The Graduating
Class of


by the numbers


By Ellen M. Burstein and Michelle G. Kurilla

The Class of 2022 spent nearly a third of their college experience displaced by the coronavirus pandemic, taking Zoom classes from childhood bedrooms, shared apartments, and an empty Harvard campus.

Nearly every member of the graduating class has been fully vaccinated and boosted — which Harvard required to live on campus — but two-thirds have nonetheless contracted the coronavirus at least once.

Student Life and Covid-19

Despite Harvard’s efforts to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus — including teaching classes remotely for a year and a half and mandating tri-weekly Covid-19 tests — a majority of the respondents reported having contracted Covid-19. Two-thirds of the graduating class have contracted Covid-19 at least once, and, of those, nearly three in five said they believe they contracted Covid-19 on campus.

The graduating class’s vaccination rate is on par with the College’s overall vaccination rate of 98 percent. Ninety-six percent of respondents have been vaccinated and received at least one booster, while 3 percent of respondents have been fully vaccinated but not yet received the booster. Only 1 percent of respondents have not been vaccinated.

Sixty-seven percent of respondents have had Covid-19 at least once, and 13 percent of those students have had it twice. Fifty-nine percent of respondents who contracted Covid-19 reported that they believe they contracted it while on campus.

Nearly three-quarters — 74 percent — of those who contracted Covid-19 at least once tested positive during spring 2022, followed by fall 2021, when 20 percent tested positive. Before the College invited all undergraduates back to live in residence in fall 2021, Harvard’s campus operated at a reduced capacity; select classes and qualifying students with extenuating circumstances were allowed to reside on campus but had to comply with strict social distancing requirements.

A majority of respondents — 66 percent — did not live in Harvard’s dorms at any point when classes were taught remotely. Five percent of respondents lived in residence during spring 2020 after Harvard sent most students home in March 2020. Two percent lived on campus in summer 2020. Four percent lived on campus during fall 2020. Twenty-nine percent of respondents lived in dorms during spring 2021, when Harvard invited the Class of 2021 and Class of 2022 to reside on campus.

Nine percent of respondents lived off-campus at some point after classes resumed in person and all students returned to Cambridge in fall 2021. Seniors with higher family incomes opted to live off-campus at a higher rate. Just 3 percent of respondents with a family income of less than $40,000 opted to live off campus once classes resumed in person, while 13 percent of those whose parents make more than $500,000 lived in off-campus housing.

Harvard lifted most of its Covid-19 restrictions — including masking, capacity requirements, and testing — in spring 2022. More than two-thirds of respondents — 68 percent — said they approved of those decisions, while 19 percent disapproved.

Academics and Future Plans

Covid-19 has upended student’s lives as well as informed their academic and postgraduate plans. As University policies shut down labs, arestricted domestic and international travel and travel funding, as well as canceled study abroad programs, seniors reported that the pandemic impacted their choice of thesis project and their ability to conduct research.

As classes moved online during the pandemic, more than a third of respondents said their coursework became easier. Four percent said their coursework was “much less difficult” while remote, and 37 percent said their coursework became “less difficult.” Thirty-four percent reported that the difficulty of their academic work remained the same throughout the pandemic. Twenty percent said their classes were “more difficult,” and 5 percent said they became “much more difficult.”

In their first year back in person on campus, around three-quarters of respondents said the pandemic made social life more important to them, compared to roughly half of respondents to last year’s survey.

Fifty-nine percent of respondents said their career plans were “somewhat informed” or “greatly informed” by the pandemic.

Thirty-two percent of surveyed seniors said their ability to conduct research was affected by Covid-19, while 18 percent said they changed their thesis topic because of the pandemic.