is dedicated to preparing students for leadership positions and to serve communities around the world.

The value of service is key to Princeton’s mission, pushing their students and faculty members to reflect on how they can benefit humanity. In fact, their curriculum prepares students to critically evaluate ideas and issues as global citizens. Princeton offers a variety of programmes and opportunities that engage students in public service, from collaborative projects with nonprofits, to addressing societal issues in small teams. Additionally, nearly every student organisation conducts service activities throughout the year.

The university houses 8,800 students and 9,000 staff and faculty members. Princeton offers two degrees, a B.A. and a Bachelor of Science in Engineering, and students can choose from 36 majors, 38 minors, and 26 interdisciplinary certificate programmes. Computer Science, Economics, and Public and International Affairs are the top three majors in AY 2022-23.

The Princeton Experience

Student Life

With over 500 student organisations, 39 sports clubs and 19 chaplaincies, students have access to various avenues to explore new interests. There are also abundant opportunities to experience the arts in Princeton. The school hosts events and performances by students and world-class artists every week from musicals to art exhibitions.

Competitively, Princeton’s athletics programme is one of the largest and most successful in the Ivy League, with more championships won in the past two decades. Some teams have even won national titles and have competed in the Olympics! While only 18% of undergraduates compete, all students can participate leisurely in club and intramural sports.

On-campus accommodation is guaranteed for all four years, and 98% of students live on campus across seven residential colleges. In fact, this is compulsory for the first two years, and each freshman is assigned a residential college advisor to assist with their transition. Through a range of academic, social, and recreational programmes, this residential experience allows students to take full advantage of the diversity and educational opportunities available.

Student Support

The university is committed to nurturing their students’ intellectual development and preparing them for success. With close student-faculty engagement, Princeton faculty members often take on mentoring roles for their students. Residential peer advisors are also available to ensure holistic support.

Career preparation is also important and Princeton offers career advisors for all students. Together, advisors assist in exploring career interests, internships, and postgraduate applications. Princeton also organises workshops for career development, and connects the student with relevant opportunities for practical experience.

Princeton is a strong supporter of numerous research and entrepreneurial endeavours to facilitate groundbreaking contributions and foster an entrepreneurial spirit. For early research exposure, freshmen are introduced to research-based courses in their first year. Interested students are then able to connect with other undergraduates, postgraduates, and postdoctoral researchers with similar research interests, using the school’s research-mentoring programme, ReMatch.

Admissions Tips

Princeton looks for intellectually curious students who can thrive in its rigorous academic environment. In your application, they are interesting in finding out:

  • What is special about you
  • What you have accomplished inside and outside of the classroom
  • How you would seize the opportunities offered
  • How you can contribute to the Princeton community

Princeton encourages applicants to take more challenging courses where possible such as honours and Advanced Placement. Additionally, the school expects students to complete the following subjects before applying:

  • Four years of English
  • Four years of mathematics
  • Four years of one language
  • At least two years of laboratory science
  • At least two years of history

Read: How To Get Into Princeton: Breaking Down Admissions Requirements


Founded in 1885, Stanford is the youngest HYPSM university. Its mission is to prepare students for leadership roles and who are well poised to contribute to the world with integrity. Stanford strongly encourages students to explore big ideas, transcend disciplinary boundaries, and become global citizens who value diverse perspectives and experiences.

With seven schools, Stanford is home to 17,500 students and 20,700 faculty members. Stanford offers three undergraduate degrees, the B.A., B.S., and Bachelor of Arts and Sciences, With 66 majors, the top three majors in 2023 are Computer Science, Economics, and Engineering.

The Stanford Experience

Student Life

Stanford’s thriving student life is enriched with residential experiences, a vibrant arts district, and a well developed athletics programme. The residential experience is integral to a Stanford education, integrating student living and learning through classroom instruction and collegial support. Nearly all undergraduates live on campus across 81 student residences!

Arts is at the heart of a Stanford education. To increase the visibility and impacts of the arts at Stanford, the school boasts a vibrant arts district with various resources, facilities, and programmes. Its world-class art museums and performance venues all contribute to Stanford’s tradition of fostering creativity.

Athletics, recreation, and wellness is also vital to the rich student life. With 36 varsity sports, 43 club sports, and over 650 student organisations, Stanford is committed to nurturing a culture of inclusiveness and well-being.

Student Support

Stanford’s culture of collaboration is evident in the school’s dynamic ecosystem of interdisciplinary research. With 36 Nobel Prize winners since its establishment, Stanford is a research university with the joint highest number of Nobel Prizes won since 2000.

As an undergraduate, you also have the opportunity to conduct your own research under faculty mentorship. There are various student grants available and Undergraduate Advising Directors are easily accessible for further research support. In fact, these advisors also help you navigate your degree requirements and career pathways. If you are interested in pursuing a career in scientific research, Stanford offers the VPUE STEM Fellows Programme that seeks to cultivate diversity in STEM fields.

Stanford also recognises the importance of addressing urgent sustainability challenges, and its Sustainability Accelerator serves as a launchpad for revolutionary ideas. Selected projects receive more than just funding; these teams are connected with Stanford’s network of investors and policy makers for rapid scalability.

Admissions Tips

Your academics is the primary criterion for admission. Stanford recommends that applicants achieve an excellent score across the five core liberal arts and science areas: English, Maths, Social Studies, Science, and World Language.

In your application, Stanford also wants to understand:

  • Your ideas and interests and what is meaningful to you
  • Your commitment and enthusiasm in expanding your intellectual horizons
  • An exceptional depth of experience and impact of your extracurriculars

Read: How To Get Into Stanford: Crafting A Successful Application


Incorporated in 1861, MIT emerged as a pioneering institution uniquely suited to the needs of America’s industrial revolution. Its founders envisioned a new approach to education, unifying mind and hand. This “learning-by-doing” approach remains as one of the hallmarks of an MIT education. MIT is committed to advancing knowledge, research, and innovation, and educating students in science, technology, and other disciplines that will best serve humanity.

Presently, MIT’s community consists of 12,000 students and 17,000 staff and faculty members. Only the B.S. is offered, alongside 58 majors and 51 minors. Computer Science and Engineering, Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, and Mathematics are the top three undergraduate majors in 2023.

The MIT Experience

Student Life

On-campus accommodation is guaranteed for the entire four years and more than 70% of undergraduates including freshmen live across 11 residential halls or 35 affiliated student residences. The residential experience is central to the MIT experience and each residence has its own unique community!

MIT strives to be a welcoming community with over 500 student organisations, 20 chaplains, 33 varsity sports and 30 club and intramural sports. Health and wellness is also important to MIT and this is integrated into their degree. **Students are required to complete Physical Education and wellness courses such as scuba diving or judo, while fulfilling a swim requirement.

Arts is fundamental to MIT’s creative culture with more than 50% of undergraduates enrolling in arts courses each year. The campus features over 3,500 contemporary artwork and multiple facilities dedicated to showcasing the work of the MIT community.

Student Support

Considering MIT’s rigorous coursework, the school supports its students through various initiatives. Freshmen are given time to adjust to MIT’s demands in their first semester which is graded on a pass/no record basis. Another unique feature is the Independent Activities Period, a four-week period in January that encourages students and faculty to freely explore subjects and research on or off campus. Even students can organise these activities for the MIT community and some of the previous offerings include sustainable fashion and stand-up comedy.

In line with MIT’s ethos, research is highly valued and it flourishes in the school’s ecosystem. Students are highly encouraged to first enrol in introductory laboratory courses to get a better understanding of research, before collaborating with faculty to explore various research interests. For outstanding research proposals, students can receive a $7,000 fellowship under the Eloranta Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowships.

Advisors are a key resource for undergraduates as they assist in academic, professional, and personal support. All first-year undergraduates are assigned to an advising group that consists of an academic advisor, associate advisor, and four to six advisees. They help the student explore their degree progress and connect with other opportunities and mentors. Career advising and professional development is also available for every MIT student if needed.

Admissions Tips

MIT seeks applicants who are a good match for the school! Performing well in a rigorous curriculum and involvement in meaningful extracurriculars are vital to an applicant’s candidacy. Additionally, some of the key characteristics that MIT looks out for include:

  • Alignment with the school’s mission
  • A collaborative spirit
  • Initiative
  • Risk-taking
  • Hands-on creativity
  • Intensity, curiosity, and excitement
  • Ability to contribute to the MIT community
  • Ability to prioritise balance

Read: How to Get Into MIT: Expert Tips and Strategies

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