Boston University Essay Prompts

Read our complete Application Guide for Boston University.


Not to be confused with Boston College, in spite of the similar name and same hometown, Boston University is a proud school in its own right, with a long tradition of excellence. They only require one essay in addition to the personal statement, a 250-word “Why Us” essay.

This essay is quite short compared to some other schools, which means you’ll need to be economical with the words you use, and choose what you’re going to discuss carefully. We provide an example of this below, and discuss why it works well.

Why BU - Example

What about being a student at Boston University most excites you? (250 words)

After having a pet Boston Terrier for 17 years, becoming a Terrier at BU seems inevitable. Putting my dog Elby aside, from biology to psychology to statistics, BU provides countless opportunities to explore my diverse academic interests. Through BU’s Hub, I intend to explore a wide variety of academic fields including child and adolescent psychiatry, evolutionary biology, radiology, and inferential statistics. This exploration will enable me to dive into my psychology major with confidence, and contribute to the well-rounded education I am dedicated to pursuing.

I am also eager to engage with the Boston community through service. As a highschool junior, I volunteered for an English immersion program where I worked with Spanish-speaking elementary school students to help them improve their reading, writing, and speaking skills. I look forward to expanding upon this experience by tutoring an international student in English at BU, along with continuing to mentor young children through the BU Siblings program.

Opportunities like the Madrid Summer Internship are yet another of Boston University’s many draws. I’ve always been an avid traveler, and immersing myself in Spanish culture will enable me to simultaneously achieve fluency en español – a life goal that is especially useful in my hometown of Houston – and hone my Flamenco skills. Speaking of dance, I am thrilled by the many opportunities to dance at BU. As a dance minor, I’ll continue working on my technique, dive into choreography, and perform with my peers, all while putting my education center stage.

Why BU - Analysis

The question asked here is open ended, and thus you can answer it in myriad ways. We suggest being honest; don’t devote space to talking about aspects of the school which don’t genuinely excite you. That said, you should ideally mention academics at least a bit, as the school is proud of its academic prowess. You don’t need to spend the entire essay on academics, but touching on it briefly can be good.

There are two possible approaches; you can either touch on several topics briefly, or spend the essay diving into one aspect of BU in depth. If you choose the latter, we suggest focusing on how you want to explore your area of academic interest at BU; professors you want to work with, classes you want to take, and research projects you want to join. While you could theoretically devote the whole essay to BU’s community or extracurriculars, we do not recommend it.

The essay above is a good example of touching on many topics briefly. While it does not go into depth on any of them, it shows that the author has done their research on the school, and mentions aspects which are specific to BU. BU’s Hub, for instance, is different from other core classes at other schools. You should look into what sets BU apart, and focus on that in your essay, rather than mentioning traits which could apply to a half-dozen schools.


While BU’s Boston location is a draw for some students, you should not spend much of the essay discussing it. There are a lot of very good schools in and around Boston, so if you spend your entire “Why BU” essay discussing the city itself, admissions officers will wonder why you don’t just apply to another school in the same city. You can mention the city briefly if it is one of your top reasons, but due to the space constraints of the essay, it should not be your main focus. 

Finally, due to the short length of the essay, you’ll have to choose what to include carefully. A hook is fine if it’s like the one in the example above, but no more than a sentence should be given over to writing one. Space is at a premium, so avoid unnecessarily flowery language, or sentences which don’t add anything to the point you’re trying to convey. Make sure every word has the maximum impact possible for the space you’re giving it.

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