USC and Boston University: Which School is Right for You?

By Eric Eng

By Eric Eng

a woman looking calm breathing the air

USC and Boston University: Which School is Right for You?

Choosing the right university can be a daunting task, with so many factors to consider. If you’re trying to decide between USC and Boston University, you’ll need to weigh up a range of factors, from location and campus environment to academic programs, faculty diversity, and career services. In this article, we’ll provide a detailed comparison of USC and Boston University, helping you make an informed decision.

Overview of USC and Boston University

USC, or the University of Southern California, is a private research university located in Los Angeles, California. Founded in 1880, it is one of the oldest private research universities on the West Coast and is known for its strong academic programs and high-profile alumni.

Boston University, on the other hand, is also a private research university, located in Boston, Massachusetts. Founded in 1839, it is one of the largest universities in Boston, with a reputation for academic excellence and a diverse student body.

College students walking in the campus.

Both USC and Boston University offer a wide range of undergraduate and graduate programs, with a focus on research and innovation. USC is particularly well-known for its programs in film, business, and engineering, while Boston University is renowned for its programs in journalism, law, and medicine.

Despite their differences in location and size, both universities share a commitment to providing students with a well-rounded education that prepares them for success in their chosen fields. With a strong emphasis on research and experiential learning, USC and Boston University are both excellent choices for students seeking a challenging and rewarding academic experience.

Location and Campus Environment

One of the most important factors to consider when choosing a university is its location and campus environment. USC is located in Los Angeles, one of the largest and most diverse cities in the US. It has a sprawling urban campus, with state-of-the-art facilities and a lively student community.

Boston University, on the other hand, is located in Boston, a historic and culturally rich city that’s home to a thriving student scene. The campus is situated along the Charles River, providing students with a beautiful natural setting to study and relax.

Another important aspect to consider when evaluating a university’s location is its proximity to industry and job opportunities. USC is located in the heart of the entertainment industry, providing students with unique opportunities to network and gain experience in fields such as film, television, and music.

Boston University, on the other hand, is located in a city with a strong presence in industries such as healthcare, finance, and technology, providing students with a range of internships and job opportunities.

Admissions Process and Acceptance Rates

Both USC and Boston University have competitive admissions processes, with acceptance rates below 20%. Applicants to USC can apply through the Common Application and must submit test scores, transcripts, essays, and letters of recommendation.

Close up of students smiling at the camera.

Alternatively, students can apply through the QuestBridge National College Match Program. Boston University also accepts applications through the Common Application and requires transcripts, test scores, essays, and letters of recommendation. They also offer Early Decision and Early Action options for students who wish to apply early.

It is important to note that both USC and Boston University consider more than just academic achievements in their admissions process. They also take into account extracurricular activities, community involvement, and personal qualities.

USC, for example, values leadership and creativity, while Boston University looks for students who are intellectually curious and engaged in their communities. Therefore, it is important for applicants to showcase their unique strengths and qualities in their application materials.

Academic Programs Offered at USC and Boston University

Both USC and Boston University offer a wide range of academic programs, spanning undergraduate, graduate, and professional degrees. USC is known for its strong programs in business, engineering, and film, as well as its highly-ranked medical school and law school. Boston University is known for its strengths in journalism, the humanities, and social sciences, as well as its highly regarded dental and medical schools.

Additionally, both universities offer unique interdisciplinary programs that allow students to combine multiple fields of study. USC offers a program in Arts, Technology, and the Business of Innovation, which combines courses in art, engineering, and business to prepare students for careers in the tech industry.

Boston University offers a program in Neuroscience and Behavior, which combines courses in biology, psychology, and philosophy to explore the relationship between the brain and behavior. These interdisciplinary programs provide students with a well-rounded education and prepare them for careers in emerging fields.

Faculty and Student Body Diversity

Diversity is an important consideration for many prospective students, and both USC and Boston University have diverse student bodies. USC boasts a 25% international student population and is committed to increasing diversity among its faculty and staff. Boston University also has a diverse student body, with over 40% of students identifying as minorities. Additionally, both schools are committed to promoting inclusivity and equity on campus.

Students smiling at the camera together.

USC has a number of initiatives in place to support diversity and inclusion on campus. The university offers a range of resources and programs for underrepresented students, including mentorship programs, scholarships, and cultural organizations. USC also has a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Council, which works to promote a welcoming and inclusive environment for all members of the university community.

Boston University is similarly committed to promoting diversity and inclusion on campus. The university has a number of diversity-focused programs and initiatives, including a Center for Diversity and Inclusion, which provides resources and support for students from underrepresented backgrounds. Boston University also offers a range of multicultural student organizations, which provide opportunities for students to connect with peers who share their cultural backgrounds and interests.

Cost of Attendance: Tuition, Fees, and Financial Aid

Another key consideration for many students is the cost of attendance, including tuition, fees, and financial aid. USC’s tuition and fees for the 2021-2022 academic year are $60,275, while Boston University’s tuition and fees are $58,436.

Both schools offer robust financial aid packages, with USC offering need-based and merit-based scholarships, and Boston University offering need-based aid, merit scholarships, and tuition payment plans.

It’s important to note that the cost of attendance goes beyond just tuition and fees. Students should also consider the cost of living in the area, including housing, food, transportation, and other expenses.

For example, the cost of living in Los Angeles, where USC is located, is generally higher than in Boston, where Boston University is located. Students should factor in these additional costs when making their decision about which school to attend.

Campus Life: Clubs, Athletics, and Social Activities

Campus life is an important part of the university experience, and both USC and Boston University offer a wide range of clubs, athletic teams, and social activities. USC has over 800 student organizations, including religious groups, cultural clubs, and academic organizations.

Group of students working together and talking.

They also have a highly regarded athletics program, with teams competing in the PAC-12 conference. Boston University has over 500 student organizations, as well as a thriving arts and culture scene, with opportunities to attend performances, exhibitions, and cultural events.

Aside from the numerous student organizations, USC also offers a variety of social activities for students to participate in. These include movie nights, game nights, and outdoor events such as picnics and barbecues. Additionally, USC has a strong Greek life presence, with over 50 fraternities and sororities on campus.

Boston University also offers a range of athletic opportunities for students, including club sports and intramural leagues. In addition to the arts and culture scene, BU has a strong emphasis on community service and offers many opportunities for students to get involved in volunteer work both on and off campus. The university also hosts a number of events throughout the year, such as the annual BU Global Music Festival and the BU Arts Festival.

Career Services and Alumni Network

Preparing for a successful career is a top priority for many students, and both USC and Boston University offer robust career services and alumni networks. USC’s Career Center provides a range of services, including career coaching, networking events, and job fairs.

They also have a large and active alumni network, with over 400,000 members worldwide. Boston University’s Center for Career Development offers similar services, including career counseling, internships, and job search resources, as well as a strong alumni network of over 330,000 members.

Additionally, both universities have programs and resources specifically designed for alumni who are looking to make a career change or advance in their current field. USC’s Alumni Career Services offers personalized career coaching, job search strategies, and networking opportunities for alumni at any stage of their career. Boston University’s Alumni Association also provides career resources, including access to job postings and career events, as well as mentorship and networking opportunities.

Furthermore, both universities have partnerships with top companies and organizations, providing students and alumni with exclusive job and internship opportunities. USC has partnerships with companies such as Google, Amazon, and Deloitte, while Boston University has partnerships with companies such as IBM, PwC, and Goldman Sachs.

These partnerships not only provide valuable career opportunities but also give students and alumni access to industry insights and networking opportunities with professionals in their desired fields.

Notable Alumni from USC and Boston University

Both USC and Boston University have produced numerous highly successful alumni in various fields, including entertainment, politics, and business. USC alumni include actors Will Ferrell and Forest Whitaker, astronaut Neil Armstrong, and former US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. Boston University alumni include journalist Barbara Walters, civil rights activist Martin Luther King Jr., and former US Poet Laureate Robert Pinsky.

Additionally, USC has also produced successful athletes such as Olympic gold medalist swimmer Janet Evans and NFL quarterback Carson Palmer. Boston University has notable alumni in the field of science, including Nobel Prize-winning physicist Sheldon Glashow and inventor of the first artificial heart valve, Albert Starr.

Graduate School Opportunities at USC and Boston University

For students interested in pursuing graduate studies, both USC and Boston University offer a range of options. USC has highly-ranked graduate programs in fields such as business, education, and engineering, as well as professional degrees in law, medicine, and pharmacy.

Boston University also has highly ranked graduate programs in fields such as psychology, public health, and social sciences, as well as professional programs in law, medicine, and dental medicine.

Additionally, USC offers a number of interdisciplinary graduate programs that allow students to combine multiple fields of study, such as the Master of Science in Integrated Design, Business, and Technology.

Boston University also offers unique graduate programs, such as the Master of Science in Health Communication, which prepares students to communicate effectively about health issues to diverse audiences.

Comparison of Housing Options for Students

Another important consideration for students is on-campus housing. USC offers a range of on-campus housing options, including traditional dormitories, suites, apartments, and themed housing.

Two students keeping their dorm room clean.

Boston University also offers a range of housing options, including traditional dormitories, apartment-style residences, and suite-style residences. Both schools prioritize safety and security in their on-campus housing, with 24-hour security and safety measures in place.

However, there are some differences in the on-campus housing options offered by USC and Boston University. USC’s on-campus housing is primarily located in the central campus area, while Boston University’s on-campus housing is spread out across several neighborhoods in the city. This means that USC students have easier access to campus resources and activities, while Boston University students may have a more diverse range of off-campus experiences.

In terms of cost, both schools offer a range of housing options at different price points. However, USC’s on-campus housing tends to be more expensive than Boston University’s, with some of the newer apartment-style residences costing upwards of $2,000 per month. Boston University’s on-campus housing is generally more affordable, with some traditional dormitories costing as little as $800 per month.

Prospective Student Checklist: Choosing between USC and Boston University

Choosing between USC and Boston University ultimately comes down to a range of personal factors, including your academic interests, location preferences, campus culture, and career goals. To help you make an informed decision, consider the following checklist:

  • Research the academic programs, faculty, and research opportunities at both schools.
  • Consider the location and campus environment, including social and cultural opportunities.
  • Look at the admissions requirements and acceptance rates, as well as financial aid options.
  • Explore the campus life, clubs, and athletics programs at both schools.
  • Research the career services and alumni networks available at both schools.
  • Read up on any notable alumni or industry connections associated with each school.
  • Consider any specific graduate programs or professional degrees you may be interested in pursuing.


By considering all of these factors and weighing up the pros and cons of each school, you can make an informed decision about which university is right for you. Whether you choose USC or Boston University, you can be confident that you’re embarking on a rich and rewarding academic experience.

Segue to AdmissionSight

At AdmissionSight, we firmly uphold the conviction that every student is entitled to the chance to pursue their dreams at their preferred college. Our mission is to equip you with the expert advice and unwavering support you need to secure a place at the schools you aspire to attend. We also did a comparison of USC and MIT.

Don’t let your future hinge on uncertainty. Reach out to AdmissionSight today to arrange a complimentary consultation and embark on the journey toward realizing your dreams. With our expert mentorship and steadfast support, the sky’s the limit.


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