Boston University (BU) is a private research university located in Boston, Massachusetts. The University has 4,107 faculty members, 6,299 staff members, and 33,678 undergraduate and graduate students and is one of Boston’s largest employers. BU offers bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees, as well as medical, dental, business, and law degrees through 17 schools and colleges on two urban campuses. The main campus is situated along the Charles River in Boston’s Back Bay, Fenway-Kenmore, and Allston neighborhoods, while the Boston University Medical Campus is in Boston’s South End neighborhood.
- BU is a member of the Association of American Universities (AAU)—a prestigious association of top research universities in the United States and Canada.
- BU ranks #42 among national universities (US News & World Report).
- BU ranks #38 for best value by US News & World Report for academic excellence and economic value.
- BU ranks #17 in Top 50 Best Colleges in Big Cities (Newsweek).
- BU has a student-to-faculty ratio of 10:1, with an average class size of 27.
- BU faculty include Nobel and Pulitzer Prize winners, a former US Poet Laureate, a MacArthur Fellow, Guggenheim Scholars, Sloan Research Fellows, fellows of the National Academy of Inventors, an Emmy-award winner, and members of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences.
- BU is committed to academic excellence. BU will expand the size of its faculty over the next few years, adding new distinguished professors across the University. This will further reduce class size and the student-to-faculty ratio.
- Faculty engage with students beyond the classroom, providing opportunities to collaborate on innovative research.
- The Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program (UROP) has hundreds of opportunities for students ranging from A (Archaeology) to Z (Zebrafish Genetics).
- BU is one of the top-25-funded research universities in the nation.
- BU research is global, conducted in 80 countries on all continents.
- BU students have the opportunity to maximize the value of their education by participating in dual degree programs, earning two degrees simultaneously. Students also have many options to pursue combined BA/MA programs.
BU’s Place in History
- Rebecca Lee, the first black woman to receive a medical degree in the US, graduated in 1864 from the New England Female Medical College, which became a part of Boston University.
- BU was the first university to open all divisions to female students (1872).
- Boston University Medical College was the first coeducational medical college in the world (1873).
- BU was the first American university to award a PhD to a woman: classical scholar Helen Magil (1877).
- In 1875, BU professor Alexander Graham Bell received a year’s salary in advance to pursue his research. The following year, he invented the telephone in a BU lab.
- African-born Dr. Solomon Carter Fuller, an 1897 graduate of the School of Medicine, became the nation’s first black psychiatrist and the first person in the US to perform significant research on Alzheimer’s disease.
- In 1953, Howard Thurman became Dean of Marsh Chapel, the first black dean at a predominantly white university.
- Martin Luther King, Jr. received his PhD in Theology from BU in 1955. After receiving the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964, he presented his manuscripts, records, and personal papers to the University’s Mugar Memorial Library.
- In 1965, Boston University established the nation’s first combined cancer research and teaching laboratory at its Medical Center.
Mission and Vision
Boston University is an international, comprehensive, private research university committed to educating students to be reflective, resourceful individuals ready to live, adapt and lead in an interconnected world. Boston University is committed to generating new knowledge to benefit society.
We remain dedicated to our founding principles: that higher education should be accessible to all and that research, scholarship, artistic creation, and professional practice should be conducted in the service of the wider community—local and international. These principles endure in the University’s insistence on the value of diversity, in its tradition and standards of excellence, and in its dynamic engagement with the City of Boston and the world.
Boston University comprises a remarkable range of undergraduate, graduate, and professional programs built on a strong foundation of the liberal arts and sciences. With the support and oversight of the Board of Trustees, the University, through our faculty, continually innovates in education and research to ensure that we meet the needs of students and an ever-changing world.
Boston University prides itself on a history of inclusion, admitting students regardless of race, creed, or gender since our founding in 1839. That legacy includes awarding the first PhD to a woman at a US university, producing the first Black psychiatrist in the United States, being the first to admit female students to a US medical school, bestowing a doctoral degree in theology on Martin Luther King, Jr. (GRS’55, Hon.’59), and graduating the youngest woman to serve in the US Congress, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (CAS’11). Beyond the student body, the University has hired a wide range of influential faculty over the decades, from historian and political activist Howard Zinn to Nobel Laureate and human rights champion Elie Wiesel (Hon.’74). Today, our students, scholars, faculty, and staff represent more than 140 countries and all 50 states, reflecting an exciting range of worldviews and life experiences.
But there is work still to do.
The cultural, ethnic, religious, ability, sexual orientation, and gender diversity of our campus community is critical to the excellence of our research and academic programs, our social vibrancy, and our mission of preparing students to thrive in an increasingly interconnected world. So, we’re redoubling our efforts to embody our founding principles and fulfill the promise of our legacy. We’re committed to attracting, supporting, and promoting a wide variety of voices and backgrounds at BU, including, but not limited to, those who live with physical, intellectual, or mental disabilities, are first in their families to attend college, are members of the LGBTQIA+ community, and individuals who are historically underrepresented in the academy.
In fact, the University has made prioritizing diversity, inclusion, and access one of the five main pillars in the Boston University 2030 Strategic Plan.
While we recognize this work as an evolution, our goal remains steadfast: to fortify the University as a place where everyone can participate and thrive while harnessing intellectual innovation and interconnection. We seek to both amplify and wield that collective power to ensure that everything a BU community member brings to the table gets included, nurtured, ignited, and let loose to better serve our world.
Strategic Plan and Annual Report
Every school should have a Strategic Plan – to look to the future, to elicit change. Plans get written, followed for a while, then ignored because they seem impossible or rewritten because they were impossible. The difference is ours works. As a sign of solid financial health, we received an upgrade in our rating from S&P, which moved us from an A to an A+. Learn more about our progress in our 2021 Annual Report and our BU 2030 Strategic Plan.