How to Get Into Boston University: Admissions Stats + Tips

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What’s Covered:

 

Did you know that Martin Luther King Jr., Julianne Moore, Jhumpa Lahiri, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and Aaron Sorkin all graduated from Boston University? Situated in the heart of Boston, the research university was founded in 1872 and boasts a myriad of programs in a range of specialties and areas.

 

BU is a highly selective university, and thousands of students apply for a spot in the freshman class every year. How do you maximize your chances of getting in?

 

How Hard Is It to Get Into BU?

 

For the class of 2025, 61,007 students applied, and 12,254 were admitted — a 20.1% acceptance rate.

 

Although BU’s acceptance rate is low, your own chances of admission depend on your unique profile. Use CollegeVine’s free admissions calculator to find out your real odds of acceptance to BU, and receive tips on how to improve your profile for success.

 

Average Academic Profile of Accepted BU Students

 

GPA

 

The average high school GPA for students in the BU class of 2025 was 3.76. Twenty-four percent had a 4.0 GPA.

 

SAT/ACT

 

The middle 50% SAT range for students in this class was 1340-1460, and the ACT range was 30-34. Seventy percent of students submitted the SAT, and 33% submitted the ACT.

 

Class Rank

 

66% of admitted students who submitted class rank were in the top 10% of their graduating class, and 93% were in the top 25%.

 

What is BU Looking for?

 

“A thoughtful and comprehensive review that takes into account your academic achievements and activities inside and outside the classroom within the context of your academic environment, life experiences, and background,” BU says. “We seek to bring together a diverse student body that is highly motivated, intellectually curious, and contributes to the BU community.”

 

That includes taking plenty of challenging courses, while also engaging in different types of activities. “We’re also looking for students who will create a unique, diverse community at BU,” the university says. “Those who are doers—volunteers, entrepreneurs, and ambitious students looking to take their academic experience to new heights.” 

 

The recommended high school curriculum is:

 

  • four years of English
  • three to four years of mathematics (precalculus/calculus recommended)
  • three to four years of laboratory science
  • three to four years of history or social science
  • two to four years of a foreign language

 

As with other highly selective schools, BU encourages students to take the most rigorous curriculum available to them. It also considers demonstrated interest, seeking out students who want to attend the school, and want to represent diverse perspectives, passions, dedications, and backgrounds.

 

How BU Evaluates Applications

 

According to BU’s 2020–2021 Common Data Set, these factors are “very important” in the admissions process:

 

  • Rigor of secondary school record
  • Academic GPA
  • Talent/ability (College of Fine Arts applicants only)

 

These are “important”:

 

  • Class rank
  • Application essay
  • Recommendations
  • Interview
  • Extracurricular activities
  • Character/personal qualities

 

These factors are “considered”:

 

  • Standardized test scores
  • First generation
  • Alumni/ae relation
  • Geographical residence
  • State residency
  • Racial/ethnic status
  • Volunteer work
  • Work experience
  • Level of applicant’s interest

 

This is “not considered”:

 

  • Religious affiliation/commitment

 

Discover your chances at hundreds of schools

Our free chancing engine takes into account your history, background, test scores, and extracurricular activities to show you your real chances of admission—and how to improve them.

How to Improve Your Chances of Getting into BU

 

1. Achieve at least a 3.76 while taking the most challenging classes available

 

You should excel in a rigorous curriculum, the most challenging one available to you, and attain a high GPA, at least a 3.76, the average GPA for BU’s freshman class. 

 

Many schools of BU’s caliber use the Academic Index, a metric combining academic factors like grades and test scores, to ensure that students meet their minimum academic standards. It’s important to have a competitive transcript in order to clear this threshold.

 

If your GPA is lower, and you’re earlier on in your high school career, check out our tips for increasing your GPA. If you’re a junior or senior, it will be harder to increase your GPA, so the easiest way to increase your Academic Index is to get a higher test score.

 

2. Aim for a 1460 SAT and 34 ACT

 

You should aim for test scores at the 75th percentile of BU’s freshman class, although anything within the middle 50% range (1340-1460 SAT and 30-34 ACT) is fine. This year, in light of COVID-19 test-optional policies, we recommend submitting scores that are at the 25th percentile or above. Students can get recommendations on whether or not they should apply test-optional using our free Chancing Engine

 

Bear in mind that BU superscores the SAT and ACT, so it’s in your best interest to take the test two to three times to maximize your scores.

 

To improve your scores, check out these free CollegeVine resources:

 

 

3. Cultivate at least one or two Tier 1-2 extracurriculars (find your “spike”)

 

BU wants students who are engaged outside of the classroom, demonstrating their talents and interests through extracurricular involvement. Consider your activities according to the 4 Tiers of Extracurriculars, with Tier 1 representing the most unique and impressive activities and Tier 4 representing activities that are very common. Here are some examples of impressive ECs for college.

 

You’ll be a more competitive candidate if you demonstrate a “spike,” or a specialization in one or two key areas. You should also aim to have at least one or two Tier 1-2 activities, along with a handful of Tier 3-4 activities.

 

4. Write engaging essays

 

Your essays are an opportunity for BU to get to know you beyond your academic credentials. While they are primarily about you, they also give you space to demonstrate how you’ll fit in with the university and your enthusiasm for BU. Make sure you take the time and care to turn out thoughtful, well-written essays — they play an important role in the admissions process.

 

5. Apply Early Decision

 

Although BU doesn’t publish its Early Decision I and II acceptance rate, in most cases, applying early can increase your chances of admission even when controlling for profile strength. That said, you should only apply ED if you’re truly committed to attending the university. And you should keep in mind the limitations of applying ED, too.

 

6. Apply to the best-fit college for you

 

Undergraduates must apply directly to one of 10 schools within BU:

 

  • College of Arts & Sciences
  • College of Communication
  • College of Engineering
  • College of Fine Arts
  • College of General Studies
  • College of Health & Rehabilitation Sciences: Sargent College
  • Frederick S. Pardee School of Global Studies
  • Arvind and Chandan Nandlal Kilachand Honors College
  • Questrom School of Business
  • School of Hospitality Administration
  • Wheelock College of Education & Human Development

 

Students are also required to apply to a specific major within the college, although you may apply to the College of General Studies or undeclared within the College of Arts & Sciences.

 

Do some research on the college that’s the best fit for you. Also, keep in mind that if you apply to the College of Fine Arts or the Accelerated Medical Program, you will only be considered for that program or school.

 

7. Secure strong recommendations

 

BU considers recommendations “important” in the admissions process. According to the university, the adcom considers recommendations from teachers, counselors, community leaders, and others who know you well. That means you should choose someone who truly understands you as a person — not just the teacher who gave you an A+. 

 

How to Apply to BU

 

Deadlines

 

Application Timeline

Deadline

Early Decision I

November 1

Early Decision II

January 4

Regular Decision

January 4

January Admission

November 1

 

Application Requirements

 

  • Common Application or Coalition Application
  • High school transcript
  • Senior year grades
  • Counselor recommendation and School Report Form
  • Teacher evaluation
  • Standardized test scores (currently test-optional)

 

NB: There are additional requirements for the College of Fine Arts and the Accelerated Medical program.

 

Learn more about BU

 

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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.

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