Harvard University is a private Ivy League university located in Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States, established in 1636 by the Massachusetts legislature. Harvard is the oldest institution of higher learning in the United States and the first corporation (officially The President and Fellows of Harvard College) chartered in the country. Harvard's history, influence, and wealth have made it one of the most prestigious universities in the world.
During the 20th century, Harvard's international reputation grew as a burgeoning endowment and prominent professors expanded the university's scope. Explosive growth in the student population continued with the addition of new graduate schools and the expansion of the undergraduate program. Radcliffe College, established in 1879 as sister school of Harvard College, became one of the most prominent schools for women in the United States.
A faculty of approximately 2,160 professors, lecturers, and instructors serve as of school year 2008-09, with 6,715 undergraduate and 12,424 graduate students. The school color is crimson, which is also the name of the Harvard sports teams and the daily newspaper, The Harvard Crimson. The color was unofficially adopted (in preference to magenta) by an 1875 vote of the student body, although the association with some form of red can be traced back to 1858, when Charles William Eliot, a young graduate student who would later become Harvard's 21st and longest-serving president (1869–1909), bought red bandanas for his crew so they could more easily be distinguished by spectators at a regatta.
Harvard is governed by two boards, one of which is the President and Fellows of Harvard College, also known as the Harvard Corporation, founded in 1650, and the other is the Harvard Board of Overseers. The President of Harvard University is the day-to-day administrator of Harvard and is appointed by and responsible to the Harvard Corporation. There are 16,000 staff and faculty.
Harvard is a large, highly residential research university. The university has been accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges since 1929. The university offers 46 undergraduate concentrations (majors), 134 graduate degrees, and 32 professional degrees. For the 2008–2009 academic year, Harvard granted 1,664 baccalaureate degrees, 400 masters degrees, 512 doctoral degrees, and 4,460 professional degrees.
The four year, full-time undergraduate program comprises a minority of enrollments at the university and emphasizes instruction with an "arts & sciences focus". Between 1978 and 2008, entering students were required to complete a "Core Curriculum" of seven classes outside of their concentration. Since 2008, undergraduate students have been required to complete courses in eight General Education categories: Aesthetic and Interpretive Understanding, Culture and Belief, Empirical and Mathematical Reasoning, Ethical Reasoning, Science of Living Systems, Science of the Physical Universe, Societies of the World, and United States in the World. Harvard offers a comprehensive doctoral graduate program and there is a high level of coexistence between graduate and undergraduate degrees. The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, The New York Times, and some students have criticized Harvard for its reliance on teaching fellows for some aspects of undergraduate education; they consider this to adversely affect the quality of education.
Harvard's undergraduate program is ranked first among "National Universities" by U.S. News & World Report and eighth by Forbes. The university is ranked ninth nationally by The Washington Monthly.
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