Harvard vs. Mt. Holyoke: A Comprehensive Review

July 15, 2023
By AdmissionSight
Group of students talking in a table.

Harvard vs. Mt. Holyoke: A Comprehensive Review

When it comes to choosing the right college, it’s important to consider all of your options carefully. This article will provide a comprehensive review of Harvard vs. Mt. Holyoke to help you make the right decision for your academic aspirations.

These two institutions often come up in conversations as top-ranked colleges in the United States. Both have long histories of academic excellence and are renowned for their rigorous academic programs, but they are distinctly different in many ways.

Location and Campus Facilities: How Do the Two Colleges Stack Up?

One of the biggest differences between Harvard and Mount Holyoke is their location. Harvard is located in Cambridge, Massachusetts, which is just across the Charles River from downtown Boston.

This means that students have easy access to the city’s many cultural offerings and job opportunities. Mount Holyoke, on the other hand, is located in a more rural area, surrounded by scenic New England countryside.

Regarding campus facilities, both schools offer top-notch resources to their students. Harvard has an extensive network of libraries and research facilities, including the world-famous Widener Library and the Harvard Museum of Natural History.

Mount Holyoke also has an impressive array of resources, including a state-of-the-art science center, an art museum, and a performing arts center.

Another factor to consider when comparing the two colleges is the size of their campuses. Harvard’s campus is much larger than Mount Holyoke’s, with over 200 acres of land.

This means that there are more opportunities for outdoor activities, such as sports and hiking. Mount Holyoke’s campus, on the other hand, is more compact, making it easier for students to navigate and find their way around.

Finally, it’s worth noting that both colleges have a strong sense of community and offer a wide range of extracurricular activities. Harvard has over 400 student organizations, including clubs for debate and salsa dancing. Mount Holyoke also has a vibrant student life, with over 100 student-run clubs and organizations and a strong community service and activism tradition.

Harvard vs. Mt. Holyoke: Student Body

Harvard and Mount Holyoke are very different in terms of their student bodies. Harvard is a much larger university, with an undergraduate enrollment of over 6,700 students. Mount Holyoke, by contrast, is much smaller, enrolling just under 2,200 undergraduate students each year.

Another major difference between the two schools is their demographics. While both schools are known for their commitment to diversity, Mount Holyoke is an all-woman’s college and has a notably diverse student body, with students hailing from over 70 countries. Harvard, on the other hand, is a co-ed institution with a student body that is slightly less diverse than that of Mount Holyoke.

Despite the differences in size and demographics, both Harvard and Mount Holyoke have a strong commitment to academic excellence. Harvard is known for its rigorous academic programs and world-renowned faculty, while Mount Holyoke is recognized for its strong liberal arts curriculum and emphasis on women’s education.

Group of students smiling for a camera.

Additionally, both schools offer a wide range of extracurricular activities and opportunities for students to get involved on campus. Harvard has over 400 student organizations, including clubs focused on community service, athletics, and the arts.

Mount Holyoke also has a vibrant campus life, with over 100 student-run organizations and a strong tradition of student activism and social justice.

Harvard vs. Mt. Holyoke: Academic Programs

Both Harvard and Mount Holyoke offer rigorous academic programs, but each institution has its own areas of strength. Harvard is renowned for its business, law, and medical programs, as well as its strong liberal arts core curriculum.

Mount Holyoke, meanwhile, is known for its strength in the sciences, particularly biology, chemistry, and environmental studies, as well as its strong focus on supporting undergraduate research.

In terms of the sheer number of majors and minors offered, Harvard has a more extensive catalog, with over 50 areas of concentration. Mount Holyoke, by contrast, offers around 50 majors and minors combined.

Despite the difference in the number of majors and minors offered, both Harvard and Mount Holyoke provide students with ample opportunities to explore their academic interests. Harvard’s extensive catalog allows students to choose from a wide range of disciplines, including social sciences, humanities, and natural sciences.

Mount Holyoke’s smaller catalog, on the other hand, allows for a more focused and personalized academic experience, with each major and minor carefully designed to provide students with a comprehensive understanding of their chosen field.

Furthermore, both institutions offer a variety of interdisciplinary programs that allow students to combine multiple areas of study. Harvard’s Joint Degree Program, for example, allows students to earn two degrees from different Harvard schools.

At the same time, Mount Holyoke’s Nexus Program encourages students to explore connections between different academic disciplines and apply their knowledge to real-world problems.

Harvard vs. Mt. Holyoke: Faculty and Staff

Both Harvard and Mount Holyoke have outstanding faculties, but the two institutions approach teaching in slightly different ways. Harvard is known for its large, lecture-based classes, while Mount Holyoke places a greater emphasis on small seminar-style classes and one-on-one mentorship.

Students talking in a desk.

Despite these differences, both schools are committed to providing their students with access to top-level scholars and researchers. Mount Holyoke, in particular, places a strong emphasis on recruiting faculty who are committed to both teaching and research, ensuring that students receive a well-rounded education and have opportunities to conduct their own research.

Another key difference between the two institutions is the level of diversity among their faculty and staff. Mount Holyoke has made a concerted effort to recruit and retain a diverse faculty, with over 40% identifying as people of color. On the other hand, Harvard has faced criticism for its lack of diversity among its faculty, with only 23% identifying as people of color.

In addition to diversity, Mount Holyoke also strongly emphasizes providing support and resources for its faculty and staff. The college offers a range of professional development opportunities, including workshops and seminars on teaching strategies, research methods, and diversity and inclusion.

Harvard also offers professional development opportunities, focusing more on research and scholarship than teaching and pedagogy.

Student Life: Extracurriculars, Athletics, and Social Scene

Both Harvard and Mount Holyoke offer a wide range of extracurricular activities for their students, from sports teams to dance groups to student government organizations. Harvard has a particularly active Greek life scene, with over 20 fraternities and sororities on campus.

Mount Holyoke, by contrast, does not have any Greek organizations and places a greater emphasis on cultivating a close-knit community.

In terms of athletics, Harvard is a Division I school and has a highly competitive NCAA program. Mount Holyoke, by contrast, is a Division III school and offers a diverse range of intramural sports and fitness classes for its students.

Aside from extracurricular activities and athletics, both Harvard and Mount Holyoke have vibrant social scenes. Harvard is located in Cambridge, Massachusetts, which is known for its lively nightlife and entertainment options. Students can enjoy a variety of bars, restaurants, and music venues in the area.

Mount Holyoke, on the other hand, is located in a more rural area of Massachusetts and has a quieter social scene. However, the college hosts a variety of events throughout the year, such as concerts, movie nights, and cultural festivals, to keep students engaged and entertained.

Additionally, both colleges offer opportunities for students to engage in community service and volunteer work. Harvard has a number of student-run organizations that focus on social justice issues, such as the Harvard College Democrats and the Harvard College Women’s Center.

Mount Holyoke has a strong tradition of community service and encourages students to get involved in local organizations and initiatives. The college also offers a variety of service-learning courses that allow students to apply their academic knowledge to real-world problems.

Harvard vs. Mt. Holyoke: Admission Process

Both Harvard and Mount Holyoke are highly selective schools, with acceptance rates of around 5% and 45%, respectively. Harvard places a strong emphasis on academic achievement, with a median SAT score of nearly 1500.

View of a female students holding her book.

Mount Holyoke, meanwhile, values a well-rounded application and looks for students who have demonstrated a commitment to community service and extracurricular involvement in addition to strong academic credentials.

When it comes to the admission process, Harvard and Mount Holyoke have different requirements. Harvard requires applicants to submit two teacher recommendations, while Mount Holyoke requires three.

Additionally, Harvard offers an early action option, which allows students to apply by November 1st and receive a decision by mid-December. Mount Holyoke, on the other hand, offers an early decision option, which is binding and requires students to commit to attending if accepted.

It’s also worth noting that both schools consider factors beyond grades and test scores in their admissions decisions. Harvard, for example, looks for students who have demonstrated leadership potential and a passion for learning.

Mount Holyoke values diversity and seeks to admit students from a variety of backgrounds and experiences. Ultimately, the best way to increase your chances of getting into either school is to showcase your unique strengths and accomplishments in your application.

Harvard vs. Mt. Holyoke: Financial Aid and Scholarships

Both Harvard and Mount Holyoke are committed to making education affordable for all students, regardless of their financial backgrounds. Harvard has a generous need-based financial aid program, which provides full financial aid to families earning less than $65,000 per year and reduced aid to families earning up to $150,000 per year.

Mount Holyoke also has a strong commitment to need-based aid, and the college meets 100% of demonstrated financial need for all admitted students.

Mount Holyoke also offers a range of merit-based scholarships, including the prestigious Mary Lyon Scholarship, which is awarded to a small number of incoming first-year students who have demonstrated exceptional leadership and academic achievement.

In addition to need-based aid and merit-based scholarships, both Harvard and Mount Holyoke offer work-study programs to help students cover the cost of their education. At Harvard, students can work on campus or in the surrounding community, and the college guarantees a minimum of $3,000 in work-study earnings per year.

Mount Holyoke also offers a variety of work-study opportunities, including positions in academic departments, administrative offices, and community service organizations.

Furthermore, both colleges have resources available to help students navigate the financial aid process and manage their finances while in school. Harvard has a dedicated financial aid office that provides personalized counseling and support to students and families, and Mount Holyoke offers financial literacy workshops and one-on-one consultations with financial aid advisors.

Career Outcomes: Post-Graduation Opportunities for Students from Harvard and Mt. Holyoke

Both Harvard and Mount Holyoke have strong career development programs, which provide students with access to resources such as job fairs, resume reviews, and alumni networking events. Harvard has an extensive alumni network, which provides graduates with access to job opportunities in a wide range of fields, from law to finance to the arts.

Mount Holyoke, meanwhile, has a strong track record of sending graduates on to top graduate programs in fields such as medicine, law, and public policy, as well as successful careers in academia, research, and the non-profit sector.

Additionally, both Harvard and Mount Holyoke offer students opportunities to gain practical experience through internships and research projects.

Three students talking in the campus.

Harvard’s Office of Career Services helps students find internships in a variety of industries, including technology, healthcare, and government. Mount Holyoke’s Lynk program provides funding for students to pursue internships and research projects in fields such as environmental sustainability, social justice, and the arts.

Furthermore, both schools have strong entrepreneurship programs that support students in starting their own businesses. Harvard’s Innovation Lab provides resources and mentorship for students interested in entrepreneurship, while Mount Holyoke’s Entrepreneurship Initiative offers workshops, networking events, and funding opportunities for student entrepreneurs.

Harvard vs. Mt. Holyoke: Alumni Network

Both Harvard and Mount Holyoke have extensive alumni networks, which provide graduates with support and networking opportunities throughout their careers. Many graduates from both schools go on to highly successful careers in a wide range of fields, from business to the arts to politics.

Harvard alumni include a number of prominent figures, including numerous U.S. presidents, Nobel Prize winners, and CEOs of major corporations. Mount Holyoke alumnae, meanwhile, include successful entrepreneurs, scientists, artists, and activists, many of whom credit their time at the college for helping to shape their path to success.

However, the alumni networks of the two colleges differ in their approach to career development. Harvard’s network is known for its emphasis on traditional career paths, such as finance, law, and consulting.

On the other hand, Mount Holyoke’s network places a greater emphasis on non-traditional career paths, such as social entrepreneurship, non-profit work, and the arts. This reflects the colleges’ respective missions and values, with Harvard emphasizing leadership and achievement in established fields, and Mount Holyoke emphasizing innovation and social impact.

Conclusion: Final Thoughts on Choosing Between Harvard and Mt. Holyoke

Choosing between Harvard and Mount Holyoke is no small decision, and ultimately, the right choice will depend on your unique goals, interests, and needs. Harvard offers a large, bustling campus with a wide range of academic programs and extracurricular activities, as well as access to the job opportunities and cultural offerings of Boston.

Mount Holyoke, on the other hand, provides a close-knit, supportive community with a strong emphasis on undergraduate research and a diverse student body.

Regardless of which school you choose, however, you can be confident that you will receive a top-notch education and access to a wide range of resources and opportunities in your chosen field. With careful consideration and research, you can make the best choice for your academic aspirations and thrive in your college experience.

It is important to note that both Harvard and Mount Holyoke have their own unique campus cultures and social scenes. Harvard is known for its competitive and high-pressure environment, while Mount Holyoke is known for its inclusive and supportive community. It is important to consider which type of environment you would thrive in and feel most comfortable in.

Additionally, the location of each school may also play a role in your decision. Harvard is located in Cambridge, Massachusetts, which is a bustling college town just outside of Boston. Mount Holyoke, on the other hand, is located in South Hadley, Massachusetts, which is a smaller, more rural town. It is important to consider which type of location you would prefer and how it may impact your overall college experience.


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