Harvard University has a 3.2% acceptance rate for freshmen applicants, the lowest figure in the country. Factoring in legacy applicants and recruited athletes, that number drops even lower if you do not happen to fall into either specialty category. If you weren’t one of the odds-defying individuals who joined the Crimson out of high school, there is another route you can try. Harvard does in fact welcome aboard an extremely limited number of transfer students each year. The following blog will reveal the Harvard transfer acceptance rate as well other essential facts like the Harvard transfer deadline, the Harvard transfer requirements, and much more.

Harvard Transfer Acceptance Rate

Below we present the most current available Harvard transfer acceptance rate as well as historical data.

In the fall of 2021, there were 1,957 transfer applicants and 16 individuals were accepted. This means that the Harvard transfer acceptance rate is 0.8%. If we break this down by gender the acceptance rates are as follows:

  • Male transfer applicants: 1.0%
  • Female transfer applicants: 0.6%

When trying to get the complete picture on how difficult it is to transfer into Harvard, it is important to also look at historical data. While many schools have wild fluctuations in transfer acceptance rate from year to year, you can see that Harvard’s have been extremely fairly stable in recent years. Without fail, each year, the school takes somewhere between 12-17 total students via transfer.

Historical Harvard University transfer rates are as follows:

Year Harvard Transfer Acceptance Rate
2020 1.2%
2019 1.1%
2018 1.0%
2017 1.0%

Harvard Transfer Deadline

For all academic programs, the transfer deadline is March 1.

  • Students can apply to enter Harvard as sophomores or juniors.
  • Admitted students are not permitted to defer their admission.

Harvard Transfer Requirements

All students must submit to the following items as part of their Harvard application:

  • A Common App for Transfer
  • Official college transcript
  • Official high school transcript
  • ACT or SAT scores (they are test-optional from 2022-2026)
  • College/Dean’s report
  • Two letters of recommendation from college instructors

Students who have the best chance to gain admissions to Harvard have done the following:

  • A clearly defined academic need to transfer.
  • A proven record of achievement at your current institution.
  • Strong faculty recommendations.
  • Published/Co-Published academic research independently or with a faculty member at your current institution.
  • Exceled outside of the classroom in some manner. In addition to the aforementioned research, this could mean winning an intercollegiate academic competition, achieving noteworthy accomplishments through some type of leadership role, etc.

Harvard Average Transfer GPA

The university does not publish their average GPA for successful transfer students. However, in our experience working with Harvard applicants, you will need a 3.9 or better. This is not to say that your chances are nonexistent with a GPA below that mark, but a 3.9-4.0 GPA will give you the most favorable odds.

Harvard Transfer Application Essays

Personal Statement

Please provide a statement (250-650 words) that addresses your reasons for transferring and the objectives you hope to achieve.

Additional Harvard Transfer Application Essays

  1. Did any time elapse between high school and college or have you left any school or college voluntarily for an extended period of time?
  2. Briefly, please indicate the most influential factors in your decision to attend your present college (for example, location, cost, size of student body, only option, special program offered, Early Decision plan, etc.)
  3. What alternatives to transferring to Harvard are you considering?
  4. Please indicate your field of specialization and briefly outline your academic plans at Harvard College.
  5. What are your current postgraduate/career plans?
  6. Briefly discuss one book that has strongly influenced you.

When Do Harvard Transfer Decisions Come Out?

Decisions come out in June. There are cases where the school notifies applicants earlier than that, but June is the latest they will notify individuals.

Final Thoughts – Harvard Transfer Acceptance Rate

In an average year, only 1 in 100 Harvard transfer applicants will earn acceptance into this Ivy League powerhouse. It’s important to face these odds with a realistic mindset, as that will drive your other decision-making. For example, if you are someone intent on leaving your current school, you will want to apply to a number of “safety” and “target” schools in addition to Harvard. In reality, Harvard is a “reach” for every student—even those with perfect grades and test scores. However, we don’t want you to interpret having a “realistic” mindset as being synonymous with a negative mindset. After all, a dozen or so applicants each year are ultimately successful.

For more on what it’s like to be a transfer student at Harvard, check out this recent article from their student newspaper.

If you are looking for information on how to apply to Harvard as a first-year student, you may find the following blogs to be of interest:

Those searching for application info on other institutions may wish to visit our Dataverse pages:

Dave has over a decade of professional experience that includes work as a teacher, high school administrator, college professor, and independent educational consultant. He is a co-author of the books The Enlightened College Applicant (Rowman & Littlefield, 2016) and Colleges Worth Your Money (Rowman & Littlefield, 2020).