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Watch a video of undergraduate matriculation day at Tufts. Video: Jenna Schad

Tufts Welcomes the Undergraduate Class of 2026

The most academically accomplished class ever enrolled, the incoming class sustains Tufts’ focus on creating a student body that is diverse and inclusive

The Class of 2026 may come from all corners of the globe, but as they gathered together for the first time on August 31, they were reminded of their common bonds.  

“All of you are here today because in you we see the curious minds, compassionate hearts, and commitment to action that we prize in our students and alumni,” said President Anthony Monaco, speaking at the traditional matriculation ceremony on the Academic Quad.

“We see scholars motivated to learn and explore. We see artists and musicians on fire with creativity. We see entrepreneurs brimming with new ideas. We see leaders who turn challenges into opportunities. We see global citizens striving to make the world more just and more equitable,” said Monaco.

The Class of 2026 earlier this year earned a place in admissions history when applications grew nearly 12% over last year to more than 34,880—making it the largest and most compositionally diverse first-year applicant pool in the university’s history.

With such a surge in interest, that means the Class of 2026 went through the most selective admissions cycle ever: just 9.7% of first-year applicants were admitted, according to JT Duck, dean of undergraduate admissions.

“By every quantifiable measure, you are the most academically accomplished class we have ever enrolled,” Duck told the assembled students at matriculation.

As a whole, the class sustains Tufts’ focus on creating a student body that is diverse and inclusive: across all enrolling U.S. students, 48% identify as students of color, the same as last year with the Class of 2025, according to Duck.

Duck told the incoming students that his team looked not only for academic excellence, but also read each application “with an appreciation for the perspectives, experiences, and aspirations you would bring to this community,” he said. “We care deeply about enrolling a diverse class of civically engaged, collaborative, and kind scholars.”

He cited a few examples from applications that caught the eye of the admissions team. Among them were the first and only female football player on a California public high school football team, and another woman who “broke barriers as the youngest female race car driver in the BMW National Car Club of America.”

One incoming student, a musician and baseball player from Alaska with a passion for baking and for community service, founded a group to deliver freshly baked cookies to first responders and convalescent homes during the COVID-19 pandemic. Another founded a nonprofit organization called Kids for Wolves when he was 7 and went on to write a book called W is for Wolf.

In short, Duck said, “you are a really impressive bunch.”

Admission Trends

The class reflects an uptick in the number of students who hail from Southern and Southwestern states, said Duck. Representation for those regions has grown to nearly 13%, the highest percentage in recent years and in line with population shifts in the U.S. and targeted outreach efforts by the admissions office, he said.

The Class of 2026 is also the first class that includes students enrolling with the support of the Schuler Access Initiative, made possible through a challenge grant from the Schuler Education Foundation. The five-year initiative, launched by Tufts graduates, is allowing Tufts to enroll more Pell Grant recipients and students with undocumented status.

many students holding candles in front of themselves outdoors at night

The Tufts Class of 2026 gathers on the Hill for the Illumination Ceremony, marking the beginning of their college careers. Photo: Alonso Nichols

The Class of 2026 is the second class enrolled under the university’s SAT/ACT test-optional policy, and 44% chose not to submit ACT or SAT scores. The admissions office is assessing the current policy, in place for one more year, before determining the future of testing requirements for undergraduate applicants to Tufts, said Duck.

Given Tufts’ popularity, the Office of Admissions has adapted its enrollment modeling. The extraordinarily strong yield last year on offers of admission for the Class of 2025 resulted in more students coming to Tufts than expected. As a result, Tufts made fewer offers of admission this year, said Duck.

“We anticipated building up to our target class size by admitting students from our wait list,” he said. “Our yield projections were more accurate this year, allowing us to enroll a few dozen outstanding students from the wait list in May.”

The Class of 2026 by the Numbers

The class is made up of 1,698 first-year students and 63 transfers, including six students in the Resumed Education for Adult Learner (REAL) program. Women make up 55% of the class, and men 41%. Students who identify as genderqueer, non-binary, or preferred not to specify a gender identity account for 4% of the class.

Of transfer students, 10% were admitted. Representing more than 45 institutions, 10 transfers come from community colleges, including four from Bunker Hill Community College in nearby Charlestown. Of U.S. transfer students, 49% identify as students of color, 13% are foreign nationals, and 17% are first-generation to college.

Academic Pathways

  • 271 indicate interest in the School of Engineering; 49% are women.
  • 1,427 indicate interest in School of Arts and Sciences, of which 81 intend to pursue a B.F.A. at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts at Tufts (SMFA) and 86 intend to pursue a combined B.F.A. + B.A./B.S. degree.
  • 35 first-year students are taking a gap year.
  • 42 students who took a gap year last year are now enrolling.
  • Eight students are taking part in the Tufts Civic Semester.

Identification and Diversity

  • Among U.S. students, 48.3% identify as students of color. Of them, 8.3% identify as Black, 10.8 % as Hispanic, 18.9% as Asian-American, and 10% as multiracial. 
  • 47.4% identify as white; 4.3% did not specify a race or ethnicity.
  • 41 first-year students identify with a Native or Indigenous heritage, nearly all as part of a multiracial identity. This includes 35 students who identify as American Indian or Alaska Native, including 10 students who are enrolled citizens of their tribe, representing eight tribal nations (Cherokee, Chickasaw, Choctaw, Mashpee Wampanoag, Northern Cheyenne, Samish, Sault Ste. Marie, and Tuscarora).
  • Six students identify as Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander.

Global Reach

  • In total, enrolled students have citizenships from 88 countries, including 26 citizenships not currently represented in the undergraduate community. The most represented citizenships outside the United States are China, South Korea, India, Brazil, Canada, Vietnam, United Kingdom, Mexico, Hong Kong, Turkey, Venezuela.
  • Students designated as foreign nationals account for 13%.
  • Students hail from 48 states plus Washington, D.C., Puerto Rico, and American Samoa. The top 10 states are Massachusetts, New York, California, New Jersey, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Texas, Maryland, Florida, and Illinois.
  • 45 students are attending Tufts from the university’s host communities of Medford, Somerville, Boston, and Grafton. They include two students affiliated with Breakthrough Greater Boston, two students affiliated with the Boston-based Steppingstone Foundation, and four students affiliated with Boston-based Bottom Line.

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