Oxford vs Harvard, two of the most prestigious universities, not just in the US and UK but in the entire world, receive innumerable applications from students globally every day. However, only a selective few manage to get in. Confused about which university you should go to? This blog will put these two up to a battle and tell the difference between Oxford and Harvard university. Is Oxford better than Harvard? Is Harvard better than Oxford? Before we dive into the battle, let’s understand each of these universities.
With evidence of teaching dating back to 1096, the University of Oxford is considered the oldest university in the English-speaking world. Today, it maintains its prestige as one of the world's elite institutions, ranking #2 in Times Higher Education 2023 and #5 in the QS World University Rankings. Situated in Oxford, England, the decentralised university comprises over 30 semi-autonomous colleges offering 5,500 courses spanning the sciences, technology, medicine, arts, and humanities.
Undergraduates pursue qualifications in diverse fields, from biomedical sciences to linguistics, while over 23,000 students study across 11 academic divisions as well as world-renowned graduate programs in law, business, and policy. Beyond the classroom, Oxford's rich history and bustling central location provide opportunities to join a close-knit college community and vibrant local culture. With 20 Nobel Prize winners and 3 UK Prime Ministers among its alumni, Oxford sustains its legacy of scholarship and leadership.
Harvard University, founded in 1636 as the oldest higher education institution in the United States, maintains its legacy as one of the world’s most prestigious universities. Holding the spot of #3 in National Universities in the 2023, #2 worldwide in Times Higher Education Rankings 2022, and #1 in QS World University Rankings, Harvard continues to be regarded for its educational excellence across disciplines from engineering to arts & humanities among its total 12 degree-granting schools.
With over 46,000 courses offered each year to more than 23,000 students, including renowned undergraduate concentrations as well as graduate domains such as business, law, medicine, education, and arts, the research university facilitates quality teaching via a 6:1 student-faculty ratio on its 5,000+ acre campus home to libraries, labs, and centres of discovery.
Oxford vs Harvard: Rankings
A good indicator of a reputable college or university is how they are viewed globally. Various organisations research educational institutions globally, ranking them from the best to worst. One must conduct their research and see which university does better. Lucky for you, we have done the hard part (the research, of course). The two universities remain head-to-head. One triumphs in certain rankings while the other gets one over in some others; maybe Oxford's acceptance rates are better than Harvard's acceptance rates. Well, the question remains. Luckily, these are not the only parameters we’d use to gauge the Oxford vs Harvard rankings.
Oxford vs Harvard: Education
The main reason you’re applying to these two universities is the education, so it only makes sense we judge the two based on it. As two giants in the education field, they must be judged based on the quality they provide to students. While they may both be known for their excellence, they differ in the courses they offer, the number of colleges and more. Harvard University offers its students more than 3,700 undergraduate courses over 50 fields of study, eleven schools and multiple allied institutions, while Oxford University offers 39 colleges for various areas of specialisation.
Almost all the courses on offer are amongst the best in the world. For example, The US News Report has ranked Harvard’s Economics and Business Department number 5 worldwide. In comparison, Oxford’s Economics and Business Department ranks at 10. In contrast, Oxford ranks number 1 in the world for the Arts and Humanities field, followed closely by Harvard at number 2. Students interested in the medicinal field would be happy to know that Harvard ranks number 1 for clinical medicine while Oxford trails at number 8.
Harvard University offers 3,700 courses in over 50 different undergraduate fields. On the other hand, Oxford University offers 48 different undergraduate fields for its students to pursue. Oxford acceptance rate and Harvard acceptance rates differ, however.
Oxford vs Harvard: Acceptance Rate
Clearly, the two are excellent destinations for anyone pursuing academic excellence. How difficult is it to get in? As of 2023, Harvard's acceptance rate is 4%. Half of the applicants accepted at Harvard have an SAT score between 1480 and 1580. On the other hand, Oxford's acceptance rate of about 17.5% is appealing. However, the Oxford acceptance rate and Harvard acceptance rate for international students happens to be 9%. In this game of Oxford vs Harvard, Oxford wins with its amazing acceptance rate.
Oxford vs Harvard: Eligibility Criteria
Admission requirements for Harvard University
If you are a US citizen, all you need to do is take the SAT with due diligence. Additionally, Harvard University generally prefers students who are actively involved in extracurricular activities, engage in community projects and have some sort of distinction in areas other than academics. However, a good grade on an English proficiency test is key for international students. A minimum IELTS score of 7.5, minimum TOEFL score of 109 and above, and minimum PTE score of 7.5 and above are all considered acceptable. Students must take the GRE, SAT, ACT, or GMAT tests. Additionally, all the necessary documentation and transcripts need to be in order. The rest is dependent on providing a compelling statement of purpose and application.
Admission requirements for Oxford University
If you are applying for Oxford University, then you must know that Oxford University admission requirements are pretty simple. Taking your A-levels or other UK-equivalent examinations will be crucial. Like Harvard, you are encouraged to participate in extracurricular and community service actively. For international students, taking the A-levels or any UK or international equivalent will do the job. For context, A-levels are often the highest level of school education one can get. Apart from your A-levels, English proficiency tests such as IELTS, TOEFL, or PTE should be completed, and all the necessary transcripts and documentation must be neatly compiled.
Oxford University vs Harvard University: Costs, Tuition, and Scholarships
Applying to such esteemed institutions also means a massive financial burden and commitment. Unsurprisingly, these universities charge a hefty amount for education, and any candidate needs to know what they are getting into financially. In this case, it is not Oxford vs Harvard but your pockets against your dreams. Worry not; we have some solutions!
Scholarships Accepted by Oxford University
According to the official Oxford website, the overall fee for your undergraduate course at the institution ranges from £28,950 to £44,240. You don’t need to worry about the overall tuition fees because there are many benefits of Oxford scholarships that might help you ease the financial weight off your shoulders. Besides Oxford vs Harvard, amber also offers international students wishing to study in the UK with their Amberscholar scholarship. Oxford offers the Crankstart scholarship for UK-resident students whose annual household incomes are £32,500 or less. Suppose you do not qualify for the Crankstart scholarship and are a UK resident. In that case, you are eligible to receive an annual non-repayable “Oxford Bursary” to help with the costs you incur while studying at Oxford University. International students can also receive financial aid from Oxford as the university offers over 1,000+ aid opportunities, including Chevening, Commonwealth, GREAT, National Overseas, QS, and more scholarships for international students.
Scholarships Accepted by Harvard University
According to the official Harvard website, full-time students may incur around $57,246 for their time at the undergraduate level. Harvard, too, offers scholarships and aid to help students. Upon qualifying for financial aid from Harvard, the university generates an aid package personalised to meet your individual needs. Such aid is applicable to both US and international students. However, for US citizens, a Federal Pell Grant, Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or a Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (SEOG) can be considered.
Oxford vs Harvard: Are the Investments Worth It?
It is a life-changing decision for anyone applying to either of the colleges. Life-changing is not just because of the institution's prestige but also the costs one must incur to attend. Therefore, one must analyse and see whether investment into either option would be worth it or not. The average cost of attending Harvard is approximately $78,000 annually. A Harvard University graduate, on average, makes about $95,000 after graduation. Therefore, it would take Harvard graduates about three years to make up for the money they spent on their college education.
In comparison, the median Oxford degree costs £36,595 annually. An Oxford graduate, on average, makes about £25,000 after graduation. Therefore, it would take an Oxford graduate about 5.8 years to make up for what they paid for their education. However, these figures can be misleading on certain occasions and, in most cases, shouldn't stop you from applying to these colleges. But for the sake of argument, Harvard University wins in this debate between Oxford vs Harvard.
The prestige, reputation, and respect they command are beyond par while getting accepted into this university. However, looking at the cost of study and the return on investment, one can say that a Harvard degree is better. However, your choice will be determined by the courses on offer, alumni feedback, and more. One must take into account Oxford's acceptance rate and Harvard's acceptance rate, the cost of investments and the courses on offer while discussing Oxford vs Harvard for better investments.
Common Interview Questions
When you consider Oxford vs Harvard and questions regarding the admissions process, there is a chance you may have considered what might be some common university questions that the admissions team may have for you. In this Oxford vs Harvard University debate blog, we have some common questions that might be asked during interviews:
1. Why did you choose this course?
2. How do you balance your studies and your extracurricular activities?
3. How do you relate this world event to the subject of your choice?
4. What part of the subject of your choice do you find challenging or intriguing?
5. Talk to us about a mentor, teacher or role model who has influenced the way you approach things in life.
6. What are your expectations from this course?
7. Discuss a time when you had to adapt to a new, academically challenging environment.
8. How do you plan on engaging with the broader community at the university?
9. Tell us about how you approach contributing to group projects.
10. Discuss a piece of content or project that you are proud of.
Oxford vs Harvard: Overview
When it comes to selecting between centuries-old centres of academic excellence like Oxford vs Harvard, there is no one-size-fits-all answer. The right university between Harvard vs Oxford for you depends on your personal interests, values, preferred location, and more. Consider whether you are more drawn to the decentralised and deeply rooted college system of Oxford vs Harvard’s self-contained Ivy League campus.
While the weight of tradition and intense competition for admission may feel intimidating, both universities, i.e. Harvard vs Oxford, facilitate life-changing personal growth and discovery for those ready to dive into their formidable offerings. Ultimately, embrace the soul searching in determining where your needs and passions most align. The only “right choice” is the environment where you can fully immerse yourself in a boundary-pushing, once-in-a-lifetime academic journey. So, choose appropriately between Oxford vs Harvard.