What is Boston University Known For?

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Boston University sits on the Charles River in Boston, Massachusetts. The University takes pride in creating an environment where students are simultaneously part of a college community and a large urban scene. With outstanding academics and a diverse range of extracurricular activities, BU has a lot to offer college students.

 

In this article, we will walk through the admissions process at Boston University and unique aspects of the school related to academics, social life, and more to help you answer the question: “What about being a student at Boston University most excites you?”

 

Overview of Boston University Admissions

 

Location: Boston, Massachusetts 

Undergrad Enrollment: 18,500

Acceptance Rate: 18.3%

Middle 50% SAT: 1430-1540

Middle 50% ACT: 33-35

 

Boston University has high standards for admission. In addition to the test scores listed above, the 2021 admitted classes averaged in the 6th percentile in their high school class. 

 

With a large applicant pool, BU looks for students who challenged themselves in high school and typically accepts students who were involved in dual-enrollment, AP, and IB curriculum programs. BU enacted a temporary test-optional policy for the Fall 2021 incoming class but will begin considering standardized test scores again when deciding on the Fall 2022 incoming class. BU accepts Early Decision, Early Decision 2, and Regular Decision applicants. 

 

BU requires that applicants complete the Common Application or Coalition Application. Certain schools like the School of Music, the School of Theatre, and the School of Visual Arts have supplemental requirements. 

 

Unique Aspects of Boston University

 

Academics

 

Majors and Minors

 

BU offers over 100 majors and students are not required to choose a major until the end of their sophomore year. The most popular majors include Business Administration & Management, Communication & Media Studies, Economics, Psychology, and Computer Science. Additionally, if your schedule permits, it is easy to add one of BU’s 90+ minors to your graduation plan.

 

BU’s majors and minors are offered through 11 undergraduate schools and colleges:

 

  • 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

 

You must apply to a specific major in a specific school when applying to BU. If you do not have a specific major in mind, you can apply to the College of General Studies or to the undeclared major in the College of Arts & Sciences. 

 

Once at BU, it is easy to change your major. Students can change their major within their same school by completing a Change of Major/Minor Form or students can change to another school through an Intra-University Transfer (IUT). The IUT process may take more time and energy because you must satisfy the Gateway Criteria to complete the process, meaning you must succeed in an introductory course or series of introductory courses in the new school before transferring.

 

When applying to BU, you may be considered for admission into the College of General Studies, even if these were not your specified programs of interest. If you apply to the College of Fine Arts or the Accelerated Medical Program, you will only be considered for the program that you applied to.

 

Accelerated Programs

 

Boston University’s Accelerated Medical Program is notable as it allows students to pursue an undergraduate degree while being enrolled in the Boston University Medical School. The program is a seven-year commitment. Students apply to the Accelerated Medical Program as first-year applicants to the University and graduate the program as medical doctors.

 

Within the College of Arts & Sciences (CAS), many programs offer combined BA/MA and BA/MS paths. If you are a CAS student, you can pursue an accelerated degree in a wide range of programs, including the humanities and STEM fields. 

 

General Education

 

In 2018, BU launched a new University-wide general education program called BU Hub. This general education program works with the different schools and colleges at BU to help all students develop “six essential capacities.”

 

  • philosophical, aesthetic, and historical interpretation
  • scientific and social inquiry
  • quantitative reasoning
  • diversity, civic engagement, and global citizenship
  • communication
  • the “intellectual toolkit” (critical thinking, teamwork/collaboration, and research and information literacy). 

 

The curriculum is designed to give students a foundational understanding of the humanities, social sciences, and natural sciences, no matter their major or school. Most students fulfill their Hub requirements in 10-12 courses. Hub courses can count toward major/minor requirements and students can complete one unit through a Hub Cocurricular Experience, a course that focuses on experiential learning outside of the university.

 

Instructional Attention

 

While Boston University is a large university with more than 18,000 undergraduate students, it is known for its small 10:1 student-to-faculty ratio. This makes BU one of the best universities for instructional attention. Additionally, the average class size at BU is 27. Having meaningful interactions with professors will be a part of your BU experience. 

 

Study Abroad

 

Boston University created one of the country’s first study abroad programs and is considered one of the nation’s best. The school offers 100 programs in over 20 countries. Students often consider study abroad as one of the most rewarding experiences offered by BU. Within the College of Arts & Sciences alone, over 40% of students study abroad.

 

The Boston Consortium

 

Through the Boston Consortium, BU undergraduates can register for one course per semester that is cross-registered at Boston College, Brandeis University, Tufts University, Hebrew College, or MIT. This unique arrangement allows students an opportunity to take courses outside of Boston University while still paying tuition and residing at Boston University. Students may take one course per semester at other universities. 

 

Location

 

Boston University is an open campus, meaning that the university itself is integrated with the city of Boston—there’s no distinction between public buildings, private buildings, and BU-owned buildings. That said, the dorms, classrooms, and research centers at Boston University are more condensed than a typical open campus (this is different from a school like NYU where buildings are spread throughout the boroughs of New York City). Students generally agree that, with its close-knit community in a large urban center, Boston University perfectly blends the traditional college campus experience with the city-integrated college experience.

 

BU buildings center around Commonwealth Avenue. Comm Avenue looks like a typical college street—BU students will tell you that they cannot walk down the street without seeing someone they know. Students love to hang out at the local restaurants, pubs, and shops along Comm Avenue. While BU shows a unique calmness because it is surrounded by residential areas, the university is also on the Charles River in Boston, so students have easy access to downtown Boston.

 

It is important to remember that Boston itself is a city made up of college towns. There are 35 colleges and universities in Boston. So if you’re looking for a college feel with access to a city, BU is the perfect place. 

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Dorms

 

BU requires that freshmen live on campus and guarantees on-campus housing for all four undergraduate years, a guarantee that about 75% of students take advantage of. In total, over 80% of the BU student body lives in on-campus housing, making dorms a critical part of student life (even for upperclassmen). Because so many students live on-campus throughout their undergraduate years, BU offers a diverse range of housing options, including historic brownstones, modern high-rises, and apartments.

 

The main BU campus and BU housing options lie along the Charles River in the center of Boston. BU also boasts a Student Village, another vibrant area with a tight student community. Additionally, BU offers housing that emphasizes experiential learning and shared interests. This includes communities like BU’s Earth House, which focuses on sustainable living and environmental justice and BU’s Global House, which focuses on foreign language proficiency.

 

Extracurriculars

 

Boston University has over 450 student groups, including professional organizations, student government and political organizations, community service organizations, and Greek life. Everyone can find something to be a part of. Notable organizations include: 

 

  • Intramural Sports: Intramural sports (like broomball, discussed under Traditions) offer BU students a low-stakes opportunity to get some exercise and make some friends.

 

  • Greek Life: While only 5% of BU students “go Greek,” Greek life can become very important for students on campus.

 

  • BU Band: The BU Band provides musical opportunities for talented students, regardless of their majors.

 

  • Acapella Groups: BU has a number of acapella groups, including the Dear Abbeys, the Allegrettos (‘Grettos), the BosTones, and more.

 

  • Theatre Groups: Theatre groups on campus include the Boston University Shakespeare Society, BU Stage Troupe, and BU on Broadway. 

 

  • Cultural Organizations: Different cultural groups have organizations on campus. Some are particularly large like Hillel House.

 

Additionally, BU has 24 NCAA Division 1 varsity sports teams. The most competitive teams at BU are the men’s ice hockey team, women’s soccer, and women’s field hockey. Around 4% of BU students participate in varsity sports.

 

Traditions

 

Though a common complaint of Boston University is the school’s lack of a football team, two sports do find their way into most students’ experiences at Boston University: hockey and broomball.

 

The BU Terriers men’s ice hockey team has been successful throughout history, making hockey a unique focus of campus life. Boston University’s biggest rival (which can get confusing for out-of-staters) is Boston College. When the BU Terriers and the BC Eagles compete, it is referred to as the Green Line rivalry or the battle for Commonwealth Avenue because Commonwealth Avenue runs between the two schools and the Green Line train runs straight down Commonwealth Avenue, with stops for both BU and BC. Most students head over to Agganis Arena a few times a year to cheer on the boys. Attendance is aided by the fact that a one-time $90 payment at the beginning of the year gets you into any BU sporting event!

 

Similar to hockey in many ways, BU’s most popular intramural sport is broomball, described by the university as “one part ice hockey, one part curling, one part golf, and several thousand parts ridiculousness.” 

 

Other events that spur on Terrier pride include Lobster Night, a tradition since 1985 where each student at each dining hall chows down on a full steamed lobster with all the fixings, and the BU Pumpkin Drop, an event each October where Physics students launch pumpkins off the roof of Metcalf Center for Science and Engineering.

 

What Are Your Chances of Acceptance at Boston University?

 

While BU’s acceptance rate is low (around 18.3% in 2021) your personal chances of acceptance may vary. We recommend that you use our free admissions calculator to see your chances of getting into Boston University. Using your grades, test scores, and extracurriculars, we’ll estimate your odds of acceptance, and give you tips on improving your profile. 

 

Reading all about Boston University may have given you some ideas for your “Why Boston University” essay. Essays are often important in admissions decisions because they’re your primary opportunity to humanize your application and set yourself apart from other applicants. 

 

To get feedback on your “Why Boston University” essay, we recommend using our Peer Essay Review tool, where you can get a free review of your essay from another student. You can also improve your own writing skills by reviewing other students’ essays. This tool will make it easier to understand your essay’s strengths and weaknesses – making your BU application stronger!

 

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Brooke Elkjer
Blog Writer

Short Bio
Brooke is going into her senior year at the University of Southern California and is originally from Dallas, Texas. She is pursuing a Bachelor’s degree in English and a Bachelor’s degree in Neuroscience. Brooke is the associate literary producer for the intersectional feminist production company on campus, ART/EMIS. She also is a Resident Assistant (RA) and a student worker for the Thematic Option Honors GE Program. In her free time, Brooke enjoys reading, writing, and watching Gilmore Girls.

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