Undergraduate Applications Continue to Grow as Geographical Diversity Expands

More than 34,400 apply to the Class of 2028, and set a new record for applications to the School of Engineering

Applications to the undergraduate Class of 2028 reflect growing interest in Tufts from students across the United States and abroad, with more than 34,400 first-year students applying, a 1 percent increase over last year. 

JT Duck, dean of admissions and enrollment management for the School of Arts and Sciences and the School of Engineering, described the undergraduate applicant pool as the “most geographically representative of the United States in recent history,” with more students this year, for example, hailing from the Southwest, where applications grew 14 percent. 

Applications from international students grew by 12 percent and now comprise 25 percent of the total pool. Asia continues to be the most represented region outside of North America. The largest increase in applications came from Africa, growing by 29 percent, followed by Europe, with a 21 percent increase. Duck also noted that international applications have more than doubled from just four years ago. 

Students applying to Tufts, as always, demonstrate a wide range of talents, interests, and achievements, says Duck. This year, the admissions office invited applicants to write about one of three themes—what excites their intellectual curiosity, the environment and communities that have influenced them, or the ways in which they contributed to building a collaborative and/or diverse community. Those who chose the last prompt, new this year, showed how serious they are about social change, says Duck.

“It was inspiring and uplifting to read about the concrete steps students are taking to make their communities stronger, more welcoming, and more reliant upon the unique strengths of each member of the community,” says Duck. 

The composition of the applicant pool is an outcome of concerted efforts, including in-person recruitment in 30 states and more than 25 countries on five continents. This outreach included five “Tufts on Tour” programs across the United States, National Portfolio Day events in more than 15 states, visits to nearly 700 high schools around the world, and other strategies that broaden recruitment and regions of focus. 

The pandemic, Duck added, also contributed to vigorous virtual outreach that is having far-reaching impact. “We continued providing students anywhere in the world access to tours, information sessions, classes, and student panels via online formats that help students see what makes Tufts distinctive, no matter where they are,” he says. “We’re now starting to see that investment reflected in the applicant pool.”

In June 2023, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a decision that impacted how admissions offices could consider applicants, removing the consideration of race as one factor among many. Duck notes that the university’s process this year was developed consistent with that evolving law while remaining true to the university’s mission. Those involved in the admissions processes do not have access to the race or ethnicity of individual applicants or have access to the racial demographics of the applicant pool.  

Consistent with the Supreme Court’s decision, the office continues to evaluate each applicant as an individual, giving consideration to each applicant’s academic performance and promise, their community engagements, and their unique experiences and perspectives, with an eye toward how each applicant will contribute to the university’s mission and vibrant community.  

Application Highlights 

Early Decision: More students applied early decision than ever before, indicating that more students are identifying Tufts as their top choice, says Duck. In addition, Tufts enrolled 30 students through the Questbridge National College Match, a program facilitating college access for low-income students; it is the largest cohort yet, and more Questbridge Scholars are expected to be admitted during the regular decision round.

First Generation Students: Applications from students who are the first in their family to attend college exceeded 7,000 for the first time, a 6 percent increase over last year.

Engineering: The School of Engineering, which eclipsed 7,000 applications last year for the first time, continued an upward trajectory with more than 7,500 applications this year, its largest ever applicant pool. 

Arts and Sciences: For the third year in a row, the School of Arts and Sciences received more than 25,000 applications. 

School of the Museum of Fine Arts at Tufts: Interest in the Bachelor of Fine Arts set a new high, while the 5-year combined degree applicant pool remained strong. 

Tisch College of Civic Life: More than 800 students applied to the Civic Semester Program—now expanded to sites in Urubamba, Peru and Chiang Mai, Thailand—in the first year that Tufts merged program applications with the overall undergraduate admissions process. 

Host Communities: Tufts received nearly 100 applications from students at Somerville and Medford high schools, the largest applicant pool from each to date.

Test Optional: The admissions office is in the fourth year of a six-year SAT/ACT test-optional pilot. About 45 percent of applicants submitted their scores for consideration, similar to previous years.

Looking Ahead

Tufts admissions staff are keeping their eyes on shifting demographics. Projections support concerns of a “demographic cliff” in which the number of U.S. high school graduates will begin to fall sharply in 2026, says Duck, making strategic recruitment increasingly crucial.

One Tufts focus will continue to be on recruiting the students from across the country and around the world who are most likely to contribute to and benefit from a Tufts education, including students living in the south and the southwestern United States as large southern cities are projected to lead the nation in growth, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

Early Decision 1 applicants were notified of their decisions in mid-December. Decisions for students who applied during the second round of Early Decision last year will be released in early February, and students who applied via regular decision will be notified in late March.  

For admitted students, undergraduate admissions will host a series of in-person Jumbo Days in April and will run a series of virtual events for admitted students throughout that month.  

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