What is Boston University Known For? Is BU a Good School?

Few cities have a better claim to the term “college town” than Boston, Massachusetts, home to outstanding institutions such as Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. 

But while Boston University may not have the same immediate name recognition, the school certainly belongs among its hallowed sisters.

Founded by the United Methodist Church in 1839, Boston University has grown to serve more than 4.000 faculty members and almost 34,000 students, making it one of America’s largest schools.

It is one of the richest schools in the world, with an endowment of $3.4 billion. Thanks to that money, BU has been able to grow in a way that other institutions have not. 

Added to a 2015 campaign that raised $1 billion, BU has been able to add 74 faculty positions to its roster, including 49 named full professorships.

Not content to keep its resources for itself, BU remains committed to improving its community. The school’s open-access policy means that even those who are not enrolled in the college can read and learn from its scholarship. 

Even better, the school has adopted an aggressive financial aid program to make classes accessible to a wider range of students.

Those who come to study at BU join a long line of achievers and world leaders. The school’s faculty and alumni have included eight Nobel laurates, 23 winners of the Pulitzer Prize, and recipients of every major honor. 

It counts among its graduates everyone from famous actors Jason Alexander and Julianne Moore to influential authors Paul Beatty and Casey Sherman to notable politicians such as Edward Brooke and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. 

What Majors & Academics Are Boston University Known For?

Boston University
Brian Chang-Yun Hsu, Warren Towers, CC BY-SA 3.0

Such an impressive list of achievements can only be built on a robust academic foundation, which Boston University certainly has. 

All of BU’s many degree offerings deserve recognition, but there are a few that stand out above the rest as the most remarkable.

The University’s School of Music is one of the best in the nation, with a wide range of offerings available. Students gain a firm foundation with survey courses that cover specific periods of Western music development and notable composers. 

But the real draw is the school’s emphasis on the philosophical and theological elements, allowing students to understand their art in a larger context.

For those focused on performance, BU’s School of Music has everything to prepare for the life of a concert musician. Programs of study include everything from historical performance, in which students hone their skills on classical instruments, to the opera institute, where students work with just their voices.

Equally renowned is BU’s School of Law, which offers a variety of emphases, including courses for entertainment law and sports law. On this unique track, students take a wide range of classes, covering everything from contract law to tax law to intellectual property law.

No matter what their focus may be, all law students can take advantage of the school’s first-class resources. Working within the 100,000-square-foot Redstone Building, students have access to a fully-appointed law library as well as numerous classroom and simulation rooms.

Is Boston University a Good School?

Without question, Boston University is an excellent school, so respected that many assume that it is part of the Ivy League. But if that sounds like faint praise, one can find evidence of BU’s quality that goes far behind just mere reputation.

According to the highly-trusted U.S. News & World Report, BU is the 42nd best school in the nation, tied with Brandies University, Case Western Reserve University, and Tulane University. The outlet also puts BU near the top of its specialized lists. 

The school comes within the top 50 for undergraduate research and best value, with its study abroad program ranked 20th in the nation.

Niche.com uses different criteria than U.S. News but still finds BU to be a great school. Because of the quality academics, diverse student body, and overall value of Boston University, the site gives the school an A+ grade. 

Even better, BU falls within the top ten on many of Niche’s specialization lists, ranking as the country’s 8th best college for kinesiology and physical therapy and the 9th best college for criminal justice.

Between these high rankings and the aforementioned alumni, there’s no question that Boston University is an excellent school, even if it isn’t part of the Ivy League. It has clearly earned the right to stand next to fellow world-class institutions Harvard and MIT.

Boston University Traditions

With over 150 years of history, Boston University has accrued many notable traditions, some serious and some very silly.

Over the course of their studies at BU, many students take Rhett’s Challenge. Housed at the popular campus eatery Rhett’s, the Challenge gives participants 30 minutes to eat a triple bacon cheeseburger, an order of fries, an eight-scoop ice cream sundae, and a soda. 

The only prize for the accomplishment may be an upset stomach, but that’s enough to keep people trying it every year.

A more formal tradition is the Back Bay Ball. One of the more recent traditions on campus, having been established only in 1985, the Ball gives students a chance to don their finest outfits and dance the night away.

These are only a fraction of the many traditions that occur at Boston University. From painting a rock to serving the community, students have many options for connecting to the school’s storied past.

Prominent Clubs & Extracurricular Activities at Boston University

Boston University
Public domain photo by Daderot via Wikimedia Commons

At a school as large as Boston University, it’s easy to get lost and feel alone. One of the best ways to counter this experience is to join a club and participate in extracurricular activities, both of which are in abundance at Boston University.

To help deal with the stresses of succeeding in an elite school like BU, there’s the Holistic Yoga Club. Each week, participants in the club get together to practice yoga, which helps them not only stay in shape but also relax and gain greater focus. Taking advantage of the school’s beautiful campus and exercise facilities, the Holistic Yoga Club builds practices that will last a lifetime.

Part of the national American Cancer Society, the Colleges Against Cancer chapter housed at Boston University equips students to raise awareness and funding to rid the world of the deadly disease. 

Participants in the club take part in fundraising activities and campaigns, working locally toward global goals. Even better, the club allows students to do real good while having fun and forming relationships.

As this small sampling indicates, Boston University has clubs for every interest. No matter if you want to use your free time blowing off steam, studying a new subject, or serving others, you can find others who want to do the same.

What Sports Are Boston University Known For?

The Boston Terriers enjoy a long history of athletic excellence with ten men’s and fourteen women’s teams playing NCAA Division I sports.

Over the years, the Terriers have won two national championships in women’s rowing, back to back 1991 and 1992. 

The school has also sponsored successful women’s teams in golf, cross country, and indoor track and field. Each of these teams has been crowned conference champion 13 times, while the women’s soccer and field hockey teams have taken 12 conference championships.

Great as these stats may be, the Boston Terriers are most dominant in men’s ice hockey. Since 1965, the men’s ice hockey team has taken 15 conference championships and 5 national championships, most recently in 2009.

Each year, the Terriers compete against crosstown rivals Boston College, Harvard, and Northeastern in the Beantown Tournament.  BU remains the king of Beantown, having won 29 of the 58 tournaments.

While not quite as famous, the men’s soccer team has its own history of excellence, winning twelve conference championships. 

The men’s basketball team has also become a regular contender in the NCAA playoffs, winning eight total conference championships, including one in 2020.

Why Boston University?

As has been made clear throughout this article, Boston University is known for its excellent academics. Many observers put BU among the 50 best institutions in the world, singling out its music and law programs, among others. 

Because of these outstanding qualities, BU has trained award-winning artists, admired world leaders, and highly-successful business people.

Of course, with these attributes also comes great popularity. Boston University may be one of the largest schools in the country, but that doesn’t mean that they take everybody. 

In fact, of the over 60,000 hopefuls who apply to the school, BU only accepts around 11,000, for a shallow acceptance rate of 22.1%.

Despite what this selective number might suggest, BU distinguishes itself through its commitment to building equality and creating the means for social advancement. 

This conviction is reflected in the school’s generous support packages and in programs such as the arts imitative, which displays works from BU students around campus.

For anyone who wants to study at a first-class university with a long record and academic excellence and a devotion to student success, it’s hard to find a better school than Boston University.

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