BU Transfer Acceptance Rate, GPA, and Requirements

Founded in 1839 by the United Methodist Church, Boston University is one of the city’s top schools. 

With over 4,000 faculty members and almost 34,000 students, BU has become one of the nation’s largest schools. 

Even more impressive, the private research university enjoys one of the largest endowment’s in the world, bringing in $2.43 billion in 2020.

Despite this success, Boston University has not lost its connections to the community. In fact, it leads the way in local support by taking an open-access policy for its research and instituting a financial aid program that brings in a wider range of students.

For these reasons, Times Higher Education has listed Boston University among its “international powerhouse” institutions, ranked alongside elite universities including Stanford, Yale, and Oxford.

With such impressive credentials, it’s easy to see why students would want to leave their institution to join Boston University. 

Thousands of students apply to transfer every year, but only a small number receive admission offers.

But difficult does mean the same thing as impossible. Hundreds of students do transfer to Boston University each year.

To be among that group, you need to know how to fill out a transfer application and how to present yourself in the best possible light.

Boston University Transfer Acceptance Rate

Boston University
Public domain photo by Daderot via Wikimedia Commons

For Fall 2020, 5164 people applied to transfer to Boston University. Out of that group, 840 people were offered admission and enrolled, resulting in a transfer acceptance rate of 16%.

That number is very much in line with Boston University’s overall acceptance rate, which was 19% that same year.

While those numbers certainly put BU in the “highly selective” category, they should offer some hope to transfer potentials. While not technically an Ivy League school, many consider BU to be of equal quality.

Other schools at the same level tend to be far more selective, especially for transfer applicants. Yale University has a microscopic 1.7% transfer acceptance rate. Even more competitive is Princeton University, with a mere 1.2% transfer acceptance rate.

Although schools have many reasons for limiting the number of transfer students, making it difficult for people to switch to a high-level school. Whatever the reason, Boston University offers more of a welcome to transfers, enriching their student body.

Application Requirements & GPA for BU Transfers

Like most high-level institutions, Boston University does not set an official minimum GPA. As is increasingly the case with elite schools, BU does not require transfer students to submit their standardized test scores.

That said, the school does report the average grades among its accepted transfer students. On average, students accepted for transfer brought with them a 3.66 GPA

Looking at those accepted as freshmen, SAT scores come in around 1420, and ACT scores are 32 on average.

The University expects SAT scores around 1420 and ACT scores near 32.

As with the overall transfer acceptance rate, these numbers should be largely positive for potential students. 

While one must earn many A’s to get a 3.66 GPA, that average suggests room for error. Someone who gets a few B’s and even the occasional C, can still be counted among the school’s transfer class.

Even if one has lower grades, Boston University uses a multi-faceted approach to making acceptance decisions.

To attempt to transfer to BU, you must first complete an application and complete a transfer report. BU accepts either the Common or the Coalition Application. At this point, you must declare a major, as the school does not allow undeclared transfers.

For those trying to be among that fortunate 16%, the most important part of the application is the essay. 

BU asks students to write one essay, no more than 600 words long, in which they describe their journey as transfer students. This is your opportunity to explain what you bring to the school, qualities that could offset lower than average grades.

In addition to transcripts from all college courses and high school, BU also requires evidence of high school graduation. 

To put the transcripts into context, the University asks students to provide syllabi from classes passed at other institutions. These syllabi help admissions counselors decide which classes will transfer to BU.

BU Transfer Deadline

Boston University
Fletcher6, BU Castle2, CC BY-SA 3.0

Those who want to transfer to join Boston University in September must submit their applications by March 15th that year. Students hoping to join for the Winter semester in January have a November 1st deadline.

By that time, transfer students also need to submit their financial aid applications.

The school recommends that applicants transferring to the School of Music or the School of Theatre submit their applications by January 1st to have ample time for auditions.

Transfer hopefuls would do well to keep these dates in mind, as they aren’t quite the same as the dates for applicants coming to the school as freshmen. Standard applications must be submitted to BU by January 4th.

With that extra time, students have a chance to craft a stronger application. Because 84% of those who apply to transfer will be denied acceptance, it is paramount that every aspect of the application stands out.

What is the Decision Date for BU Transfers?

The decision date for Boston University is between mid-April and mid-June for the Fall semester and between mid-November and mid-December for the Winter semester.

That date comes much later than the standard date for applicants. Those arriving as freshmen will hear back by December 15th or February 15th for early decision applicants and standard decisions between late March and early April.

To be sure, this delay is frustrating. But you have to remember that as frustrating as it might be, though, this disparity isn’t a surprise. 

Transfer students are very different from incoming freshmen and the decision process is as complicated as the application process. The school needs as much time as possible to consider all of the possibilities before accepting or rejecting them.

Deciding Whether You Should Transfer to BU

BU School of Medicine
John Phelan, Instructional Building, BU School of Medicine, Boston MA, CC BY 3.0

Even though it has a higher transfer acceptance rate than many other elite schools, Boston University is still highly selective. A 16% acceptance rate means that out of every ten students, eight will be rejected half the time and nine will be rejected the other half.

Moreover, transfer students must submit specialized materials to Boston University, likely more than they needed when they applied to join their first institution as freshmen.

Simply put, it is very difficult to transfer to Boston University.

But that challenge should prevent you from trying to transfer to BU.

Why? Because Boston University is one of the best schools in the world.

Some of the most influential people in the world attended Boston University, including actors such as Julianne Moore and congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. 

Winners of every major award have graduated from or taught at BU, including eight Nobel Laureates and twenty-three winners of the Pulitzer Prize.

It’s no wonder that U.S. News & World Report places BU among the top 50 colleges in the country, tied with schools such as Brandies University and the University of Wisconsin – Madison.

Despite regularly being connected to Ivy League schools, Boston University defines itself by its commitment to equality and social advancement. Several programs at the school are designed to empower students, such as its art initiative. To encourage expression and ownership of the campus, BU displays artwork from students across the campus.

Likewise, it works to expand the horizons of its student body. To advance its scientific agenda, Boston University secured $1 million to develop a new Faculty of Computing & Data Sciences position. These funds will allow academics better to understand the role of technology in everyday life.

RECAP: How to Apply As a Transfer Student to BU

As this article makes clear, not everybody gets to leave their current institution to transfer to Boston University. 

Even if you’re coming from an elite school already, BU only extends admission to a select few, those who can demonstrate that they enhance the school’s already impressive student body.

According to the last reports, 840 students transferred to BU in 2020. While that seems like a lot, 5164 applied, which means that over 4200 people were rejected. 

The 16% transfer acceptance rate, while higher than the average of most elite schools, is still very competitive.

The challenge only increases when one looks at all the work they’re required to do as part of a transfer application. 

Not only do they need to fill out a whole new application, but they also need to complete a transfer report and gather all transcripts from high school and their current college.

More importantly, BU requires potential transfers to write an essay of no more than 600 words. While that might seem like a standard part of college applications, the essay is the student’s best chance to make an impression on the acceptance committee. 

If the essay doesn’t explain why you should be allowed to transfer, you will be part of the 84% who get rejected.

Despite these unquestionably high stakes, there’s no denying the fact that Boston University is an elite school, one that any student would be proud to join.