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Harvard GRE Scores

This post was updated in March 2017 to reflect the latest information.

Ah, the dream to go to Harvard. Each year thousands of graduate school hopefuls seal their dream in an application envelope to have it exchanged for a thin, hope-crushing letter of rejection from the mysterious admissions committee. Reality hurts, but maybe, just maybe, you won’t be one of them. There are certainly a lot of factors in play when applying to graduate school, but the GRE ranks as one of the more important ones. But what score do you need? Well, that’s tough nut to crack. Let’s start with the ones we know for certain.

Average GRE scores for Harvard – Engineering and Education

Here’s the US News & World Report data on the engineering and education for Master’s and PhD programs at Harvard:

ProgramAverage VerbalAverage Quantitative
Engineering - Master's160166
Engineering - PhD159166
Education - Master's160155
Education - PhD163159

Unfortunately, as you can see, there’s not one definitive number I can give you to know where you stand or what you should be aiming for. The slight disparity in scores reflects the different expectations of a PhD student versus a Master’s student, so broadly speaking you should adjust your own expectations in your preferred field based on what degree you’re pursuing.

Of course, average GRE scores for Harvard vary greatly across disciplines.

Estimating Harvard GRE scores in other disciplines

Sadly, most of the graduate schools within Harvard aren’t quite as forthcoming with their GRE scores, so we’ll have to do a little estimation to find out what, say, Harvard Kennedy School’s average GRE scores are or what GRE score you’ll need to get accepted into a social science program like economics, psychology, or sociology.

Below is an estimated range of scores you could expect from Harvard’s ranked programs. For more on the methodology behind the numbers, see Methodology. 🙂

ProgramUS News RankEstimated Verbal RangeEstimated Quantitative Range
Biological Sciences1158-162160-164
Computer Science18150-154157-161
Earth Sciences8159-163161-165
Political Science1161-165158-162
Public Administration3157-161155-159

Resources to get the GRE scores you’ll need

Check out the following links for more help preparing for the GRE:



Using the limited score data in the US News & World Report’s release on graduate schools (for engineering and education), I created a block scale that assumes a standard difference between the ETS’s average of intended applicants of a specific major and the rank block (ie Ranks 1-10, 11-50, 51-100). Next I added the expected difference to the average score of the intended major and spread 2 points on either side of that to create a nice range. It would look like this:


Program Rank Rank block Intended Score Exp Difference Range
English 1 #1-10 157 7 points 162-166


Of course, you could argue that this isn’t perfect, and I’d have to agree. This is just intended to give you a general idea of what you should be aiming for. 🙂

Notes about comments

Due to the overwhelming amount of comments I was getting on this post, I’ve decided to turn them off. While I’d love to give everyone some kind of hard and fast number for your chances (it’s a nerve racking, opaque experience, I know), I unfortunately can’t. This is because there are numerous factors involved in the admissions decisions and most of those factors aren’t the GRE. The best I can do is tell you below/at/above the score range, but that information you can see for yourself above. My universal recommendation is that you check where you stand compared to the tables above. Then have a look at the forums to see student experiences. Good luck! 🙂

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50 Responses to Harvard GRE Scores

  1. Shana November 21, 2013 at 3:11 pm #


    I just took the gre’s and my preliminary score is 166 verbal, 156 quant. I would like to apply to top psychology phd programs… Would you recommend retaking the test to have more of an edge?


    • Chris Swimmer
      Chris Swimmer November 22, 2013 at 1:38 pm #

      Hey Shana! I’d say that your scores put you where you need to be and that you should focus on other parts of your application. 🙂

      Chris S

  2. Saikat November 21, 2013 at 11:15 am #

    Hi Chris,

    Very informative blog you’ve got there.

    I am a Computer Science Engineer with an undergrad GPA of 3.67. I took GRE recently and have scored 318 (Q167, V151, AWA4.0) and have 104 in Toefl. I have 4years of workex in Cognizant Technology Solutions and PricewaterhouseCoopers combined.

    I am looking for MS in Analytics (the stream deals with data/business analytics, BigData, Statistical Analysis).

    Will it be reasonable to eye for Harvard with this profile? (Harvard is a dream.. but being realistic is what I should do).. dont know what to do.

    Please help.


    • Chris Swimmer
      Chris Swimmer November 22, 2013 at 1:01 pm #

      Hey Saikat! I wouldn’t say it’s unreasonable to aim for the top schools. That being said, there is of course no guarantee. I’d focus on the other parts of your application since a lot of applicants will have similar stats. 🙂

      Chris S

  3. Martha November 19, 2013 at 1:29 am #

    I got a 54 in quant and 56 in verbal. I am applying for the MPP course at HKS. Should I take it up again?

    • Chris Swimmer
      Chris Swimmer November 22, 2013 at 1:30 pm #

      Hey Martha! Do you mean a 154 and 156? Or are those percentiles? Either way, I’d venture to guess that they’re likely a bit on the low end for HKS. Check out this post: Should I retake the GRE?

      Good luck!
      Chris S

  4. Ana November 17, 2013 at 5:09 pm #

    Hello Chris,
    I took the GRE last week and I got a 3 in AWA (14th percentile). I am not native English speaker; however, I expected to get a 4. In the other sections I got 155V / 153Q.
    My idea was to apply for PhD Sociology programs in top schools. Do you think I should change my mind and not apply this year? I think that with a 3 in AWA I am not going to pass a cutoff.
    Thank you for this site and the feedback.

    • Chris Swimmer
      Chris Swimmer November 22, 2013 at 1:21 pm #

      Hey Ana! Unfortunately, that AWA score is probably well below expectations for a PhD program in social sciences (where your writing skills are expected to be very polished). That being said, reach out to the schools and see how they weight these things. 🙂

      Chris S

  5. Lee Min Woo November 17, 2013 at 4:19 am #

    Hi Chris!

    I have a GMAT score of 690 (V: 34, M:49) and a GRE score of (V 155 & Q 170).
    I am aiming at HKS.
    Please give me advice on which score I will send to the school
    opt1) sending GMAT and GRE scores
    opt2) sending GMAT only
    opt3) sending GRE only

    Thank you very much^^

    • Chris Swimmer
      Chris Swimmer November 22, 2013 at 1:12 pm #

      Hey Lee Min! It’s really hard to say. Your GRE quant is great, but quant isn’t exactly the focus of HKS, so I’m not certain how helpful that is. Meanwhile your GMAT score masks a lower verbal score, but is overall less impressive. Maybe go with both and really try to stand out in your essays (to prove your verbal worth)? I’d ask them what they think is best honestly. 🙂

      Chris S

  6. hakan November 13, 2013 at 3:04 pm #

    my GRE score is Q166/V155 but TOEFL score is 96. GPA:3,6
    What do you think about my admission chance for Harvard Kennedy School?
    Does TOEFL score matters a lot?

    • Chris Swimmer
      Chris Swimmer November 15, 2013 at 3:54 pm #

      Hey Hakan! Most programs are pretty straightforward with their TOEFL score requirements, so I’d check the HKS website to see what their cutoffs are. If you’re above that, you’re fine. If not, you might consider a retake. 🙂

      Chris S

  7. Neeraj November 11, 2013 at 7:52 am #

    Hi Chris
    I just took my GRE. I got a score of 168 in quant and 165 in verbal. I am awaiting my AWA scores (expecting them to be between 4.5-5.5). I have a Btech from Indian Institute of Technology Madras (GPA: 7.42/10) and a Diploma in Management from Indian Institute of Management Lucknow (6/10). The grading scale in both institutes were different. In IIT, it was S:10, A:9, B:8, C:7… and so on. In IIM it was A+:10, A:9, A-:8, B+:7, B:6 and so on. Paradoxically, my relative performance among batchmates was better in IIM than in IIT.

    I have a strong 6 years work-ex in the non-profit sector and hope to get strong recommendations.

    I am applying for Public Policy Programmes in Harvard, University of Michigan, University of Chicago, University of California and Princeton University. At the moment, I am a bit worried about my average GPA. Do you think the GRE score are good enough to cover up for the average GPA?

    Look forward to your response
    Sincere Regards

    • Chris Swimmer
      Chris Swimmer November 15, 2013 at 3:51 pm #

      Hey Neeraj! Unfortunately I don’t really know enough about the conversion used by the schools to give you a solid answer. It’s best to reach out to the school to try to gauge how they view your undergrad GPA. 🙂

      Chris S

  8. Mona November 10, 2013 at 8:33 am #

    Hi Chris,

    Your blog is so very helpful. Thanks!

    I am in a similar spot as some folks here and need to decide if I should re-take my GRE’s on Nov. 26th. I am applying to the Mid-Career MPA at HKS. I just took the GRE last week and scored a 152 in math and 163 in verbal. I was bummed because I was scoring higher in practice tests.

    However, I have been working in human rights for over 16 years, founded, and run a immigrant/human rights organization. I have many national fellowships and awards in my field. My recommendations letters are very good. I graduated from Cornell back in 1997 with a 3.2 GPA.

    Th fact is that even if I re-take the GRE on 11/26, chances are I won’t even get my scores by the HKS deadline on Dec 4th. Is it worth it at all to take it again in the slight chance I get scores by Dec 4th?

    What do you think my chances are with my current scores?

    Thank you,

    • Chris Swimmer
      Chris Swimmer November 15, 2013 at 3:38 pm #

      Hey Mona! With the deadline so quickly approaching, I wouldn’t waste time thinking about the GRE anymore. Your score is what it is, and now you need to make the rest of your application shine as much as possible. 🙂


  9. Fred November 7, 2013 at 3:36 am #

    G’day Chris

    Thanks for the great services you run here. I’m applying for public policy/admin courses, focused on HKS MPP and WWS MPA at the moment. I’ve 3 yrs relevant work experience, good letters of recommendation and I’ve a GPA of 3.8 from a well ranked Australian uni. GRE of 162q and 168v, still waiting on AWA.

    I’m a bit nervous about the relatively low quant score. Do you think i should retake it or a couple more points unlikely to make a difference?

    Also, i don’t suppose you could comment on how the GPA score might be viewed?

    • Chris Swimmer
      Chris Swimmer November 8, 2013 at 3:59 pm #

      Hey Fred! At that range, for a non-quant program, you’re really not going to move the needle much by retaking it. Your GPA is also great, so I’d really focus on the rest of your application. 🙂

      Chris S

  10. Mike November 3, 2013 at 9:09 am #

    Hi Chris

    I got a 166 Quant and 155 Verbal. I have a 3.62 GPA from a good university with lots of Lab exp. Not published yet though.
    Do I have a reasonable chance to get into a Bio Chem PHD program like Harvard/Stanford?


    • Chris Swimmer
      Chris Swimmer November 8, 2013 at 3:52 pm #

      Hey Mike! With a PhD from a prestigious program, there’s going to be a lot more going into the application than just scores, or even experience. I’d say your scores make the cut, but check with the programs you’re interested about research alignment. 🙂

      Chris S

  11. crystal November 2, 2013 at 9:12 am #

    Hi, I’m looking to apply for a Masters in psychology course at Harvard but my GRE scores were 158 (M) and 157(V). Do you think I should focus on my applications or retake the GRE? What do you think the scores might do for UCLA/Columbia as well?


    • Chris Swimmer
      Chris Swimmer November 3, 2013 at 2:02 am #

      Hey Crystal! That probably puts you in decent company. 🙂 Check out this post on GRE Scores for Social Science Programs for a better idea. 🙂

      Chris S

  12. Melissa October 29, 2013 at 11:27 pm #

    Hi Chris,

    Big surprises for me on the GRE today– I bombed the math section with a 153, but pulled a 169 on verbal. I was aiming for something more like 162/162. Any sense on how heavily political science programs will weigh that poor quant score? I’m dreaming of Princeton or Berkeley.


    • Chris Swimmer
      Chris Swimmer November 3, 2013 at 1:59 am #

      Hey Melissa! Great Verbal score! I wouldn’t worry too much about a low quant score with PS programs, though you can reach out to them and ask if it makes you feel more comfortable. 🙂

      Chris S

  13. Tanuj October 26, 2013 at 1:19 pm #

    Hi Chris

    The post is of great help. Also, the blog is quite helpful for anybody writing GRE.

    I recently scored 152-V and 167-Q (319) and expect AWA to be pretty avg (haven’t received yet). All this with hardly any preparation. I am aiming for a Masters in Computer Science from an Ivy college. I have a decent research experience during my undergrads. Would you suggest writing the GRE again? I am not confident enough with verbal and can only hope to score a little bit better (maybe +5). Would that be any beneficial?

    • Chris Swimmer
      Chris Swimmer November 3, 2013 at 1:57 am #

      Hey Tanuj! First off, +5 points on the GRE is a huge improvement, secondly I’d say your scores are in the right range, so maybe focus on the rest of your application? Good luck!

      Chris S

  14. Kali October 24, 2013 at 8:56 pm #

    Hi Chris,

    I just took the GRE with a 165 V and a 150 Q; I don’t have the essay scores yet. I am applying to the HKS mid-career MPA program. I have an exceptionally strong and lengthy public service history, a law degree from a well-ranked school, and very strong recommendations. Do you think the Q is so low that I need to re-take it or just apply? I am not even sure there is enough time to retake and still meet the app deadline of Dec 4, considering the 21-day waiting period.


    • Chris Swimmer
      Chris Swimmer October 25, 2013 at 1:17 pm #

      Hey Kali! It’s probably on their lower end, but that doesn’t mean they weight the Quant score heavily. Have you attended any virtual sessions or visited in person? I noticed that at least in Education they were fairly forthcoming in how the viewed scores. 🙂

      Chris S

      • Kali October 25, 2013 at 11:11 pm #

        Thanks, Chris, I will check that out.

  15. John October 24, 2013 at 3:51 pm #

    Well, I just took the GRE today… will be applying to Harvard’s PhD program (Education). Verbal was 166 and Quant was 151. Is this too low?? How concerned should I be about the Quant score? No clue yet what happened with the essays. I’ll get those scores soon.

    Fortunately, I do have a wide range and depth of related work/teaching/research experience (~7 years)…. but surely a higher GRE score cannot hurt. I’m really worried about the Quant (I haven’t done “math” since high school, almost 15 years ago!!).

    I’m scheduled to take the GRE again toward the very end of November. I want to shoot closer to 170 for verbal and… anything in 160 range for quant would make me happy….

    • Chris Swimmer
      Chris Swimmer October 25, 2013 at 1:06 pm #

      Hey John! For PhD, there’s a lot to consider, not the least of which is your research topic. I think making such a huge jump in quant will be a challenge for ~6 weeks of studying. The verbal is so high, that a bump from 166 to 170 probably won’t do a whole lot for you.

      Good luck!
      Chris S

  16. su October 22, 2013 at 10:58 pm #

    Hey Chris,
    I recently scored a 322(V-160,Q-162) on the GRE. I currently have a GPA of 3.59/4 and I plan to apply for MS in Mechanical Engineering.I don’t have any technical papers in my profile and I plan to impress them with a good SOP.Can u please give me your honest opinion about which universities are highly ambitious and which of them are safe for my profile?I plan to apply to the following….
    2)Purdue-West Lafayette
    3)UT Austin
    4)Texas A&M
    5)Carnegie Mellon University
    6)Harvard university

    • Chris Swimmer
      Chris Swimmer October 25, 2013 at 1:12 pm #

      Hey Su! Unfortunately because schools vary so widely in their admissions processes, it’s difficult to say. I can say that your Quant score is probably on their low end. The truth is that these schools are probably ambitious for almost every applicant, even ones with high GRE scores, published papers, and a good SOPs.

      Good luck!
      Chris S

  17. Scott October 21, 2013 at 1:28 pm #

    Hey Chris,

    First off, this has been a very helpful blog thanks for the good work.

    Secondly, I just took the GRE earlier this month and received a 161 Quant, 157 Verb, and 4.5 AW. I was a co-author on a physics paper published in Nature this past August, and have worked at the Applied Physics Lab at the University of Washington for the past year. I am looking to apply to the MS/PhD programs in Mechanical Engineering and was wondering if you think my scores will be acceptable for some of the top schools like Stanford, Cal, and Harvard. I know the quantitative is a little low for Stanford but do you think I can make up the gap with the rest of the application?

    Thanks Again,

    • Chris Swimmer
      Chris Swimmer October 25, 2013 at 11:56 am #

      Hey Scott! There’s definitely a lot going into those applications, so it’s tough to say. I’d say for those programs the quant is definitely on the low side, but it could always be made up elsewhere. At the PhD level your research interest is probably among the most important aspects of the app. 🙂

      Good luck!
      Chris S

  18. Suman October 18, 2013 at 11:08 am #

    Hi Chris,
    I just took my GRE and scored a 322.I wanted to pursue a master’s degree in mechanical engineering. I have a GPA of 3.5/4.Keeping in mind that Harvard is ranked quite low(#30) in mechanical engineering,do you think I could have a chance of getting into Harvard.

    • Chris Swimmer
      Chris Swimmer October 18, 2013 at 2:32 pm #

      Hey Suman! There’s definitely a possibility, of course a lot depends not only on the breakdown of your GRE scores, but also on the rest of your application, so I’d definitely keep that in mind!

      Chris S

  19. milan October 13, 2013 at 7:58 am #

    hey chris,
    i took my gre and got a score of 315.i am done with my mechanical engineering and i am planning to do my MS in a field related to mechanical it good to apply in an American univ or German univ because from what i heard Germany is better when it comes to mechanical but i always wanted to study in the US.So can i get a good mechanical job if i do my MS in US?

    • Chris Swimmer
      Chris Swimmer October 18, 2013 at 2:20 pm #

      Hey Milan! Actually both countries are known for having top tier mechanical engineering programs. I wouldn’t worry about recognition, as you’ll get it either way from the US or Germany, but rather which universities are doing the research that interests you the most. 🙂

      Chris S

  20. Yakhini October 11, 2013 at 11:00 pm #

    I’m going to apply to the PhD programs in Computer Science. I just took the GRE and my score is 150v 164q. I intend to apply to a few Ivy League universities. Is there a genuine chance of making it through?

    • Chris Swimmer
      Chris Swimmer October 18, 2013 at 2:17 pm #

      Hey Yakhini! That verbal is pretty low for a PhD program at an Ivy. That being said it’s not impossible, if the rest of your application is strong. 🙂

      Chris S

      • Yakhini November 5, 2013 at 8:14 pm #

        Thank you for your help Chris. I scored 107 on the TOEFL and plan to apply at Harvard, Caltech, USC, Univ of Illinois – Urbana Champaign, Georgia Tech and UCSB for the PhD program in Computer Science.
        I believe Georgia Tech or USC might be a safe option considering the scores.

  21. Tanvi Arora September 30, 2013 at 12:02 am #

    Hi Chris!

    I write my GRE ten days back. I scored 170 in maths (as expected) but verbal was very low at 150. I am aiming for PhD in Finance from one of re top 10 colleges (Harvard/Stanford etc).
    I already have MBA in finance from one of the elite colleges in India. And work-ex of 3 yrs

    Should I retake my test for verbal or should I concentrate on my applications?

    • Chris Swimmer
      Chris Swimmer October 4, 2013 at 3:35 pm #

      Hey Tanvi! At that level, you can probably just make it up in the Statement of Purpose. I’d check around to see the general level of importance of the Verbal section for your application.

      Chris S

  22. Luca September 9, 2013 at 12:13 pm #

    I just took the GRE and the results were not as expected…in both good and bad ways…
    I got an 163 in quantitative (while aiming for 170) and a 160 in verbal (while aiming for survival), the essay part is still not graded but i feel like it’ll be like a 5.

    A graduated from university with laude and have a 6 years experience in a field that is closely related with the master of science (data science) i’m aiming to attend and good letters of recommendation.
    I’m aiming at Harvad or Berkeley, do you think it would be best to retake the GRE or should I focus on other parts of the application process?

    I fear that while improving the quantitative part of the GRE, the verbal part can be greatly diminished (typically I scored a 155 during the practice tests), and I don’t know if this discrepancy can be more harming that having a fairly average score of 161…

    Any suggestions, comments?

    Thank you very much

    • Chris Swimmer
      Chris Swimmer September 13, 2013 at 5:21 pm #

      Hey Luca! I think up at that level you’re still in contention. But you should also remember that Math will be much more important to adcoms than your verbal, so the difference between a 155 and 160 might be moot in verbal, but from 163 to 168 in math will be more substantial.

      Chris S

      • Luca September 19, 2013 at 12:20 pm #

        Hi Chris, thanks.
        I’ve decided to retake the test within few weeks and see if I can get any better in the quantitative part. I’d like to diminish to the most the chances of not being chosen for something that I could have done better.

        Have a great day and thanks for the reply

  23. Jacqui September 1, 2013 at 4:29 pm #

    Hi Chris,
    I’m going to be applying for PhD programs in Engineering. I just took the GRE and my scores were 158verbal 168quant and 6.0AWA. I’m looking at the top 15-20 universities (of which Harvard/Stanford/etc would be a part…). Should I look at retaking the test or should I focus on other aspects of the application? I’ve had 6 months work experience at an Engineering firm, 1 year of research experience as part of my Honours Thesis and a couple of volunteering programs/etc.

    This site is really great! It helped me a lot in preparing mentally for applications and GRE.

    • Chris Swimmer
      Chris Swimmer September 6, 2013 at 4:12 pm #

      Hey Jacqui! I can’t comment on your specific chances, but I’d say that if you don’t get in it won’t be because of your GRE scores. I’d focus on other areas. 🙂

      Chris S


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