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Harvard College vs. Harvard University: What's the Difference?

Edited by Aimie Carlson || By Janet White || Published on November 23, 2023
Harvard College is the undergraduate liberal arts college of Harvard University, which is a broader institution encompassing various graduate and professional schools.

Key Differences

Harvard College is the original undergraduate institution of Harvard University, offering a liberal arts education. Harvard University, in contrast, represents the entire university system, including graduate and professional schools beyond the undergraduate college.
Founded in 1636, Harvard College is specifically dedicated to undergraduate programs, focusing on a broad liberal arts curriculum. Harvard University, established later as an expansion, includes renowned graduate schools like Harvard Business School and Harvard Law School.
Students at Harvard College earn undergraduate degrees, such as Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Science. Harvard University, however, offers advanced degrees, including master's and doctoral programs, across its various schools.
Harvard College is known for its residential college system, creating a close-knit undergraduate community. Harvard University encompasses a larger and more diverse community, including graduate students, faculty, and researchers across multiple disciplines.
While Harvard College provides a foundation in liberal arts and sciences, Harvard University offers specialized and professional education in fields like medicine, law, business, and more, catering to postgraduate and professional students.

Comparison Chart


Undergraduate liberal arts education
Comprehensive educational institution including graduate and professional studies

Degree Programs

Bachelor's degrees (BA, BS)
Bachelor's, Master's, Doctoral, and professional degrees


Founded in 1636
Expanded over time to include multiple schools and colleges


Primarily undergraduate students
Diverse community including undergraduates, graduates, and faculty

Schools Included

Part of Harvard University, specifically for undergraduates
Includes Harvard College, along with graduate and professional schools

Harvard College and Harvard University Definitions

Harvard College

An institution dedicated to undergraduate education in various disciplines.
Harvard College offers a wide range of majors and minors.

Harvard University

A diverse academic community including students, faculty, and researchers.
Innovation thrives in the collaborative environment of Harvard University.

Harvard College

Offers a broad liberal arts curriculum for undergraduates.
Harvard College emphasizes critical thinking and broad academic exploration.

Harvard University

A prestigious Ivy League university encompassing various schools.
Harvard University is renowned for its academic excellence.

Harvard College

Known for its residential system and undergraduate community.
Life in Harvard College's residential houses is a unique experience.

Harvard University

Offers a wide range of programs from undergraduate to doctoral levels.
Harvard University provides extensive research opportunities.

Harvard College

The undergraduate liberal arts college of Harvard University.
She pursued her Bachelor of Arts at Harvard College.

Harvard University

Encompasses specialized schools in law, business, medicine, and more.
Harvard University is known for its cutting-edge medical research.

Harvard College

The original foundational school of Harvard University.
Harvard College's history dates back to the early 17th century.

Harvard University

Includes graduate and professional schools beyond Harvard College.
Harvard University houses prestigious schools like Harvard Law School.


What makes Harvard College unique?

Its focus on a broad liberal arts undergraduate education.

What is Harvard College?

The undergraduate college of Harvard University.

Can you attend Harvard University for an undergraduate degree?

Yes, through Harvard College.

What degrees does Harvard University offer?

Bachelor's, master's, doctoral, and professional degrees.

Is Harvard College separate from Harvard University?

It's part of Harvard University, specifically for undergraduates.

How many schools does Harvard University have?

Multiple, including graduate and professional schools.

Does Harvard University offer online courses?

Yes, including various online and extension programs.

Is Harvard College known for any particular programs?

Known for its liberal arts and sciences programs.

Can you study business at Harvard College?

Undergraduates can study economics, but the MBA is offered by Harvard Business School.

Does Harvard University have a medical school?

Yes, the Harvard Medical School is part of the university.

Do Harvard College students interact with Harvard University's other schools?

Yes, there are opportunities for cross-school engagement.

Is Harvard College older than Harvard University?

Yes, it's the original institution founded in 1636.

What graduate schools are part of Harvard University?

Includes Harvard Business School, Law School, Medical School, and others.

Is financial aid available at Harvard College?

Yes, with need-based financial aid for undergraduates.

Does Harvard University participate in athletic competitions?

Yes, across a range of intercollegiate sports.

Are Harvard College and Harvard University in the same location?

Yes, in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

What is the student life like at Harvard College?

Vibrant, with a focus on residential college experiences.

Are the admission processes for Harvard College and Harvard University's graduate schools connected?

No, they have separate admissions processes.

What research opportunities are available at Harvard University?

Extensive, across various disciplines and schools.

Can Harvard College students take classes at Harvard University's graduate schools?

There are opportunities for cross-registration.
About Author
Written by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.
Edited by
Aimie Carlson
Aimie Carlson, holding a master's degree in English literature, is a fervent English language enthusiast. She lends her writing talents to Difference Wiki, a prominent website that specializes in comparisons, offering readers insightful analyses that both captivate and inform.

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