Oxford and Harvard: Which Is Better?

Weighing between Oxford and Harvard trying to know which is better. There are times during our primary or secondary education, we fantasized about going to the top universities in the world once we graduate with our school leaving diploma.

When we talk about top universities, what comes into our mind is Oxford, Cambridge, Harvard, Yale and their likes. These institutions have not only ranked atop in global university rankings, with just cause, but they’re attributed to have produced great men and women in the world of politics, economics, education, science and technology, Oxford and Harvard superseding the latter universities.

It is very difficult putting one above the other, since the two universities have been seen to check all boxes qualifying them as the Number 1 universities in the world.

With my double-handed research and scouring through all the resources the internet, especially educational sites and blogs have offered me, I have been able to shorten the superiority gap between the two institutions, by comparing their differences, analyzing their similarities and weighing their peculiarities.

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General Facts

Oxford University

The University of Oxford was established in 1096 and is situated in Oxford, England. It is the oldest and arguably the most famous institution in England, and even though its exact founding date is unknown, it is known to have commenced teaching as early as the 11th century.

Oxford has climbed the ladder to an enviable status of recognition owing to its values and virtues of always-developing curriculum, datedness, philosophical complexes and disciplinary foundations.

Oxford is located in the center of Oxford and comprises of 44 colleges and halls. It is hailed to hold the largest library system in the UK. The Oxford University does not have a main campus; its buildings and facilities are instead scattered around the medieval city center.

Each of its colleges each have a different traditions and attributions peculiarly depicting centurial legacies. Oxford University has four academic divisions: Mathematical, Humanities, Physical and Life Sciences, Social Sciences and Medical Sciences. The university’s main strength is the sciences, and subsequently, in the world of medicine.

Oxford currently has a total enrollment of nearly 24,000 students consisting of 11,747 undergraduate and 11,687 postgraduate students. A quarter of the city of Oxford’s residents are students, giving the city the youngest population in the UK.

The university also offers 350 different graduate degree programs besides the 39 colleges it owns. Oxford is also globally ranked in the top six in engineering, life sciences, social sciences and the arts and humanities making it a modern, research-driven and word-class institution of learning.

Oxford is a sophisticated and youthful city with plenty to take part and involve oneself in. There are various historic and iconic buildings, including the Ashmolean Museum, Bodleian Libraries, the cathedral, Sheldonian Theatre, and the colleges themselves.

Students can either choose to spend their time studying or serve themselves with the many extracurricular activities available. It is ranked remarkably for sport, with its top rowers taking part every year in the world-famous boat race with the University of Cambridge on the River Thames.

The musical and drama scene in the university is expanding considerably with diverse sounds emanating from the different club societies meeting halls in the campus and exceptional performances which pulls vast numbers of crowds to their theatre hall.

Oxford has a very solid alumni base/connection of over 250,000 individuals, including more than 120 Olympic medalists, seven poets’ laureate, 26 Nobel Prize winners, and over 30 modern world leaders (including Bill Clinton, Indira Ghandi and 26 UK Prime Ministers).

Oxford’s educational community includes over 80 Fellows of the Royal Society and over 170 Fellows of the British Academy. Oxford’s research activity includes more than 70 departments across all colleges, more than 1,800 academic staff, 5,500 research and research support staff, and 6,100 graduate research students. From the past 800 years, Oxford has been producing some notable leaders such as Albert Einstein, Tony Blair, Bill Clinton, to name a few.

Throughout the twentieth and early twenty-first centuries, Oxford has contributed to the global development efforts with new analysis capabilities, all within the natural and applied sciences, together with medication.

The University’s estate has been growing at around 5% per annum for the last 15 years. Over the past eight decades, Oxford has been making significant contributions to society not only locally but nationally and internationally as well.

Harvard University

Established in 1636. Harvard University, the oldest and one of the most acclaimed institutions in United States is considerably regarded in terms of its reputation, influence, and academic descent as a distinguished university nationally and internationally.

This Ivy League university carries its legacy from over 375 years not only in the United States but globally as well. Harvard currently has 12 degree-granting Schools in addition to the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study. From humble beginnings in the mid-of 16th century, the University has remarkably grown to of over 20,000-degree candidates including undergraduate, graduate, and professional students.

With a campus size of expanding over 5000 acres, Harvard is based in Massachusetts, Cambridge. The campus of Harvard University is around campus namely in the following locations: Cambridge, Boston, and Massachusetts., 10 degree-granting schools for Advanced Study in addition to the Radcliffe Institute, two theaters, and five museums. Cambridge is one among metropolitan Boston’s very important urban centers organized around ancient city greens, tree-decorated lines, and also the banks of the Charles River. Harvard is at the center of Cambridge, giving individuals immediate access to the city’s wall-to-wall mixture of restaurants, transport systems, retailers and diversion.

Cambridge as an element of Boston’s comprehensive public transit is endowed with buses, cabs, and a subway stop right at the middle of Harvard; with this ease of access and proximity of transport to residence, you’ll simply get to any place you would like to travel.

Harvard has a diverse student population from over 50 states and 80 countries and currently more than 36,000 students studying in Harvard among those 6,699 being students enrolled in Harvard College. The corresponding number of graduate and professional students is 13,120 and 16,193 in Harvard Extension School. Harvard boasts of the oldest academic library in the world residing of 20.4 million volumes, 180,000 serial titles, an estimated 10 million photographs, 400 million manuscript items, 5.4 terabytes of born-digital archives and manuscripts, and 124 million archived web pages.

Approximately 70 % of its students receive some sort of financial aid from the institution, and about 60 % of them receive need-based scholarships whilst paying an average of $12,000 per year.

Harvard’s curriculum and student body has efficiently secularized despite the fact it was founded to train clergy, as the likes of most US pre-Civil War colleges, and in the 20th century admissions policy was opened up to bring in a more diverse mixes of applicants.

Harvard has an alumni base spreading over 202 countries. It has about 2,400 world-class faculty members and over 10,400 academic appointments in affiliated teaching hospitals. Harvard notably has 32 heads of state, 48 Nobel Laureates, 48 Pulitzer Prize winners who have been affiliated as faculty, students, or researchers.

Differences Between Oxford and Harvard Universities

Oxford University

Oxford is a prominent powerhouse of learning in the global educational sphere, with strict adherence to transparent principles of prioritizing learning and man’s growth and development in an ever-changing society and world at large. A few of its poignant features are listed below:

  • It is a public University.
  • It is notably the best for undergraduate programs.
  • It is an ideal fit to study Economics considering its global rankings in corresponding lists.
  • It requires a considerable amount for tuition fee.

Cost of Oxford University

According to the information given on the Oxford University website, the following figures stated are the cost of schooling in Oxford University:

  • Undergraduate Program: $44,780.00
  • Postgraduate Program: $33,000.00
  • Hostel and Meal cost: $11,030.00

Admission Process of Oxford University

In the UK, you apply through a centralized system called UCAS. You can apply for up to five courses at five separate universities through UCAS, and each of these universities will receive exactly the same information. You cannot tailor your application to a particular university, although you will fill out an SAQ form for Cambridge applications. You also cannot apply to both Oxford and Cambridge in the same cycle.

There are two UCAS deadlines. If you intend on applying to either Oxford or Cambridge or intend to study Medicine, Dentistry, or Veterinary Science you must apply by October 15th. 

If you have applied to either Oxford or Cambridge, you may need to sit one of their subject-specific entrance tests. You’ll need to take the BMAT if you’re applying for Medicine, or the ELAT if you’re applying for English at either of these two universities. 

Depending on the course you might also need to submit additional work such as essays you have produced in the course of your studies. After this process, the admissions tutors will review your application, and may invite you for an interview. Interviews are usually held early to mid-December and you will hear whether you have been offered a place in the university in mid-January. In the majority of cases, Oxford offers are conditional on you achieving the very best results in your final year exams. 

Traditions of Oxford University

Oxford University being filled with pedigree offer their students events to embrace the prospect of where they were coming from, their culture and where they are going to. Some of these events include:

  • The Varsity Game: This is the famous spectacle that’s played at Twickenham every year between the Oxford and Cambridge men’s and women’s rugby teams.
  • The Boat Race: This is the world-renowned annual rowing race between an assortment of Oxford and Cambridge rowing crews. 
  • Formal Halls: Colleges host Formal Halls on several nights of the week, allowing you to dress up in formal wear and gown and enjoy a three-course meal. 

Alumni of Oxford University

Oxford have single-handedly produced a number of world leaders and Harold Macmillan, Tony Abbott, Diran Adebayo, Riz Ahmed, Zeinab Badawi, Sir Roger Bannister, Imran Khan, Clement Attlee, Kate Barker, Tony Benn, Tony Blair, Henry Bonsu, T.S Eliot, Emilia Fox, Professor Stephen Hawking, Ken Loach and David Cameron. 

Harvard University

Harvard University have carved their name in the history of dominant educational universities with groundbreaking researches and optimized learning reinforcing their growth. These are some of its prominent features:

  • It is a private Ivy League University
  • It admits only 1,650 students every academic session.
  • It is notably best for research and graduate programs.
  • If you have the passion to study any of the liberal arts courses, this is an ideal fit for you.
  • It reacquires high tuition cost which may be inconvenient for many students.

Cost of Harvard University

According to the information given on the school’s website, the following figures stated are the cost of schooling in Harvard University:

  • Undergraduate Program: $47,730.00
  • Postgraduate Program: $24,004.00
  • Hostel and Meal cost: $16,660.00

Admission Process for Harvard University

These are the admission requirements to be met for first-year students:

  • Application
  • GPA of 3.0
  • High School Transcripts
  • Standardized test scores

 If you’re applying to Harvard, you’ll likely do it via the Common App. This centralized portal allows you to send your admissions essay, references, and basic information to up to twenty separate colleges at once. However, many colleges will also have additional written requirements or essay prompts: this allows you to tailor your application depending on which university you’re applying to. 

When it comes to the US application process, there are also two deadlines to remember. The deadline for Restrictive Early Action is November 1st, and the deadline for Regular Decision is January 1st. 

Once you have sent your application to Harvard via the Common or Coalition App, there are further steps to your application. You will be required to send an update of your transcript and you will likely be contacted by an interviewer. Unlike with Oxford, these are most often alumni rather than current teaching staff.

The process is more informal when it comes to Harvard interviews: you’ll get to have lunch or coffee with a former alumnus and chat about your passions, discuss current events, and have an interesting, insightful, and motivating conversation. UK universities are very academic-orientated. They care most about your intellectual potential and your passion for a particular subject. They’ll only really value your extracurriculars if these are directly relevant to your subject.

By comparison, Harvard takes a far more transcendental view when it comes to the admissions process. The admissions team cares a lot about your involvement in community and charity work, sport, or music. They want to know more about you as a rounded, characterful individual who can bring something unique to the college community.

Traditions in Harvard University

If there’s one thing we know about this university, it is its ability to holistically combine diverse cultures, embracing each as central to raising tenacious students who dare to dream and dream big. Some of these events are listed below:

  • Housing Day: This is when upperclassmen from each of the twelve residential houses storm the freshmen’s dorms and tell the first-years which house they’re going to live in from sophomore year onwards. 
  • Harvard vs. Yale football game: This takes place on the weekend before Thanksgiving, and is the biggest sporting event in the Harvard academic calendar.
  • Yardfest: This is an open-air concert held in Harvard Yard every Spring.
  • Head of the Charles Regatta: This happens every Fall semester, and is one of the biggest college rowing regattas in the States.

Alumni of Harvard University

Harvard have groomed most of the notable people to walk on this earth some including Barack Obama, Conan O’Brien, Tommy Lee Jones, Pierre Trudeau, Henry Kissinger, Michael Bloomberg, Robert Frost, Ratan Tata, David Foster Wallace, Neil deGrasse Tyson, Matt Damon, Natalie Portman, and Bill Gates John F. Kennedy, and Mark Zuckerberg.

Similarities Between Harvard and Oxford Universities

  • One major similarity among the two universities is that they are both prestigious as any student who gains admission into any of them will take pride in it so much.
  • Secondly, these schools accept students who have very high GMAT/GRE test scores.
  • Moreover, the English language proficiency test that Harvard requires for you to gain admission into it is the same as that of Oxford University.
ALUMNI NETWORK180,000323,000
COST OF ROOM AND BOARD$15,505.00$13,630.00
Differences between Oxford and Harvard
Differences between Oxford and Harvard
LIBRARY COLLECTION11,000,00017,000,000
Differences between Oxford and Harvard
Differences between Oxford and Harvard
Differences between Oxford and Harvard
GRANTS PER YEAR PER STUDENT$12,357.00$40,000.00
Differences between Oxford and Harvard

(All table’s information mentioned above was gotten from the universities’ websites and Versus.com, an online voting poll site).


There is no doubt the two universities, Oxford and Harvard, located in the two of the most fast-moving cities in the world have both made their mark in the global educational market.

The former fathering the move from the early 11th century, while the latter setting on its feet from the 16th century, both metamorphosing into what we know as the most dominant and prestigious universities in the world. With various achievements to their name including groundbreaking academic feats and discoveries, it is always difficult to pit these two institutions against each other to deduce which is the more outstanding. In both their lights, they are two forces to be reckoned with in the tertiary educational sector.

After the points elaborated above, the comparisons given and rankings analyzed, we can conclude sufficiently that in some areas, according to public vote, site information and research, one has more leverage than the other, which is totally understandable and fitting. This in no way devaluates the importance and utmost relevance of both universities in their residing states.

The Oxford and Harvard University are the most recognized and acclaimed educational institutions in the world, and everyone can attest to the claim that only when a lion can stand alongside and ape to lead a jungle bunch, will the jungle be serene.

If you’re thinking of attending any of these two amiable institutions, check out this post. Start planning now and start planning well.

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