The Houses serve as the foundation for the undergraduate experience at Harvard College. Ninety-eight percent of all undergraduates live in one of the 12 residential Houses. A 13th House, Dudley House, serves non-residents and includes graduate student members. Each House accommodates 350-500 students with its own dining hall, common rooms, and facilities for academic, recreational, and cultural activities.
With its central goal of forging a link between learning and living, the House system cultivates an assortment of intellectual activities and traditions. In addition to lectures and seminars, each House hosts a collection of weekly language and interest tables which are informal opportunities for students with common interest to meet, exchange ideas and learn or fine-tune particular skills. Houses are places where learning occurs all the time, whether in the dining hall as students share a meal with instructors and visiting scholars, or in House tutorials or seminars taken for degree credit.
The life of the House extends beyond the intellectual. The Houses maintain robust cultural and social opportunities. Houses are home to their own film, music, art and drama that range from small-scale jam sessions to a full opera. In addition, Houses also field a variety of sports teams that compete in an intramural program. A variety of social functions such as Masters’ Open Houses, formal dances and coffee hours provide students an opportunity to relax and interact with members of their House community.
In effect, each House forms a small academic and social community within the larger context of the College.