Boston University Admissions Statistics

Learn About BU and the GPA, SAT scores, and ACT Scores You'll Need to Get In

Curved corner of modern Boston University building
The Student Center at Boston University. Barry Winiker / Getty Images

Boston University is highly selective with an acceptance rate of only 25 percent. Successful applicants almost always have grades and standardized test scores that are well above average. The university accepts the Common Application, and students must submit scores from the SAT or ACT, high school transcripts, a personal essay, and a letter of recommendation from a teacher or guidance counselor.

Why Boston University?

  • Location: Boston, Massachusetts
  • Campus Features: One of dozens of Boston area colleges, Boston University's urban campus sits near both Fenway Park and the Charles River Esplanade. The MBTA Green Line has several stops on campus.
  • Student/Faculty Ratio: 10:1
  • Athletics: The Boston University Terriers compete in the NCAA Patriot League and Hockey East Conference.
  • Highlights: BU typically ranks among the top 50 universities in the United States. Even though the the school is one of the largest private universities in the country, students receive a lot of personal attention from the faculty and staff.

Boston University Admissions Statistics 2017-18

For the 2017-18 admissions cycle, Boston University had an acceptance rate of just 25 percent. The tables below show standardized test scores for matriculated students organized by score percentile.

SAT Score Percentiles
Section 25th Percentile 75 Percentile
ERW 640 720
Math 660 760
ERW=Evidence-Based Reading and Writing

An average SAT score is a little over 500 for each section, so you can see that Boston University students tend to have scores that are significantly above average.

ACT Score Percentiles
Section 25th Percentile 75 Percentile
English 28 34
Math 27 32
Composite 29 32

With the ACT, an average score is roughly 21. As with the SAT, Boston University students almost always score well above the average.

Boston University GPA, SAT & ACT Graph

Boston University GPA, SAT and ACT Data for Admission
Boston University GPA, SAT Scores and ACT Scores for Admission. Data courtesy of Cappex.

The GPA and standardized test score data in the graph is reported by actual students who applied to Boston University. You can see the real-time graph and calculate your own chances of getting into BU with a free account at Cappex.

Discussion of Boston University's Admissions Standards

Boston University is highly selective and accepts just a quarter of all applicants. In the graph shown here, the blue and green dots represent accepted students, and you can see that most students who got into BU had averages of B+ or higher, SAT scores (RW+M) above 1200, and ACT composite scores above 25. Note that BU no longer requires the writing component on the SAT or ACT. Students with "A" averages and SAT scores above 1300 are most likely to be admitted, and there are very few red dots (rejected students) in the upper right corner of the graph. However, there's a lot of red hidden behind the blue in the middle part of the graph. Some students who have grades and standardized test scores that are on target for Boston University will still get rejection letters. As a result, even if Boston University is a match school in relation to your credentials, you should still make sure that you have applied to a couple safety schools in case the admissions decision doesn't go your way.

Admission to BU is about much more than the numerical data presented in this graph above. The university uses the Common Application. The strongest applications will also have a winning essay, strong letters of recommendation, and interesting extracurricular activities. Boston University, like most of the country's selective universities, has holistic admissions. The admissions folks are looking for students who will enrich the campus community and bring to the campus more than strong grades and test scores. Students who have some kind of remarkable talent or have a compelling story to tell will get a close look even if grades and test scores aren't quite up to the ideal.

Admission standards at BU vary by school and college, and some applicants may find that they are accepted to the College of General Studies and not their preferred specialized school or college. Applications to the College of Fine Arts and the university's Accelerated Dental and Medical Programs will not be considered for admission to other colleges. Also note that interviews are not part of the admission process at BU except for the Accelerated Dental and Medical Programs, and students applying to the College of Fine Arts must either audition or submit a portfolio.

Finally, keep in mind that Boston University has an Early Decision program. If BU is definitely your top choice school, applying early is a great way to demonstrate your interest and improve your chances of being admitted.

More Boston University Information

Along with selective admissions, Boston University has a strong four-year graduation rate and an impressive range of academic programs. Watch for costs: the university's total price tag is now over $70,000 annually, and only about half of matriculated students receive grant aid.

Enrollment (2017)

  • Total enrollment: 33,355 (18,080 undergraduates)
  • Gender breakdown: 40% Male / 60% Female
  • 93% Full-time

Costs (2017–18)

  • Tuition and fees: $52,082
  • Books: $1,000 (why so much?)
  • Room and board: $15,270
  • Other expenses: $1,950
  • Total cost: $70,302

Boston University Financial Aid (2016 - 17)

  • Percentage of new students receiving aid: 55%
  • Percentage of new students receiving types of aid
    • Grants: 48%
    • Loans: 39%
  • Average amount of aid
    • Grants: $34,156
    • Loans: $10,203

Academic Programs

  • Most popular majors: Biomedical Engineering, Biology, Business Administration, Communication Studies, Economics, Health Sciences, International Relations, Journalism, Political Science, Psychology, Radio & Television
  • What major is right for you? Sign up to take the free "My Careers and Majors Quiz" at Cappex.

Graduation and Retention Rates

  • First-year student retention (full-time students): 93%
  • 4-year graduation rate: 81%
  • 6-year graduation rate: 87%

Intercollegiate Athletic Programs

  • Men's sports: basketball, cross country, ice hockey, lacrosse, rowing, soccer, swimming & diving, tennis, track & field
  • Women's sports: basketball, cross country, field hockey, golf, ice hockey, lacrosse, rowing, soccer, softball, swimming & diving, tennis, track & field

If You Like Boston University, Be Sure to Check Out These Schools

Applicants to Boston University tend to be drawn to selective private universities in urban environments. Other popular options include New York University, the University of Chicago, Brown University, and Northeastern University. Just keep in mind that NYU, Brown, and University of Chicago are even more selective than BU.

If you're looking for something with a lower price tag, be sure to look at public institutions such as UCLA and UMass Amherst.

Data Source: Graph courtesy of Cappex. All other data from the National Center for Educational Statistics.