How to Get Into Boston University: Acceptance Rates & More

Guide to Boston University admission
May 16, 2024
8 min read
Expert Reviewed


Reviewed by:

Mary Banks

Former Admissions Committee Member, Columbia University

Reviewed: 4/26/24

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.

Boston University has made significant strides in history and is considered 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. If you’re considering this school, this guide will go over all of the admissions information and tips you need!

Source: Boston University

What Is Boston University Looking For In Applicants? 

The main factors that Boston University looks for in applicants are academic GPA and a rigorous school record. This means that you should take challenging courses like AP/IB classes as well as maintain good study habits to get a 4.0 GPA. 

Here’s some more info on how BU evaluates applications, taken from their Common Data Set:

Academic Very Important Important Considered Not Considered
Rigor of secondary school record X
Class rank X
Academic GPA X
Standardized test scores X
Application essay X
Recommendation(s) X

Academic Very Important Important Considered Not Considered
Interview X
Extracurricular activities X
Talent/ability* X X
Character/personal qualities X
First generation X
Alumni/ae relation X
Geographical residence X
State residency X
Religious affiliation/commitment X
Volunteer work X
Work experience X
Level of applicant’s interest X

*Note that talent & ability are a very important consideration for applicants to the College of Fine Arts but are otherwise not considered. 

Boston University Key Takeaways from BU Common Data Set

If you’re wondering what this chart means for you, here’s what you should take away from it:

  • BU considers your GPA and the rigor of your school record to be very important so it’s essential you pursue challenging courses and maintain a GPA as close to 4.0 as possible.
  • Your essays and letters of recommendation are considered important, which means you need to take care to submit a polished essay and choose your Extracurriculars are also considered important to BU. Choose meaningful extracurriculars that help you develop your passions and give back to the community. 
  • BU considers your character and personal qualities to be important too so ensure you highlight all of the unique and impressive characteristics that make you, you.

Boston University Acceptance Rate: 10.7%

The Boston University acceptance rate is 10.7%, 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 few years: 

Year Number of Applicants Number of Accepted Students Acceptance Rate
2023-24 80,484 8,612 10.7%
2022-23 80,796 11,607 14%
2021-22 75,778 14,129 17%
2020-21 61,007 12,254 20%

Boston University Early Decision Acceptance Rate: 25.3%

BU’s early decision acceptance rate is about 25%. For the class of 2027, 6,866 students applied early decision, and those accepted make up 57% of the incoming class. 

Here’s some more info on BU’s early decision acceptance rates: 

Year Number of Applicants Number of Accepted Students Acceptance Rate
2023-24 6,866 N/A 25%
2022-23 6,309 1,599 25.3%
2021-22 5,659 1,820 32.1%
2020-21 5,050 1,671 33%

How Hard Is It To Get Into Boston University? 

It is difficult to get into BU as the acceptance rate continues to decrease, sitting now at only 10.7%. However, with good ACT/SAT scores and a high GPA, you can still get in. 

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! 

Take our interactive quiz below to find out how likely you are to get into Boston University.

Boston University Admissions Statistics

Boston University Average GPA: 3.9

The average GPA of incoming BU students is 3.9. The Class of 2027 saw a middle 50% GPA range of 3.8-4.0, and 86% of students ranked in the top 10% of their high school class. 

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.

Boston University Average SAT Score: 1454

BU incoming students have an average SAT score of 1454. This is roughly the same as the SAT score from last year’s class, meaning that BU students consistently produce top-notch test scores. 

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 equal to or higher than the average. It may be best to aim for a 1500 to be competitive.

Boston University Average ACT Score: 32

The average ACT score at BU was 32, also the same as the previous year. 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 equal to or higher than 32 will make you an attractive applicant to BU. 

Boston University Admissions Requirements

To get into Boston University, you should aim for an SAT score of 1500 and an ACT score of 32. Maintain a GPA of approximately 3.9 to match these high scores. Achieving these benchmarks will place you among the most competitive applicants in Boston University's recent admissions cycles.

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.

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

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.

Here are the specific application materials you’ll have to submit for these components to be assessed:

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. 

It’s also important to demonstrate to BU that you are an engaged, passionate, and committed student with lots to offer to the 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. 

Boston University Application Deadlines

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 decision I applications due
Mid-December Early decision I notifications sent out
January 4 Early decision II and regular applications due
Mid-February Early decision II notifications sent out
Late March Regular admission application notifications 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 Regular Decision Deadline

The deadline to submit your BU application if you’re applying Regular Decision is January 4. You should receive a decision notification by late March. 

Boston University Early Decision Deadline

If you’re applying for Early Decision I, your application deadline at Boston University is November 1. However, Early Decision II applications are due on January 4, the same day as Regular Decision. 

ED I applicants will receive a notification by mid-December. ED II applicants will get their decision by mid-February. 

How to Improve Your Chances of 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! 

That way, you’ll have plenty of time to write a compelling essay that compliments your application and improves your admission chances. 

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 application. 

Boston University Essays Prompts

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.

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?

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

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?

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

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?

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.

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.

Aside from the Common App essays, BU also 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!

For inspiration, you can find sample essays in our extensive essay database. Looking at previous successful essays can help you get started on your own!

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 are looking 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 $66,670 per year. However, including other expenses like housing and food, the cost to attend BU comes to $87,122. 

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.

6. What is the Transfer Rate of Boston University? 

The Boston University transfer rate is 29.0%. In a recent cycle, BU accepted 1,691 transfer students from a pool of 5,829 applicants, making the BU transfer rate 29%. 

Typically, over 700 transfer students enroll at BU each year.

7. Does Boston University Superscores ACT and SAT?

Yes, Boston University does superscore both the SAT and ACT. They consider the highest score from each section of the test, regardless of the test date, to present the applicant in the best light. It's advised to include all your test scores if you've taken either test multiple times or have taken both tests.

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!

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