Boston University Acceptance Rate: What Does it Take to Get In?

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With its large, urban campus and student body of more than 16,000, Boston University has many claims to fame. It was the first university to accept women into all of its divisions in 1872 and boasts many prestigious programs, including the Accelerated Program in Liberal Arts and Medicine, a seven-year BA/MD program; the Kilachand Honors College, an interdisciplinary liberal arts program; and the Trustees Scholarship, a full-ride program.


BU offers a broad curriculum. Its general education requirements include Philosophical, Aesthetic, and Historic Inquiry; Scientific and Social Inquiry; Quantitative Reasoning; Diversity, Civic Engagement, and Global Leadership; Intellectual Toolkit; and Communication.


So, what does it take to get into BU? Read on for CollegeVine’s tips for optimizing your admission profile.


Applying to Boston University: A Quick Review

To apply to BU, you will need to submit:


  • Common Application
  • High School Transcript
  • Senior Year Grades
  • Counselor Recommendation and School Report Form
  • Teacher Evaluation
  • Standardized Tests (SAT or ACT, no writing required, Subject Tests required for Accelerated Medical and Dental Programs; considered for others)


Some special programs have additional requirements:

College of Fine Arts Requirements
Accelerated Medical Requirements


You must apply to one of the 10 specific undergraduate schools with the larger university. For information about the schools and majors within them, visit BU’s website.


You may also elect to be considered for other programs, including the College of General Students Boston-London program. Check the appropriate box on your application if you are interested. (If you are applying to the College of Fine Arts or Accelerated Medical Program, you may not be considered for additional programs.


You may also check the associated box if you want to be considered for the Kilachand Honors College, which requires you to complete an additional essay.




Regular Decision:


Application: January 2
CSS Profile and FAFSA: January 2
Notification Date: Late March
Enrollment Deposit Due: May 1

Accelerated Medical Program: November 15
Trustee and Presidential Scholarships: December 1
CFA Prescreening Recordings: December 1


Early Decision:



Application: November 1
CSS Profile and FAFSA: November 1
Notification Date: December 15
Enrollment Deposit due: January 15



Application: January 2
CSS Profile and FAFSA: January 2
Notification Date: February 15
Enrollment Deposit Due: Late February


Boston University Acceptance Rate: How Difficult Is It to Get In?

BU has become increasingly selective over the past few years and attracts students from around the world. Considering the stiff competition, you will need to excel in terms of grades, tests scores, extracurriculars, and other areas of achievement.


In Fall 2018, Boston University had an admissions rate of 22%. The statistics concerning admissions are as follows:


Total Applicants: 64,473
Total Freshmen: 3,300
Percent Admitted: 22%
Average Rank in High School Top: 7%
Average Overall Grade: A-
Average SAT: 1468


SAT Math: 700 average
660-760 range of middle 50%

SAT Critical Reading: 680 average
640-720 range of middle 50%

ACT Composite: 31 average
29-32 range of middle 50%

(Source: BU admissions website)


These statistics are averages. Considering its low acceptance rate, BU cannot be considered a safety school for most applicants and is likely a target or middle school for many candidates and a reach for some. To increase your chances for admission, you should aim to exceed the average GPA and test scores.


Note that BU does not require the SAT Writing section or ACT Essay. The adcom will superscore your SAT, meaning it will only consider your highest score on each SAT section, and recalculate your ACT composite score according to the highest scores you receive in every section.


For the Accelerated Medical Program, you are required to submit Subject Tests in Chemistry and Math II.

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So, How Does One Get Into Boston University?

There is no magic formula for getting into BU. However, excelling academically, demonstrating your unique attributes, and showing your enthusiasm for the university will certainly strengthen your candidacy. There are no minimum stated requirements, but you should aim to exceed or fall at the upper end of the middle 50% stated averages


Some programs, such as the Accelerated Medical Program, are particularly competitive. You will need to demonstrate that you are both well-rounded and excel in areas like science and math, as well as have a strong profile in general, to gain admission into this program. Similarly, in order to be accepted into the College of Fine Arts, you will need a strong portfolio.


Writing the Essays

BU seeks intellectually curious and engaged students. This quality can shine in your essay. For example, one prompt is:


Please submit a short essay to the following statement: “Something that’s not on the resume.” Give us a glimpse of a passion, dream, or mental pursuit that absorbs and delights you.


This is an excellent vehicle for conveying your passion for knowledge and describing your specific goals and dreams.


Because BU shares a city and community with a number of other highly selective colleges and universities, you also need to make it clear that you specifically want to attend this college. One way to do so is by responding to the “why us” essay prompt: What about being a student at Boston University most excites you?


As with other “why x” school essays, the key is to give plenty of examples and demonstrate that factors that specifically apply to BU make you enthusiastic about the college, rather than focusing too heavily on external factors such as the city or campus.


For more advice on responding to the BU essay prompts, check out CollegeVine’s guide: How to Write the Boston University Supplemental Essays 2018-2019.


How to Make Your Application Stand Out


Emphasize your individuality. BU is a university that celebrates diverse interests, personalities, and backgrounds. The class of 2021, for instance, include 16% first-generation students, with residents of all 50 states and 113 countries represented. Twenty percent of admitted students included members of underrepresented minority groups. In order to gain admission, you will need to demonstrate your unique characteristics and what sets you apart in your essay and other aspects of your application.


Meet or exceed the average statistics of the current class. Strive to boost your test scores and GPA to at least meet the current averages. If yours are below them, you will have a lower chance of admission. That doesn’t mean you definitely won’t get in, but you will likely need to consider the university a reach school if you don’t meet these averages.


Demonstrate your enthusiasm for BU. BU is a unique college that attracts students from all over the world. In order to gain admission, it’s important to demonstrate that you’re invested in it. While colleges understand that you’ll likely be applying to several other schools, emphasizing your interest in this university in particular through your essays and other means will make you a more desirable candidate.


What If You Get Rejected?

Being denied admission to any college, particularly one of your top choices, is disappointing. Still, it’s important to take a step back and regroup. If you get rejected from BU, here’s what you can do:


Apply to multiple colleges.

Make sure your final list is well balanced among safety, target, and reach colleges. You’ll improve your chances of being admitted to multiple schools if you include several where you have a good or reasonable chance of acceptance.


Take a gap year.

If you had your heart set on BU or received bad news from the other colleges on your list, one option is to take a gap year and reapply next admissions cycle. If you do decide to go this route, make sure you have a plan for how to spend the year. You might undertake a research project, volunteer, study to improve your SAT scores, or take classes non-matriculated at a local college.


Keep it in perspective.

Even if BU was your top choice, chances are, you’ll find a way to make a college that did accept you work. College really is what you make of it, and if you put effort into adjusting to another school by joining clubs, working hard in your classes, and cultivating a social life, you’ll likely find that you can make a fulfilling college experience for yourself, even if you end up at a college that wasn’t your top choice.


Curious about your chances of acceptance to your dream school? Our free chancing engine takes into account your GPA, test scores, extracurriculars, and other data to predict your odds of acceptance at over 500 colleges across the U.S. We’ll also let you know how you stack up against other applicants and how you can improve your profile. Sign up for your free CollegeVine account today to get started!

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Laura Berlinsky-Schine
Senior Blogger at CollegeVine
Short bio
Laura Berlinsky-Schine is a graduate of Johns Hopkins University, where she majored in Creative Writing and minored in History. She lives in Brooklyn, New York and works as a freelance writer specializing in education. She dreams of having a dog.