Harvard Freshman Dorms

February 24, 2023
By AdmissionSight

Harvard Freshman Dorms

Harvard University attracts students from all over the globe. These students not only come to study at one of the most rigorous academic institutions in the world but also to experience the rich history and traditions that Harvard has to offer.

One of the most important aspects of the Harvard experience is living in one of the freshman dormitories. In this article, we will explore everything you need to know about Harvard freshman dorms, including their locations, amenities, and unique features.

In addition, we will discuss two bonus topics about Harvard freshman dorms: security measures are in place in freshman dorms; and the benefits of living in a freshman dorm as a new college student.

What are the freshman dorms of Harvard?

What kind of housing is available for first-year students at Harvard? All first-year students live at Harvard Yard or near it in one of 17 freshman dorms: Apley Court, Canaday, Grays, Greenough, Hollis, Holworthy, Hurlbut, Lionel, Mower, Massachusetts Hall, Matthews, Pennypacker, Stoughton, Straus, Thayer, Weld, and Wigglesworth.

Male student resting next to a pile of boxes in his dorm room.

The four dorms that are not in the Yard but are a few minutes away are Apley, Greenough, Hurlbut, and Pennypacker.

Some of the freshman dorms at Harvard Yard

Canaday freshman dorm is one of the largest and most popular dormitories at Harvard Yard, which is located at the center of the university’s campus.

The dormitory is named after Helen M. Canaday, who was a former Harvard librarian and donor to the university.

Grays is one of the oldest freshman dorms in the Yard. It was built in 1863 and is named after Francis Calley Gray, a Harvard graduate, and benefactor of the university. The building is located near Harvard Square, making it a convenient location for students to access the surrounding area.

Hollis is known for its prime location in the Yard. This defining feature puts it within easy walking distance of many of the university’s facilities and amenities (e.g., freshman dining hall).

The dormitory has a spacious courtyard that is a popular gathering place for students, with plenty of seating areas and greenery.

Lionel is known for its beautiful courtyard and its location near the Science Center. It has several common areas for students to gather and socialize. These include a spacious lounge on the ground floor, a game room with billiards and foosball tables, and a kitchenette on each floor. Several study spaces are throughout the building, including a quiet study room and a group study area.

Mower is one of the newest freshman dorms in the Yard and is known for its modern amenities and spacious rooms. The rooms in Mower are mostly doubles, with a limited number of singles and triples available.

Each room is equipped with basic furnishings, including a bed, desk, chair, and wardrobe. The rooms are relatively spacious for freshman dorms, with many featuring large windows that let in plenty of natural light.

Massachusetts Hall is a historic seven-story building that houses approximately 400 students (both freshman and upperclassmen) and is known for its classic architecture and prime location. It was built in 1970 and is named after the state of Massachusetts, where Harvard is located.

Four Harvard freshman dorms outside the Yard

Apley was built in 1901 and is named after a wealthy Boston merchant, James Hardy Apley, who made a donation to the university. One of the unique features of Apley is its resident tutor program. Each entryway is overseen by a resident tutor, who is a graduate student at Harvard. The resident tutor serves as a mentor to students in the entryway and helps to foster a sense of community among the residents.

Greenough is a modern dorm with spacious rooms and a large common area. It is a four-story building that houses approximately 100 students. It is divided into several entryways, each with its own unique character and community. The entryways are named after various cities, including Atlanta, Dallas, and Houston, among others.

Hurlbut is a small dorm with a tight-knit community and cozy rooms. The rooms in Hurlbut are mostly doubles, with a limited number of singles and triples available. Each room is equipped with basic furnishings, including a bed, desk, chair, and wardrobe. The rooms are relatively spacious for freshman dorms, with many featuring large windows that let in plenty of natural light.

Pennypacker was built in 1913 and is named after Henry Pennypacker, a Harvard alumnus and donor to the university. It provides a number of common places where students may congregate and engage in social activities.

These amenities consist of a large lounge located on the main floor, a gaming area with billiards and foosball tables, and a kitchenette located on each floor. In addition, there are a number of study areas spread out around the facility, including a group study area as well as a more private study room.

Bonus topic: What kind of security measures are in place in freshman dorms?

What kinds of safety precautions have been taken in the first-year residence halls? When it comes to campus safety, universities take security measures seriously, and Harvard University is no exception.

Three students walking in the campus.

The safety and security of students is a top priority, and the university has implemented several measures to ensure the safety of its students. This includes security measures in place in Harvard freshman dorms.

Presence of security personnel

One of the most visible security measures in place in freshman dorms at Harvard is the presence of security personnel. Each dormitory has security personnel on duty 24/7, who monitor the building and ensure that only authorized individuals are allowed inside. These security personnel are often stationed at the entrance of the dormitory and require residents to swipe their Harvard ID cards to gain entry.

Harvard ID cards

Harvard ID cards serve as a form of access control for dormitories. Each student is issued a unique ID card, which they must use to gain entry into their dormitory. These ID cards are programmed to allow access only to specific areas of the building, depending on the student’s room assignment.

Security cameras

In addition to access control, dormitories at Harvard also have security cameras in place. These cameras are strategically placed throughout the building, including in common areas, hallways, and stairwells.

The cameras provide additional security measures, as they allow security personnel to monitor the building and identify potential security threats.

Emergency alert system

Harvard also has an emergency alert system in place, which can be activated in the event of an emergency or security threat. This system can send alerts to students via text message, email, or phone call, providing them with important information about the nature of the threat and what steps they should take to stay safe.

Room keys

Another security measure in place in freshman dorms is the use of room keys or keycards. Each student is issued a key or keycard that allows them access to their individual room. This provides an additional layer of security, as only authorized individuals with a key or keycard can access a particular room.

Strict policies regarding guests

The university also has strict policies regarding guests in Harvard freshman dorms, and in other Harvard dormitories. Visitors are required to sign in and provide identification before they are allowed inside the building. Additionally, guests are only allowed in common areas of the building and are not permitted in individual rooms without the permission of the resident.

Emergency phones

Finally, Harvard has a network of emergency phones strategically placed throughout campus, including in freshman dorms. These phones can be used to contact security personnel in the event of an emergency or security threat.

Bonus topic: What are the benefits of living in a freshman dorm as a new college student?

What are some of the advantages of living in a freshman dorm during one’s first year of college? Starting college is an exciting and sometimes overwhelming experience for many new students.

Students walking around the campus dorm.

One of the most important decisions a new college student will make is where to live. Many colleges and universities require freshmen to live in on-campus housing, and at Harvard University, first-year students are required to live in Harvard freshman dorms.

While this may seem like an inconvenience or restriction to some, there are actually many benefits to living in a freshman dorm as a new college student.

Sense of community

One of the biggest benefits of living in a freshman dorm is the sense of community and belonging that comes with it. Living in close proximity to other students, especially those who are also new to the college experience, can create a supportive environment that helps students transition to college life.

Living in a freshman dorm allows students to form strong bonds with their peers, as they are all experiencing similar challenges and joys of college life together.


In addition to building a sense of community, living in a freshman dorm also provides opportunities for socializing and making new friends. Many freshman dorms offer a variety of social events and activities, such as movie nights, game nights, and other group activities.

Multi-ethnic students standing near the building.


These events are designed to help students get to know one another and form connections that can last throughout their college careers and beyond.

Available resources

Living in a freshman dorm also provides access to a range of resources that can help students succeed academically. Many freshman dorms offer study spaces and resources such as tutoring, academic advising, and workshops.

These resources can help students adjust to the academic demands of college and develop good study habits, which can lead to academic success.

Another benefit of living in a freshman dorm is the convenience and proximity to campus resources. Many freshman dorms are located near important campus resources such as dining halls, libraries, and athletic facilities. This means that students have easy access to these resources, which can save time and help them make the most of their college experience.

Safety and Security

Living in a freshman dorm also provides a level of safety and security that can give students and their families peace of mind.

As mentioned earlier, Harvard freshman dorms and other dormitories are typically equipped with security measures such as access control systems, security cameras, and 24/7 security personnel. This provides a safe and secure environment for students, which can help them focus on their studies and enjoy their college experience.

Honing important life skills

Finally, living in a freshman dorm can also help students develop important life skills such as independence, responsibility, and time management. Living away from home for the first time can be a challenging experience, but it can also provide an opportunity for personal growth and development.

By living in a freshman dorm, students can learn how to manage their time, develop independence, and take responsibility for their own lives, which are important skills that will serve them well throughout their lives.

AdmissionSight is ready to provide a hand

Living in Harvard freshman dorms is a unique and exciting experience that is a central part of the Harvard undergraduate experience. With various dorms to choose from, each with its own features, amenities, and living arrangements, students can find the perfect home away from home. Students will be immersed in the rich traditions and academic rigor of one of the world’s most prestigious universities.

If you have your sights set on attending Harvard, it is in your best interest to consult with experts in the field of college admissions, such as those at AdmissionSight, to improve your application and maximize your likelihood of being accepted.

As a result of more than a decade of helping students just like you obtain admission to their top- and bottom-choice schools, AdmissionSight has become the most reputable name in the industry of college admissions counseling.

If you’re interested in arranging a no-cost initial consultation, please get in touch with us as soon as possible.


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