The increase comes in almost every demographic group, creating the largest and most diverse applicant pool ever
Applications to the undergraduate Class of 2026 grew nearly 12% over last year to more than 34,000, making this the largest and most diverse applicant pool ever, according to the Office of Undergraduate Admissions.
The increase is seen in students from virtually every demographic group, said JT Duck, dean of admissions for the School of Arts and Sciences and the School of Engineering. Applications from international students, first-generation-to-college students, students of color, and students from beyond the U.S. Northeast are outpacing the growth of the overall pool.
Applications from international students increased 29%, while U.S. applicants increased 7%, with Black, multiracial, and Latinx populations reflecting the largest growth; students of color now account for 52% of all US applicants.
Duck credits the growth of applications to several factors, including what students observed about Tufts as it navigated the pandemic. “It’s a credit to the leadership of President Monaco, and to everyone who sustained the residential campus experience during this difficult time,” he said. “Our steadiness and care amid uncertainty resonated with prospective students.”
And as someone who has his finger on the pulse of what college-bound students want, he said, a first-rate reputation matters, too: opportunities at Tufts are “truly distinctive” on the higher education landscape, he said.
“We offer a rigorous education, coupled with a commitment to civic engagement and to making our world a more just, inclusive place,” he said. “Students can explore their curiosities across the liberal arts and sciences, engineering, and the arts, and engage in research. And it’s a place that centers kindness and community. These are qualities and values that speak to aspiring college students today.”
The Tufts admissions team also, with the support of students, staff, faculty, and alumni, continued to innovate to reach prospective students during the pandemic, he said.
Strategies included a bevy of virtual opportunities for students to learn more about Tufts, he said, including interactive student and faculty panels, information sessions and tours, mock classes, art portfolio reviews, and Jumbo chats with current students, in addition to limited in-person tours this past summer and fall. In October, the Office of Admissions hosted virtually an interactive Voices of Tufts Diversity Experience program for students from across the United States; more than 200 of those who attended went on to apply for admission.
“We made learning about Tufts more accessible than ever before through our virtual initiatives,” said Duck. “We want to make sure that high-achieving students from all backgrounds, and all parts of the country and the world, know about the opportunities available at Tufts, which includes proactively reaching out to students who have been historically underrepresented at institutions like Tufts or who have fewer resources or supports.”
Additionally, the university’s test-optional policy—in year two of a three-year pilot—acknowledges the difficulties that many students and families are grappling with during the pandemic. “It’s important to provide flexibility during this period of prolonged uncertainty and reduced access to the exams,” he said. Similar to last year, about half of applicants opted out of submitting SAT or ACT scores.
The increase in first-generation applicants is attributed in part to the announcement last fall of a generous matching gift challenge for financial aid. Tufts is an inaugural member of the Schuler Access Initiative that is investing $500 million over a 10-year period to boost enrollment among Pell Grant-eligible students and students with undocumented and DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) status.
Here’s a look in more detail at applications to the Class of 2026.
- First-year applications grew by 11.8%, surpassing 34,800. Applications have increased by 50% from just two years ago.
- Students of color comprise 52% of the US applicant pool.
- Applications from Black, Latinx, and multiracial students increased the most across the U.S. applicant pool, and Black applicants have increased 88% in the past three years.
- Applications from students living in Tufts host communities of Somerville and Medford, as well as Boston and Grafton, are among the most-ever received.
- First-generation students represented a 23% increase over last year, and a 66% increase over two years ago. They comprise 19% of the applicant pool.
- International student applicants grew by 29% over last year and reflect a 76% increase over 2020. They comprise 22% of the pool.
- All 50 states are represented, plus Washington, D.C., Puerto Rico, Guam, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and American Samoa.
- The fastest growing U.S. regions in the applicant pool are the West, South, and Southwest.
- International students, defined as foreign nationals without U.S. citizenship, account for more than 7,700 applications. For the first time, 16 different countries have more than 100 applications, up from 8 just two years ago, as applications increased from all global regions. Applications from U.S. citizens living abroad have also increased.
Applications by School
- School of Arts & Sciences applications increased 10% to more than 26,800.
- School of Engineering applications increased 18% to more than 6,900.
- Applications to the Bachelor of Fine Arts and the five-year combined degree (B.F.A. and B.A./B.S.) both increased, including a 20% increase in B.F.A. applicants. B.F.A. applications have grown by 90% in just three years.
- Tufts offers two rounds of Early Decision. Across both rounds, Early Decision applications increased by 10%.
- Tufts partners with QuestBridge, a national nonprofit organization dedicated to connecting high-achieving low-income students with highly selective colleges and universities. Tufts matched with 24 outstanding QuestBridge scholars through its Early Decision 1 program, the largest Match cohort yet. More QuestBridge scholars are expected to enroll through the Early Decision 2 and regular decision programs.
Decisions for students who applied during the second round of Early Decision will be released in early February, and students who applied via regular decision will receive their decisions in late March.
Laura Ferguson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.