Graduate Admissions FAQ

Additional Information Regarding Admissions
for the MA and PhD Degrees

There is a great deal of information posted on the Graduate School of Arts & Sciences’ website regarding admissions policies and procedures at Boston University. In particular, the Graduate School website has pages for:

admission procedures and application materials (MA and MS here, PhD here)

degree requirements (PhD here, MA here, MS here)

answers to a number of frequently asked questions (in addition to those answered below)

If you have a question about admissions requirements, there is a good chance that it has been answered on one of those pages.

Occasionally, we get questions that are not answered on those pages. Below are some of those questions and their answers:

1. I have a GPA of x, GREs of y, and a TOEFL score of z. What chance do I have of being admitted? What chance do I have of receiving financial aid?
Because of the holistic nature of our application review process, it is impossible for us to prescreen applications. Admissions decisions are made only after careful review of a fully completed application, including all transcripts, three letters of recommendation, and official reports of examination scores from the Educational Testing Service. We do not have a minimum GPA or GRE score requirement. There is a minimum score requirement for the TOEFL, which you can read more about below. PhD students in GRS are guaranteed funding for 5 years of study, regardless of nationality. The department does not currently have funds set aside for our MA programs, but partial merit scholarships are available to a select number of MSSP applicants.

2. Do I have to take the GRE subject test in mathematics?
We have two tracks in our MA and PhD programs, a mathematics track and a statistics track. If you are interested in mathematics (including probability), then you must submit the results of the GRE subject test with your application. If you are interested in statistics you may submit the results of the GRE subject test with your application but are not required to do so.  If you are interested in statistics and your undergraduate work has not been in mathematics, then you may want to submit other information to support your application to help us evaluate your level of mathematical preparation. The Admissions Committee will be looking for information that demonstrates that you are capable of completing our program successfully so any data that you can provide to help us with that task is important.

3. May I substitute GMAT scores for GRE scores?
No. Applicants must take the GRE general test and the GRE subject test in mathematics. (See the answer to the question immediately above). Scores can be sent to Boston University at code 3087.

4. My native language is not English, but I will have received a degree from an institution where the instruction is in English. Do I need to submit the results of a TOEFL exam?
In most cases, yes. Proof of English proficiency is required of all applicants by submitting official results of the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or International English Language Testing System (IELTS).  The following minimums on the TOEFL IBT are as follows:

Reading: 21

Listening: 21

Speaking: 21

Writing: 21

Scores can be sent to Boston University at institution code 3087. Only your most recent TOEFL test scores will be used to determine if you have met the English proficiency requirements.  You may not combine sections from different test dates, and you must meet the minimum score set forth for each section of the test. A deficit in one area cannot be made up by a surplus in another. Moreover, an applicant would have to do better than most of these minimums to be considered for a teaching assistantship.

This requirement is waived only if you have received, or expect to receive, an undergraduate or graduate degree from a college or university in any of the following countries prior to enrollment in GRS: the United States of America, Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, or Ireland. Students who participate in a 2+2 program, where the degree to be received will be from one of the countries mentioned above, do not need to submit a TOEFL test. There is no additional paperwork that needs to be submitted in order to waive the requirement.

5. I missed the November date for the GRE subject test, and the next exam is scheduled for April. What can I do?
You should wait to apply until next year and take the test in April.

6. Do I have to include official score reports for my GRE and/or TOEFL exams? Will photocopies suffice?
Official test scores are required. We recommend that applicants take the test at least one month before the application deadline. Although GRE scores are valid for five years, we prefer to receive scores no older than two years old, if possible. Please note, however, that we do not reject or in any way penalize an applicant for submitting GRE scores up to five years old.

7. How do I submit official GRE or TOEFL test scores?
The ETS Institution Code for the Graduate School of Arts & Sciences is 3087. You do not need to specify a Department Code when requesting test scores be sent to the Graduate School of Arts & Sciences.

8. What’s the difference between the postbachelor’s MA/PhD program and the post-master’s PhD program?
The post-master’s program is only for students who have received a master’s degree in mathematics or statistics from a program that is equivalent to the program at Boston University. If the admissions committee thinks that an applicant is qualified for admission but has applied to the wrong degree program, we will communicate with the applicant and recommend an appropriate change in the application.

Admissions to our PhD program for the Spring semester are only made under exceptional circumstances. In particular, there is no financial aid available for spring admissions. Thus, all PhD candidates are encouraged to apply for fall admission.

Application deadlines are January 15th for Fall PhD admissions and January 15th for MA admissions. The MS degree in Statistical Practice deadline is February 15.