Getting accepted into the Harvard Kennedy School is no easy feat. As one of the top public policy and government schools in the world, the Harvard Kennedy School acceptance rate is extremely competitive.

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer to your question: The Harvard Kennedy School acceptance rate is around 15-18% on average in recent years, meaning it accepts about 1 out of every 6 or 7 applicants.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll take an in-depth look at the Harvard Kennedy School’s acceptance rate over the years, who gets in versus who doesn’t, and tips to boost your chances of getting accepted.

Harvard Kennedy School Acceptance Rate Over the Years

Getting accepted into the Harvard Kennedy School is a dream for many aspiring public policy leaders and international affairs enthusiasts. However, the acceptance rate at this prestigious institution is notoriously competitive.

Let’s take a detailed look at the acceptance rate over the years to understand the challenges applicants face and the level of competition they encounter.

Overall Acceptance Rate

The overall acceptance rate at Harvard Kennedy School has historically been quite low. While the exact numbers may vary from year to year, it consistently remains highly competitive. As of the latest available data, the acceptance rate stands at approximately X%.

This means that out of thousands of applicants, only a small fraction are offered admission to the program.

It is important to note that the acceptance rate at Harvard Kennedy School is influenced by various factors, including the number of applicants, the quality of applications, and the capacity of the school to accommodate new students. As a result, the acceptance rate can fluctuate from year to year.

Acceptance Rate by Program

The acceptance rate at Harvard Kennedy School varies across different programs offered within the institution. Each program has its own unique set of requirements and criteria for admission. Here is a breakdown of the acceptance rate by program:

Program Acceptance Rate
Master in Public Policy (MPP) X%
Master in Public Administration (MPA) X%
Ph.D. in Public Policy X%

It is worth mentioning that while the overall acceptance rate remains low, some programs may be more competitive than others. Factors such as the number of applicants in each program and the specific criteria for admission play a role in determining the acceptance rate.

For more information on the acceptance rate at Harvard Kennedy School, you can visit their official website It is always recommended to refer to the official sources for the most accurate and up-to-date information regarding admissions.

Keep in mind that acceptance rates are just one aspect of the admissions process. The Harvard Kennedy School looks for a diverse range of experiences, backgrounds, and perspectives in its applicants. So, while the acceptance rate may be competitive, don’t let it deter you from pursuing your dreams and applying to this renowned institution!

What Kind of Applicant Gets Accepted to HKS?

Getting accepted into the Harvard Kennedy School (HKS) is a highly competitive process. The school receives thousands of applications each year, but only a select few are chosen to be part of their prestigious program. So, what kind of applicant stands out and increases their chances of acceptance?

Let’s delve into the key factors that HKS looks for in prospective students.

Academic Background

An applicant’s academic background is an essential aspect that HKS considers during the admissions process. While a strong academic record is important, it is not the sole determining factor. HKS looks for individuals who have excelled in their undergraduate studies and have shown intellectual rigor.

However, they also value diversity and welcome applicants from various academic backgrounds, recognizing that different perspectives contribute to a rich learning environment.

Test Scores

Standardized test scores, such as the GRE or the GMAT, are also taken into account by HKS. While there is no specific cutoff score, a competitive applicant typically has scores that are above the average.

It’s important to note that HKS considers the entire application holistically, and test scores are just one piece of the puzzle. Therefore, even if an applicant’s scores are slightly below average, they can compensate for it with other strong aspects of their application.

Work Experience

HKS values real-world experience and looks for applicants who have demonstrated leadership, initiative, and impact in their professional endeavors. This could include work in government, nonprofit organizations, private sector companies, or any other field that aligns with HKS’s mission of making a positive difference in public policy and governance.

The admissions committee seeks individuals who have a track record of making meaningful contributions in their respective fields.

Letters of Recommendation

Letters of recommendation play a crucial role in the admissions process at HKS. These letters provide insights into an applicant’s character, work ethic, and potential for leadership. Ideally, letters of recommendation should come from individuals who can speak to the applicant’s abilities, accomplishments, and potential.

It’s important for applicants to choose recommenders who know them well and can provide specific examples that highlight their strengths and suitability for the program.

Personal Statement

The personal statement is an opportunity for applicants to showcase their passion, goals, and unique experiences that have shaped their interest in public policy and governance. It is a chance to articulate why they are a good fit for HKS and how they plan to contribute to the field.

HKS looks for personal statements that demonstrate clarity of thought, compelling storytelling, and a strong alignment with the school’s values and mission.

Tips to Get Accepted to the Harvard Kennedy School

Getting accepted into the Harvard Kennedy School is a highly competitive process, but with the right approach and preparation, you can increase your chances of being admitted. Here are some tips to help you stand out from the crowd:

Aim for a Strong Academic Background

One of the key factors that Harvard Kennedy School admissions committee looks for is a strong academic background. This means having a solid undergraduate GPA and taking challenging courses that demonstrate your intellectual curiosity and ability to excel in a rigorous academic environment.

It’s also important to showcase your commitment to learning and growth by pursuing additional coursework or certifications relevant to public policy, international relations, or other related fields.

Get High Test Scores

While test scores are not the sole determinant of admission, they do play a significant role in the evaluation process. To maximize your chances, aim for high scores on standardized tests such as the GRE or GMAT.

Consider investing time in test preparation courses or hiring a tutor to help you achieve your target scores. Remember, strong test scores can demonstrate your analytical and problem-solving abilities, which are highly valued at the Harvard Kennedy School.

Have Relevant Work Experience

Having relevant work experience can greatly enhance your application to the Harvard Kennedy School. This could include internships, research projects, or full-time employment in fields such as government, nonprofit organizations, policy think tanks, or international development.

Highlight your accomplishments and the impact you made in these roles, as well as any leadership positions you held. This will show the admissions committee that you have practical experience and a deep understanding of the issues you will be studying at the Harvard Kennedy School.

Write a Compelling Personal Statement

Your personal statement is an opportunity to showcase your unique qualities, experiences, and motivations that make you a strong candidate for the Harvard Kennedy School. Use this essay to tell your story, explain your passion for public service, and articulate your long-term goals.

Be genuine and authentic, and make sure to address why the Harvard Kennedy School is the right fit for you. Use concrete examples to support your claims and make your personal statement memorable to the admissions committee.

Secure Strong Recommendation Letters

Recommendation letters play a crucial role in the admissions process at the Harvard Kennedy School. Choose recommenders who know you well and can speak to your abilities, achievements, and potential for success in a graduate program.

It’s important to provide your recommenders with specific information about your goals and accomplishments, so they can write strong, personalized letters on your behalf. Consider asking individuals who can speak to different aspects of your qualifications, such as professors, supervisors, or mentors.

By following these tips and putting in the necessary effort and dedication, you can greatly increase your chances of being accepted to the prestigious Harvard Kennedy School. Good luck!


The Harvard Kennedy School is one of the most prestigious public policy schools in the world, so gaining acceptance is highly competitive. By understanding the school’s historical acceptance rates, the profile of admitted students, and tips to boost your candidacy, you can maximize your chances of getting in.

With smart preparation and a strong application, you may just find yourself accepting an offer to become one of the select few admitted to Harvard Kennedy each year.

Similar Posts