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Harvard is known for global leadership in education, and the Harvard faculty is composed of men and women who are world-class scholars. Faculty members are passionate and curious individuals who continue their own research while teaching at Harvard. They come from across the country and all over the world, bringing with them a diverse wealth of knowledge.
Almost all Harvard College courses are designed, taught and overseen by Harvard faculty, and virtually all FAS faculty are required to teach as part of their duties. The faculty is highly accessible, and Harvard College class sizes are on average below 40, with over half the courses being offered each semester enrolling 10 or fewer students. This allows for a closer student-professor relationship and contributes to the sense of community on campus. Professors also make themselves available to students outside of the classroom, even beyond office hours, such as meeting in the dining hall or before or after class. The faculty at Harvard make a point of connecting with their students to create a fulfilling academic experience.
International and Comparative Law
Reflecting the increased importance of a basic understanding of international and comparative law principles to legal education and practice, every first year J.D. student at HLS is required to take a course in international legal studies. The benefits of such courses are most obvious for students intending to specialize in the international arena, but even individuals who anticipate a career anchored principally in their own nation’s legal system have much to gain from such offerings. The flow of goods, technology, ideas, capital, and people across borders means that the work of lawyers, whether in private practice or public service, increasingly involves matters in which knowledge of legal systems beyond one’s own can prove important. Moreover, exposure to the ways in which others think about law has the potential to enrich how each of us understands what may (or may not) be universal in our own legal system and in the relationship between law and society in general. For instance, many students report that international and comparative courses open up ideas about alternative norms, rules strategies, and institutions that help them better see and understand choices made within the United States.
International legal studies at Harvard are, in many respects, a microcosm of the broader law school curriculum. Taken as a whole, they encompass familiar legal disciplines such as finance and criminal law, legal history and antitrust, among many others, even as they accentuate questions regarding both relations across national boundaries between states, entities and citizens and the transnational transmission of ideas about law. As with the curriculum in general, courses at Harvard in international legal studies embody a spectrum of methodologies, ranging from, but not limited to, empirical legal studies to critical legal theory to socio-legal studies. And, again paralleling the curriculum more generally, international and comparative classes include opportunities for students to learn in a variety of ways the skills and professional responsibilities of persons working in the law.
This guide, including the hypothetical courses of study that follow, focuses chiefly on curricular offerings in international legal studies, but students should realize that there are many other avenues through which they may learn about international, comparative and foreign law. A number of general courses (i.e., courses not predominantly focused on international and comparative law) in fact devote significant attention to questions of international, comparative and foreign lawreflecting the growing importance to lawyers and legal thinkers of developments beyond their home jurisdictions.
In addition, beyond the HLS classroom as such, there are multiple opportunities to cultivate expertise regarding international, comparative and foreign law. These opportunities, described in more detail below, include independent study with a faculty member; joint degree programs; the semester abroad program; opportunities for internationally oriented research and internships; moot courts; membership in the Harvard International Law Journal, the Human Rights Journal and other pertinent student organizations; participation in the array of workshops offered by the Law School’s doctoral students or other engagement with the students that HLS draws worldwide from more than 70 different jurisdictions; and work as teaching assistants in international studies offerings at Harvard and other area universities.
HARVARD COLLEGE is a close-knit undergraduate program located within Harvard University.
With world-class faculty, a dedication to affordability, and groundbreaking research opportunities, committed scholars have all the resources they need to fulfill their academic and personal potential.
Teaching and research are intertwined at Harvard College—students contribute to research in labs and libraries and learn from faculty of the highest caliber. The breadth and depth of Harvard’s resources, from library and museum collections to engagement in the arts and athletics, remain unparalleled in higher education.
At the heart of Harvard College are the Harvard Houses, where three-fourths of students live, learn, and work together with faculty, students, and graduate students. These multigenerational communities provide personal and enriching interactions that shape students both intellectually and socially, while providing a supportive and manageably-sized home inside a larger College and University.
With a 375-year tradition of educating leaders in every endeavor, Harvard College is proud to deliver an education focused on both knowing and doing, on individual achievement and on meaningful collaboration in a supportive environment that fosters intellectual risk-taking.
Harvard is the oldest institution of higher education in the United States, established in 1636 by vote of the Great and General Court of the Massachusetts Bay Colony. It was named after the College’s first benefactor, the young minister John Harvard of Charlestown, who upon his death in 1638 left his library and half his estate to the institution. A statue of John Harvard stands today in front of University Hall in Harvard Yard, and is perhaps the University’s best known landmark.
Harvard University has 12 degree-granting Schools in addition to the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study. The University has grown from nine students with a single master to an enrollment of more than 20,000 degree candidates including undergraduate, graduate, and professional students. There are more than 360,000 living alumni in the U.S. and over 190 other countries.
HARVARD UNIVERSITY ARCHIVES
The Harvard University Archives are maintained by the Harvard University Library system and are a great resource to access Harvard’s historical records.
THE HARVARD SHIELD
On Sept. 8, 1836, at Harvard’s Bicentennial celebration, it was announced that President Josiah Quincy had found the first rough sketch of the College arms – a shield with the Latin motto “VERITAS” (“Verity” or “Truth”) on three books – while researching his History of Harvard University in the College Archives. During the Bicentennial, a white banner atop a large tent in the Yard publicly displayed this design for the first time. Until Quincy’s discovery, the hand-drawn sketch (from records of an Overseers meeting on Jan. 6, 1644) had been filed away and forgotten. It became the basis of the seal officially adopted by the Corporation in 1843 and still informs the version used today. *
Crimson was officially designated as Harvard’s color by a vote of the Harvard Corporation in 1910. But why crimson? A pair of rowers, Charles W. Eliot, Class of 1853, and Benjamin W. Crowninshield, Class of 1858, provided crimson scarves to their teammates so that spectators could differentiate Harvard’s crew team from other teams during a regatta in 1858. Eliot became Harvard’s 21st president in 1869 and served until 1909; the Corporation vote to make the color of Eliot’s bandannas the official color came soon after he stepped down.
But before the official vote by the Harvard Corporation, students’ color of choice had at one point wavered between crimson and magenta – probably because the idea of using colors to represent universities was still new in the latter part of the 19th century. Pushed by popular debate to decide, Harvard undergraduates held a plebiscite on May 6, 1875, on the University’s color, and crimson won by a wide margin. The student newspaper – which had been called The Magenta – changed its name with the very next issue.
*U.S. PRESIDENTS AND HONORARY DEGREES*
After George Washington’s Continental Army forced the British to leave Boston in March 1776, the Harvard Corporation and Overseers voted on April 3, 1776, to confer an honorary degree upon the general, who accepted it that very day (probably at his Cambridge headquarters in Craigie House). Washington next visited Harvard in 1789, as the first U.S. president.
Other U.S. presidents to receive an honorary degree include:
1781 John Adams
1787 Thomas Jefferson
1822 John Quincy Adams
1833 Andrew Jackson
1872 Ulysses S. Grant
1905 William Howard Taft
1907 Woodrow Wilson
1917 Herbert Hoover
1919 Theodore Roosevelt
1929 Franklin Delano Roosevelt
1946 Dwight Eisenhower
1956 John F. Kennedy
Harvard University is accredited by the Commission on Institutions of Higher Education (CIHE) of the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC).
Harvard has been highly ranked by many university rankings. In particular, it has consistently topped the Academic Ranking of World Universities (ARWU) since 2003, and the THE World Reputation Rankings since 2011, when the first time such league tables were published. When the QS and Times were published in partnership as the THE-QS World University Rankings during 2004-2009, Harvard had also been regarded the first in every year. The University's undergraduate program has been continuously among the top two in the U.S. News & World Report. In 2014, Harvard topped the University Ranking by Academic Performance (URAP). It was ranked 8th on the 2013-2014 PayScale College Salary Report and 14th on the 2013 PayScale College Education Value Rankings. From a poll done by The Princeton Review, Harvard is the second most commonly named "dream college", both for students and parents in 2013, and was the first nominated by parents in 2009. In 2011, the Mines ParisTech : Professional Ranking World Universities ranked Harvard 1st university in the world in terms of number of alumni holding CEO position in Fortune Global 500 companies.
Harvard University has around 20,000 students across the College, graduate, and professional schools located in Cambridge and Boston. When people refer to Harvard students, often they mean the subset of roughly 6,400 students who attend Harvard College. Students arrive every year in late August.
Harvard College’s diverse student population makes it hard to describe the typical student and even harder to describe the quintessential Harvard student experience. Students come from all 50 states and from over 80 countries; from cities, suburbs, small towns and farms; from public, private and parochial schools; from every ethnic and religious background; and from across the economic spectrum. Based on longstanding tradition and an extensive financial aid program, Harvard is committed to making educational opportunity accessible to all, with over 60% of the undergraduate population receiving financial aid.
With over 400 official student organizations including extra-curriculars, co-curricular and athletic opportunities in addition to academics, Harvard students are active around and beyond campus. Whether in Harvard Stadium playing on the field or cheering on The Harvard Crimson, volunteering through organizations like PBHA, fostering entrepreneurial activities in the Harvard innovation lab, writing or editing at The Harvard Crimson or The Harvard Lampoon, or researching in one of the many labs, Harvard students are continuously learning — and constantly busy!
Demographics for the class of 2016:
- 17% are from New England
- 22% are from the Mid Atlantic
- 19% are from the South
- 10% are from the Midwest
- 21% are from the Western and Mountain states
- 11% are international or from U.S. territories
Harvard College is committed to making a college education affordable for all admitted students. Learn more about Harvard College financial aid programs.
THE HOUSE SYSTEM
The housing system at Harvard is designed to create a full collegiate experience for all four years of undergraduate education. As freshmen, students live in one of the dormitories in Harvard Yard, a prime location, and eat in the historic and picturesque Annenberg dining hall.
After their first year at Harvard, students are placed into one of the 12 houses on campus and continue to live there for the remainder of their residential life at Harvard. Over ninety-seven percent of Harvard undergrads choose to live on campus for all four years, creating a strong campus community and undergraduate experience.
Each house has a resident master and a staff of tutors, and includes a dining hall, common areas, and recreational and cultural spaces that help give them each a distinct character. Many even field their own intramural sports teams or theater ensembles. The houses themselves also have unique histories and traditions that bring the students together and help to foster the close and long-lasting ties amongst the residents of each house.
The Faculty of Arts and Sciences and Harvard College announced plans to launch the systemwide effort to renew the University’s 12 undergraduate Houses. The announcement provides the first details about this ambitious initiative, unveiling the first full House to be renewed, the location of “swing” housing, and the pacing for the rest of the project.