The Ultimate Guide to Applying to Tufts
Founded in 1852 in Medford, Massachusetts, Tufts University’s main campus sits on Walnut Hill, the highest point in Medford, overlooking the beautiful New England town just outside of Boston. Emphasizing active citizenship and public service, the research university boasts renowned undergraduate programs in International Relations, Biology, Computer Science, and Fine Arts, among more than seventy other majors.
The undergraduate program at Tufts spans three schools: the School of Arts and Sciences, the School of Engineering, and the School of the Museum of Fine Arts (SMFA). SMFA students direct their own course of study through areas including ceramics, drawing, film and animation, graphic arts, metals, painting, performance, photography, print and paper, sculpture, sound, and video. These students also take fourteen courses within the School of Arts and Sciences, and ultimately earn a Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) degree.
Combined Degree and Early Admission Programs
Tufts also offers several combined degree programs. Students may pursue a five-year combined Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Science and Bachelor of Music from Tufts School of Arts and Sciences and the New England Conservatory of Music, blending a music intensive program with a liberal arts curriculum. Students who want to pursue both academic and artistic studies may enroll in a separate five-year combined degree program through Tufts School of Arts and Sciences and SMFA, which gives them the opportunity to earn a Bachelor of Fine Arts and a Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Science.
Once enrolled at Tufts, students may apply for the opportunity to earn a Bachelor’s degree and a Master’s degree in five years. Students may also gain early admission into Tufts’s professional schools, including the School of Medicine, the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine, and the School of Dental Medicine. They may also pursue early admission/combined degree programs in Public Health and Health Communications.
Study Abroad and Bridge-Year Programs
As a leader in International Relations and other international programs, Tufts is famous for its study abroad experiences. Around 40-45% of students participate in full-year or semester-long overseas programs. Tufts has campuses in Chile, China, Germany, Ghana, Hong Kong, Japan, London, Madrid, Oxford, and Paris, or students may choose from more than 80 pre-approved programs offered by other institutions.
Students may also participate in Tufts 1+4 Bridge-Year Service Learning Program. After you are accepted to Tufts, you may apply to engage in this unique year-long program before beginning your four-year undergraduate studies. Participating students begin the year with an orientation at Tufts, before traveling to one of four locations across the globe to work on issues like community building, education, child development, environmental stewardship, and public policy. This year, Bridge Year Fellows will be placed in Santa Catarina, Brazil, Leon, Nicaragua, Madrid, Spain, or any of 27 domestic sites affiliated with CityYear.
Statistics, Financial Aid, and Deadlines
Tufts is a very selective school, with an acceptance rate of 16% for the class of 2019.
Tufts offers need-based financial aid, but does not offer merit-based scholarships. You may use the Net Price Calculator to estimate your financial aid at Tufts. Financial aid forms are due November 15th for Early Decision I, January 15th for Early Decision II, and February 1st for Regular Decision. Federal tax forms are due December 1st, February 1st, of and February 15th respectively. Tuition costs $51,304 annually, for a total cost of $68,200, including room, board and other fees, annually for residential students. Commuter students have the same cost of tuition, but their annual total fee is $60,400.
Tufts offers two binding Early Decision programs. Early Decision I application materials are due November 1st, and applicants will be notified of their admission decisions in mid-December. Early Decision II applicants must submit their materials by January 1st and will receive their decisions in mid-February. Students may be deferred to the Regular Decision pool or denied admission under both plans. Regular Decision candidates must submit application materials by January 1st and will receive their admission decisions April 1st.
Tufts uses a waitlist, but does not provide statistics on waitlist acceptances. Students who are offered a position on the waitlist will be notified of their final admission decisions by mid-June.
Applying to Tufts
Tufts accept the Common Application, Coalition Application, or QuestBridge Application, along with the Tufts supplement. There is a $75 application fee.
The Tufts application supplement has four sections, along with a writing supplement: General, Academic, Contacts, and Family.
In this section, you will indicate that you plan on starting in Fall 2017 as a full-time student. These are the only options for student status and start term. You have the option of stating your gender identity and whether or not you identify as transgender. You are not obligated to answer these questions, and your gender identity will not influence your admission in anyway. These questions are used for demographic purposes only.
You will also indicate if you are using a fee waiver for the application and if you are applying for financial aid. Additionally, you will state if you are interested in participating in Tufts 1+4 Bridge-Year Service Learning Program. Keep in mind that you are not committing to the program here; you will undergo a separate application process if you are accepted to Tufts.
The application offers the following information about art portfolios:
An Art Portfolio is required for students applying to the BFA or 5 year BFA+BA/BS Combined Degree programs at the SMFA at Tufts. Students applying to the School of Arts and Sciences or the School of Engineering may submit an optional arts or maker portfolio to highlight talent in studio art, drama, dance, music, or engineering. Please see our website for further information.
If you are planning on submitting an art portfolio, you will specify that you are doing so here.
Finally, you will answer whether or not you planning on participating in Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC).
Here, you will designate to which school or program you are applying: School of Arts and Sciences, School of Engineering, BFA, 5 year BFA + BA/BS, or 5 year BA/Bachelor of Music with New England Conservatory. You will also list your first, second, and third choice academic interests. Keep in mind that you are not declaring a major here, but simply giving the admissions committee an idea of your current interests.
In this section, you will state if you have previously applied to Tufts, and if so when. You will also indicate how you learned about Tufts. There are ten slots available, so there are multiple ways in which you learned about Tufts, you should list them in order of influence. You do not need to fill in all ten slots.
This section asks you about any affiliations your family members have with Tufts. You will specify if you have any siblings who are applying to Tufts, any relatives who have attended, and any parents or stepparents who currently work there. If you answer yes to any of these questions, you will be prompted for the relatives’ names, relationships to you, years affiliated, and degrees or departments, if applicable.
The required prompts for Tufts will appear in this section once you have noted the school or program to which you are applying in the Academic section.
The supplement has three prompts, two of which all applicants must answer, and one you will choose to answer from a list of four prompts.
There is a Quaker saying: “Let your life speak.” Describe the environment in which you were raised—your family, home, neighborhood or community—and how it influenced the person you are today. (Required length is 200-250 words)
Which aspects of Tufts’ curriculum or undergraduate experience prompt your application? “Why Tufts?” (Required length is 50-100 words)
These prompts require you to be as specific as possible given the limited space. You should emphasize your personal experiences and how Tufts will help you continue to pursue your goals, rather than simply stating what aspects of Tufts appeal to you. Be sure to use examples and anecdotes if possible.
For the final piece of writing, you may choose among five prompts:
Answer one of the following questions. Think outside the box: take a risk and go somewhere unexpected. Be serious if the moment calls for it but feel comfortable being playful if that suits you, too. (Your response must be between 200 – 250 words.)
- Nelson Mandela believed that “what counts in life is not the mere fact that we have lived. It is what difference we have made to the lives of others that will determine the significance of the life we lead.” Describe a way in which you have made or hope to make a difference.
- It’s cool to be smart. Tell us about the subjects or ideas that excite your intellectual curiosity.
- Whether you’ve built blanket forts or circuit boards, produced community theater or mixed media art installations, tell us: what have you invented, engineered, created, or designed? Or what do you hope to?
- What makes you happy?
- Celebrate the role of sports in your life.
For tips on how to choose a prompt and approach your essay, check out our “How to Write the Tufts University Application Essays 2016-2017” post.
If you are applying to the BFA program or combined BFA/BA or BS program, you will not have the opportunity to select a prompt, but will be given the following question:
Please answer the following question – we encourage you to think outside the box. Be serious if the moment calls for it but feel comfortable being playful if that suits you, too. Your response must be between 200 – 250 words.
Artist Bruce Nauman once said, “One of the factors that still keeps me in the studio is that every so often I have to more or less start all over.” Everyone deals with failure differently; for most artists failure is an opportunity to start something new. Tell us about a time when you have failed and how that has influenced your art practice.
Because these essays are very specific to Tufts, you should leave yourself plenty of time to write compelling answers. Some of the options are very similar to come Common Application essay prompts, so try to make your essays as distinct as possible, and if you find yourself being repetitive or telling the same anecdotes, consider choosing a different prompt for this section. Pay close attention to tone—Tufts encourages you to be yourself, so allow your personality to shine through.
Students may request an optional interview conducted by a member of the Tufts Admissions Network or a senior interviewer. You may request an interview via your Application Checklist once you have submitted your application. Interviews are not guaranteed, and the absence of completing one will not reflect negatively on your candidacy.
You must submit scores from either the SAT plus two SAT subject tests, or the ACT. For students applying to the School of Engineering, one of the subject tests must be Math Level I or II, and the other must be Physics or Chemistry. Subject tests are optional for the School of the Museum of Fine Arts.
You should also submit one letter of recommendation from a teacher who taught you in a major subject (math, natural science, social science, English, or a foreign language) during your junior or senior year of high school, along with a letter of recommendation from your guidance counselor. BFA candidates must submit a recommendation from an art teacher as well. If you wish, you may submit an additional letter of recommendation if it offers additional information, but are not required to do so.
Although Tufts carefully evaluates extracurricular activities in the admissions process, it does not accept resumes submitted as a supplement, so the Activities section of your application is the only place where you may describe these activities.
BFA or combined BFA and BA or BS candidates are required to submit a 15-20-piece art portfolio representing their strengths and interests.
The Tufts supplement may seem a bit more extensive than those for some of the other selective schools, so be sure to give yourself plenty of time to be as thorough as possible. Good luck!
Looking for guidance on applying to Tufts and other colleges? Our Personal Admissions Specialists are here to help. Click here to find out more about our College Application Guidance Program.