How to Get Into Boston University: Acceptance Rates & More

Student in a red jacket, holding books and a coffee cup in Boston University Campus
September 22, 2023
15 min read


Reviewed by:

Former Admissions Committee Member, Columbia University

Reviewed: 09/22/23

If you’d like to join a school that is known for dauntlessly pursuing knowledge and embracing the unlimited possibilities that come with it, read on to learn more about how to get into Boston University.

Group of college students outside

Boston University has made significant strides in history: it’s where Martin Luther King Jr. studied and honed his message of equality, it was awarded a grant by the Gates Foundation to fight newborn mortality in Zambia, and it has consistently ranked amongst the top 50 universities in the nation.

BU has been considered to be a lively school full of pep and spirit! Take their mascot, for instance: the Boston Terrier. Before the 50s, BU had real Boston Terriers named Rhett as their mascot. These dogs would attend every game, formal, and school celebration! 

With various impressive accomplishments and an unparalleled student community, it’s no surprise that over 37,000 students call BU their home. This guide will go over the admission requirements, deadlines, costs, and tips required to join these thousands of students!

Boston University Acceptance Rate

The Boston University acceptance rate sits at 14%, making this school moderately competitive. BU ranks among the top 60 universities with the lowest acceptance rates, according to U.S. News

Here is a table of BU’s acceptance rate trends for the last 3 years:

Class of: Acceptance rate
2024 20%
2025 17%
2026 14%

Boston University Yield Rate

BU’s yield rate, or enrollment rate, was 32.4% for the class of 2026. This includes both first-year student enrollment and transfer enrollment. 

How Hard Is It To Get Into Boston University? 

While it has high GPA requirements and a fairly low acceptance rate, students who meet or exceed the application expectations have a fair chance of getting into BU. If you complete all aspects of your application to the best of your ability, you’ll surely strengthen your chances! 

Boston University Admissions Requirements

Boston University aims to review candidates using a holistic approach that considers their academic achievements and pursuits in and outside the classroom. Applicants’ grades, experiences, and backgrounds will all be factored into the admissions process.

Read on to find the specific application materials you’ll have to submit for these components to be assessed.

Boston University GPA Requirements

The most important part of your application will be your high school transcripts because they’ll share your GPA and the courses you took throughout high school. As a university that strives for scholarly excellence, it’s important your transcript demonstrates a high level of academic talent.

To demonstrate this, you should take challenging courses throughout high school and maintain a high GPA. In particular, you should have a GPA of 3.9 to be considered an attractive candidate.

There are also several prerequisite courses you should take and excel in to prove your academic merit:

  • Four years of English
  • Three to four years of Mathematics (precalculus/calculus is strongly recommended)
  • Three to four years of Laboratory Science
  • Three to four years of History and/or Social Science
  • Two to Four Years of a language

Students hoping to join the College of Engineering must have one year of calculus. Similarly, those interested in applying to the Questrom School of Business must have one year of calculus or pre-calculus and one year of AP statistics.

Boston University SAT Requirements

Previously, SAT/ACT scores were considered to be the best predictors of students’ academic potential to thrive in higher education. However, as more data came out suggesting these tests largely excluded minorities, universities and colleges began becoming test-optional to diversify and expand their applicant pool.

Boston University belongs to this category of schools and is adopting a test-optional policy during the 2023/2024 admissions cycle. Students can decide whether or not to write standardized tests, and will be considered equally, regardless of their choice. 

For those who do decide to write the SAT, you should aim for an SAT score in the range of 1360-1520.

Boston University ACT Requirements

Boston University’s test-option policy applies to the ACT test as well as the SAT. However, if you still choose to write the test, an ACT score in the range of 31-34 will make you an attractive applicant to BU. 

A Personal Statement

As part of the Common Application, you’ll be required to submit a personal statement. This personal statement should share additional information with the admissions committee that is missing from your application.

Think about significant experiences that led you to where you are today and the path you plan on pursuing with BU. What are your future goals? How can BU help you achieve these goals? How will you contribute to BU’s community?

Ensure your personal statement is unique and tells your story. Avoid vagueness, and keep your statement concise! Use simple language that you’re comfortable with so that your message is received loud and clear.

Counselor Recommendation and School Report Form

Your school counselor will be required to fill out a school report form to provide BU with a letter of recommendation, details about your school’s program, an assessment of your performance, and information about any academic misconduct.

Extracurricular Activities

It’s important to demonstrate to BU that you are an engaged, passionate, and committed student with lots to offer to university community. Your extracurricular activities will go a long way in helping you to achieve this. Include a list of all the clubs or teams you were a part of in high school in your application. 

Letter of Evaluation

Students are also required to submit one letter of evaluation with their application. This letter should be written by a teacher who can attest to your academic potential so the committee can confirm your grades reflect your abilities. 

Additional Materials

If you’re planning on applying to the College of Fine Arts, you’ll have to submit additional materials such as an audition, portfolio, or both. 

Supplemental Essay Questions

You will also have to answer at least one additional essay question, potentially more. These questions may come from the Common Application or directly from BU themselves. Read on for more advice on how to tackle your university essays.

Boston University Supplemental Essays

A person writing

Time to sharpen up your writing skills! While your personal essays alone won’t grant you admission into BU, they can strengthen your application and take you from a “maybe” to a “yes.”

To ensure you write the best supplemental essay possible, BU offers some pointers:

  • The more personal your essay, the better
  • Consider the question: “If you only had a few minutes to tell us who you are, what would you say?”
  • Proofread your essay multiple times so the admissions committee can review your best form of writing 
  • Revise your essay for flow and clarity, as well as punctuation, grammar, and spelling
  • Let the story shine through and demonstrate your enthusiasm
  • Understand there is no right or wrong answer to a personal statement

Depending on the application you use to apply to BU, there will be several optional essay prompts. Since the majority of students use the Common App to apply to colleges, these are the prompts you’ll see on your application:

1. Some students have a background, identity, interest, or talent that is so meaningful they believe their application would be incomplete without it. If this sounds like you, then please share your story.

What to write: This is a chance to express anything about your identity that makes you unique. You could explore your family background and culture, and how it has shaped you. You could also think about different values you hold, such as “integrity”, “perseverance”, or “empathy”. Where did those values come from, and what do they mean to you? 

2. The lessons we take from obstacles we encounter can be fundamental to later success. Recount a time when you faced a challenge, setback, or failure. How did it affect you, and what did you learn from the experience?

What to write: Admissions officers want to see that you’re resilient and that you don’t give up. Moreover, they also want to see that you take feedback well and learn from your own mistakes or hardships instead of becoming bitter or resentful. Try to approach this question with a posture of thoughtfulness and willingness to learn and reflect.

3. Reflect on a time when you questioned or challenged a belief or idea. What prompted your thinking? What was the outcome?

What to write: This question is asked so that universities can judge your individuality and leadership. Challenging certain ideas shows that you aren’t afraid to think outside the box, take risks, and be creative. 

When discussing the outcome, you can also feel free to be honest and talk about how your actions may have been harmful (if this is true). This shows growth, humility, and self-awareness. 

4. Reflect on something that someone has done for you that has made you happy or thankful in a surprising way. How has this gratitude affected or motivated you?

What to write: Genuine gratitude and appreciation for others shows maturity. BU wants to see that you are aware of and pay attention to the people around you. They also want to know how those people have positively influenced your life and what kind of person you have become now. 

5. Discuss an accomplishment, event, or realization that sparked a period of personal growth and a new understanding of yourself or others.

What to write: Your answer to this question should demonstrate your self-awareness and eagerness to grow and learn new things. It should also demonstrate your empathy and ability to understand different perspectives. 

6. Describe a topic, idea, or concept you find so engaging that it makes you lose all track of time. Why does it captivate you? What or who do you turn to when you want to learn more?

What to write: For this question, it’s important to choose something that you are genuinely passionate about! You’ll find it much easier to write this essay if you truly care about the topic, and your authenticity will shine through your words. 

Pay close attention to why you’re so passionate about this particular idea and what that says about you as a person. You may also choose to connect your passion to your future aspirations. 

7. Share an essay on any topic of your choice. It can be one you've already written, one that responds to a different prompt, or one of your own design.

What to write: This question may seem overwhelming with its open-endedness, but look at it as an exciting opportunity. You might choose to dig deep into a specific moment of your life and how it has affected you. The main thing to remember here is authenticity. 

While answering all of these questions is optional, you should consider writing at least one of these essays. Doing so can offer more insight into your character and background, which can help the admissions committee get to know you better.

BU Supplemental Essay Examples 

Aside from the Common App essays, BU has its own essay prompt that students must answer to be considered for admission:

What about being a student at Boston University most excites you?

This may seem like a relatively simple prompt, but it’s essential you do your research to answer this question appropriately. Offer specific resources, events, programs, or principles that draw you to BU. Your answer should not exceed 250 words, so keep it straightforward and concise!

Here are some sample essays answering the BU prompt to give you some inspiration. Several details have been omitted for confidentiality. 

Example 1: 

Nervously walking with my dad down BU beach on a crisp fall morning, I repeatedly reviewed my script of questions as we headed to a prospective student presentation at the Pardee School of Global Affairs. Upon entry, a familiar wooden smell eased my senses. It was the same smell of my middle school library, whose books on the Fall of Constantinople and the Russo-Turkish wars inspired my fascination with the history of Ottoman foreign policy. As we took our seats, my nervousness returned, so I habitually muttered the questions I’d prepared to ask the presenter. Fortuitously, my nerves quickly dissipated upon hearing a student panelist named [NAME] discuss her double concentration in my two favorite subjects: International Relations and History. Instead of feeling anxious to ask canned questions I’d concocted beforehand, I now felt free to ask [NAME] whatever questions came to me in the moment, which grounded me to the present and allowed me to viscerally experience a greater sense of immersion at BU than I did anywhere else. I was enthralled by her emphatic explanation of how lessons gleaned from Theodore Roosevelt’s “Big Stick Diplomacy” directly informed her understanding of America’s power display in the Middle East today. Last but not least, when I heard about studying International Conflict Resolution abroad in Geneva, it felt like the course and its location came straight out of my 9th-grade dream of living in Geneva and becoming a diplomat who actually has a hand in history as it’s being written.

Why it works: This essay immediately draws the reader in with vivid description and naturally introduces the topic right away--the history of Ottoman foreign policy. The student also describes how their experience visiting BU was meaningful for them and the things that intrigued them about attending classes at BU. 

Lastly, the student finishes off by connecting their experience with their future aspirations and how attending BU can help them to realize their dreams. 

Example 2: 

Being raised by entrepreneurs, I was taught to never back down from my goals. While my parents’ businesses were stymied during quarantine, I seized the opportunity to show them what I could do and decided to start my own online business. After surfing the web for business models, I landed on dropshipping, as selling products without the worry of inventory was the most beginner-friendly option to me. 
Although I was bursting with excitement (starting a business was a refreshing change from humdrum quarantine life), I was severely inexperienced, and, consequently, made many mistakes. Despite my initial optimism, the website I built gained few views and no sales. After spending a third of my life savings with no tangible results, I felt bested but not defeated. 
And that’s where BU’s Questrom School of Business comes in. With Questrom’s Cross-Functional Core, I’ll be exposed to finance, management, marketing, and analytics, which will synergize to make me a more complete problem-solver and decision-maker. Aside from “thinking laterally” in BU’s business courses, I’ll engage early, often, and in-depth with the Entrepreneurship Club, because those are my people. I relate most to those with the fire inside to drive toward a greater goal, not just for themselves but for the greater good of their community and, in some rarer cases, all of society. Tying what I learn in the classroom together with what I do outside of it, I see it as my quest to grow into one of those rarities who helps entire societies.

Why it works: The student begins by outlining their values and accomplishments, which gives insight into their character right away. By describing the mistakes they made and challenges they faced, they demonstrate tenacity, grit, and a willingness to persevere and continue learning despite difficult circumstances. 

Then, they seamlessly connect their passions and interests to the course offerings at BU and describe how attending BU is a necessary part of their lifelong “quest”. 

Example 3: 

For four years, I’ve dreamed of being an entrepreneurial hotelier who penetrates the global hospitality market to establish various locations, both internationally and domestically, of a unique hotel chain rooted in sustainability and technological advancement. Since not many schools offer the skills that I’d need to run my own hotel chain, I’m most excited to take advantage of these unique opportunities at BU. 
As a prospective Business Administration major with a concentration in Innovation & Entrepreneurship, I’ll stack my course list with QST SI 471 International Entrepreneurship and QST SI 451 Organizing for Design and Innovation while engaging in Innovate@BU, mastering the entrepreneurial aspect of my aspirations through attending One-Off Workshops, and landing an opportunity through the Enlight Social Impact Incubator & Summer Internship. On the hotelier side, I seek to pursue a minor in Hospitality Administration while learning more about the hotel industry through the Hospitality Leadership Summit and eventually pitching my own ideas through the $50k Poyiadjis Hospitality Innovation Competition. However, my journey as a Terrier will not just be confined to business and hospitality. Aside from enthusiastically cheering on the Terrier Hockey Teams from the Dog Pound, I’ll channel my excitement through Alternative Service Breaks, giving me the opportunity to broaden my sensitivity to issues plaguing the nation while also making me a more conscious entrepreneur. 
At BU, I know that I’ll become well-equipped for both my hotelier journey and my journey as a Terrier, so come what may, I wouldn’t have my education any other way. 

Why it works: This student begins by describing their specific career aspirations and how they will realize their dreams, course by course, at BU. It’s evident that this student has done their research! This shows that they care deeply about attending BU and are eager to contribute to the school community. 

Then, they utilize the famed “full-circle” ending by calling back to their dreams of becoming a hotelier through attending BU. 

Depending on the college you apply to, you may also be asked to write a separate supplemental essay regarding your specific program. Here is an example of one of these college-specific essays. 


What about the Kilachand Honors College resonates with you, and how would Kilachand’s curriculum fulfill your academic, creative, intellectual, and/or professional goals? (600 words)

Example essay

My mom carried me as we walked out of the cool [CITY] airport into the blazing sun. My dad promptly hailed an iconic yellow-top, black-bottom cab, and we were suddenly snaking through [CITY]’s sunbathed white skyscrapers, just offset from the glistening [OCEAN].
“Mom, I’m hungry!” a six-year-old me exclaimed.
Mom pulled out the last packet of Parle-G cookies and handed them to me. Tearing the packet up and placing a cookie in my mouth, I relished the crunch and sweet sugar crumbs as they melted on my tongue. Suddenly, we hit traffic. A bull was crossing the road, and while the cars made way for this holy animal to pass, the homeless of [CITY] found this an opportune moment to solicit donations from the drivers. As we sat parked on the road, a girl my age knocked on the car window.
“Madam, meh bookh lagi hai”, she pleaded in [LANGUAGE].
My mom immediately grabbed the Parle-Gs out of my hand and gave them to the girl. The girl quietly thanked her and left. Sad to see my beloved cookies go, I quietly looked out the window at the street and the seashore. But my eyes were curiously drawn to the homeless lying on the side of the road, persistently requesting a morsel of food from passersby. I started to wonder what caused these people to live the way they did. In the best way I could articulate it, I turned to my mom to ask her what I felt was a simple question.
“Mom, why are some people poor?”
“Hmm…” she responded, thinking. “Because no one wants to give them a job”.
“Why not?” I pressed further.
“Because there was no opportunity for them to go to school”, she quickly replied.
I sank back down in my seat. “So the girl who knocked on our window doesn’t go to school? That’s weird. Isn’t every kid supposed to go to school?”, I wondered. Given recent geopolitical events barring [ETHNICITY] women from receiving an education, I’ve been reminded (with a chill) of this moment from my childhood. 
I find it unacceptable that even after a decade of progress in multifarious fields, every child still isn’t guaranteed an education and the opportunity to pursue a prosperous future. As I’ve witnessed the vast and virtually ubiquitous accessibility that the internet - through Zoom, Khan Academy, and even YouTube - has brought to the realm of education, I believe we have a greater responsibility today not to let children in even the most remote of places and with even the most disadvantaged of backgrounds go uneducated. The main obstacle standing in our way to achieving this is the political will to do so, but with the right degree of leverage (and the right degree), that could all change in historic fashion! Through its interdisciplinary nature, its wide array of experiential learning opportunities, and its offering of extensive research resources in a cozy, liberal arts setting, Kilachand’s curriculum will allow me to pursue an undergraduate degree to build a stable foundation in the world of international relations. With the knowledge I’ll take from my experience at Kilachand, I aim to work with leaders both at home and abroad to ensure that every child has the same educational and career-oriented opportunities, regardless of origin or socio-economic background. By this point, I’ve gone all-in on my own education, but now - with eyes as wide open as my heart - I’m ready to take my impact to the next level and go all-in on education-for-all.

Why it works: This is a well-written essay with a vivid action scene that demonstrates the student’s point well. It shows how the student’s personal experiences have deeply affected them and shaped their passions. 

The action scene blends naturally into a description of the student’s aspirations and goals at BU, and finishes with a forward-thinking statement of how their time at Kilachand will help them make a difference. 

Boston University Application Process and Deadlines

To apply to Boston University, you can either use the Common Application or QuestBridge Application. When applying through these apps, you must specify the BU undergrad college you plan on joining:

  • Arvind and Chandan Nandlal Kilachand Honors College
  • College of Arts and Sciences
  • College of Communication
  • College of Engineering
  • College of Fine Arts
  • College of General Studies
  • College of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences: Sargent College
  • Faculty of Computing & Data Sciences
  • Frederick S. Pardee School of Global Studies
  • Henry M. Goldman School of Dental Medicine
  • Metropolitan College and Extended Education
  • Questrom School of Business
  • School of Hospitality Administration
  • Wheelock College of Education and Human Development
  • Division of Military Education

If you’re unsure which school or major you’d like to enroll in, BU suggests you apply to the College of Arts and Sciences or College of General Studies and select “Undeclared” as your major.

To ensure the admissions committee can review your application and provide you with a timely decision, keep these key deadlines in mind:

Deadline What’s Due
August 1 Applications open
November 1 Early admission I applications due
Mid-December Early admission I decisions sent out
January 4 Early admission II and regular applications due
Mid-February Early admission II decisions sent out
Late March Regular admission application decision sent out

Source: Boston University

Students interested in submitting early decision applications should be aware that these are binding agreements; if you’re accepted into BU, you must reject any other offers you receive.

Boston University Tuition and Fees

Part of planning for college is understanding how much you’ll have to invest into your education. Tuition costs $63,798 a year for BU students. Considering other expenses you’ll have as a freshman, the total estimated cost to attend BU is over $80,000 a year.

Before these steep costs deter you from applying to BU, this university prides itself on its extensive financial aid. Over $381 million of financial aid is awarded to students, of which over 92% is needs-based, and only 8% is merit-based. BU promises students will receive financial assistance for 100% of their financial need.

Tips for Getting Into Boston University

If you’re overwhelmed by the task of applying to BU, don’t worry. We’d like to share our top tips on how to make your application stand out.

Only Write the SAT/ACT if Necessary

Since the SAT and ACT are optional for students applying to the 2023/2024 cycle, you should carefully consider whether or not to write these tests.

Review your overall application. If you think there are weak aspects of it, like a low GPA or little involvement in extracurriculars, receiving a competitive score on the SAT or ACT can make up for these weaknesses. 

But, if you already have a strong application, save yourself time and stress by opting out of writing these exams.

Start Your Personal Statement Early

Avoid leaving your personal statement to the last minute. Despite being a relatively short essay, it’ll still require thought and effort to have a positive impact on the admissions committee, so start early! 

Do Your Research

It goes without saying you should conduct your own research on any school you’re interested in attending, as your undergrad will play a major role in your career trajectory.

If you’re certain BU is the right school for you, you need to be able to articulate why. Think of reasons that go beyond superficial draws, such as close proximity to your house or affordable tuition. What makes BU stand out to you? What are you excited to participate in? Use these questions to guide your essays. 

FAQs: Getting Into Boston University

For any remaining questions on how to get into Boston University, read on to find your answers.

1. What Kind of Students Get Into Boston University?

The beauty of Boston University is it aims to admit a diverse pool of applicants each year, meaning there isn’t a set type of student they look for. In fact, BU encourages students to share what makes them unique so that they stand out amongst the thousands of applicants they get each year.

That being said, there are certain values BU looks for in each student: high academic achievement, community involvement, and clear direction and intent to join BU.

2. What Major Is Boston University Known for?

The most popular majors pursued at Boston University are:

  • Social Sciences
  • Business, Management, Marketing, and related majors
  • Communications, Journalism, and related majors
  • Biological and Biomedical Sciences
  • Engineering

Boston University is also known for its diverse range of majors, offering its undergrad students over 300 different programs to choose from!

3. Is Boston University an Ivy League School?

No, BU is not an Ivy League school.

4. How Much Does It Cost to Attend Boston University?

Tuition and fees at BU total roughly $65,000 per year. However, including other expenses like housing and food, the cost to attend BU comes to just over $86,000. 

5. What Is Boston University’s Ranking?

Boston University ranks 43rd in the nation and 25th as the best-value school due to its extensive financial support.

Final Thoughts

Whether you fell in love with the story of Rhett the Terrier or want to go to the same school as the influential activist Martin Luther King Jr., after learning more about how to get into Boston University, this school may be a top choice for you. 

By following the tips shared in this guide, you can ensure you submit the best application possible to maximize your chances of getting into this esteemed university!

Subscribe to Our Newsletter
Thanks ! You're now subscribed!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.

Get A Free Consultation

Speak to a college admissions expert about how we can help you get into your dream school
Schedule a Call

You May Also Like

Before you go, here are a few facts about us!
The Quad Factor: Working with us can increase your chances of admission by 7x!

The Best of the Best: Our team comprises of only 99th percentile tutors and admissions counselors from top-ranking universities, meaning you work with only the most experienced, talented experts.

The Free Consultation: Our experts would love to get to know you, your background, goals, and needs. From there, they match you with a best-fit consultant who will create a detailed project plan and application strategy focused on your success.