Bomb threats that led to the evacuations of four Harvard University campus buildings were made by a student trying to get out of taking a final exam, federal prosecutors said.

The prestigious Ivy League school evacuated four buildings from its centuries-old campus in Cambridge, Massachusetts, on Monday after receiving emails that US prosecutors said on Tuesday had been sent by the 20-year-old student, Eldo Kim.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation tracked Kim down at his dorm where, after being read his Miranda rights, the student "stated that he authored the bomb threat emails, he was motivated by a desire to avoid a final exam," according to prosecutors.

Kim is due in federal court in Boston on Wednesday to face one charge of making a fake bomb report.

If convicted he faces up to five years in prison, three years supervised release and a $250,000 fine.

The emails sent to the Harvard University Police Department, two university officials and the Harvard Crimson student newspaper said that "shrapnel bombs" had been placed in two of four named halls, which included classroom buildings and a dorm.

The threat drew a heavy police response, with local, state and federal agents swarming onto the campus.

The Boston area has been on an elevated state of alert since April, when a pair of home-made pressure cooker bombs filled with shrapnel were detonated at the finish line of the Boston Marathon, killing three people and injuring 264.

Kim could not be reached for immediate comment.

Monday's incident at Harvard was the second major security scare at a prominent US university to be labeled a hoax in the past two months.

Late last month, Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut, placed its campus on lockdown for almost a day after an anonymous caller warned officials that his roommate was headed to the school planning to shoot people.

No gunman was found and police now regard the incident as a hoax.

Source: Agencies