Harvard College was established in 1636 by vote of the Great and General Court of Massachusetts Bay Colony, and was named for its first benefactor, John Harvard of Charlestown.
Harvard is America's oldest institution of higher learning, founded 140 years before the Declaration of Independence was signed. The University has grown from nine students with a single master to an enrollment of more than 18,000 degree candidates, including undergraduates and students in 10 principal academic units. An additional 13,000 students are enrolled in one or more courses in the Harvard Extension School. Over 14,000 people work at Harvard, including more than 2,000 faculty. There are also 7,000 faculty appointments in affiliated teaching hospitals.
Our mission, to advance new ideas and promote enduring knowledge, has kept the University young. We strive to create an academic environment in which outstanding students and scholars from around the world are continually challenged and inspired to do their best possible work. It is Harvard's collective efforts that make this university such a vibrant place to live, to learn, to work, and to explore.