Admission and Getting Started

The admissions committee looks for mature, academically motivated students who graduate from high school and enter college in 2015, 2016, or 2017.

Begin the application process early. The application requires that you work with others to complete some sections.

If English is not your native language, you must submit a TOEFL, IELTS, or Pearson PTE Academic score along with your SSP application. Schedule your test appointment as early as possible.

If you are considering both the Pre-College Program and Harvard Secondary School Program, please note that you can only apply to one program. Both programs are intensive and require your dedicated focus. For a comparison of the two programs, see our programs for high school students page. 

Key application dates

Ensure all application materials are received as soon as possible. Because enrollment is limited, some students may be placed on a waiting list.

  • Monday, December 15: The online application opens and you can begin your online application.
  • Monday, January 19: The SSP admissions committee begins reading complete applications. The first students are notified of a decision within a few days of this date.
  • Monday, March 2: The online financial aid application opens, and students applying for financial aid may begin the application on this date.
    • The online process for applying for financial aid closes on March 23. Notification of scholarship awards are sent by email on April 13.
  • Monday, April 13: Deadline for international students to complete the application. See the international student instructions.
  • Monday, May 11: If not applying for financial aid, complete the Secondary School Program application by this date.

Be sure to check the calendar for other important dates.

How to apply in three steps

  • Step 1: Complete the online application

    Most of the application can be completed online. It must be completed by the student applicant.

    Complete the Secondary School Program application.

    All application materials must be written in English or translated into English.

    The application period begins December 15.

  • Step 2: Submit your supplemental materials

    The following materials must be submitted (by e-mail or fax) for your application to be reviewed:

    • Counselor report. You can e-mail an advisor, guidance counselor, or school head through the online application. Or you can complete the applicant section on the paper form and give it to one of them to complete.
    • Transcripts. Remind your counselor to submit a complete transcript with your current grades, in English, with the counselor report. Your transcript (along with the additional grade reports, if necessary) should document your academic performance from ninth grade though the most recent, or current, grading period.
    • The IELTS, TOEFL, or Pearson PTE Academic score if your native language is not English. Take the TOEFL, IELTS, or Pearson PTE Academic test early. For information, refer to the ETS-TOEFL, IELTS, or Pearson PTE Academic websites. The Harvard Summer School institution code is 8578.
  • Step 3: Track your application progress

    You can track the receipt of your application materials online after the application period begins and you have completed and submitted your online application.

    Application materials can take up to two weeks to be logged in the database. Please do not call the Secondary School Program office and ask whether we have received your materials.

See Admitted Students for a complete description of next steps after being accepted into the program.