Boston University – Acceptance Rate, Tuition, Requirements, and More

With over 34,000 students, Boston University is one of the largest and most diverse research universities in the country. The school’s commitment to interdisciplinary research has earned it numerous awards and funding partners.

BU’s location means that undergraduates are immersed in a global city that brings in other students and people from all over the world. In addition, Boston is an excellent environment for learning as the campus is surrounded by big names in business and exciting startups.

The city’s diversity spreads to the university as well, with students coming from all 50 US states and other areas from around the globe. As one of the first universities to create a study abroad program, BU currently sponsors over 90 international programs. 

The faculty at BU know how to inspire students and are dedicated to their success. At Boston University, there is something for everyone with more than 300 programs of study and nearly 500 student clubs. Outside of the classroom, students have the opportunity to participate in over 20 NCAA Division I varsity sports. 

Acceptance Rate

Boston University
John Phelan, Boston University School of Education, Boston MA, CC BY 3.0

With an acceptance rate of 19%, Boston University is considered very selective. This means that out of the average 60,000 applicants, less than 1 in 5 are granted admission. 

The rigorous admissions process indicates that even applicants that exceed GPA and test score expectations are not guaranteed to get in. If other parts of the application fall short, such as the letters of recommendation and personal statement, there is a low chance of being accepted. 

Even with the COVID-19 pandemic, BU saw a 24% increase in applicants. More than 75,000 students applied to be a member of the Class of 2025. Considering the school’s study abroad opportunities, research prestige, and top-notch academics, it’s no surprise that more students than ever are applying to BU. Despite the growth in applicants, the school only admits students that are likely to succeed in the rigorous curriculum and take advantage of the university’s many opportunities.

Requirements & Admission Tips

To be admitted to BU, students are expected to excel academically. The incoming Class of 2021 had an average GPA of 3.7 – 4.0, falling in the top 6% of their class. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it is worth noting that only 58% of students applying in 2021 submitted their test scores. The middle 50% of applicants fell between 1430 – 1540 for the SAT and 33 – 35 for the ACT.

Along with GPA and testing statistics, the admissions team considers class transcripts to ensure that students are likely to succeed in challenging courses. Beyond the classroom, BU looks for applicants who will enhance the unique and diverse community on campus. Through extracurriculars, interests, work experience, and recommendation letters, students show what makes them special. In particular, BU looks for ambitious students who will use the opportunities provided by the school to take their academic experience to new heights.

Notable Alumni

As a renowned institution, BU has a diverse group of successful alumni, including 8 Nobel Laureates, 23 Pulitzer Prize winners, and 10 Rhodes Scholars. Martin Luther King Jr., known for his work as a civil rights leader, earned his doctorate in systematic theology from BU in 1955. His time in Boston influenced both his personal and professional life, inspiring him to advocate for nonviolent resistance to segregation.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is another fighter for social justice who has roots with BU. As the youngest woman elected to the House of Representatives, AOC’s relentless activism goes back to her days at BU, where she was a leading student ambassador for the Howard Thurman Center for Common Ground. 

After earning his M.B.A at BU, Mickey Drexler went on to become a recognized name in business. He is known for his work turning around companies, including Gap, Apple, Bloomingdales, and Macy’s. As the former CEO of J.Crew and Ann Taylor, Drexler is well-versed in the retail industry and continues to advise startup companies today.


Faculty at Boston University are known as leaders in their fields and use their hands-on experience to educate the next generation of innovators. Ibram X. Kendi, #1 New York Times best-selling author, is known for his work with antiracism. He was listed as the most influential college professor on The Root 100. As the Director of BU’s Center for Antiracist Research, Kendi strengthens BU’s mission as a research hub around social and racial justice. 

James Collins, one of the founders of the field of synthetic biology, is a highly sought-after professor of biomedical engineering. By harnessing and redesigning the power of nature, Collins works to implement solutions to the biggest problems in healthcare today. He is a Rhodes scholar, a MacArthur genius award winner, and a member of the National Academy of Sciences in recognition of his distinguished achievements in original research. Along with his academic achievements, he is known for his passion for teaching and mentoring, earning him the title of Professor of the Year.

Similar Schools & Ranking

Boston University is ranked among the top universities in America thanks to its academic programs and prestigious research. Using key statistics and student reviews, BU ranked #9 in Niche’s list of the best big colleges in America. The school also received an overall A+ ranking based on academics, diversity, professors, and student life.

US News ranks Boston University as #42 nationwide and #13 in Study Abroad. Based on nominations from college presidents and deans, this placement highlights BU’s stellar study abroad program. Students at BU have the opportunity to interact with cultures from around the world and further their learning through intensive academic or employment experiences.

Students are drawn to BU for the overall strength of academics and reputation among academia and industry. Similar schools are large enough to provide freedom for students with varied academic offerings and robust research programs. There are plenty of schools in the Boston area that fit the bill, such as Boston College, Tufts University, and Northeastern University. Outside of Massachusetts, similar schools include USC, NYU, and Villanova.


Boston University is committed to admitting a diverse group of undergraduates and using their resources to provide financial aid. Through merit, need-based, and endowed scholarships, the school meets 85% of financial need. The average merit-based scholarship is $3,000, while need-based scholarships average $47,000.

BU is committed to helping high achievers realize their dreams through merit-based scholarships. Along with celebrating academic achievements, the school awards impressive athletes, performers, artists, and leaders. Other merit-based scholarships focus on specific areas of study, from engineering to the fine arts and more.

On the other hand, need-based scholarships are based on each individual’s calculated financial need. The BU Scholarship Assurance guarantees that aid will be renewed each year for the same amount. To recognize those with financial need who show outstanding academic achievement and promise, the University Scholarship was created. As long as the student maintains their grades and other eligibility requirements, the scholarship will cover their total financial need even with tuition increases.

Is Boston University Right For You?

The selectivity of admissions and renowned faculty and alumni at BU show that students who challenge themselves are positioned to succeed. Each community member has an inherent desire to pursue knowledge and go after the possibilities that come with it. The admissions team looks for “doers” who hope to take their academic experience to new heights.

Proactive students will be able to make the most out of every opportunity at BU, from student organizations to campus speakers. If you are looking to understand the world, meet people from all backgrounds, and are eager to proactively seek out new experiences, then BU is a great option.

From championship sports teams to groundbreaking research, BU undergraduates will be in the middle of the action. This can be seen by the dynamic campus atmosphere and city around it, as students will need to be adaptable to keep up. Through BU’s interdisciplinary approach to problem-solving, students contribute to the community by developing their own research and business ideas.


BU is classified as a doctoral university with very high research activity for its commitment to seeking knowledge and creating breakthroughs. Along with the top Carnegie distinction, the school is a member of the Association of American Universities, a group of 65 prestigious research institutions across North America.

During 2020, BU totaled $574.1 million in research awards and over 6,000 publications. Due to the university’s top-notch research, their funding sources include big names like the National Science Foundation, National Institute of Health, and the US Department of Defense. In addition, the school was named as an International Powerhouse by Times Higher Education for its commitment to research.
One of the reasons that BU research is so powerful is the strategic removal of barriers between disciplines. The Rajen Kilachand Center, a nine-story research facility, brings together life scientists, engineers, and physicians to break boundaries. Students are encouraged to collaborate on research projects across a wide range of subjects through the Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program.