Harvard University

Essay Requirements

Essay Requirements

A few short answer questions specifically about Harvard will be completed by all first-year candidates. Two 150-word essays are needed for Harvard, and a third essay is optional. A 50-word extra is also available for international students.

Short Answer Questions

All questions have to be answered.


Please briefly elaborate on one of your extracurricular activities or work experiences.


Your intellectual life may extend beyond the academic requirements of your particular school. Please use the space below to list additional intellectual activities that you have not mentioned or detailed elsewhere in your application. These could include, but are not limited to, supervised or self-directed projects not done as school work, training experiences, online courses not run by your school, or summer academic or research programs not described elsewhere. 

Optional Third Prompt

You may wish to include an additional essay if you feel that the college application forms do not provide sufficient opportunity to convey important information about yourself or your accomplishments. You may write on a topic of your choice, or you may choose from one of the following topics:
  • Unusual circumstances in your life.

  • Travel, living, or working experiences in your own or other communities.

  • What you would want your future college roommate to know about you.

  • An intellectual experience (course, project, book, discussion, paper, poetry, or research topic in engineering, mathematics, science or other modes of inquiry) that has meant the most to you.

  • The Harvard College Honor code declares that we “hold honesty as the foundation of our community.” As you consider entering this community that is committed to honesty, please reflect on a time when you or someone you observed had to make a choice about whether to act with integrity and honesty.

  • How you hope to use your college education.

  • A list of books you have read during the past twelve months.

  • The mission of Harvard College is to educate our students to be citizens and citizen-leaders for society. What would you do to contribute to the lives of your classmates in advancing this mission?

  • Each year a substantial number of students admitted to Harvard defer their admission for one year or take time off during college. If you decided in the future to choose either option, what would you like to do?

  • Harvard has long recognized the importance of student body diversity of all kinds. We welcome you to write about distinctive aspects of your background, personal development or the intellectual interests you might bring to your Harvard classmates.

International Students

This essay is only required for international students.


What specific plan do you have, if any, for using the education you hope to receive?

Learn more about Harvard

  • All Post
  • Australia Admission News
  • Canada Admission News
  • Singapore Admission News
  • UK Admission News
  • UK Admissions
  • US Admission News
  • US Admissions

Get Your Essay Reviewed

Feel confident when submitting your college application essay by getting it reviewed by a professional admissions expert.