We’ve broken down our FAQ based on the stage you are currently in the application journey. Please select a stage or use Ctrl/⌘+F to search keywords to find answers to your questions:
I am beginning my application journey
I am curious about testing requirements
I have successfully submitted my application
I am seeking financial aid information
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I am beginning my application journey
Am I eligible to apply for graduate study at the Graduate School of Arts & Sciences (GRS) at Boston University?
Any well-qualified person with a four-year bachelor’s degree from a recognized college or university or with equivalent international education may apply for admission to the Graduate School of Arts & Sciences (GRS).
Applicants who have a three-year bachelor’s degree earned in First Division from an institution accredited by India’s National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC) with a grade of “A” or better may also apply.
Where is the application and how can I apply?
Applications and supporting documents may be submitted through the convenient online system. In cases where an extenuating hardship prevents an applicant from submitting the application online, applicants can call the GRS Admissions Office at +1(617) 353-2696 for information on how to apply. Visit the Admissions Homepage for more information about the application process.
When creating your account, please be sure to use a permanent, non-school related email address. GRS will contact you through this email address; and correspondence will continue after many school-related email addresses have been disabled, so using a permanent email address will ensure that you do not miss any important information from us.
You should not submit an application or any supporting credentials to the department. All application materials should be uploaded with your online application.
Can I apply to more than one graduate program at Boston University?
You may not apply to more than one graduate program offered within a single college or school at Boston University. For example, you may not apply to the Master’s program in Economics and the Master’s program in Computer Science within the Graduate School of Arts & Sciences (GRS). However, you may apply to the Master’s program in Economics within GRS and the Master’s program in Social Work within the School of Social Work (SSW). If you are accepted to both programs, you will need to choose one program in which to enroll. Please be aware that Boston University does not permit a student to enroll simultaneously in more than one graduate program unless those programs have been previously approved by the Trustees of Boston University as a combined degree program. If you have any questions, please contact the Graduate School of Arts & Sciences Admissions Office by e-mail at email@example.com or by phone at +1 (617) 353-2696.
What are the payment options for the application fee?
The online application system requires a payment of the $95 application fee by credit or debit card. In cases where an applicant does not have access to a credit card, applicants are asked to contact the GRS Admissions Office at (617) 353-2696.
Can I apply for a fee waiver?
Please follow the instructions below to submit an application fee waiver request. All requests must be received at least five (5) business days prior to the application deadline.
Begin your online application. You will be assigned a 10-digit application ID (CAS ID). It will be listed in the upper right corner of your application.
Review your eligibility and fill out the form on the Master’s Application Fee Waiver page.
I am currently a student in another school at Boston University. Do I have to pay the application fee?
All Boston University students are required to pay the application fee, except for students currently enrolled in the Graduate School of Arts & Sciences.
What is the deadline for applying?
The deadline for applying varies by department/program. A complete list of departmental deadlines can be found on the Application Deadlines page. Most departments adhere strictly to the application deadline so it is in your best interest to submit your application and all supporting documents well before the posted application deadline. The application deadlines can be found on the “Program Information” tab.
Do I have to submit all required documents by the application deadline?
It is in the applicant’s best interest to upload all supporting documents well before the deadline. All applications must be completed by the deadline; any application materials received after the deadline may not be reviewed by the department.
I applied to a graduate program at GRS but was not admitted. Do I need to submit another complete application when I reapply?
Yes, you must submit a completely updated application, including all new supporting materials (unofficial transcripts, recommendations, personal statements, etc.), and pay the application fee. Please note that applicants who have not been offered admission to the same program twice must submit approval for application from the current director of graduate studies for the department or program to which they seek admission.
Can I apply for readmission?
Students who have withdrawn or who have been terminated from a program may apply for readmission to the Graduate School of Arts & Sciences. These students will be subject to the regulations specified in the Graduate School’s official readmission policy.
How can I learn about the international student experience at BU?
We invite you to browse The International Student Experience website to hear first-hand from current international graduate students about their experience at Boston University. Get answers and advice from Student Voices videos and at Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ). Take a look at the A Safe and Vibrant Campus for International Graduate Students video, where you will get a view of the campus and learn about the exceptional academic, cultural, and community-oriented atmosphere of BU.
I am curious about testing requirements
Graduate Record Examination (GRE)
Do I have to take the GRE?
Most applicants (excluding MFA applicants) must submit an official test result of the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) as required by the department to which you are applying. Check departmental requirements for the GRE and the GRE Subject Test on the Application Requirements and Deadlines page. The MAT is not an acceptable substitute. For more information about GRE testing dates and score reporting, please visit the ETS website. To better support you, we are making the GRE more accessible. For our programs that require a GRE score, we will now accept the GRE General Test at Home for our Spring 2023 and Fall 2023 applicants.
Programs that require the GRE include:
- African American Studies
- Classical Studies
- Computer Science
- Energy & Environment
- English (optional)
- Remote Sensing & Geospatial Sciences
What is the GRE institution code?
If you are requesting either your official GRE or TOEFL score report from ETS, the GRS institution code is 3087.
There is no need for a department code. Boston University now receives score reports electronically. Please ensure that the registration number, name, birth date, and social security number (if applicable) on your online application match the information you provided to ETS. This information allows your test scores to be matched to you as an applicant. Unfortunately, we will not accept copies of any test score as a substitute for an original report. If the information you provided to ETS does not match the information on your application (alternate names, former names, incorrect birth dates, etc), please contact Applicant Support.
I already took the test but did not send my scores to the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. What should I do?
If you did not request that your test scores be sent to GRS at institution code 3087 when you took the test, you can always order additional score reports. Visit the ETS website for more information on ordering GRE or TOEFL reports. Please remember that photocopies of test score reports are not considered official.
For how long are my test scores valid?
The GRE program will not send official score reports for tests taken more than five years ago nor will GRS accept scores older than five years previously. The Graduate School of Arts and Sciences does not accept GRE scores that are older than five years. Some departments prefer GRE scores that are less than two years old (please contact your department for more information). The TOEFL program will not send official score reports for tests taken more than two years previously.
I sent my scores with a previous application. Do you still have them on file?
All test scores should be submitted at the time of application. Unfortunately, the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences will not be able to retrieve test scores sent from a previous application cycle.
What are your minimum GRE test score requirements?
Many factors influence the admission decisions and the Graduate School does not set any minimum GRE test score requirements. However, you may reach out to your program of interest to inquire about their specific requirements.
English Proficiency Test
Am I qualified for an English proficiency waiver?
International students are required to submit an official score report to demonstrate their English Language proficiency.
Applicants will not need to submit these scores if they:
- are a citizen of the United States (including permanent residents), Australia, Belize, Canada (except Quebec and Nunavut), Guyana, Ireland, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, or an English-speaking country of Africa or the Caribbean
- are currently enrolled as a full-time student in a degree-granting program at a university in one of the countries listed above for at least two years by the time of graduation
- have received, or expect to receive, an undergraduate degree from an accredited institution in one of the countries listed above, after at least two consecutive years of study
- have received, or expect to receive, a graduate degree from an accredited institution in one of the countries listed above. Dual-enrollment and satellite programs may not qualify
- will have completed at least two consecutive years of academic study in a country not listed above, at an accredited institution where the language of instruction is English, up to two years prior to pursuing studies at Boston University. An acknowledgment that English is the primary language of instruction must be on the transcript, or provided on a letterhead by your home institution when submitting your application
- are currently a resident, or have been pursuing post-graduate work in one of the countries listed above, for at least two consecutive years (24 months) immediately prior to starting at Boston University
Applicants will need to submit English proficiency scores if do not satisfy any of the conditions outlined above, or if they:
- were enrolled remotely (excluding those adhering to the COVID-19 policies of their home institution) in an institution referenced above
- have received, or expect to receive, their undergraduate degree in a country referenced above via a partnership or dual degree program that did not require at least two years of academic study at an institution in said country
- have received, or expect to receive their undergraduate degree in a country different to those listed above, via a partnership or dual degree program that did not require at least two years of academic study at an institution where the language of instruction is English
- earned their degree at a foreign satellite campus affiliated with an institution in one of the countries referenced above
- have only studied as an exchange student in an English-speaking country
Applicants who are unsure if they need to submit English proficiency scores, or those who do not qualify based on the criteria listed above but who would like to petition for a waiver, are invited to submit the form on our website.
What are the accepted English proficiency tests?
Accepted standardized tests include Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL), TOEFL iBT Home Edition, International English Language Testing System (IELTS) and Duolingo. Please note, the TOEFL ITP exam will not be accepted as proof of English proficiency.
How do I submit my TOEFL/IELTS/Duolingo scores?
It is important that you schedule your TOEFL test well in advance of the application deadline so your scores will be received before the application review. Please send your official score report to the Admissions Office through ETS with our institution code 3087. You do not need to designate department or program codes and may therefore leave these fields blank. If the system requires you to enter a program code, you may use “99”.
It is important that you schedule your IELTS test well in advance of the application deadline so your scores will be received before the application review. Applicants submitting IELTS scores will need to contact their testing center and request official test scores be sent electronically to Boston University Graduate School of Arts & Sciences via our e-delivery account name: Boston University – Graduate Programs.
When you complete your Duolingo exam, please select Boston University Graduate & Professional Programs as a score recipient. After you submit your admissions application and have completed the exam, please email GRS Admissions at firstname.lastname@example.org with Subject Line “Duolingo,” and include your first and last name, exam date, and the name of the master’s program to which you are applying in the email.
Can I apply if my TOEFL/IELTS/Duolingo scores do not meet the minimum requirements?
Applicants are strongly discouraged from applying if they have not met the minimum requirements at the time of the application deadline.
I met the minimum TOEFL requirements for some or all sections on a prior test – can I submit those scores or combine test scores to satisfy the English proficiency requirement?
No. 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. You must meet the minimum score for every section of the test.
I have started my application
How can I be considered for a merit scholarship?
Some departments offer a limited number of partial scholarships to a selected group of applicants with outstanding academic merits to grow a more diverse student body. All applicants for the specific programs are automatically considered for these awards; no further application or request for financial aid is required. The departments that are offering merit scholarships are Biostatistics, Computer Science, Economics, Earth & Environment, and Math & Statistics.
It is past the application deadline. Can I still apply?
Most departments adhere strictly to the application deadline. In order to apply after the deadline, you will need to contact your prospective department and request to receive written permission via email to apply. This email correspondence must be forwarded to the GRS Admissions Office, and instructions on how to apply will be given to the applicant at that time.
What kind of transcripts should I submit?
If you attended a study abroad program or enrolled in college courses while in high school, we do not need separate transcripts sent if the course names, credits, and grades are listed on your main institution’s transcript. It is important to note that all transcripts must be submitted in English. Applicants who have studied outside of the United States and Canada are required to upload unofficial international transcript(s) and certified translation(s) for all institutions attended. Please combine your transcript, certified translation, etc. for each institution into one document and then upload it to the appropriate section of the online application.
Where should I send my transcripts?
All applicants should upload unofficial transcripts directly to the appropriate section in the online application. Please note that uploaded transcripts must be legible and in English. Please ensure you upload a high-resolution image of your transcript; scans are preferred.
Do I need to have transcripts sent for every college-level class that I have taken?
Applicants to every degree program offered by the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences are required to upload unofficial transcripts of each college or university attended to the online application. A college senior should submit a transcript of work completed in the first semester of the senior year as soon as it is available. Do not email or mail official transcripts directly to our office. You will be required to submit official transcripts only if you are admitted and accept our offer of admission.
Do I need to send official transcripts as part of my application?
Official transcripts are not required as part of the application. All applicants are required to upload unofficial transcripts directly to the online application. Transcripts that are sent directly to the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences can not be added to your application. If you are admitted and accept the offer of admission, you will be required to send official transcripts to the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences from all colleges attended prior to matriculation. All transcripts must be in English. If you are submitting a transcript that is not in English, you must submit a certified English translation of the transcript and degrees awarded.
Does my transcript need to be in English?
All transcripts submitted to the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences must be in English. If your school does not provide English copies, then a certified translation will be required.
I will not receive my degree until the summer. Must I submit another transcript showing the degree was conferred?
If you are offered admission, you must submit official transcripts and certified documents showing all degrees conferred as soon as they become available, even if the degree will not be conferred until the semester of matriculation begins.
Do I need to obtain a WES/ECE evaluation?
The WES/ECE evaluation is not a required component of the application. If you have attended an institution that is not located within the United States, we request that you upload your unofficial transcript in the appropriate section of your application. GRS may contact you at the time of review if a WES/ECE evaluation is necessary.
Letters of recommendation
How many letters of recommendation are required?
Two letters of recommendation are required for the Graduate School; however, most departments/programs require three letters. You can find the detailed requirements for your program of interest on our Application Requirements and Deadlines page. Please remember that letters of recommendation should be in English and written by faculty members in your proposed field of graduate study who are familiar with American higher education.
Can my recommenders still submit their recommendations after I submit my application?
Yes, recommenders can still access the evaluation portal after the applicant has submitted their application and paid the fee. Please note all application materials must be submitted prior to the application deadline.
Can letters of recommendation be faxed or emailed to the Admissions Office or to the department?
Unfortunately, no, we will not accept emailed or faxed recommendations as official credentials for your application. Recommenders must submit an online recommendation. An email request will automatically be sent to your recommenders once you have saved an online recommendation. Please advise your recommender to look for our email in their inbox, as well as their spam or junk-mail folder.
Where do I send letters of recommendation?
All letters of recommendation should be submitted directly through the online application system. Unfortunately, we cannot accept letters of recommendation that are received in any other manner, such as mailed from a university career center, letter service, or Interfolio.
How do I resend an email request to my recommender?
To resend an email request to your recommender log into your application via the Applicant Portal, go to the Program Materials page for your program, and select the Recommendations tab. Click the edit button (denoted by a small pencil) for your recommender’s name, change any information as needed such as the due date, and then click ‘Resend this Recommendation Request.
What should I write in my personal statement?
Applicants to every degree program offered by the Graduate School are required to submit a personal statement of no fewer than 200 words and no more than 5 pages long. You should include your name, date of birth, and the department to which you are applying on every page. This statement must describe your qualifications and the objectives of your intended educational program at the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. If you need any further details about the contents of the Personal Statement, please contact the department to which you are applying.
How do I submit my personal statement?
You should upload your statement to the online applicant portal as part of your application.
I have successfully submitted my application
When will I receive an admission decision?
Each department/program has an admissions review committee. The schedule for reviewing applications is set by the review committee for each department. The Admissions Office cannot tell you when you will receive an admissions decision. If you are looking for information regarding the status of your application after it has been sent to the department to which you are applying, please contact the department administrator directly. You can find your department information here.
I would like to know the status of my application. Whom do I contact?
Once the Admissions Office receives your application, it is processed and forwarded to the department for review, which can take up to ten business days. Each applicant receives an e-mail confirmation when their application has been forwarded to the department. Please keep in mind that while some programs release admission decisions on a rolling basis, some programs may not start reviewing applications until after the program deadlines. For programs with a large applicant pool, the review process can take as long as 4 to 6 weeks. Please trust that we will deliver your decisions as soon as we can via email. After allowing sufficient processing time, you can contact the department to which you applied and inquire about the status of your application.
Can I edit the application after I have submitted it to GRS?
The only section you may edit after submitting your application is your contact information. You will not be able to edit any other information after submission. If you have questions about making a change to other sections of your application, please contact the master’s admissions team at email@example.com.
Will the application fee be refunded if I withdraw my application?
Unfortunately, the application fee will not be refunded if you withdraw your application from consideration. Please feel free to contact the GRS Admissions Office at firstname.lastname@example.org or speak directly to one of our staff if we can be of any assistance at 617-353-2696.
I have received a decision
How do I secure my spot at GRS?
To secure your spot at GRS, you must accept your offer of admission in the applicant gateway and submit your tuition deposit if applicable.
When will I receive my BU email/login information?
Once you accept the admission offer and submit all required documents, GRS will send an email with instructions on accessing Boston University’s Early Access Program. This program allows incoming students to create a BU email account and allows early access to some online services. If you have submitted all required documents and do not receive the email for setting up access after three weeks, please contact GRS Admissions at email@example.com.
Where do I find my BU ID number?
You can locate your BU ID number in your admissions offer email. It’s usually in the top left corner of your letter. Here’s an example of a BU ID number: U12345678.
How do I find off-campus housing?
There are many resources available to students who are seeking off-campus housing. A great place to start is BU’s Off-Campus Housing website where you can find potential roommates, apartment/room openings, and more. Another great resource is Apartments.com which lists apartments available for rent. Popular neighborhoods for students to live off-campus include Allston, Brighton, Brookline, Fenway, and Cambridge. Check out our step-by-step guide to finding housing in Boston!
What transportation services are available in Boston?
The city of Boston is very accessible via public transportation. Options for transportation services include the MBTA subways, buses, and commuter rail, Bluebikes, the BU Shuttle, and more. You can find more information on the MBTA and Bluebikes by visiting their websites. Additionally, the BU Bus schedule can be found by downloading the Terrier Transit app in your smartphone’s app store.
International Students Required Documents
When should I submit the International Student Data Form and the required financial documentation?
All international applicants who accept their offer are required to submit the completed International Applicant Cover Sheet or International Student Data form with the required passport/visa documentation. You will receive instructions on how to submit this documentation via email.
Admitted students must submit appropriate financial documentation demonstrating that they can cover the estimate of expenses for themselves and any dependents. When this information is received and verified, the visa process will commence.
What forms of financial support are acceptable?
We accept bank statements for checking and/or savings accounts, bank loan statements, scholarship award letters (from non-BU-affiliated sources), or support letters from governmental or independent organizations. The financial documents must be in English and clearly state your name or, if applicable, your sponsor’s name. The currency on the documentation can be submitted in the currency of your home country.
What is a legalized letter of support (Financial Sponsorship Letter)?
A legalized letter of support is an original letter, written and signed by your sponsor(s) within the last year, stating their relationship to you and affirming their financial support for your upcoming academic year at Boston University. The letter must reference a sufficient sum of money which covers your estimated expenses as determined by the International Students & Scholars Office. It does not have to be notarized or signed by a lawyer, but cannot be a photocopy. A Financial Sponsorship Certification Form can be used in place of a legalized letter of support.
What are the estimated costs of attendance for international students?
The International Students & Scholars Office provides an estimate of expenses for one year of attendance at Boston University on their website.
I am seeking financial aid information
Scholarships & Financial Aid
What should I do if my scholarship is not on my student account?
This is usually a timing issue. The GRS Financial Aid Office may still be processing your award. You will receive a detailed award letter from our office via email after we process your award, If you have questions regarding your award letter, please contact our office.
Can I apply for federal loans?
Federal loans are available for U.S. citizens and permanent residents only.
How do I apply for federal loans?
You’ll need to complete a FAFSA and a loan request form which must be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org. You will need to do this for each academic year in which you wish to receive federal loans. Please note that submitting your FAFSA is only the first step in applying for graduate loans. Links to download the required loan request forms are available on our website:
Can I apply for federal loans if I am receiving a scholarship?
You may apply for loans if your scholarship does not meet your cost of attendance (or Budget).
How do I calculate my cost of attendance?
You can view the current academic year cost of attendance for full-time students here. If you are enrolled in less than 12 credits, you must use the per-credit rate to calculate your tuition charges each semester.
Are there any resources related to private loans?
You are welcome to borrow from any lender of your choice. For some helpful information on credit-based loans, and a comparison of some private loan programs, please see the information listed on the Office of Financial Aid website. Please note that this is not intended to be an exhaustive list of loan options.
When and how can I access the loan funds for my living expenses?
Loan funds (in excess of tuition and fees) are released starting with the first day of classes for each semester. Keep in mind that academic year loan disbursements are split evenly between both semesters, and you may only request a refund for the current semester’s loans.
You can request an electronic refund by going to Student Link > Money Matters tab > Student Account Inquiry > Select “Request a Refund”
Student Account Balances & Refunds
I am registered as a part-time student but my charges are for full-time tuition. What should I do?
Please send an email to GRS Records at email@example.com to ask to have this corrected. Please include your full name and BU ID number in the email.
I have a scholarship but still see a balance on my student account. Why?
Some charges are not covered by scholarships, such as convenience points, the sports pass, late fees, or a charge from health services. Please check your student account on the Student Link, and make arrangements to pay the balance by the payment deadline for the semester.
I was awarded a scholarship and paid all other outstanding charges, so why do I still see a balance?
Some charges are not covered by scholarships or you may have added a class after you initially paid your bill. Please contact Student Accounting Services to pay your new balance.
I paid my bill and then received a scholarship. How can I get this money returned to me?
You can request an electronic refund by going to Student Link > Money Matters tab > Student Account Inquiry > Select “Request a Refund”