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. These programs include 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).


So, what does it take to get into BU? Read on to learn the Boston University acceptance rate, BU SAT and ACT scores, how to improve your chances, and more BU admissions statistics.


Want to know your chances at BU? And how long your application should take? Here’s what every student considering BU needs to know


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 (test optional if you’re applying for Fall 2021 or Spring 2022 admission ONLY, due to coronavirus; normally, BU requires the SAT or ACT with the Essay being optional) 


Some special programs have additional 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.


Boston University Deadlines


Deadlines Regular Decision Early Decision I Early Decision II
Application January 1* November 1 January 1
CSS Profile & FAFSA January 1 November 1 January 1
Notification Date Late March December 15 February 15
Enrollment Deposit Due May 1 January 10 Late February


*You may need to submit your full application (or parts of it) earlier to be eligible for certain programs and scholarships, such as the following:


Accelerated Medical Program: November 15

Trustee and Presidential Scholarships: December 1

CFA Prescreening Recordings: December 1


Boston University Acceptance Rate: How Hard 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.


For the class of 2024, Boston University had an acceptance rate of 18.5%. The BU admissions statistics are as follows:


Total Applicants: 61,006

BU Acceptance Rate: 18.5%

Average Rank in High School: Top 7%

Average Overall Grade: A-

Middle 50% SAT Score: 1420-1540

Middle 50% ACT Score: 32-35

(Source: BU admissions website and BU Today)


These statistics are averages. Considering its low acceptance rate, BU cannot be considered a safety school for most applicants, and is likely a target school for many candidates, and a reach for many others. 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 or ACT Essay. The adcom will also superscore your tests if you choose to submit them, meaning it will only recalculate your composite score according to the highest scores you receive in every section, even if they were during different sittings.


For the Accelerated Medical Program, you are required to submit Subject Tests in Chemistry and Math II (this optional for those applying for Fall 2021 and Spring 2022 enrollment, due to coronavirus).

So, How Do You 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 ideally aim to exceed or fall at the upper end of the middle 50%. At the very least, you should fall within the range.


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.


Write Strong Essays


Because BU shares a city and community with a number of other highly selective colleges and universities, you also need to make it clear why you want to attend BU in particular, and why you’re a good fit at BU specifically. One way to do so is by writing a strong response to the “why us” essay prompt: What about being a student at Boston University most excites you?


As with other “Why this College?” essays, the key is to name unique aspects of BU that will help you achieve your goals. You shouldn’t focus on general factors such as the school’s location or class size, especially since there many schools in Boston with similar attributes.


For more advice on responding to the BU essay prompts, check out CollegeVine’s guide: How to Write the Boston University Supplemental Essays 2019-2020.


Emphasize your individuality. 


BU is a university that celebrates diverse interests, personalities, and backgrounds. The class of 2024, for instance, includes 24% international students, and residents of all 50 states and 102 countries. Eighteen percent of admitted students include members of underrepresented minority groups. In order to gain admission, you will need to demonstrate 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. Check out our free chancing engine if you want to see your personal chances of acceptance, how you stack up against other applicants, and how to improve your chances. 


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 particular university through your essays 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.


One option is to take a gap year and reapply next admissions cycle if you’re rejected from the schools on your list. 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. ONLY do this if you actually want to take a gap year, and not because you want to try again to get into your dream school. It won’t be any easier to get in a second time, unless you can accomplish something truly impressive during your gap year. It may actually be harder to get in the second time if you don’t do anything productive during your gap year.


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 BU? 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.