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Difference Between Harvard and Cambridge

Harvard vs Cambridge

Harvard University and Cambridge University are two of the most prestigious and well-known universities in the whole world. Both universities are consistently in the top rankings of being the best choice for education, reputation, and academic excellence.

Both Harvard University and Cambridge University are consistently in the ranking both in respective countries and in the international rankings. Aside from being similar as excellent educational institutions and perennial favorites for aspiring college students, there are actually distinct differences between the two universities.

The main distinction between the two universities is the location. Harvard University is situated in America while Cambridge University exists in England, part of the United Kingdom. Coincidentally, both universities are situated in a city called Cambridge. However, Harvard’s Cambridge is in the state of Massachusetts while Cambridge in England is a shire.

Harvard is situated in an urban city while Cambridge is set in a more agricultural location.

Another point of difference is the type of educational institution. Harvard is a private institution while Cambridge is public. Harvard belongs to the Ivy League university system while Cambridge University is part of the Golden Triangle of U.K. universities.

In terms of history, Cambridge has a lengthy one compared to Harvard. Established in 1209, Cambridge University was founded by scholars from Oxford University. It was later reinforced by the English King Henry III and received papal recognition as an educational institution from the popes. This makes Cambridge University the second oldest university in England, Europe, and the English-speaking world. It ranks as the seventh in the whole world. Cambridge University is named after its location.

Harvard, in comparison, is relatively new. However, it is considered as the oldest institution of higher learning in the United States. It was founded in 1636 by John Harvard and established by the Massachusetts legislature. The university is named after him.

Both universities boast of famous and illustrious alumni. Cambridge has a longer list of alumni as well as breakthroughs in many fields, particularly in science. Each university produces a number of award-winning and respected professionals in their respective fields.

There is also a stark difference in the number of colleges and how the institutions are governed. Harvard contains 15 different collages while Cambridge has that number doubled with an extra college. Harvard has a President as its figurehead and principal administrator while Cambridge’s Chancellor is only a ceremonial position, and the Vice-Chancellor is actually the principal administrator.

Both schools have a board. Harvard University has the Board of Overseers and the Harvard Corporation as its governing body while its Cambridge counterpart is the Regent House and the University Council.

Both universities have a friendly rivalry with their fellow universities. Harvard has one in Yale University, another Ivy League school, while Cambridge considers Oxford as its rival. Cambridge and Oxford are popularly known as “Oxbridge,” a combination of names of the two universities.

In terms of teaching methods, both universities contrast with each other. Harvard’s methods consist of lectures and seminars while Cambridge has an emphasis on one-on-one teaching and supervision of small group of students. This small group interacts with a teaching staff.

There also other trivial differences. Harvard’s color is crimson and is reflected in its publication and the name of its athletics team, the Harvard Crimson, On the other hand, Cambridge prefers blue as its university color, Cambridge blue to be exact. Sporting Blue is the name of their athletics department.


1.Both Harvard and Cambridge are world-renowned educational institutions for their academic excellence and reputation. They are also often the most commonly known universities in their countries.

2.Harvard University is in the United States in the state of Massachusetts while Cambridge University is in England, United Kingdom. Both universities are located in a city named Cambridge.

3.Harvard University was named after its founder, John Harvard, in 1636. On the other hand, Cambridge University is named after its location and is older than Harvard by several hundred years.

4.The principal administrator and head of Harvard is the President while Cambridge has a ceremonial head, the Chancellor, and the real principal administrator is the Vice- Chancellor.

5.The Harvard Crimson is the official color of Harvard University while Cambridge Blue represents Cambridge.

6.Harvard has fewer colleges, 15. Meanwhile, Cambridge has 31. Cambridge’s list of alumni is also greater and its list of achievements is also longer than Harvard’s due to its long history.

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1 Comment

  1. Can you earn a MS and or a PhD from Oxford and or Cambridge Universities and how long does it typically take to earn a PhD from one both of the institutions?
    Bill Bradley from the USA as a Rhodes Scolar earned a P P & L from Oxford in the 60’s but it’s confusing in terms of it’s status in comparison with a MA, MS or PhD. What year was Oxford founded or is it uncertain? Thank you, Ray

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