Boston University

Thirty thousand students, over 16,000 of whom are undergraduates, and who represent countless religions, cultures, countries and who speak almost every imaginable language, come to Boston to pursue their academic goals. Boston University, the 4th largest private university in the US, is a hustling and bustling campus where students hurry to their classes and activities. It’s sophisticated and urban.

BU boasts 16 different colleges and schools and 250 fields of study. Nine of the schools and colleges are undergraduate schools.

They are:

The College of Arts and Sciences

The College of Communication

The College of Engineering

The College of Fine Arts

The College of General Studies

The College Of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences

The School of Education

The School of Hospitality Administration

The School of Management

The Kilachand Honors College is a program that about 70-90 incoming freshmen are invited to join. Students must apply to the honors program at the same time that they apply to BU. The Honors College offers a broad interdisciplinary curriculum that complements the student’s major.  A student can pursue any major while being an honors student. Freshman honors students live together in one of the freshman dorms. Being in the KHC is one excellent way to make this giant university smaller and more intimate.  The KHC allows top students to live and learn with other incredibly bright students in a setting that fosters a commonality that is sometimes missing from this large university.

Of the ten undergraduate schools, some things stand out.  The College of General Studies offers a 2-year interdisciplinary core curriculum. While some students apply to this liberal arts based program that offers smaller classes and good interaction between students and faculty, other students are offered admissions to it when their first choice school rejects them.  These students, perhaps, are students who show potential, but who would benefit from a more individualized academic program for the first two years of college.  Most classes are discussion based with 25 students (12 in writing seminars.)  Students take 3 electives from the other colleges.  After completing the 2-year program, students enter one of the other colleges to complete their bachelor’s degree.  Students can (and do) enter any of the other colleges from CGS. If they move onto engineering or some of the other sciences, it might take them extra time to graduate. This is one of BU’s many solutions to addressing the academic needs and desires of diverse learners.

Students in the College of Arts and Sciences have the option of participating in a core curriculum program which offers a broad based liberal arts education and also gives students a community of learners to bond with from freshman year on.  As opposed to the College of General Studies, the Core in the College of Arts and Sciences tends to attract some of the more adept and diligent students at BU. Students can take all or only some of the core classes.  Core students can live together and enjoy academic and social functions throughout the year. Here again is a great opportunity for students at BU to enjoy a huge university while maintaining some of the advantages that a smaller school might offer- like smaller class sizes, intimate academic bonds with fellow students and teachers, and social activities that complement the academic journey.

In the College of Engineering, the Biomedical Engineering program, which is the largest of the majors in engineering, is ranked particularly high. The honors program requirements can satisfy all the general education requirements for engineers.

Research is available at BU and is a big focus of the school.  The opportunities for all types of research, including but not limited to science and engineering, are abundant. UROP is the Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program. Several students who were asked reported starting research junior year. They said it was possible to get involved in research earlier—it just takes a proactive role on the part of the student.  BU owns some, but not most, of its own study abroad programs.

The Boston University School of Management is on the rise. In the 2012 Bloomberg Businessweek rankings of business schools, it climbed 13 spots to number 18th in the nation. The Bloomberg ranking is based on student survey results (30%), recruiter survey feedback (20%), academic quality measures (30%), MBA feeder rank (10%), and starting salary (10%). The school is 48% women and 39% minorities, and 25% international students.  Students are admitted to the school when they apply as perspective freshmen, although current students can transfer into the program.  The mean SAT is 2001, the mean high school GPA is 3.6 unweighted; the mean class percentile is 11%. There is an honors program in the School of Management for top academic freshman and sophomore students.  Special colloquia and seminars are offered for honors students.  Two seminars are required. Community service and research are two components of the honors program.

The School of Music in the College of Fine Arts offers many audition ensembles; some for music majors (not minors) and some open to the entire BU community.  Students enrolled in any of the other schools can still minor or even major in music.  BU recently remodeled their music practice rooms and now boasts state of the art practice areas.

Introductory classes at Boston University might have over 200 students.  These large classes break into discussions of around 20 students led by teaching assistants.  Professors are the lead teachers in all classes. The average class size is 27.  The stats are that 56% of classes have fewer than 20 students. 34% have 21-50 students.  10% have more than 50 students—4% have over 100 students. Class size is smaller, in general, than you might find at some other huge universities.  It is the norm for freshmen to find themselves in lots of large classes, though.

BU is unique in that it is indeed very integrated into the city, yet it is a residential campus with over 80% of students living on campus. BU is a linear campus that spans about a mile and a half of Commonwealth Avenue.  BU owns most of the buildings along the way. There are no campus walls enclosing the campus. Many of the buildings are beautiful, but they are bordered by some of Boston’s busiest streets. In fact, a divided busy highway, replete with train tracks, bisects the university. BU tends to have a dispersed student body, meaning much of the life beyond academics takes advantage of the entire city rather than the just the campus. The campus seems to be defined by the activities in which the individual student is involved rather than by a commonality of interests or a unity of spirit that pervades the university. Students are very involved in campus life, but since the campus is so large and without a lot of traditions, it might be a little difficult to find your social niche. Living with an interest group is a good way to make the university more personal. There is a much more urban feel than a traditional centered-around-the quad feel. The city vibe is an advantage if you are looking for a wealth of cultural richness and urban sophistication. It’s a disadvantage if you are looking for a more traditional college experience. That being said, some report that BU does have a united campus feel since it is a calmer part of town. There is little Greek life: 3% of men and 7% of women join Greek organizations. The nightlife happens in BOSTON.  While there are not so many campus parties, kids go to clubs and restaurants and music venues to socialize.  The experience at BU is inextricable from the city of Boston.  Students can meet students from the other universities in the city.  While there might not be so much of a community feel at BU, there is indeed a great BOSTON feel. Students, who get involved with activities that they love, rave about how wonderful the school is.  Students who, by bad luck, do not bond with their freshmen hall mates or who do not find activities that interest them, are at risk for feeling a bit isolated.  BU is for students eager to thrive in Boston, ready to seek out activities in clubs and campus organizations, and comfortable approaching professors during office hours to distinguish themselves and form good relationships with faculty.

Housing is guaranteed all 4 years. Freshmen usually live in high-rise buildings that have unique advantages and disadvantages.  The social connectedness for freshmen revolves around dorm life to an extent.  Freshmen dorms are the place where tons of kids congregate looking to form friendships and have fun. There are many sections of dorms that house certain academic interest groups like female engineers or core curriculum students from the College of Arts and Sciences. These clusters are great ways to get more of a sense of community at BU. One of the main residences for freshmen is close to the College of Arts and Sciences. Another is by the one green area of campus by the athletic fields. Students should be prepared for some chilly walks to class. The residence halls, for the most part, have dining halls within them and lots of other amenities.  Some students report that the dorm living situation is cramped and dreary, while others enjoy the social bonding that occurs in the dorms. Most freshmen live together, but some are placed in upper class dorms where it is harder to make friends.  Many undergraduates live in beautiful brownstones on Old State Street, which is a magnificent, historic tree-lined street bordering campus.

BU is getting more academically competitive.  For the class of 2016, students averaged in the top 9% of their high school classes with students in the University Honors Program averaging in the top 3% of their high school classes. The average accepted GPA was 3.7.  Average SAT was at a record high of 2005. 44.5% of applicants were accepted—a record low. BU tracks demonstrated interest and recommends that if students don’t visit, they should surely go to local college fairs and school sessions.  They advise students to sign the provided cards at events. A resume or activities list is helpful but not required for admission

Students indicate their school preference and major upon application. Students can change schools once they matriculate and can easily double major across schools.

11% of BU’s students hail from 103 countries.  All fifty states are represented.  One interesting fact is that in the class of 2016, 62% of students are female and 38% are male. This is a serious consideration for some.

The 2012-2013 application season saw a 20% increase in applications to BU.

Average admitted student:

Average GPA: 3.7 uw

Average Act : 29

Average SAT 2005


For the Class of 2016

(enrolled—accepted numbers will be a little higher)

Acceptance rate 45.5%

SAT r         570-670

SATm         610-700

SATw         600-680


ACT with writing 26-30


Demonstrated interest is considered in admissions.

Essay is important.

Rigor is most important indicator.

The 2012-2013 cost-of-attendance is $59,100. 48 % of students with need get their determined need met. The average amount of need met is 89%. 7% of students without need get an average of $20,000 of merit money.  37% of students with need get some merit money too.


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