Boston College is a Jesuit, private research university located several miles West of downtown Boston. Boston is known as a hub of research, education, and culture in addition to being one of the oldest municipalities in the country.
Alongside Philadelphia, Boston is known for its crucial role in early American history, most notably the American Revolution. It was the site of the Boston Massacre, the Boston Tea Party, and the Battle of Bunker Hill.
It is home to some of the most renowned higher education institutions, such as Harvard, M.I.T, and Tufts. It is also known as a city of many “firsts,” such as the first public school, the first subway system, and the founding of the first social media network (Facebook).
Boston is also a hub of innovation, which is not a surprise given that it boasts an unusually high number of schools per capita.
Boston College has been poised to be a world-class institution where some of the most talented and innovative minds study. Because of its reputation and proximity to other internationally renowned institutions, it sometimes gets lumped in with the Ivy League schools.
But is Boston College Ivy League? It might as well be. Find out why as we answer this question in some detail.
Is Boston College an Ivy League School?
Boston College is not officially Ivy League school, though it shares many attributes that we usually think of as typifying an Ivy.
The “Ivy League” label technically refers to a subgroup within the National Collegiate Athletics Association (NCAA) Division I conference, which was established in 1954. The label had everything to do with sports but pertained to nothing else.
In common parlance, the label has been broadened to include elite education, world-class scholarship, and a devout alumni base that proudly dons the school colors.
The Ivy League schools are some of the oldest institutions in the country; most were established during the Colonial period. Another attribute that these schools share is their location. All of them are located in the Northeast. It goes without saying that these schools frequently appear in the top 20 on lists of top colleges and universities.
Cornell, Brown, Harvard, Princeton, Dartmouth, Yale, Upenn, and Columbia are the only official Ivy League schools. While this official designation has been unchanged and will remain unchanged some time, “Public Ivy” and “Ivy League material” schools have been cropping up over the last few decades.
Alongside Stanford or MIT, Boston College is a school that might as well be an Ivy; it is selective, has a high graduation rate, has produced notable alumni, and its faculty are top-notch teachers and scholars.
Why Is Boston College Often Confused As an Ivy League School?
If BC is not an Ivy League school, why is it often mistaken as one?
As of 2021, the school employs 882 faculty, 94% of whom hold the most advanced degree in their fields. This translates into exceptional instruction in the classroom and groundbreaking research.
While BC faculty are experts in their field, their teaching and research is centered on the liberal arts values of the school. Many professors hail from Ivy League schools, such as Princeton, Cornell, Harvard, and other prestigious institutions like MIT and Duke University.
One faculty member at BC, physicist Brian Zhou, is a recipient of two competitive National Science Foundation grants, serving as the most recent example of high-caliber faculty research.
The school’s 35 research centers span a wide variety of fields and disciplines, making BC a research powerhouse nationally and internationally.
Many of them are housed in the prestigious Boston College Law school, including the Center for Human Rights and International Justice as well as the Rappaport Center for Law and Public Policy, which brings together thought leaders and the best policymakers in the region.
Like many high-caliber schools, BC has an eclectic roster of accomplished and notable alumni, including actors Chris O’Donnell and Amy Poehler, the current United States Special Presidential Envoy for Climate, and the former US Secretary of State, John Kerry.
BC counts Fulbright, Goldwater, and Rhodes scholars among its alumni ranks, including and most recently, Isabelle Stone ’18, who became the third BC graduate to receive a Rhodes scholarship.
Boston College: Ranking, Acceptance Rate, and More
So far, we have only given a gist of BC’s well-earned reputation as a respectable research school and an all-around high-caliber institution.
Stats and ranks are not everything, but they give a glimpse of their successes and impact. BC performs well across several reliable publications, such as the US News & World Report.
On USNWR, BC is tied for 35th best national colleges and universities, sharing the spot with the University of California at Irvine, Georgia Institute of Technology, and University of California at San Diego.
USNWR considers BC to be one of the top schools in undergraduate teaching and service-learning. BC faculty are phenomenal teachers who demonstrate a solid commitment to high-quality undergraduate teaching while maintaining prolific and active research profiles.
According to Niche, Boston College gets high marks, basically straight A’s, for its academics, diversity, athletics, value, and social scene. The site gives the school an overall grade of A+, the highest that a college or university can receive.
Perhaps even more noteworthy is that BC is ranked as the 3rd best Catholic college in the US, trailing behind only the University of Notre Dame and Georgetown.
BC is Ivy League material. A highly selective admissions process and low acceptance rates come with the territory. For the incoming class of 2015, BC admitted only 18% of applicants, which is low compared to recent years.
How to Get Into Boston College
With a low acceptance rate and thousands of aspiring Eagles vying for just a few spots every year, what does it take to get into Boston College?
While the stats we present here give a decent snapshot of the competition, they capture only one aspect of the admissions process.
Admissions committees of high-caliber schools look for candidates who will thrive and meaningfully contribute to the school’s mission and culture, in addition to succeeding academically.
The average SAT and ACT scores for matriculated students were1495 and 34, respectively. BC did admit 39% of students who did not submit any scores, which means that other factors were given more weight in the admissions process.
While the school did not disclose the average GPA for incoming students, Niche’s published admissions data for the school shows that most admitted applicants had a high school GPA of 3.6 or higher. Overall, the incoming class of 2025 has a solid academic profile.
The latest data also shows that the class of 2025 is the most diverse group to date. Around 42% of matriculated students come from African, Hispanic, Asian, and Native American (AHANA) backgrounds. This means that BC has been stepping up its efforts to diversify the student body in recent years and has succeeded.
One tip for prospective students is to show how they will contribute to the diversity of the student body and the life of the college. While first-generation status, race/ethnicity, and work experience are essential considerations, diversity is not limited to these categories.
According to College Transitions, applicants should put a lot of effort into college essays, extracurricular and community activities, and obtain letters of recommendation from teachers and mentors who can attest to their unique skills and abilities.
Recap: Boston College Is Not an Ivy League University. However, It Is One of the Best Universities in the Nation
While Boston College is classified as an R1 research university, it remains true to its legacy as a “small liberal arts college.”
In other words, it has the status and reputation as a central hub of research but retains the look and feel of a small liberal arts college.
Academic excellence is its standard, but its mission, outlook, identity, and curriculum are rooted in Jesuit, Catholic values of faith and service.
The Jesuit education philosophy is encapsulated by the Ratio Studorium model, an approach to humanistic education that integrated the study of classical authors and Greek and Latin with the utmost intellectual rigor.
The commitment to intellectual rigor and holistic education underpin BC’s educational framework to this very day; students are required to take philosophy and theology courses.
BC students have ample opportunities for intellectual, spiritual, and emotional growth. The school draws students who are passionate about a well-rounded education and service to others. The student body has been described as highly-driven and intellectually oriented.
Boston College seems worthy of the moniker “Catholic Ivy.”