Surprisingly, many Hungarians taught or studied at perhaps the most famous university in the world, Harvard. Professor of Economics János Kornai has been teaching at the oldest higher education institution in the United States for several decades, while Gusztáv Nagy, a young advisor to the Constitutional Court, received his Master’s degree in law this year.
Harvard University is the oldest institution of higher education in the United States, in Cambridge. The university was named in 1639 after the theologian John Harvard, who offered half of his estates, four hundred books, and eight hundred pounds to set up a new college.
Harvard University is a member of the Ivy Leauge, established in 1954, which brings together eight universities (Brown, Columbia, Cornell, Dartmouth, Princeton, Pennsylvania, Harvard, and Yale) and was originally created for sports collaboration between East Coast universities. As they say, being a member of the Leauge means much more than that: those who come from these universities represent America’s elite. In other words, Harvard is a stronghold of elite education.
From the more than four hundred former students there are presidents (John F. Kennedy, George W. Bush, Barack Obama), businessmen (Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg), writers, and artists (T.S. Eliot, Matt Damon).
An integral part of the “American dream” is a high level of higher education. In addition to Harvard, Yale, Columbia, and Princeton are also highly prestigious, as is the Technical University of Massachusetts (MIT) or the California University of Technology (Caltech). According to QS TopUniversities 2020 rankings, Harvard provides the best business training in the world. It is incredibly difficult to get into an MBA at Harvard Business School, with up to a tenth of the entrants succeeding. Getting into Harvard University’s undergraduate degree is perhaps even tougher. Every twentieth candidate can make it.
Index selected Hungarian teachers and students from the history of Harvard. The most well-known Hungarian lecturer at Harvard was János Kornai, who was a guest professor in 1984-85, and in 1986, he was permanently appointed professor of economics. He has been a professor emeritus at Harvard University since 2002. He based his reputation on his work A hiány (The Deficit) in 1980. The concept of a soft budget constraint is also associated with his name. In his book The Power of Thought, Kornai describes the complicated process at the end of which a guest can become a Harvard professor.
According to János Kornai, Harvard University is a first-class scientific achievement. The professors there are heartily identified with the prestige aspects of the university, wanting to retain the 1st rank of Harvard. They assume that if the teachers are good, everything will be fine. If they are not good, the university will inevitably sink to the level of mediocrity.
Payment is strictly private. The other members of the department, but not even the head of the department knows how much their colleagues are paid.
In addition to economics, Harvard is also known for its legal education. Gusztáv Nagy, an advisor to the Constitutional Court, received his Master’s degree in law at Harvard Law School this year. Harvard is often accused of rudely selecting among students. According to Gusztáv Nagy, there is a really long and winding journey from admission to graduation, with many obstacles and even more resignations, but, for example, his classmates came from 61 different countries, one-fifth already had a degree, 16 were constitutional court or supreme court advisers, 18 were university lecturers, 8 were judges, and seven were prosecutors.
The annual tender is increasingly high, more than 70 thousand dollars (HUF 22 million) plus travel, accommodation, and meal costs, other charges, textbook prices, which can be up to three hundred dollars per piece. The value of a Harvard degree competes with the price of a medium-sized apartment in Budapest.
“No one can pay this alone, even with serious self-saving, so implementing plans requires not only one but more scholarships, and often a U.S. student loan. It is no coincidence that it is often seen in American movies that parents start saving in childhood,” said Gusztáv Nagy.
The admissions process takes place online, usually in writing, but may be supplemented with an oral interview at a later stage in the admissions process. Admission must be accompanied by an original and certified English version of all diplomas, a detailed, American-style resume, letters of recommendation, then a pass on the TOEFL language exam with an appropriate score, and two written essays.