Harvard University or Boston University.

Harvard University belongs to the Ivy League family. While Boston University is not an Ivy League school, it has attributes that make people think of it as one.  Boston University is selective in admission, just like most Ivy League schools, and has produced notable alumni.

Choosing between Harvard and Boston University can be an uphill task as both schools are prestigious. Regardless, a choice can still be made. Let’s take a close look at Harvard and Boston Universities – their similarities and differences.

Harvard University or Boston University

What is Harvard University?

This university is the oldest in the United States of America. It is highly regarded not just in the United States but in the world for its reputation, influence, and educational descent. The school is in Cambridge, Massachusetts, the United States on 209 acres of land.

What is Boston University?

Boston University is historically affiliated with the United Methodist Church. It is located in Boston, Massachusetts, the United States on 169 acres of land. Talk about one of the largest independent and non-profit universities in the United States, Boston is one of them.

What are the Admission Requirements in both Universities?

Harvard University

Harvard University is immensely selective. The current acceptance rate for Harvard University is 4.6%. To get admitted into Harvard, you have to improve your chances. These chances can only be improved by meeting the necessary admission requirements which are:

  1. A completed common application
  2. Standard Test Scores: Harvard requires a very high SAT score to improve your chances of being admitted. In SAT, Harvard regards candidates with the 25th percentile as below average and those with the 75th percentile as scoring higher than the average score. As of 2020, 1460 is regarded as the 25th percentile. But there’s good news, as of 2021, submission of standardized test scores is now optional. The subject tests have also been stopped alongside the SAT essay. It is only necessary for exceptional circumstances.
  3. An excellent GPA record with a minimum of 4.0. You have to be a straight-A student.
  4. School transcript
  5. Letter of recommendation from your teachers/instructor
  6. Supplementary materials like videos, audio recordings, or images of music recordings, artworks, or preferred samplings of academic work. This is entirely optional.
  7. An essay or personal statement

Boston University

Boston University is selective with her admission and has an acceptance rate of roughly 19%. To ensure you’re admitted, here are a few requirements to keep in mind.

  1. SAT or ACT scores. The average ACT score is 34 while the average SAT score is 1482.
  2. A completed common application 
  3. High school transcripts
  4. Letter of recommendation
  5. An essay
  6. Average GPA of 3.9
  7. Supplementary materials like pre-recordings and portfolios are required for persons interested in the school of music and school of theatre or school of visual arts respectively.

What is the Tuition Cost in both Universities?

Harvard University

The cost of tuition is $55,587, in addition, is $20,989 which covers the cost of a room, board, and other expenses. This totals the cost to $76,576. This excludes books and supplies, personal expenses, local transportation, and any other miscellaneous expenses.

Harvard University also provides financial aid in a bid to make the school accessible and affordable for everyone. The kind of financial aid available is; Need-blind and 100% Need-based aid.

Boston University

Boston University offers 100% financial need for all admitted first-year students who are either US citizens or have permanent residents. The cost of tuition is $61,050 and $18,710 for the room, board, and other fees. This also excludes books and supplies, personal expenses, local transportation, and others.

Boston University offers need-based scholarships.

Where are both Schools Ranked?

Harvard University

In the 2022 edition of best colleges in National Universities, Harvard University is ranked #2. Likewise, the school is ranked #13 and #3 in the best undergraduate teaching and best value school in 2022 (US News)

Harvard University is further ranked 10th in Bioinformatics/Biotechnology, 8th in Writing in the discipline, and 4th in the Creative projects.

 Times higher education – Harvard University is ranked #1 in the 2022 US College ranking and #1 in the 2021 World reputation rankings.

Boston University

In 2022, National Universities, Boston Universities is ranked #42. Also, #38 and #70 in best value schools and most innovative schools respectively.

Times higher education – Boston University is placed 62nd in the 2022 world University ranking.

What are the Major Programs Offered in both Schools?

Harvard University

Harvard runs about 50 undergraduate programs. Out of this 50, Harvard University has some popular majors that it is known for. They include social Sciences, Mathematics, Biology, Visual and Performing Arts, Computer and Information Science, History, Physical Science, and English Language and Literature.

Harvard University has been ranked #1 in the following majors: Biology, Political Science, Anthropology and Sociology, Economics, Mathematics, Arts and Philosophy.

Boston University

Boston University also has a lot of popular majors and they include mathematics and Statistics, Journalism, Social Sciences, Engineering, Health Professions Related Programs, Visual and Performing Arts, Marketing, Business Management, and Computer and Information Services.

The school is ranked #9 in Kinesiology and Physical Therapy and Criminal Justice. Also, 10th in college for education and 12th in Liberal college.

Student Life and Activities in both Schools

Harvard University

First-year students at Harvard University live in dorms designated just for them but at the end of the first year, you will be placed in one of Harvard’s 12 houses. About 98% of the undergraduate students at Harvard University live in one of the twelve residential houses.   

In extracurricular activities, Harvard University has sporting teams – basketball, tennis, volleyball, track and field events, baseball, field hockey, squash, lacrosse, swimming, and others. There are also club teams for archery, badminton, jujitsu, polo, cheerleading, facing, bowling and others. The university is also home to about 450 student organizations.

Boston University

Boston University has a total of 33,678 students as of 2021 with 16,630 as undergraduates and 15,932 as postgraduates and 1,816 as other students.

First-year students in Boston are required to live on campus and about 75% of undergraduates here live on campus. There are 10 residence halls available for undergraduate students.

Boston University engages its students in sporting activities like ice hockey, lacrosse, basketball, golf, swimming, track & field events, soccer, tennis, and many more. There are also about 450 student groups.


Boston and Harvard University have been broken down in this article giving you an insight into what each school entails.

Take, for instance, Boston University is more expensive to attend in terms of tuition than Harvard University but looking at living costs, Boston is lower than Harvard University.

A fact remains that both schools are prestigious in learning and other activities.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Which school gives more financial aid?

Harvard University gives more financial aid than Boston University.

  • Which school is harder to get into?

Harvard University has a low acceptance rate of 5% against Boston University which has 19%. Therefore, getting into Harvard University is harder.