The Ivy Scholars guide to Boston University’s culture, admissions, and other essential information for prospective students and their families.
Location: Boston, Massachusetts
Mascot: Rhett the Boston Terrier
Type: Private Research Institution
Population: 34,300 (16,800 undergrads)
Boston University was founded by Methodists, and still has ties to the Church through its Divinity School, though it is otherwise entirely secular in nature. With an increasing push towards research, the school has become more prominent recently, looking to compete with the other notable schools in Boston. With long traditions of academics and Ice Hockey, the school is looking to continue improving in all areas.
Year Founded: 1839
4 Year Graduation Rate: 80%
Gender Distribution: 61% female, 39% male
Acceptance Rate: 22%
Residency: 22% in state, 54% out of state, 24% international
Location Type: Urban
Schedule System: Semesters
Student/Faculty Ratio: 10:1
Average Class Size: 27
Demographics: 40% Caucasian, 31% Other or unknown, 14% Asian, 11% Hispanic, 4% Black
US News Rankings:
Average Applicant Pool: 60,800
Average Number of Applicants Accepted: 15,300
Average Number Enrolled: 3,500
Application Systems: Common App, Coalition App
Average GPA: 3.71 unweighted
SAT Scores: 25th% – 1340, 75th% – 1500
ACT Scores: 25th% – 30, 75th% – 33
*Test mandatory. Writing sections are not required.
Demonstrated Interest: Boston University does consider demonstrated interest.
Recommendation Letter Policies: One counsellor recommendation and one letter from a teacher are required.
Boston University Essay Prompts:
The school considers these criteria very important: rigor of school record and talent/ability. Rigor of school record is determined by how difficult a student’s classes were, and whether they were the most challenging classes offered. Talent and abilities are demonstrated through awards won and extracurricular achievement.
The school considers the following criteria important: Class rank, GPA, test scores, essays, recommendations, extracurriculars, legacy status, and character. The portfolio is important for students applying for fine arts.
Recruited athletes do have an admissions advantage, but still must meet the academic requirements for admission.
Demonstrated interest is important to the school. They also consider geographic origin and race/ethnicity.
What is BU Looking for?
BU is looking for students who demonstrate a unique ability or talent, with a high level of achievement in that field. Academic rigor is used as a weeding out factor, while talent is used to decide on which students to admit from among the academically prepared candidates. Having unique or hard to explain accomplishments will make a student stand out more to admissions.
The different colleges at BU admit separately, and look for evidence that students have prepared themselves for their intended program and interests. While applying undecided for major is fine, your academic and extracurricular involvement should relate to the college you applied to.
BU is competing with many prestigious schools for the same pool of students, and they therefore have a very low yield rate. Thus they look for signs that students they admit are actually interested in attending. The supplemental essay about why students want to attend the school is the main place where they look for this. They want an essay that directly speaks to what the university offers, rather than one which could be about any school in Boston.
BU is looking for students with a good character, who fit into their view of the school. They look for this in the personal statement, which they use to get a sense of who students are as people generally, and in the letters of recommendation, which tell them about who students are as scholars.
Half of all students admitted to BU come in Early Decision, and this is also the single greatest way to boost your admissions chances. While the academic criteria are not laxer for ED, the number of qualified students admitted is higher. BU also offers ED II, which offers a boost to admissions as well, though a smaller one than the first round. If you weren’t ready to apply ED, or got rejected from the school you applied to, consider ED II if BU is your second choice.
Essays are an important place to show the school who you are, and why you want to attend there in particular. They should give admissions officers insight into who you are and what you want to do at BU specifically. Avoid writing primarily about the city of Boston, and definitely don’t confuse them with Boston College. Look for specific programs and classes the school offers, and describe why those programs make the school the right choice for you.
BU considers demonstrated interest more than most other elite schools, as it is working to increase its yield rate. This is a simple way to improve your odds of admission. It won’t tip the scales if you are unqualified, but it will be used as a deciding factor between equally qualified candidates.
Composing your activities list in a way that makes your accomplishments stand out and highlights your unique achievements is important, as the talents and abilities you bring to the school are one of the most important admissions criteria. The most unique and impressive activity should go first, and activities should be grouped thematically.
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Courses of Study:
AP Credit Policies:
Computer Science Options:
Additional Specialty Programs:
Programs for High Schoolers:
School Motto: Learning, Virtue, Piety
Mission and Values:
With the 10th largest housing system in the country among 4-year colleges, BU guarantees 4 years of on-campus housing for all undergraduates who want it. All students living in housing are required to have a dining plan. There are both traditional dormitory style and apartment style housing options available. Some buildings (or floors of large buildings) are themed to group students with similar interests.
Campus & Surrounding Area:
Greek Life: 7% of the student body is involved in greek life, including social, service, and academic organizations.
Yearly Cost of Attendance:
BU guarantees to meet all demonstrated financial need of admitted students. The aid amount is determined in the student’s first year, and scholarship assurance means that the given amount of aid will not decrease going forward. Students need to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), in order to be eligible for financial aid. Work study is also a common component of aid awards.
BU offers merit-based scholarships as well. While most of these are academic, some are department specific, and some are awarded on the basis of artistic or athletic talent. Some of these scholarships you need to be nominated for, others have their own applications.