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Stanford and Harvard University: Where Leaders are Created

Updated on 08 November, 2023

Neha Uppal

Neha Uppal

Sr. Content editor

East or West, Harvard, and Stanford are two of the bests! 

(Because they are located on the West and East coast of the United States.) 

You are bound to be confused when considering admission to the world's most sought-after universities.  On top of this, the increasing number of applications does not offer any relief to the students debating over Stanford vs. Harvard. 

Every year, Harvard receives 60,000 applications on average. Similarly, Stanford received approximately 50,000 applications. Of tens of thousands of candidates, Stanford and Harvard University accept only a few thousand. 

If you want to study abroad in these esteemed institutions, now is the time to know all about them!

Stanford vs. Harvard- General Factors 

Stanford and Harvard universities are among the oldest institutions in the United States. That corroborates the number of honors and prestigious awards held by the alums of these institutions. Harvard has 157 Turing award winners, including professors and alums. Similarly, Stanford students have brought home at least an Olympic medal since 1908. 

Here's a glimpse in brief to enhance your awareness about your dream institutions!


Date of Establishment



Acceptance Rate 

Number of Schools





Stanford, California, United States



  1. Graduate School of Business 
  2. Graduate School of Education 
  3. School of Engineering 
  4. School of Humanities and Science 
  5. School of Law 
  6. School of Medicine 
  7. Stanford Doerr School of Sustainability 




Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States



  1. Harvard College 
  2. Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS) 
  3. Harvard Graduate School of Arts and Sciences (GSAS)
  4. Harvard Extension School
  5. Harvard Faculty of Arts and Sciences
  6. Harvard Business School (HBS)
  7. Harvard School of Dental Medicine (HSDM) 
  8. Harvard Graduate School of Design
  9. Harvard Divinity School
  10. Harvard Graduate School of Education
  11. Harvard Kennedy School
  12. Harvard Law School 
  13. Harvard Medical School 
  14. Harvard School of Public Health

Source: University official website

Stanford vs. Harvard- University Rankings (Global) 

From a survey of thousands of universities across the globe, Harvard and Stanford always managed to remain in the top 6. In the World University Rankings of 2023, Harvard was placed at position 5, while Stanford is at rank 3.  Similarly, according to USnews, amongst the best global universities of 2022-2023, Harvard deserves the first position, and Stanford is felicitated with rank 3. 

Stanford vs. Harvard- Average Tuition fee 

In the debate between Stanford University vs. Harvard University, the cost of education is a factor to consider. 

If you are contemplating Harvard vs. Stanford for MBA, you should be ready to pay USD 76000 for Harvard and USD 76950 for Stanford.  The average cost of attending Harvard is USD 52659. On the other hand, you might have to pay USD 19231 for a quarter to become a student at Stanford. 

The quarterly fees for postgraduate programs at Stanford is USD 18829. Similarly, the postgraduate fees at Harvard is USD 57246. 

Mind you, the cost of tuition at Stanford is higher than the national average of USD 39723 in the United States. That being said, both of these institutions have a robust financial aid system in place. With the help of financial assistance, you can easily support your education through the following packages: 

  • Scholarships 
  • Grants
  • Outside awards 

If you plan to study abroad, you can utilize several financial assistance options at these universities. Even though you might not be eligible for federally funded help, the colleges make ample provisions to accommodate every deserving candidate. 

Stanford vs. Harvard- Popular Programs with Rankings 

Choosing one is tricky, with more than 40 fields of study and interdisciplinary domains to educate yourself in. Fret not! In the battle of Harvard vs. Stanford, only the best programs should win to become a part of your CV. 

Here's a list of the renowned programs from Stanford and Harvard:  



Stanford University

Harvard University


Common Exams 

USNews Rankings 2023 



QS Subject Rankings 2023 



Rankings 2023 



QS Subject Rankings 2023 

Master of Business Administration 





  1. GMAT/ GRE

Engineering programs 

2 (Tie)


  1. SAT/ACT 

Biological Sciences 


1 (Tie)


  1. GRE 
  2. TOEFL 

Computer Science

2 (Tie) 




  1. GRE
  2. TOEFL

Earth Sciences

2 (Tie)




  1. GRE
  2. TOEFL


2 (Tie) 


1 (Tie) 


  1. GRE


3 (Tie)


3 (Tie) 


  1. GRE General Tests 
  2. GRE Subject Tests 
  3. TOEFL iBT 


3 (Tie) 


3 (Tie)


  1. GRE Subject Test 



1 (Tie) 


10 (Tie)


  1. GRE General Tests 
  2. GRE Subject Tests 
  3. TOEFL iBT 




  1. GRE
  2. TOEFL 

Source: University official website; US News ; topuniversities.com

Stanford vs. Harvard- Exam Cut off 

The world's most reputed institutions have one of the most stringent admission processes. If you've been searching from one Google page to another for your GPA requirement clarification in Stanford university vs. Harvard university, you need to pay attention now. 

Even though both Harvard and Stanford do not have a score cut-off, it’s advisable for students to acquire high marks in all the exams. 

Undergraduate Course Requirements 

These elite institutes require a candidate to have a rich academic background and excellent subject knowledge. Both institutions check the candidate's eligibility to become of the rich heritage it offers holistically by analyzing the complete application. 

That being said, the admission requirements at the postgraduate level and beyond are more strict than undergraduate courses. 

Postgraduate Course Requirements 

At Stanford and Harvard university, for admission to postgraduate courses, you have to take one or more of these tests: 

Graduate Record Examination - General Test

TOEFL or Test of English as a Foreign Language Internet-Based Test 

Graduate Record Examination - Subject Test 

Each program carries individual requirements for GRE test scores. Depending on the criteria, you can attach your marks to your applications if the score submission is optional or mandatory. 

For TOEFL, you need to have at least 100 as your proficiency in English score at Stanford. The candidates who carry lower scores might be taken into consideration. That being said, they must take English placement testing for successful enrolment. 

In postgraduate courses at Harvard, the university requires international candidates planning to study abroad to show English proficiency through either one of these: 

RequirementsScore for StanfordScore for Harvard

Undergraduate degree from an institution with English as the language of instruction 





Source: University official website


Stanford vs. Harvard- Popular Alumni 

Stanford and Harvard are the creators of world leaders. From businesspeople to presidents, these institutions provide the world with the best talents. If you're still stuck in Stanford vs. Harvard debate, here's a list of the famous alums to inspire you to take the call: 

  • Barack Obama - Ex-United States president and a Nobel prize holder (Class of 1991 at Harvard)  
  • Neil DeGrasse Tyson - World's famous astrophysicist and TV icon (Class of 1980 at Harvard)
  •  Steve Ballmer - Ex-CEO of Microsoft (Class of 1977 at Harvard ) 
  • Natalie Portman - Actress (Class of 2003 at Harvard ) 
  • John Bravman - Bucknell University President (Class of 1984 at Stanford)
  • Dave Fleming - Sportscaster (Class of 1994 at Stanford) 
  • Reese Witherspoon - Actress (Dropout)
  • Tiger Woods - Sportsman (Class of 1996 at Stanford)

Stanford vs. Harvard-Median Base Salary 

The median base salary for Stanford and Harvard graduates varies depending on the course and profile. The average salaries received by the graduates of Stanford lie around the figure of USD 44086. Similarly, the average Harvard university students' salaries are around USD 35567 -USD 148507. 

Stanford vs. Harvard- How to Apply 

Every aspect of your application is considered a contributing factor toward the institution's growth. 

You must be ready with the following components if you want to secure admission to Stanford: 

  • Filled application form with your course details 
  • A non-refundable fee for the application of USD 90
  • Letter of recommendation from a counselor
  • Official academic transcripts
  • Two letters of recommendation from teachers 
  • Transcript for midyear exchange 

Similarly, the following documents are necessary for Harvard admission: 

  • Common application form
  • Questions with the college application 
  • USD 85 non-refundable application 
  •  High school results and school transcripts 
  • Two of the reports from recognized teachers
  • Post-first semester school report 
  • Final school report (needed from the admitted candidates) 

General restrictive early action candidates' deadline for application submission for Stanford and Harvard is November 1. However, the regular decision deadline is January 5 for Stanford and January 1 for Harvard. 


With both esteemed universities sparring with each other in delivering the best results, the dispute for declaring the best in Stanford vs. Harvard is obvious. You're not alone. Even the most reputed surveys and decision makers for global ranking face dilemmas in choosing Harvard over Stanford and vice-versa. But, such a contention brings a fantastic opportunity for you to keep your eye on. And, that is, excelling at your studies to become a part of history by enrolling yourself in any one of these! 

Frequently Asked Questions

Who should select restrictive early action applications for Stanford and Harvard University?

A restrictive early action is an excellent option if you carry a solid academic portfolio. Such an action shows that you're highly inclined to be admitted to a particular university. Therefore, you must have one of the most comprehensive letters of recommendation, certificates for extracurricular activities, etc. 

How many students received admission acceptance to Harvard for the 2026 class?

The esteemed university accepted only 1984 candidates out of 61221 applicants. 

Neha Uppal

Sr. Content editor

Neha Uppal is a passionate content creator and editor. She carries 7.5+ years of experience working with leading edutech companies where she worked as a Faculty, Community Manager, and Content Marketeer. At upGrad, she is helping out people keep informed about the scopes and opportunities of studying abroad via informational articles/blogs.

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