Yale vs. Harvard

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Difference between Yale and Harvard

Everyone has heard of Yale University and Harvard University, two of the most prestigious educational institutions in the United States. Both belong to the historical Big Three-the remaining being New Jersey's Princeton University-and are also members of the Ivy League, a sports group comprising of eight private educational institutions in the States which all claim to have very elite standards, extremely competitive reputations, to-die-for prestigious programs and exceptional academic excellence. To be admitted in to such schools might be every parent's dream for his or her child-at least the upper class ones-and to finish college there is truly an accomplishment every academically spirited student would wish to achieve.

Although considered to be rivals, both Yale and Harvard offer door-opening opportunities to the students they take under their wings. Let's find out why they remain to be two of the top universities in the country.


What's In A Name?

Yale University was established in 1701 with the aim of training laity members of religious congregations in the state of Connecticut. It was first called the Collegiate School, but this was changed to Yale College in 1718 after Elihu Yale, a British philanthropist who sent financial aid to the institution during the same year, after which its name was changed to mirror his-as a gesture of gratitude.

Harvard University, on the other hand, was founded in 1636 in Massachusetts, making it the longest-running institution for tertiary education in the country. It was originally named New College, but in 1639, the name was patterned after the British minister John Harvard, the very first benefactor of the institution.


It has been said that both schools have been at each other's necks for the longest period of time-rivals pitted against one another in many, many ways, although some observe that both universities deny this, except perhaps for the Ivy League, where athletics naturally thrive in a healthy competitive environment. The curriculums are all competitive, suited for the highly ambitious college student.

Yale has twelve residential colleges, all named after noteworthy people and places in the school's foundation and history. Known to be a prime research university, it offers programs in medicine, history, human development or behavioral sciences and others.

Harvard has established different colleges in the fields of religious studies, medicine and public health, architecture and design, engineering and others.

Cream of The Crop

Both universities have produced remarkable public figures and well known individuals in different areas of learning and art.

Some of Yale's well known alumni are Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, former U.S. presidents Howard Taft, Bill Clinton and George Bush, and award-winning Hollywood actors Paul Newman, Meryl Streep and Jodie Foster.

Harvard has also produced its fair share of celebrities. These include incumbent U.S. president Barack Obama, Hollywood film director Mira Nair, and poets T.S. Eliot and e.e. cummings, amongst many others.

Similarities and Differences

Both Yale and Harvard belong to the prestigious Ivy League.

  • Harvard is the longest-running institution for higher education in America, while Yale comes in as third.
  • Both campuses offer highly competitive programs in medicine, architecture, law and others.

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