Boston University vs UC Santa Barbara: Which School is Right for You?

By Eric Eng

By Eric Eng

Female student typing an essay while sitting on the pavement.

Boston University vs UC Santa Barbara: Which School is Right for You?

Choosing a college is a big decision, and it’s important to carefully consider all your options before making a final choice. For many students, Boston University and UC Santa Barbara are top contenders. While both schools offer a strong academic experience, they have their own unique attributes that set them apart. In this article, we’ll take a closer look at Boston University vs UC Santa Barbara, and what makes these schools different to help you determine which one is right for you.

Location and Campus Environment: Boston University vs UC Santa Barbara

One of the biggest differences between Boston University and UC Santa Barbara is their location. Boston University is situated in the heart of Boston, a bustling urban city that offers endless opportunities for cultural enrichment and exploration. On the other hand, UC Santa Barbara is located in Santa Barbara, a picturesque coastal town known for its laid-back surf culture and outdoor recreation.

Female student hanging out in the school grounds.

Boston University has a sprawling campus that offers a mix of historic and modern architecture, with plenty of green spaces and open areas for students to relax and enjoy the scenery. UC Santa Barbara has a more compact campus, but it’s no less stunning, with ocean views and palm trees galore.

Another notable aspect of UC Santa Barbara’s campus environment is its commitment to sustainability. The university has implemented numerous eco-friendly initiatives, such as solar panels, water conservation measures, and a bike-friendly campus. In fact, UC Santa Barbara has been recognized as one of the most sustainable universities in the country, earning a gold rating from the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education.

Academic Programs and Majors Offered: Boston University vs UC Santa Barbara

Both Boston University and UC Santa Barbara offer a wide range of academic programs and majors, but they each have their own strengths. Boston University is particularly well-known for its programs in business, communication, and journalism, as well as its strong research focus.

UC Santa Barbara is renowned for its programs in environmental studies, marine science, and physics, as well as its emphasis on interdisciplinary learning. Regardless of your interests, you’re sure to find a program that suits your needs at either school.

In addition to their strong academic programs, both Boston University and UC Santa Barbara offer a variety of extracurricular activities and resources to enhance the student experience. Boston University has a thriving arts scene, with opportunities to participate in theater productions, music ensembles, and visual arts exhibitions.

UC Santa Barbara has a strong focus on community service and sustainability, with many student-led organizations dedicated to making a positive impact on the environment and local community.

Admissions Process and Acceptance Rates: Boston University vs UC Santa Barbara

The admissions process for both Boston University and UC Santa Barbara is highly competitive, with acceptance rates hovering around 14%-26% in recent years. However, the specific requirements and criteria for admission may vary between the two schools.

Boston University places a strong emphasis on academic achievement and looks for students who have excelled in their high school coursework and standardized tests (SAT/ACT). Meanwhile, UC Santa Barbara takes a more holistic approach to admissions and looks for students who can demonstrate their passion and engagement in extracurricular activities, community service, and leadership.

It is important to note that both Boston University and UC Santa Barbara offer early decision and early action options for applicants. Early decision is a binding agreement, meaning that if a student is accepted, they must attend the school. Early action, on the other hand, is non-binding and allows students to apply to multiple schools and receive their decision earlier than regular decision applicants.

Additionally, both schools consider factors beyond academics and extracurriculars in their admissions process. This may include factors such as diversity, first-generation status, and demonstrated interest in the school. It is important for applicants to thoroughly research each school’s admissions process and requirements to ensure they are presenting themselves in the best possible light.

Cost of Attendance and Financial Aid Opportunities: Boston University vs UC Santa Barbara

Attending college can be expensive, and it’s important to consider the cost of attendance when making your decision. Both Boston University and UC Santa Barbara are private institutions, which means their tuition rates are higher than those of public universities. However, they also offer a range of financial aid opportunities to help make college more affordable.

Young woman using a laptop while holding a pen.

Boston University offers merit-based scholarships, need-based grants, and work-study programs, as well as opportunities for students to engage in paid research and internships. UC Santa Barbara offers similar financial aid options, as well as the UC Blue and Gold Opportunity Plan, which provides free tuition to eligible California residents who come from low-income families.

It’s important to note that the cost of attendance goes beyond just tuition. Students also need to consider the cost of housing, textbooks, and other expenses. Boston University offers on-campus housing options, as well as resources for finding off-campus housing.

They also have a textbook rental program to help students save money on course materials. UC Santa Barbara has a similar textbook rental program, as well as on-campus housing options and resources for finding off-campus housing.

Both universities also offer resources for students to find part-time jobs and internships to help cover expenses. Boston University has a Career Services Center that helps students find job and internship opportunities, as well as resources for resume building and interview preparation. UC Santa Barbara has a similar Career Services Center, as well as a program called Handshake that connects students with job and internship opportunities both on and off campus.

Student Life and Extracurricular Activities

College is about more than just academics – it’s also a time to explore your passions and hobbies, make new friends, and develop your sense of identity. Both Boston University and UC Santa Barbara have vibrant student life programs that offer a variety of extracurricular activities, clubs, and organizations for students to get involved in.

Boston University boasts more than 500 student organizations, ranging from academic groups to performance ensembles to philanthropic societies. UC Santa Barbara has a similarly diverse range of clubs and organizations, as well as a bustling Greek life community and outdoor recreation opportunities.

Additionally, both universities offer various events and programs throughout the year to enhance the student experience. Boston University hosts an annual Global Festival, which celebrates the diverse cultures represented on campus, as well as a week-long Springfest with concerts, food trucks, and other activities. UC Santa Barbara has a popular Arts & Lectures series, featuring guest speakers, performers, and films, as well as an annual Halloween festival that draws thousands of visitors to the campus.

Housing Options and On-Campus Amenities

Where you live during college can have a big impact on your overall experience. Both Boston University and UC Santa Barbara offer a range of housing options for students, from traditional dormitories to apartment-style living arrangements to off-campus housing opportunities.

Boston University has a variety of on-campus amenities, including fitness centers, dining halls, and study spaces, as well as resources such as a learning and writing center and a career services center. UC Santa Barbara also has a wealth of on-campus resources, such as counseling and health services, a recreation center, and a multicultural center.

Additionally, Boston University offers a unique housing option for upperclassmen called the BU Global House. This living community is designed for students who are interested in exploring different cultures and languages, and offers language tables, cultural events, and international programming.

UC Santa Barbara also has a variety of housing options, including the San Joaquin Apartments, which are located on the beach and offer stunning ocean views. The apartments are fully furnished and include amenities such as a pool, fitness center, and study lounges.

Faculty and Student Ratio & Class Sizes: Boston University vs UC Santa Barbara

The faculty and student ratio and class sizes can have a big impact on the quality of your education. At Boston University, the student-to-faculty ratio is 11:1, which means students have ample opportunity to develop personal relationships with their professors and receive individualized attention.

Female student smiling at the camera while her classmates are working on the table.

Meanwhile, at UC Santa Barbara, the student-to-faculty ratio is 17:1, which is still quite favorable and allows for a high level of engagement and interaction in the classroom.

However, it’s important to note that class sizes can vary greatly depending on the specific program or department. For example, at Boston University’s School of Education, class sizes are typically smaller, with an average of 15 students per class. This allows for even more personalized attention and collaboration among students and faculty.

On the other hand, at larger universities like UC Santa Barbara, some introductory courses may have hundreds of students in a single lecture. While this may seem daunting, these courses often have smaller discussion sections led by teaching assistants, which provide opportunities for more individualized attention and engagement.

Career Services and Post-Graduate Outcomes

Ultimately, the goal of attending college is to prepare for a successful career and a fulfilling life. Both Boston University and UC Santa Barbara have robust career services programs that offer resources and support to help students achieve their post-graduate goals.

Boston University’s Center for Career Development offers a range of services, including resume reviews, interview preparation, and networking and internship opportunities. UC Santa Barbara’s Career Services Program provides similar resources, as well as career fairs and employer events.

Additionally, Boston University’s alumni network is a valuable resource for students seeking post-graduate opportunities. The university has a strong alumni community that offers mentorship, job referrals, and networking events. UC Santa Barbara also has an active alumni network that provides similar support to students.

Furthermore, both universities have high post-graduate employment rates. According to recent data, 90% of Boston University graduates are employed or enrolled in graduate school within six months of graduation. Similarly, UC Santa Barbara reports a 91% post-graduate employment rate for its graduates.

Diversity and Inclusion Initiatives on Campus: Boston University vs UC Santa Barbara

Creating a welcoming and inclusive campus environment is an important priority for many students. Both Boston University and UC Santa Barbara are committed to promoting diversity and multiculturalism on campus.

Boston University has a variety of programs and initiatives designed to foster a more inclusive campus community, such as the Howard Thurman Center for Common Ground, which promotes interfaith dialogue and understanding, and the Center for Gender, Sexuality & Activism, which advocates for LGBTQ+ rights and equity. UC Santa Barbara has a similar commitment to diversity and offers resources such as a Multicultural Center and an African Diasporic Cultural Resource Center.

In addition to these programs, both universities also have active student organizations that promote diversity and inclusion. For example, Boston University has the Asian Student Union, Black Student Union, and Latinx Student Association, among others. UC Santa Barbara has similar organizations, including the Asian Pacific Islander Student Alliance, Black Student Union, and Queer Student Union.

Athletics Programs Offered at Both Schools

For sports fans, athletics programs can be an important factor to consider when choosing a college. Both Boston University and UC Santa Barbara have a range of athletic programs and facilities for students to enjoy.

Boston University is a member of the Patriot League and offers varsity teams in sports such as basketball, ice hockey, and rowing. UC Santa Barbara is a member of the Big West Conference and offers varsity teams in sports such as soccer, basketball, and baseball. Both schools also have robust club sports and intramural programs for students who are interested in less competitive athletic pursuits.

View of sports equipments placed on a court.

In addition to the varsity, club, and intramural sports programs, both Boston University and UC Santa Barbara offer unique opportunities for students interested in sports. Boston University has a Sports Media program, which allows students to gain hands-on experience in sports journalism, broadcasting, and production.

UC Santa Barbara has a Surf Team, which competes in the National Scholastic Surfing Association and offers students the chance to surf competitively while representing their school.

Furthermore, both schools prioritize the health and wellness of their student-athletes. Boston University has a state-of-the-art Athletic Enhancement Center, which provides strength and conditioning training, nutrition counseling, and injury prevention and rehabilitation services.

UC Santa Barbara has a Student-Athlete Academic Services program, which offers academic advising, tutoring, and study hall sessions to ensure that student-athletes are able to balance their athletic and academic commitments.

Alumni Networks & Connections: Boston University vs UC Santa Barbara

Building a strong alumni network can be valuable for post-graduate success, and both Boston University and UC Santa Barbara have active and engaged alumni networks.

Boston University’s alumni network spans the globe, with more than 200,000 alumni in over 180 countries. The school also offers a range of resources and opportunities for alumni to stay connected, such as networking events, career services, and volunteer opportunities.

UC Santa Barbara has a similarly active alumni network, as well as an Alumni Career Services program that offers resume reviews, job search strategies, and other resources to help graduates succeed in their careers.

Another benefit of having a strong alumni network is the potential for mentorship opportunities. Many alumni are willing to offer guidance and advice to current students and recent graduates, whether it be through informational interviews or job shadowing experiences. Boston University and UC Santa Barbara both have mentorship programs that connect students with alumni in their desired fields.

In addition to career-related benefits, alumni networks can also provide opportunities for social connections and community involvement. Both Boston University and UC Santa Barbara have alumni clubs and chapters in various cities, allowing graduates to connect with fellow alumni in their area and participate in social events and community service projects.

Research Opportunities & Partnerships with Local Industries

For students who are interested in pursuing research and innovation, both Boston University and UC Santa Barbara offer a wealth of opportunities.

Boston University is a research-intensive institution and is home to numerous research centers and institutes in fields such as health sciences, engineering, and social sciences. The school also has partnerships with local industries and organizations, such as the Boston Medical Center and the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory.

UC Santa Barbara is similarly committed to research and offers a range of interdisciplinary programs and centers, such as the Materials Research Laboratory and the Institute for Energy Efficiency.

Furthermore, both universities encourage students to collaborate with local industries and organizations to apply their research findings to real-world problems. For instance, Boston University’s Office of Technology Development helps students and faculty members to commercialize their research and establish partnerships with industry leaders.

Similarly, UC Santa Barbara’s Technology Management Program provides students with the skills and resources to bring their research to market and create successful startups.

Environmental Sustainability Efforts at Each Campus

With climate change and sustainability becoming increasingly important issues, it’s worth considering what each school is doing to reduce its environmental impact.

Boston University has made a commitment to achieving carbon neutrality by 2040 and has a variety of initiatives in place to promote sustainability, such as a composting program, a bike share program, and an annual Green Cup competition to encourage energy conservation among students.

Group of students attending a community service smiling for the camera.

UC Santa Barbara is similarly committed to sustainability and has implemented a number of programs and initiatives to reduce its carbon footprint, such as a water conservation program, a zero-waste initiative, and a commitment to utilizing renewable energy sources.

Study Abroad Programs & Global Learning Opportunities: Boston University vs UC Santa Barbara

Studying abroad can be one of the most enriching experiences of your college career, and both Boston University and UC Santa Barbara offer a range of study-abroad programs and global learning opportunities.

Boston University has one of the largest study abroad programs in the country, with more than 90 programs in over 30 countries. The school also offers a variety of global learning opportunities, such as international service learning programs and cultural exchange programs.

UC Santa Barbara has a similarly wide range of study abroad programs and international opportunities, as well as a Global Studies program that focuses on topics such as globalization, human rights, and sustainable development.

Campus Safety Measures & Support Services for Students

Safety and security are top priorities for any college campus, and both Boston University and UC Santa Barbara have measures in place to ensure students feel safe and supported.

Boston University has its own police department and offers a range of safety resources, such as a campus escort program, safety alerts, and emergency preparedness information. The school also has a variety of support services available to students, such as the Student Health Services Center.

UC Santa Barbara has a similar commitment to safety and provides resources such as a Campus Safety & Emergency Services department and a CARE advocacy program for survivors of sexual assault and relationship violence.

Technology Resources & Infrastructure Available to Students: Boston University vs UC Santa Barbara

In today’s digital age, access to technology resources and infrastructure is essential for student success. Both Boston University and UC Santa Barbara offer a range of tech resources and amenities to ensure students have the tools they need to thrive.

Boston University has a robust IT department that offers support for everything from computer repairs to software and app development. The school also has a variety of tech resources and infrastructure, such as high-speed internet access, multimedia labs, and digital production studios.

UC Santa Barbara has a similarly advanced tech infrastructure, with resources such as a Virtual Computing Lab, a Visualization Lab, and a Cybersecurity Center.

Young woman smiling for the camera.


Ultimately, the decision of whether to attend Boston University or UC Santa Barbara will depend on your individual needs, interests, and preferences. Both schools have a lot to offer, with strong academic programs, vibrant student life experiences, and a commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion.

By considering factors such as location, cost, academic programs, and extracurricular opportunities, you can determine which school is the best fit for you. No matter where you choose to attend college, remember that this is a time to grow, explore, and develop your skills and passions. Good luck with your college search!

Having all the necessary information is important before choosing any course of action. AdmissionSight is always here to assist you with any questions or concerns. We have more than ten years of expertise assisting students in successfully navigating the challenging admissions process.

Consult with AdmissionSight and find out what we can do to help you get into the school of your choice by ensuring that you are sufficiently aware and well-prepared for the application process.

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