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Record-low acceptance rate of 17.4 percent for incoming Tufts undergraduates continues a five-year trend

prospective student tour on the Medford/Somerville campus in the spring

The acceptance letters have been sent to the undergraduate Class of 2018, and those getting the good word are the fortunate few, as the acceptance rate dropped to a record low 17.4 percent. In the past five years, the acceptance rate has fallen a full 10 percent, positioning Tufts as an increasingly selective university.

“That’s a significant shift,” says Lee Coffin, the dean of undergraduate admissions. He attributed the dramatic change in acceptance rates to a growing pool of applicants—three of the last four years have seen record numbers of applicants—“and just the continued strength of Tufts.”

The university received a record-high 19,075 applications from prospective undergraduates for the Class of 2018. In particular, the School of Engineering received 3,724 applications for 200 spots, leading to a record-low acceptance rate of 14 percent; last year it was 20 percent. “Even though the number of high school seniors has topped out, the most high-profile university campuses, like ours, are seeing growth,” Coffin says.

Admitted students come from all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico and more than 70 countries. The top domestic sources of students are Massachusetts, California and New York. Interest in Tufts on the West Coast is strong, Coffin says, in part because of an admissions team strategy to draw more of those students, given that California is the most populous state. Admissions counselors spent almost eight weeks in California during the last recruiting cycle, Coffin says.

International students as a group are the third largest source of accepted students, after Massachusetts and California. The top countries with accepted students are China, India, Canada, Singapore, the United Kingdom and Turkey, according to Coffin.

SAT scores continue to be strong. The average scores were comparable to last year’s, at 728 for critical reading, 732 for math and 732 in writing. For engineering students, the average math score was 758.

Of domestic students admitted, some 33 percent come from underrepresented minorities, Coffin says, which includes Asian Americans, African Americans, Hispanic Americans and Native Americans.

The accepted class includes 342 first-generation college students, and about 50 percent of admitted students applied for financial aid, similar to the number in recent years.

Accepted students have until May 1 to make a deposit on their first-semester tuition, letting Tufts know that they will be here in the fall. Open house days for visiting accepted students are on April 17, 18 and 25. Coffin says he expects to enroll a freshman class of 1,310 students, evenly divided between men and women.

Taylor McNeil can be reached at

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