Comparing Northwestern vs Harvard: Which University Is the Best Fit for You?

By Eric Eng

By Eric Eng

A female student using a laptop.

Comparing Northwestern vs Harvard: Which University Is the Best Fit for You?

Are you struggling to choose between Northwestern and Harvard for your higher education? Well, you’re not alone. Both of these prestigious universities have exceptional reputations for academic excellence, so making a decision can be difficult. That’s why we’ve put together an in-depth comparison of Northwestern and Harvard to help you make the right choice. This article will compare Northwestern vs Harvard and evaluate their academic programs, admission requirements, and more!

Introduction: Overview of Northwestern and Harvard

Northwestern University is located in Evanston, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago. The university was founded in 1851 and has a diverse range of undergraduate and graduate programs. Northwestern is particularly renowned for its journalism, communication, engineering, and music programs.

On the other hand, Harvard University is situated in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and is the oldest university in the United States. Founded in 1636, it has a profound reputation for academic excellence across a broad range of fields, including law, business, medicine, and science.

Despite their differences in location and history, both Northwestern and Harvard share a commitment to research and innovation.

View of students lounging in the campus.

Northwestern has a strong focus on interdisciplinary research, with centers and institutes dedicated to fields such as nanotechnology, global health, and social policy. Similarly, Harvard has a long tradition of groundbreaking research, with notable achievements including the discovery of DNA and the development of the first successful heart transplant. Both universities also prioritize community engagement and service, with numerous opportunities for students to get involved in local and global initiatives.

Academic Programs: The Differences and Similarities Between Northwestern and Harvard

When it comes to academic programs, both Northwestern and Harvard have outstanding reputation and provide a diverse range of majors to choose from. Northwestern has over 200 undergraduate and graduate programs spread across 12 schools and colleges. Harvard, on the other hand, offers over 50 undergraduate and graduate programs through its 11 faculties.

Both universities have a strong focus on research and provide excellent resources for students to conduct innovative research. While Northwestern has a more specialized approach to academic programs, Harvard has a more generalized approach.

Group of students working together and talking.

Despite the differences in their approach to academic programs, both Northwestern and Harvard offer a wide range of extracurricular activities to their students. Northwestern has over 500 student organizations, including clubs for sports, arts, and community service.

Harvard also has a diverse range of extracurricular activities, including over 500 student organizations, clubs, and societies. Both universities encourage their students to explore their interests outside of the classroom and provide ample opportunities for them to do so.

Admission Requirements: What You Need to Get into Northwestern and Harvard

Getting accepted into either Northwestern or Harvard can be challenging because of their rigorous admission requirements. Both universities require a high school diploma, transcripts, standardized test scores, personal essays, and extracurricular activities to be considered for admission. Northwestern has an acceptance rate of around 7%, while Harvard’s acceptance rate is around 4%. Admission to Harvard University is highly competitive and demands exceptional academic achievements and excellent extracurricular activities.

In addition to the standard admission requirements, both Northwestern and Harvard also consider factors such as letters of recommendation, demonstrated leadership skills, and community involvement. Northwestern values students who have shown a commitment to service and have taken on leadership roles in their communities.

Group of students talking.

Harvard, on the other hand, looks for students who have made a significant impact in their communities and have demonstrated a passion for learning and intellectual curiosity. It’s important to note that meeting the minimum requirements does not guarantee admission to either university, as the admissions process is highly selective and competitive.

Campus Life: A Comparison of Student Culture at Northwestern and Harvard

While both Northwestern and Harvard have an exceptional academic reputation, their student cultures are quite different. Northwestern has a friendly, welcoming community that offers a vast range of extracurricular activities. Students are both academically and socially driven, and there is a real sense of school spirit. Harvard has a more stringent academic culture that encourages intellectual competitiveness. The student life at Harvard is more diverse as the university has a more extensive international student presence.

Group of students walking in the campus.

Another notable difference between Northwestern and Harvard is the campus environment. Northwestern is located in Evanston, a suburban area just outside of Chicago, which provides students with easy access to the city’s cultural and entertainment offerings. In contrast, Harvard is situated in Cambridge, a bustling college town with a rich history and a vibrant arts scene. The campus itself is also quite different, with Northwestern’s modern, sprawling campus featuring state-of-the-art facilities, while Harvard’s historic buildings and ivy-covered walls lend a sense of tradition and prestige.

Location Matters: Pros and Cons of Studying in Evanston or Cambridge

Choosing a university isn’t just about the academic programs; it’s also about the environment in which you will be studying. Evanston is a suburban area that offers a calm and peaceful atmosphere with easy access to Chicago’s vibrant city life. Cambridge is a historic, lively, and intellectual city that has an excellent public transportation system. Both areas have a high cost of living, but Cambridge is comparatively more expensive than Evanston. However, Cambridge provides excellent job opportunities and fantastic connections with groundbreaking startups in fields such as technology and biotechnology.

Another factor to consider when choosing between Evanston and Cambridge is the climate. Evanston experiences all four seasons, with hot summers and cold winters. In contrast, Cambridge has a milder climate, with less extreme temperatures throughout the year. This may be a significant consideration for students who are not accustomed to harsh winters or hot summers.

Additionally, both Evanston and Cambridge have a diverse student population, with students from all over the world. However, Evanston has a more significant number of undergraduate students, while Cambridge has a higher number of graduate students. This may impact the social scene and the types of extracurricular activities available to students in each location.

Campus Resources: Comparing the Facilities and Services Offered by Northwestern vs. Harvard

Both Northwestern and Harvard provide exceptional resources, services, and facilities to their students. Northwestern boasts state-of-the-art facilities, including cutting-edge research labs, performance spaces, and top-of-the-line athletic facilities. Harvard provides outstanding resources for research, including an extensive library system, world-class museums, and a range of student services, including counseling, tutoring, and student organizations.

However, Northwestern also offers unique resources such as the Segal Design Institute, which provides students with hands-on experience in design thinking and innovation. The university also has a dedicated career center that offers personalized career counseling, job search assistance, and networking opportunities.

On the other hand, Harvard strongly emphasizes community service and social justice. The university has a number of programs and initiatives that encourage students to engage in public service and make a positive impact in their communities. Additionally, Harvard has a robust international program that offers students the opportunity to study abroad and gain a global perspective.

Faculty Quality: Evaluating the Teaching Staff at Northwestern vs. Harvard

Faculty quality is an essential factor when choosing a university, and both Northwestern and Harvard have top-notch teaching staff. Northwestern has a 7:1 student-to-faculty ratio, making for personalized student attention.

Harvard has a 9:1 student-to-faculty ratio. Both universities have a faculty filled with Nobel laureates, Pulitzer Prize winners, and MacArthur fellows, among other incredible achievements. Harvard University has a world-famous Faculty of Arts and Sciences, which is dedicated to teaching and research in a broad range of fields, while Northwestern’s faculty is particularly strong in the humanities and social sciences.

However, Northwestern also boasts a highly acclaimed faculty in the STEM fields, with numerous professors holding patents and conducting groundbreaking research in areas such as nanotechnology and biotechnology.

In addition, Northwestern’s faculty includes several members of the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering, highlighting their expertise and contributions to their respective fields.

Student Body Diversity: A Comparison of the Demographics at Northwestern vs. Harvard

Both Northwestern and Harvard have a diverse student population, with international students representing a significant portion of the student communities. Northwestern has a student body with a diversity index of 0.384, a figure that highlights the racial and ethnic diversity of the student body. Harvard has a slightly higher diversity index of 0.437, with proactive efforts to promote diversity and inclusiveness in the university’s student body.

Despite the similarities in diversity, there are some notable differences in the demographics of the two universities. Northwestern has a higher percentage of African American students, with 8% of the student body identifying as Black or African American, compared to Harvard’s 5%. On the other hand, Harvard has a higher percentage of Asian American students, with 23% of the student body identifying as Asian, compared to Northwestern’s 16%.

Additionally, both universities have made efforts to increase diversity and inclusivity in their student bodies. Northwestern has implemented programs such as the Diversity and Inclusion Student Council, which aims to promote diversity and inclusion on campus through events and initiatives.

Harvard has also implemented similar programs, such as the Harvard College Women’s Center and the Office of Diversity Education and Support, which provide resources and support for underrepresented groups on campus.

Career Opportunities: Which University Offers Better Job Prospects After Graduation?

Graduates of both Northwestern and Harvard have excellent job prospects after graduation. Northwestern has top-notch career services that provide students with advice on internships, job search strategies, and interview preparation. Harvard graduates, however, benefit from the university’s vast network of alumni connections and the school’s reputation in diverse fields.

Additionally, both universities offer various career fairs and networking events throughout the year, providing students with opportunities to connect with potential employers and learn about different industries. Northwestern hosts an annual career fair that attracts recruiters from top companies, while Harvard’s Office of Career Services organizes industry-specific events and workshops.

Extracurricular Activities: A Look at the Clubs, Sports Teams, and Organizations at Northwestern vs. Harvard

Extracurricular activities are an essential component of the university experience, and both Northwestern and Harvard have exceptional extracurricular activities. Northwestern offers over 400 student organizations, including sports teams, music groups, and philanthropic organizations. Harvard has over 500 official student groups with several sports teams, performing arts groups, and political organizations to name a few.

However, the two universities differ in the types of extracurricular activities they offer. Northwestern has a strong focus on entrepreneurship and innovation, with several student-run startups and entrepreneurship clubs. On the other hand, Harvard strongly emphasizes community service and social justice, with several organizations dedicated to volunteering and activism.

In addition, both universities offer unique opportunities for students to explore their interests outside of the classroom. Northwestern has a program called “Chicago Field Studies,” which allows students to intern at companies and organizations in Chicago for academic credit. Harvard has a program called “Freshman Seminars,” which are small, discussion-based classes taught by faculty members on a variety of topics.

Tuition and Financial Aid: Comparing the Costs of Attending Northwestern vs. Harvard

Both Northwestern and Harvard have high tuition fees, but they also have generous financial aid packages. Northwestern’s tuition is around $64,887 per year, while Harvard’s tuition is around $54,239 per year. Northwestern offers merit-based and need-based financial aid programs, while Harvard offers a need-based financial aid program. Students must submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to be considered for financial aid at both universities.

It is important to note that the cost of attending a university goes beyond just tuition fees. Students must also consider the cost of living, textbooks, and other expenses. Northwestern is located in Evanston, Illinois, which has a lower cost of living compared to Cambridge, Massachusetts, where Harvard is located. Additionally, Northwestern offers a textbook rental program, which can save students hundreds of dollars each semester.

Both universities also offer work-study programs, which allow students to work part-time on campus to earn money for their education. Northwestern’s work-study program offers a variety of job opportunities, including positions in research labs, libraries, and administrative offices. Harvard’s work-study program is also extensive, with opportunities in areas such as community service, athletics, and the arts.

Conclusion: Which University is Right for You?

Choosing between Northwestern and Harvard can be challenging, but it’s essential to choose the university that is right for you. Both universities provide an exceptional academic experience, with top-notch academic programs, faculty, facilities, and resources. Northwestern has a more specialized approach to education, while Harvard has a more generalized approach. Harvard has a more competitive academic culture, while Northwestern has a more friendly and welcoming student culture. It’s crucial to consider all the factors mentioned above, including tuition, location, and extracurricular activities, before making a final decision.

Another important factor to consider when choosing between Northwestern and Harvard is the size of the student body. Northwestern has a smaller student body, which can provide a more intimate and personalized learning experience. On the other hand, Harvard has a larger student body, which can offer more opportunities for networking and socializing.

Additionally, it’s essential to consider the location of each university. Northwestern is located in Evanston, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago, while Harvard is located in Cambridge, Massachusetts, a suburb of Boston. Both locations offer unique cultural experiences and opportunities, but it’s important to consider which location aligns with your personal preferences and goals.



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