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Boston University: Academics, Admissions & Tuition Info

Research the degree programs offered at Boston University. Learn about its academics, and get admission and financial aid info to decide if this is the right school for you.

About Boston University

Boston University (BU) was founded in 1839 as a theological seminary in Vermont. The school, originally known as the Newbury Biblical Institute, moved to Boston, MA in 1867 and was chartered as Boston University two years later. Today, the university's two campuses accommodate nearly 33,700 students and more than 4,000 faculty members.

The university has graduated and employed some well-known figures throughout history. Martin Luther King Jr. is a BU alumnus with numerous papers preserved in the university's Mugar Memorial Library, and Alexander Graham Bell invented the telephone in one of the university's labs while employed as a professor. Current BU faculty members include two Pulitzer Prize winners, two Nobel Prize winners, and 30 Guggenheim Fellows.

BU was recognized as one of the 'Top 50 Best Values in Colleges' by Kiplinger's Personal Finance in 2012 and was ranked number 54 in the world by The Times of London in October 2011. In addition to a wide range of academics, students may also participate in nearly 500 student activity groups, 23 varsity sports, and 33 club sports teams.


BU offers more than 250 programs of study through 16 schools and colleges. There are also over 90 study abroad programs available in more than 20 countries around the world.

Nine of the university's schools and colleges are devoted to undergraduate studies. The largest of these is the College of Arts and Sciences, with Bachelor's of Arts (B.A.) programs in more than 70 programs of study. Over 2,500 courses are offered in areas including social science, mathematics, the humanities, and computer science. Undergraduates may also choose to attend the College of Communication, College of Engineering, College of Fine Arts, College of General Studies, College of Health & Rehabilitation Sciences, School of Education, School of Hospitality Administration, or the School of Management. Master's and doctoral level programs are also available at most of these schools, though graduate students may also choose to attend the School of Medicine, School of Law, Henry M. Goldman School of Dental Medicine, School of Social Work, School of Public Health, School of Theology, or Metropolitan College.

BU offers 24 libraries including the Mugar Memorial Library and branches, Pappas Law Library, the Alumni Medical Library, and the School of Theology Library. Specialty branches are available with collections in music, astronomy, African studies, science and engineering, and management.


Prospective BU students must apply via the Common Application and the university's supplement. Required freshman application materials include a high school transcript with senior grades and proof of graduation, a guidance counselor report, and a teacher evaluation. The SAT or ACT with Writing Test scores must be sent from the testing agency, and SAT subject tests may be taken and submitted multiple times. Portfolios and auditions are only required for the School of Fine Arts. A $75 non-refundable fee must be submitted with the application and supplement.

BU has a diverse student population, with roughly half of undergraduates of non-White ethnicity in 2011. 92% of undergraduates were full-time students, 88% were age 24 or under, and a majority of the population was female (59% v. 41%).

Tuition & Financial Aid

The 2012-2013 estimated tuition rate for a BU undergraduate student is $42,400 while room, board, and fees add up to $13,785. Students should also plan to pay approximately $2,916 per year for books, transportation, and personal expenses.

BU undergraduates received $150 million in financial aid in 2011. Prospective students may apply to be considered for need-based and merit grants and scholarships. Loans and student employment opportunities are also available to help with tuition costs.

School Type Private not-for-profit, 4-year**
Degrees Offered Bachelor's degree, postbaccalaureate certificate, master's degree, post-master's certificate, doctorate**
Religious Affiliation None**
Academic Calendar Semesters*
School Setting Large city**
Student Body 18,140 undergraduates, 14,299 graduates in 2011**
Student Housing Freshman required to live on-campus unless exception requested for local residence or over age 21*
Schools and Programs 16 schools & colleges, more than 250 programs of study*
Student-Faculty Ratio 13 to 1**
Most Popular Fields of Study by Degree Level (Number of Recipients) In 2011:
Bachelor's: Business, management, marketing, and related (857)
Master's: Business, management, marketing, and related (970)
Doctorate: Health professions & related (439)**
Undergraduate Graduation Rates For students beginning in 2003:
77% in 4 years
82% in 6 years
83% in 8 years**
Admission Rate 58% of applicants in 2011-2012**
Entering Class Size Roughly 4,439 in 2010**
First-Year Retention Rates For 2010-2011:
92% (full-time students)**
Average SAT Score of Admitted Students Average composite SAT score 2005 for class of 2016*
Application Due Date November 1st for early decision, January 1st for regular decision*
Decision Notification Date December 15th for early decision, late March-early April for regular decision*
Tuition (2012-13) Undergraduate tuition is $42,400 for 2012-2013*
Financial Aid Sources Available (Percent of Students Receiving it) In 2010-2011: Federal grants (17%), Pell grants (17%), other federal grants (17%), state and local grants/scholarships (6%), institutional grants/scholarships (55%), federal loans (52%)**
Percent of Students Receiving Some Form of Aid 65% in 2010-2011**

Sources: *Boston University; **IES Data Center, National Center for Education Statistics (NCES).

School Contact Information

  • Address: Office of Admissions, Boston University, 121 Bay State Rd, Boston, MA 02215
  • Phone: (617) 353-2300
  • Website:

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