Harvard University Scholarships for International Students

Harvard University Scholarships: Harvard University, an Ivy League stalwart, stands at the pinnacle of academic excellence, innovation, and opportunity.


Recognized globally for its rigorous curriculum, distinguished faculty, and vibrant campus life, Harvard is also renowned for its commitment to inclusivity and diversity.

This commitment extends to its financial aid programs, particularly scholarships for international students, making it possible for the brightest minds from around the world to walk through its hallowed halls regardless of their financial background.

Understanding Harvard University Scholarships

Harvard University offers a diverse array of scholarships to support its international student body. These financial aid packages are designed to ensure that students from various backgrounds can afford a Harvard education. Understanding the types of scholarships available, the role of the Harvard University Committee on General Scholarships, and the distinction between need-based and merit-based scholarships is crucial for prospective international students.


Types of Scholarships at Harvard for International Students

Harvard University provides scholarships primarily based on financial need, with a few exceptions for merit-based awards. The types of scholarships available for international students include:

  • Harvard University Scholarships: These are need-based scholarships offered by the university to assist students with their tuition and living expenses.
  • External Scholarships: Students are encouraged to seek scholarships from sources outside the university. Harvard provides resources to help identify these opportunities.
  • Country-Specific Scholarships: Some scholarships are available specifically for students from certain countries. These can be need-based or merit-based and are often sponsored by alumni or private foundations.
  • Specialized Scholarships: For students pursuing specific fields of study or possessing unique talents, specialized scholarships are available. These can be related to academic achievements, sports, arts, or leadership qualities.

The Role of the Harvard University Committee on General Scholarships

The Harvard University Committee on General Scholarships plays a pivotal role in administering scholarships for international students. This committee oversees a wide range of scholarship funds established by generous donors, alumni, and organizations to support international and U.S. students. Their responsibilities include evaluating applications, determining eligibility for different scholarships, and ensuring that funds are distributed in a manner that aligns with both the donors’ intentions and the university’s financial aid policies.

Need-based vs. Merit-based Scholarships

Understanding the distinction between need-based and merit-based scholarships is essential:

  • Need-based Scholarships: These scholarships are awarded based on the financial need of the student. Harvard University emphasizes need-based financial aid to ensure that all admitted students can afford to attend, regardless of their financial background. The assessment considers various factors, including family income, assets, and financial obligations.
  • Merit-based Scholarships: Unlike need-based scholarships, merit-based scholarships are awarded to recognize exceptional talents, academic achievements, or extracurricular involvement. While Harvard’s financial aid program primarily focuses on need-based aid, some merit-based scholarships are available through external sources or specific programs within the university.

However, Harvard University’s scholarship opportunities for international students are extensive and varied, covering need-based and merit-based awards. The Harvard University Committee on General Scholarships ensures these funds are allocated fairly and according to need and merit criteria, helping students from all over the world access one of the most prestigious educational institutions. Prospective students are encouraged to explore all available scholarship options and apply early to maximize their chances of receiving financial support.


Types of Harvard University Scholarships for International Students

This guide outlines the types of Harvard University scholarships for international students, including Harvard financial aid initiatives, external scholarships, and country-specific scholarships.

Harvard Financial Aid Initiatives

Harvard University offers a comprehensive financial aid program designed to meet the needs of students from diverse economic backgrounds. The university’s financial aid packages are tailored to ensure that all admitted students can afford to attend, regardless of their financial situation. These initiatives are need-based and aim to cover 100% of the demonstrated financial need for all students, including internationals. The financial aid package may include scholarships, grants, work-study opportunities, and in some cases, loans. To apply for Harvard’s financial aid, international students must submit the required financial documents through the College Board’s CSS Profile.

External Scholarships and Resources for International Students

In addition to Harvard’s own financial aid programs, numerous external organizations offer scholarships and resources specifically for international students. These scholarships can be based on merit, field of study, country of origin, or other criteria. Some notable examples include the Fulbright Program, which supports students from over 160 countries, and the United World Colleges (UWC) Scholarships. Students are encouraged to research and apply for these opportunities well in advance of their intended start date to maximize their chances of receiving financial support.

Country-specific Scholarships Available for Students from Certain Regions

Many governments and private foundations around the world offer scholarships for their citizens to study abroad, including at Harvard University. These country-specific scholarships often aim to promote cultural exchange and academic development. For instance, the Chevening Scholarships in the UK provide financial support for students from Chevening-eligible countries to pursue postgraduate study at universities in the UK, including Harvard. Similarly, the Joint Japan/World Bank Graduate Scholarship Program supports students from developing countries who are applying to a master’s program in development-related topics.

Prospective Harvard students are advised to explore scholarships offered by their home country’s government, local businesses, and international organizations. Many of these scholarships have specific eligibility criteria and deadlines, so it’s crucial to start the search and application process early.

By leveraging Harvard University’s financial aid initiatives, external scholarships, and country-specific resources, international students can access a world-class education without the burden of financial constraints. It’s important to thoroughly research all available options and prepare applications diligently to increase the likelihood of securing financial support for your studies at Harvard.

How to Apply for Harvard University Scholarships

Applying for scholarships at Harvard University is a significant step towards financing your education, especially for international students. Understanding the eligibility criteria, the application process, and what documents you’ll need is crucial. Here’s a concise guide to help you navigate through applying for Harvard University scholarships.

Eligibility Criteria for International Students

Before diving into the application process, it’s essential to determine if you’re eligible for scholarships at Harvard. Typically, international students must meet the following criteria:

  • Academic Excellence: Demonstrate exceptional academic achievements and potential.
  • Financial Need: Most scholarships are need-based, requiring proof of financial need.
  • Admission Status: Must be admitted to an undergraduate or graduate program at Harvard.
  • Language Proficiency: Proficiency in English, usually demonstrated through standardized tests like TOEFL or IELTS.
Step-by-Step Guide to the Application Process
  1. Research Scholarships: Start by researching available scholarships on Harvard’s official website. Pay attention to those that cater specifically to international students.
  2. Check Eligibility: Once you’ve identified potential scholarships, verify you meet all eligibility requirements.
  3. Gather Required Documents: Common documents include academic transcripts, letters of recommendation, proof of financial need, and standardized test scores.
  4. Write a Stellar Essay: Many scholarships require an essay or personal statement. This is your chance to stand out. Focus on your achievements, aspirations, and how the scholarship will help you.
  5. Submit Applications: Apply for scholarships concurrently with your admission application. Some scholarships may require separate applications, so be sure to follow each scholarship’s specific instructions.
  6. Follow Up: After submitting your applications, keep an eye on your email and the scholarship portal for any updates or further instructions.
Important Deadlines and Documents Required

Deadlines for scholarships at Harvard vary, but generally, they align closely with the admission application deadlines. For undergraduate programs, this is usually in early November for Early Action and early January for Regular Decision. Graduate program deadlines can vary more significantly, so it’s important to check the specific deadlines for each department.

As for documents, international students typically need to provide:

  • Academic Transcripts: From all previously attended institutions.
  • Standardized Test Scores: Such as TOEFL, IELTS, SAT, or ACT scores.
  • Letters of Recommendation: Usually two or three, from teachers, professors, or professionals who know you well.
  • Financial Documentation: To demonstrate financial need, including tax returns, wage statements, and bank statements.
  • Essay or Personal Statement: Detailing your academic and career goals, and how the scholarship will assist in achieving them.

Applying for scholarships at Harvard University requires careful preparation and attention to detail. By following these steps and ensuring you meet all requirements and deadlines, you’ll improve your chances of securing financial support for your studies at one of the world’s leading universities.

Tips for a Successful Scholarship Application

In this guide, we offer actionable tips to enhance your application, highlight common pitfalls to avoid, and point you toward valuable resources for further assistance.

Tips for a Successful Scholarship Application
  1. Understand the Requirements: Carefully read the scholarship criteria to tailor your application effectively. Make sure you fully understand what the scholarship committee is looking for in candidates.
  2. Start Early: Begin your application process well in advance. This allows ample time for thoughtful essays, gathering recommendations, and revising your materials.
  3. Highlight Your Strengths: Emphasize your unique skills, experiences, and achievements. Be genuine and reflective about how your background makes you an ideal candidate.
  4. Personalize Your Essay: Write a compelling and personal essay that connects your experiences to the scholarship’s goals. Avoid generic responses; your essay should reflect your individual journey and aspirations.
  5. Seek Feedback: Before submitting, ask mentors, teachers, or peers to review your application. Constructive feedback can significantly improve your application’s clarity and impact.
  6. Proofread: Ensure your application is free from grammatical errors and typos. A polished application reflects your attention to detail and dedication.
How to Stand Out in Your Scholarship Application
  1. Be Authentic: Authenticity resonates with scholarship committees. Share your true self, your ambitions, challenges you’ve overcome, and how the scholarship will aid your future goals.
  2. Show Impact: Demonstrate how you’ve made a difference in your community or field of study. Real-world examples of leadership, volunteer work, or projects showcase your commitment and potential impact.
  3. Connect Your Goals: Clearly articulate how the scholarship will support your academic or career objectives. Demonstrating this alignment shows you’re a thoughtful and forward-thinking candidate.
Common Mistakes to Avoid in the Application Process
  1. Ignoring Instructions: Failing to follow application instructions is a critical mistake. Always adhere to word limits, document formats, and submission deadlines.
  2. Recycling Essays: While it’s tempting to reuse essays for multiple scholarships, tailor your responses to address each scholarship’s unique requirements.
  3. Underestimating Essays: Don’t rush your essay or treat it as an afterthought. Your essay is a key component of your application and a chance to differentiate yourself.
  4. Omitting Details: Be specific about your achievements and experiences. Vague statements make less of an impact than detailed, personalized narratives.
Resources for Application Assistance and Advice
  1. Scholarship Websites: Platforms like Fastweb,, and the College Board offer search tools to find scholarships and provide tips for applications.
  2. School Counselors: High school or university counselors can offer personalized guidance and have insights into scholarships that fit your profile.
  3. Writing Centers: Many schools offer writing help through their writing centers, which can be invaluable in crafting a strong application essay.
  4. Online Workshops: Look for webinars and workshops offered by educational organizations or scholarship foundations. These sessions can provide insider tips on the application process.

By following these strategies, avoiding common errors, and leveraging available resources, you can create a compelling scholarship application that stands out from the competition. Remember, the key to a successful application lies in presenting your authentic self and demonstrating how the scholarship aligns with your goals.

Additional Financial Support for International Students

Here, we will delve into the various avenues of financial support specifically tailored for international students, including on-campus job opportunities, grants and stipends for research or projects, and external resources dedicated to assisting you financially.

On-Campus Job Opportunities

Many educational institutions understand the financial hurdles faced by international students and offer various on-campus job opportunities. These positions not only provide a financial lifeline but also enrich your academic experience by enhancing your skills and expanding your network. From working in the library, assisting in administrative offices, to engaging in research projects, these jobs are designed to be flexible, considering your academic commitments. They offer a practical step towards financial independence, allowing you to earn money while studying.

Grants and Stipends for Research or Project-Based Initiatives

For students engaged in research or project-based initiatives, grants and stipends offer significant financial support. These funds are aimed at fostering innovation and scholarly excellence among students. Whether you are conducting scientific research, embarking on a creative project, or pursuing a community initiative, there are numerous funding opportunities available. These grants and stipends not only cover the costs associated with your project but also recognize and reward your academic endeavors.

External Resources and Organizations

Beyond the confines of your campus, a plethora of external resources and organizations are dedicated to providing financial aid to international students. These entities understand the unique challenges faced by students from abroad and offer scholarships, grants, and loans tailored to meet their needs. From nonprofit organizations to international foundations, the support offered can cover tuition, living expenses, and sometimes even travel costs. It’s crucial to explore these options early and apply within the deadlines to maximize your chances of receiving aid.

However, while the financial aspects of studying abroad can seem daunting, a wealth of support systems are in place to help international students thrive. By leveraging on-campus job opportunities, tapping into grants and stipends for projects, and exploring external financial aid resources, you can secure the necessary support to achieve your academic goals. Remember, early and thorough research is key to unlocking these opportunities, so start exploring your options today.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) About Harvard University Scholarships

1. Can international students apply for scholarships at Harvard University?

Yes, international students are eligible to apply for scholarships at Harvard University. The university offers a range of financial aid options designed to accommodate students from all over the globe, ensuring that financial barriers do not hinder access to its educational programs.

2. What types of scholarships are available for international students at Harvard?

Harvard University provides need-based scholarships and grants to international students. These are awarded based on the student’s financial need. Additionally, some departments may offer merit-based scholarships or fellowships for specific programs of study.

3. How can I apply for a scholarship at Harvard?

To apply for a scholarship, you will need to fill out the financial aid section of the Harvard University application for admission. This often involves submitting financial documents for you and your family, which can vary depending on your home country’s requirements. Detailed instructions are provided during the application process.

4. Are there any full scholarships available for international students?

While Harvard University mainly offers need-based aid, the financial aid package can cover up to the full cost of attendance, including tuition, room, board, and other expenses, based on the student’s demonstrated financial need.

5. What is the deadline to apply for financial aid at Harvard?

The deadline for financial aid applications typically aligns with the admissions application deadline. However, it’s crucial to check Harvard’s financial aid website or contact the financial aid office directly for the most accurate and up-to-date information.

6. Can I still apply for financial aid after the deadline?

Late applications for financial aid may be considered, but it’s highly advisable to apply by the deadline to ensure the best chance of receiving aid. If circumstances prevented you from applying on time, contact the financial aid office to discuss your situation.

7. What documents do I need to provide for a scholarship application?

International applicants are usually required to submit financial information from their parents, tax documents, and any other proof of income and assets. The specific documents required can vary, so it’s important to review the application requirements closely.

8. How does Harvard determine financial need for international students?

Harvard evaluates financial need based on the financial information submitted during the application process. This includes family income, assets, and other financial obligations. The university aims to fully understand each applicant’s financial situation to provide an appropriate aid package.

9. If I receive a scholarship, will it cover my entire study duration at Harvard?

Scholarships at Harvard are typically awarded on an annual basis and are renewable each year, assuming there are no significant changes in your financial situation. You may be required to submit updated financial information each year to determine your aid package for the next academic year.

10. Where can I find more information about scholarships for international students at Harvard?

For the most comprehensive and up-to-date information on scholarships for international students at Harvard, visit the official Harvard University financial aid website or contact the financial aid office directly. They can provide personalized guidance and answers to any specific questions you may have.


In summary, Harvard University scholarships offer an invaluable opportunity for international students to access world-class education and a diverse cultural experience. These scholarships not only alleviate financial burdens but also open doors to exceptional academic resources, influential networks, and personal development opportunities that are second to none. By offering such financial aid, Harvard University demonstrates its commitment to inclusivity and diversity, ensuring that talented students from around the globe have the chance to realize their potential, regardless of their economic background.

For prospective applicants dreaming of walking the halls of Harvard, this is your call to action. The journey to securing a Harvard scholarship may seem daunting, but it is undoubtedly worth the effort. The benefits extend far beyond the classroom, preparing you for a future of leadership, innovation, and impact. We encourage you to take this step towards your Harvard dreams with determination and optimism. The resources, guidance, and support systems are in place to help you navigate the application process. Your aspirations of studying at Harvard University, surrounded by some of the brightest minds from across the world, are within reach. Embrace the challenge, apply for a Harvard University scholarship, and take the first step towards transforming your dreams into reality.

Remember, every global leader, innovator, and changemaker started with a dream just like yours. It’s your time to shine and contribute to the world in your unique way. Pursue your Harvard dreams with confidence and the unwavering belief that you have what it takes to succeed.


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