Harvard accepts record-low percentage of early applicants

Harvard accepted just 14.8 percent of its early applicants.
Harvard accepted just 14.8 percent of its early applicants. –/CJ GUNTHER/EPA

Many of the students who thought applying early to Harvard would increase their chances of admission were met with some disappointing news Thursday afternoon.

More than 6,100 high school students submitted early action applications, but only 918 of them were invited to join the class of 2020. The 14.8 percent acceptance rate is the lowest since Harvard reinstated its early acceptance program in 2011.

Of those who weren’t accepted on Thursday, 75 percent were deferred to the regular admission cycle and 7 percent were denied admission, according to The Harvard Crimson. Twelve students withdrew, and 106 submitted incomplete applications, the paper said.

Last year, 5,919 students applied for early admission, according to figures provided by Harvard. This year’s increase could be attributed to the idea that applying early would improve a student’s odds of acceptance, but Harvard’s Dean of Admissions, William Fitzsimmons, told The Crimson this isn’t the case. Last year, just 2.3 percent of applicants who were deferred to the regular admissions cycle received acceptance letters.


Of the 918 students admitted, 24.2 percent of them identify as Asian American, which is a 1.5 percent increase from last year’s early cycle, according to The Crimson. Harvard is currently being sued for allegedly holding Asian American students to higher standards in their applications. The case has been delayed pending the outcome of Fisher v. Texas, another affirmative action case that the Supreme Court heard Wednesday.

Other demographics show that, of those accepted early, 9.4 percent identify as African American, 9.6 percent identify as Latino, and 1.8 percent identify as Native American and Native Hawaiian.

About 10 percent of those accepted are first-generation college students. Fitzsimmons declined to tell The Crimson how many of the accepted students are legacies.

Regular admissions decisions will come out in April 2016. Last year, Harvard accepted a record-low number of applicants, admitting only 5.3 percent of the 37,305 students who applied.

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