MIT Vs Harvard University: Complete Comparison

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Harvard University are two of the most prestigious educational institutions in the world. Both schools are consistently ranked first on national college ranking lists. They are celebrated for their elite academics, illustrious faculty, and thriving student bodies. But which of these two universities is more prestigious: MIT or Harvard? Most importantly, which options do you think would work better for you?

This article will provide a comprehensive comparison of Harvard and MIT, as well as an overview of the four most important considerations you need to make when deciding which university is the best option for you. First things first, though: look at the different kinds of colleges that MIT and Harvard offer.

What is MIT?

One of the most esteemed private universities in the United States, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), is located in Cambridge, Massachusetts. MIT was founded in 1861 to promote research, discovery, and innovation in science, engineering, and technology.

MIT comprises six schools and colleges: School of Architecture and Planning, School of Engineering, School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences, Sloan School of Management, School of Science, and MIT Schwarzman College of Computing.

What Is Harvard?

Harvard University is a private Ivy League school that is known all over the world. It is in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where MIT is located. It also has campuses in Allston, a part of Boston, and Longwood.

It was founded in 1636 and is the oldest university in the United States. Its goal is to give citizens and future leaders the best liberal arts and sciences education.

Harvard University consists of 13 schools along with one specialized institute:

  • Business School
  • College
  • Divinity School
  • Division of Continuing Education
  • Graduate School of Arts & Sciences
  • Graduate School of Design
  • Graduate School of Education
  • John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences
  • Kennedy School
  • Law School
  • Medical School
  • School of Dental Medicine
  • T.H. Chan School of Public Health
  • Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study

Students at Harvard College can choose from 50 majors in the social sciences, arts and humanities, science, and engineering.

Harvard belongs to one of the most selective schools in the US. Only 4% of people who apply get in. It is also well-known and has good academics, which is why US News ranks it as the second-best national university.

University Type

Although both MIT and Harvard are private, non-state-funded universities, Harvard is one of the eight Ivy League institutions, while MIT is not.

Numerous non-Ivy institutions are as esteemed as, if not more prestigious than, the Ivies. For instance, MIT is undoubtedly extremely prestigious, even without its Ivy League designation!


Harvard surpasses MIT in terms of undergraduate enrollment and the number of institutions and colleges. MIT has 4,363 undergraduates, while Harvard has 5,223 students. In total enrolment (undergraduate and graduate students), MIT has fewer than 12,000 students, while Harvard has approximately 24,000 students.

MIT has a total of six schools, while Harvard has thirteen. Unlike Harvard, MIT does not have a medical school or law school.


Only 4 percent of applicants are admitted to MIT and Harvard, with extraordinarily low acceptance rates. Harvard and MIT are both competitive universities. Therefore you'll need an outstanding application to increase your chances of acceptance.

But what constitutes a solid application to MIT or Harvard? To determine this, you must examine the academic profiles of accepted applicants.

While MIT students have an average high school GPA of 4.17, Harvard students have an average high school GPA of 4.18; this means that you'll need super-excellent marks (mainly or all A's) to enter either MIT or Harvard.

Regarding standardized test scores, MIT students had somewhat higher averages than Harvard students, with SAT and ACT scores of 1545 and 35, respectively, compared to 1520 and 34.

These differences are negligible, indicating that admission to both schools is exceedingly competitive.


Harvard and MIT have identical tuition and fees. The annual tuition and fees at Harvard are $55,587, whereas those at MIT are slightly higher at $55,878.

However, both colleges provide excellent financial aid, so you will likely not have to spend much to attend. If their family's annual income exceeds $65,000, Harvard students are exempt from paying tuition and fees. Meanwhile, at MIT, students whose families earn less than $90,000 do not have to pay tuition.

Student-Faculty Ratio

The student-faculty ratio describes the proportion of pupils to teachers at an educational institution. Lower student-to-faculty ratios are preferable since they indicate a greater likelihood of receiving individualized attention from your instructors.

MIT and Harvard both have good student-faculty ratios. Still, the balance at MIT, which is 3:1, is far better than the ratio at Harvard, which is 6:1. This suggests that there is one MIT faculty member for every three students at the institution.


MIT focuses on science and technology, whereas Harvard is more focused on the liberal arts. Both institutions offer close to 50 majors in a range of subjects.

Science, engineering, and technology majors, including computer science, biology, and mathematics, are among the most popular at MIT. The most popular majors at Harvard are history, economics, and the social sciences, as well as a slightly more extensive range of disciplines.


You can choose from among more than 450 different student organizations at both MIT and Harvard. Both of these colleges scored an A+ from Niche for their student life and an A from the website for their party scene, so you can rest assured that you will have a vibrant social life at either of these institutions, regardless of which one you choose to attend.

Regarding intercollegiate athletics, MIT competes in the NCAA Division III. In contrast, Harvard competes in the NCAA Division I.

Starting Salary

Compared to Harvard graduates, the median beginning income for MIT graduates is significantly greater. MIT graduates anticipate making $82,200 immediately after graduation, which is an exceptionally high starting income. On the other hand, Harvard graduates can expect to earn roughly $70,300, which is $12,000 less (which is still a decent wage but is not quite as strong as MIT's).

Important Considerations 

It is vital to consider the following considerations while deciding between the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Harvard University to determine which institution will be a better fit for you.

1: Size

When considering where to apply for college, the size of the student body is an important consideration. You will want to choose a university that provides the kind of atmosphere and student community in which you can ultimately thrive, whether in a small and more intimate setting or a large and diverse social scene.

Harvard and MIT have roughly the same number of students enrolled in their undergraduate programs; Harvard has 5,227 undergrads, and MIT has 4,363. However, regarding total enrolment, Harvard has a far larger student body than MIT, with 24,000 students compared to MIT's 12,000 students. MIT's student body is significantly smaller.

Suppose you want the opportunity to make a more significant number of acquaintances and connections with people your age. In that case, Harvard is probably the best option for you. If, on the other hand, you feel more comfortable in the more intimate setting that MIT provides, then you should probably give MIT more weight than Harvard.

2: Academic Programs Available

Other important considerations are your academic interests and the subject area in which you intend to major.

Even though both Harvard and MIT offer more than fifty different degrees in various disciplines, MIT is more focused on the areas of science, mathematics, and technology. In contrast, Harvard is more accepting of a wider variety of topics, particularly liberal arts and humanities majors.

Since it is only natural that MIT and Harvard would not offer the same majors to their students, you will need to conduct some research to identify whether or not the major you are interested in is provided at either MIT or Harvard (or none, or both!). You can view a list of majors for Harvard University here and a list of majors for MIT University here.

For instance, while Harvard University offers a degree in folklore and mythology, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology does not.

You should also consider whether the academic program at MIT or Harvard has a better reputation for the field that you work in. For example, although both MIT and Harvard are well-known for their engineering programs, the undergraduate engineering program at MIT is now ranked number one in the country. In contrast, Harvard's program is ranked number 27.

3: Expenses and Available Assistance

When deciding whether or not to apply to MIT or Harvard, you should consider how much it will cost you to attend.

As was previously stated, tuition and fees at Harvard and MIT cost over $56,000 per year, and the total cost of attending either school is over $75,000 when living expenses are considered. However, given the financial solid assistance policies of the schools, you may end up paying a lot less than this.

MIT will waive all your tuition fees if your family has an annual income of less than $90,000. Meanwhile, if your family makes less than $65,000 annually, Harvard University will not charge you any tuition fees. On their respective websites, Harvard and MIT provide information regarding their policies regarding financial aid, which you can study.

Are you unsure whether you will be eligible for need-based help at Harvard or MIT? Then you should think about applying for outside scholarships based on merit.

4: Being Selective

The last thing you should think about is how selective each institution is and how your academic profile stacks up against the average profile of admitted students. If you do this, you should be able to estimate better your odds of being accepted.

Look up the average grade point average and SAT/ACT score of admitted students at MIT or Harvard to get an idea of where you stand compared to other applicants.

You should consider Harvard and MIT to reach schools if you plan to apply there because admission is not assured based only on your grade point average and test results (even though there is still a chance, although very slim).

Getting into Harvard and MIT is extremely challenging, even though Harvard has a slightly lower acceptance rate than MIT. On the other hand, MIT has slightly higher test score averages, which means that you will need to perform even better on the SAT or ACT, particularly in the mathematics section, to be accepted.

Consider Your Options Before Choosing Between MIT and Harvard.

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Harvard University are two of the most prestigious educational institutions in the world. In contrast to MIT's primary emphasis on science, mathematics, and technology, Harvard's curriculum emphasizes the liberal arts and the natural and social sciences.

Both institutions are top-ranked, highly selective colleges that offer students high-quality academic programs and engage in extra-curricular activities. Therefore, neither of these schools can be considered "better" than the other, at least not objectively.

In the end, if you want to know which school is better for you, you'll need to consider several different aspects, including the size of the student body at each institution, tuition and fee structures, the types of academic programs that are offered, and the demographics of the students who are typically accepted.

When you start the application process for college — whether it's to Harvard, MIT, or both! — make sure to give yourself plenty of time to put together the most acceptable application possible.

Financial help

Both MIT and Harvard have sticker prices greater than $70,000 per year, giving the impression that they are pricey. Most students receive some financial help. Both MIT and Harvard meet the amount of demonstrable financial needs and are need-blind. Merit scholarships are not offered at either institution.

One key distinction is that no student loans are required to attend Harvard. In contrast, only families with an annual income of less than $90,000 are eligible for no-loan admission to MIT. In addition, Harvard reports that households earning between $65,000 and $150,000 may anticipate paying little more than ten percent of their income in taxes. In general, you can anticipate that the financial aid offered by Harvard will be more generous.

Final note: How to Make Your Choice Between Harvard vs. MIT

Both MIT and Harvard share many characteristics; for example, they are highly competitive educational institutions that provide various prestigious degree options. Both of their homes are located in Cambridge. Thus they are physically close to one another.

Most MIT students are drawn to study in one of the school's sciences, technology, engineering, or mathematics (STEM) departments, particularly those focusing on technology and engineering. During this time, students attend Harvard to study various courses. In addition, Harvard has more than 2,000 more undergraduate students than MIT, making it a somewhat larger institution.

If you're interested in participating in athletics, Harvard is most likely the preferable school for you to attend. At the same time, the Engineers at MIT compete in Division III of the NCAA. Keep in mind that regardless of which school you choose to attend, you will still be able to take classes at the other school and several other institutions in the area.