Tufts University is a private research university in Massachusetts, on the border of Medford and Somerville. U.S. News and World Report ranks it among the Top 30 universities in the nation. The mid-sized school enrolls nearly 12,000 students.
Tufts is known for its beautiful campus and unique combination of research and liberal arts. It offers world-renowned programs in liberal arts, sciences, and engineering. The learning environment is described as one of engagement, curiosity, and creativity. Students can explore interdisciplinary interests across Tufts’ three undergraduate schools.
Academics at Tufts are marked by small classes with passionate, knowledgeable professors who make themselves available to students. The university has a strong alumni network, plentiful internship opportunities, and many resources to help students succeed after graduation.
Most Tufts students are highly involved in a range of campus activities and organizations, including a variety of quirky and unique options. There’s much to do on and off campus, and public transportation makes it easy for students to take evening or weekend trips into Boston. Almost half of students study abroad, and about 25% are involved in Greek life.
About 30,000 students apply to Tufts each year, drawn to its high-quality academics, caring and involved professors, and wealth of opportunities. In this guide, we’ll give you the information, data, and advice you need to stand out from the competition and earn an acceptance letter to Tufts University.
Is It Hard to Get Into Tufts University?
Tufts University has an acceptance rate of 15%. For every 100 students who apply, only 15 are admitted. The other 85 receive a rejection.
In comparison to other universities, Tufts’ acceptance rate makes it extremely competitive. It’s not as selective as Ivy League universities, with acceptance rates hovering around 5%, but it’s harder to get into than most universities.
GPA and Test Scores for Tufts University
On average, students admitted to Tufts University have an estimated GPA of 4.04. (This data is estimated because Tufts does not officially report the GPA of admitted students.) This means you’ll need to take weighted classes (like AP and IB) and earn straight A’s or nearly straight A’s to have a competitive GPA for Tufts.
So, what do you do if your GPA is lower? If you’re a freshman or sophomore, you have time to buckle down and improve your GPA. If you’re already a junior, focus your attention on earning competitive ACT/SAT scores and improving other aspects of your application.
Tufts is test-optional for undergraduate applications to the class of 2025, 2026, and 2027, meaning ACT/SAT scores are not required for admission. For the class of 2025, only half of applicants submitted ACT/SAT scores. Just over 40% of admitted students did not submit test scores. The following information is based on data from students who did submit their test scores.
The average ACT score for admitted students is 33. The 25th percentile score is 32, and the 75th percentile score is 34. When you apply to a competitive university like Tufts, it’s best to aim for a score in the 75th percentile (34).
Now, we’ll look at an SAT score breakdown for students admitted to Tufts University.
|Section||Average||25th Percentile||75th Percentile|
Your chances increase with a score in the 75th percentile, so aim for a 1540 on the SAT, with a 790 in Math and a 750 in Reading.
Overall, this data suggests you should strive for a:
- GPA of 4.04 or higher
- ACT score of 34, OR
- SAT score of 1540
These are exceptional test scores. It’s likely that the numbers are slightly inflated because of Tufts’ test-optional policy—only students with excellent test scores are included them in their Tufts applications.
It’s certainly possible to get into Tufts with slightly lower numbers. But at such a competitive university, the numbers are important. Think of your GPA and test scores as metrics that get your foot in the door, encouraging the admissions committee to examine the rest of your application more closely. However, Tufts University considers other factors that can offset lower numbers and help you stand out from similarly qualified applicants.
What Other Qualities Does Tufts University Look For?
Students admitted to Tufts have strong grades and test scores, but Tufts University looks for a diverse group of students who are well-rounded in all areas of their lives: academic, social, and extracurricular.
The admissions committee encourages you to use your application to “share your story, your accomplishments, and your aspirations.” When reviewing your application, they consider your education, your lived experiences, your goals, and your interest in Tufts.
Tufts University’s website also mentions the following important characteristics:
- Intellectually playful
- Civically engaged
- Globally minded
- Diverse backgrounds, experiences, perspectives, and cultures
The admissions committee’s review of your application will be holistic and comprehensive. They will consider your academic performance, interests and passions, extracurricular participation, and personal qualities. While your numbers are important, your personality and fit for Tufts are major considerations too.
What Should You Do in High School?
Now for the fun part: strategy! Based on the information and data we’ve shared, what should you do in high school to strengthen your application to Tufts University?
Excel in Challenging Classes
With an average GPA of 4.04, it’s clear that students admitted to Tufts take challenging courses, such as AP and IB. And not only do they take these rigorous classes—they excel in them too.
Take the most challenging classes available at your high school and perform well in them. If your school doesn’t offer a lot of AP or IB classes, Tufts won’t hold it against you. But if they’re available, take advantage of the opportunity to show the admissions committee you can handle the rigor of college coursework.
Work hard, take notes, and review your notes weekly. Turn in your assignments on time and prepare seriously for all in-class tests. If you start to fall behind or feel confused, take immediate action. Ask for extra help from your teacher, a tutor, or a classmate who’s doing well in the class.
Perform Well on the SAT/ACT
Although Tufts University is currently test optional, excellent test scores can help you rise above the competition. Tufts accepts both the ACT and SAT, with no preference for either test.
However, these scores are evaluated differently. Tufts does not superscore the SAT, and you’re required to submit all test scores. This means that if you take the SAT multiple times, Tufts University wants to see all your scores from every attempt. On the other hand, the ACT is superscored. This means if you take the ACT multiple times, Tufts will evaluate your performance based on your best section scores across all attempts.
Take an SAT practice test and an ACT practice test to see which exam plays best to your strengths. Once you’ve chosen an exam, use information from the practice test to help you build a personalized study plan.
Start studying a few months in advance. Answer practice questions, read high-level texts, and work on the skills that are challenging for you. With about a month left until the test, focus on your areas of weakness. Continue taking practice tests to evaluate your progress and adjust your study plan as needed. If you aren’t happy with your first test score, take it again.
If you ultimately get a score that’s high enough to send to Tufts University, include it with your application. If not, don’t panic. Just over 40% of students accepted to Tufts last year did not send test scores. When Tufts says the university is “test-optional,” it’s not a trick. You truly don’t have to send test scores if you prefer not to. But impressive scores can give you an edge in the admissions process.
Pursue Your Passions
Tufts University’s website says they use the extracurricular activities section of your application to “understand your activities and passions outside of traditional classroom settings.” This can include school-sponsored clubs and organizations, jobs, or family responsibilities that are a significant part of your schedule.
The university’s website also explains, “Your application will be much stronger if you follow your passions rather than spending your time checking off boxes for admissions officers.” They prefer that the activities you do are “things that are meaningful to you.”
So, find a few activities you’re truly passionate about and commit to them long-term. Do your best to take on leadership roles, but know that Tufts doesn’t require everyone to be team captain or club president. They also value commitment and valuable contributions, even if they are in an informal capacity.
Keep a record of the activities you’re involved in and your role in each, both official and unofficial. What did you contribute to each organization you’re part of, or each activity you participate in? This can include initiatives you led, ideas you shared, or the amount of time you gave. Keeping a detailed list of your extracurricular participation helps you report it accurately and thoroughly on your application to Tufts.
Serve Your Community
Tufts is a “civically engaged, globally minded” university, so they value applicants who share these qualities. Although the university’s website states that community service is not a requirement for admission, it also notes that service is “something that’s really important to Tufts.”
Serving your community can show the admissions committee that you’re a great fit for Tufts, someone who will honor and carry out the school’s mission. Find ways to serve your school, community or the world that are meaningful to you. This can include joining an existing project or organization, or starting your own school or community initiative or nonprofit organization.
Whatever you do, make sure it’s something meaningful to you. Consider problems in your school or community that you believe are important. Think about social issues that are close to your heart. Just like with your extracurricular activities, follow your passions and keep a record of your involvement.
Tufts University Application Process and Checklist
Tufts University accepts the Common Application, Coalition Application, and the QuestBridge Application.
When you apply, you’ll be asked to indicate a school or degree program to which you’re applying. You are not expected to commit to this decision, but Tufts will consider your application in the context of the school or program of your choice.
Your options are:
- School of Arts and Sciences
- School of Engineering
- Bachelor of Fine Arts program
- 5 Year BFA+BA/BS Combined Degree
- 5 Year BA/B Music with the New England Conservatory
Whatever application form and program you choose, your application will include:
- High school transcript
- Test scores (optional)
- Activities list
- Selection of college/program
- One teacher recommendation and one counselor recommendation
- Personal essay
- Tufts short-answer questions
If you apply to either BFA program, you are also required to submit a 15–20-piece art portfolio. Students applying to the School of Arts and Sciences or the School of Engineering may submit an optional arts or maker portfolio to highlight talent in drama, dance, engineering, music, or studio art.
All applicants also have the option to request an alumni interview. This interview is conducted by either an alumni volunteer or a senior student at Tufts. It’s an opportunity for the admissions committee to learn more about you, and for you to ask the interviewer about their experience at Tufts. You can request an interview through the Applicant Status Portal after Tufts receives your application.
Tufts University Writing Supplement
In addition to the personal essay, Tufts requires you to answer two short-answer questions. The university’s website makes it clear that these short-answer questions carry a lot of weight in your application, so don’t leave them until the last minute! These essays help the admissions committee “see what kind of community member you will be and just how excited you are about Tufts.”
For the class of 2026, applicants to the School of Arts and Sciences, School of Engineering, and 5-Year Tufts/NEC Combined Degree will answer the following two questions:
- Which aspects of the Tufts undergraduate experience prompt your application? In short, “Why Tufts?” (100-150 words)
- Now we’d like to know a little more about you. Please respond to one of the following three questions. (200-250 words):
- A) It’s cool to love learning. What excites your intellectual curiosity?
B) How have the environments or experiences of your upbringing – your family, home, neighborhood, or community – shaped the person you are today?
- C) Where are you on your journey of engaging with or fighting for social justice?
For the class of 2026, applicants to the BFA or the 5-Year BFA+BS/BA Combined Degree will answer the following two questions:
- Which aspects of the Tufts undergraduate experience prompt your application? Why SMFA at Tufts? (100-150 words)
- Art has the power to disrupt our preconceptions, shape public discourse, and imagine new ways of being in the world. What are the ideas you’d like to explore in your work? (200-250 words)
Tufts’ website advises, “Think outside the box as you answer the following questions. Take a risk and go somewhere unexpected. Be serious if the moment calls for it, but feel comfortable being playful if that suits you, too.”
The Tufts website also emphasizes that the essay should capture your voice and forge a human connection. It should make it easy for the admissions committee to picture you as a community member and human being. You can check out some past essays that the admissions committee loved here.
In addition to the Tufts tips, our advice for the essays is:
- Address the topic and answer the question completely. These questions come straight from the Tufts admission committee, so remember these are things Tufts wants to know about its applicants. Make sure you directly address each topic and provide a complete, thorough answer. Your word count is limited, so avoid lengthy tangents or off-topic ideas.
- Do your research. For the “Why Tufts?” questions, it’s essential to do your research. Visit the university’s website and identify classes, professors, opportunities, or other aspects of Tufts that interest you. Learn more about the specific school or program you’re applying to. When you know your stuff, it shows the admissions committee that you’re genuinely excited about their university. Let that enthusiasm shine through in your response.
- Include specific details. Tufts wants an essay that helps them know and understand you as a person. Don’t write a generic essay that you hope will impress. Include vivid, specific details to craft an essay that only you could write.
- Proofread carefully. According to the Tufts website, the admissions committee will know if you don’t spend a lot of time on your essays. Give yourself enough time to proofread carefully. Check for spelling, grammar, punctuation, word usage, concision, and clarity. Then have a parent, teacher, or trusted friend review your essay to make sure it “sounds like you” and is error-free. Put your best foot forward!
And as Tufts University advises, don’t forget to write in your unique voice and have fun with it. Some of the essays the admissions committee loved were conversational or playful, while some were compellingly serious. Most importantly, they made the admissions committee “pause to laugh, think, or shout to the nearest fellow reader, ‘This student is incredible!’” So, be yourself and write an essay that truly represents you.
Should You Apply Early to Tufts University?
Tufts University offers Early Decision I, Early Decision II, and Regular Decision. The Early Decision Program allows students to receive a decision from Tufts well before Regular Decision applicants.
Early Decision I applicants must apply by November 1 and will receive a decision in mid-December. Early Decision II applicants and Regular Decision applicants must apply by January 6. However, Early Decision II applicants receive a decision by mid-February, while Regular Decision applicants don’t receive a decision until April 1.
At Tufts, Early Decision is binding, so only apply early if you’re certain that Tufts is your first choice. If you are accepted Early Decision, you are committed to enrolling at Tufts and withdrawing applications from other schools.
So, does applying early to Tufts give you an advantage? The Early Decision acceptance rate for Tufts is about 25.9%. This indicates that you have a slightly higher chance of acceptance if you apply early.
However, Tufts’ website states that students who apply early have about the same grades and test scores as students who apply Regular Decision. This means applying early is unlikely to help you if you have a lower GPA and ACT/SAT score.
Here’s the bottom line: If Tufts is your number one choice, it certainly doesn’t hurt to apply early. An early application shows Tufts that you’re serious about attending, and data suggests it may give you a slight edge in the admissions process. Plus, you’ll get your decision from Tufts much sooner!
Final Thoughts: How to Get Into Tufts University
Tufts University is extremely competitive, meaning it’s a difficult university to get into. Your application must demonstrate excellent academic ability, pursuit of your passions, and the potential to make positive contributions at Tufts.
Take the most difficult classes at your school and excel in them. Aim for a GPA of 4.04 and an ACT score of 34, or an SAT score of 1540. Commit long-term to extracurricular activities that align with your passions. Try to take on leadership roles or make valuable contributions. Give back to your school or community in ways that are meaningful to you.
When you answer the Tufts University short-answer questions, write in your genuine voice and show your unique personality. Do your research about Tufts, include specific details, and have fun with it! Answer the questions completely and proofread your work carefully. If Tufts is your first-choice university, it’s worthwhile to apply early.
Combine these tips with your academic excellence, and you’ll have a good chance of earning a coveted acceptance letter to Tufts University!