Where is Boston University Located?

By Eric Eng

By Eric Eng

Extracurricular Activities at Boston University

Boston University (BU) is one of the largest independent universities in the U.S. Known for its prestigious academic programs and extensive research, BU is a leading institution in North America. Boston University is home to brilliant alumni who are Fulbright Scholars, members of the National Academies, a former US poet laureate, and many leading scientists, authors, and researchers.

  • Where is Boston University Located?
  • How big is the Boston University campus?
  • Is Boston University private or public?
  • What are the facilities available at Boston University?
  • What is outside Boston University’s campus?
  • What are the famous landmarks on Boston University’s campus?
  • How does Boston University impact Boston, Massachusetts?

Where is Boston University Located?

Boston University is located in Boston, Massachusetts. Boston is rich in culture and history. The city is known for its educational institutions, arts scene, and bustling urban life which students surely enjoy in their university experience.

Address: 200 Riverway, Suite 114 Boston, MA 02215

BU sits in Boston’s lively Back Bay neighborhood, stretching along Commonwealth Avenue. The main campus spans the Charles River, touching parts of the Fenway–Kenmore and Allston neighborhoods. This prime location is a picturesque urban setting with easy access to the city’s cultural and educational resources. BU’s Medical Campus is in Boston’s South End neighborhood, which adds to the university’s network of facilities.

BU is part of a thriving academic community with over 250,000 college students nearby. The university has 17 schools and colleges, including the Faculty of Computing & Data Sciences. There are also multiple libraries and over 130 academic centers and institutes.

How big is the Boston University campus?

Boston University has a large and dynamic campus that spans 140 acres. This big campus is perfect to meet the diverse needs of its large student and faculty population.

With 848 classrooms, BU has ample space for more than 300 undergraduate, graduate, doctoral, and special degree programs offered across its 17 distinct schools and colleges. The university’s 1,481 laboratories also provide students and faculty with state-of-the-art spaces for research and innovation.

BU’s campus has 343 buildings and 13 university libraries that offer extensive resources and quiet study areas. 

The university’s size allows faculty to collaborate across different fields, promoting interdisciplinary research and learning. BU’s global alumni network also provides valuable connections and career opportunities for students and graduates.

Despite its large size, BU manages to create a strong sense of community. Students, faculty, and staff can find smaller, supportive groups within the larger campus. This combination of a large, resource-rich environment with small, close-knit communities makes BU an excellent choice for a balanced academic experience.

Is Boston University private or public?

Boston University is a private research university. Its history dates back to its founding in 1839. Originally established as the Newbury Biblical Institute in Newbury, Vermont, BU was founded by a group of Boston Methodists. A decade later, in 1869, the institution was chartered in Boston and officially named Boston University by the Massachusetts Legislature.

BU is a proud member of the Association of American Universities and the Boston Consortium for Higher Education. The university has celebrated its significant milestones with formal centennial observances in both 1939 and 1969, reflecting its enduring legacy and impact on higher education.

As a private institution, BU is distinguished by its prestigious programs and extensive research opportunities. This status allows the university to maintain a high degree of academic freedom and innovation that attracts a diverse and talented community of students, faculty, and researchers from around the world.

Boston University Aerial view

What are the facilities available at Boston University?

Boston University has great facilities that cater to academic, social, and extracurricular activities. Whether you’re in need of cutting-edge classrooms, versatile event spaces, or premier performance venues, BU has everything to support its community.

Academic Facilities

The traditional classrooms, case-style rooms, and auditoriums are equipped with built-in sound systems, projectors, and cutting-edge multimedia capabilities provided by BU for different learning experiences. Professional media support staff are available to assist with technological needs to help students and faculty.

  • Lecture-Style Rooms: Fixed-seat auditoriums with writing surfaces at each seat. Capacity: 100-625 people.
  • Case-Style Rooms: Fixed seating, often tiered, with continuous desktop writing surfaces. Capacity: 50-100 people.
  • Classroom-Style Rooms: Movable desks with tablet-arms. Capacity: 25-100 people.

Campus Venues

Boston University has campus venues that are used for event spaces, such as auditoriums, fixed-seating rooms, multifunctional spaces, and conference rooms to suit any occasion.

  • George Sherman Union (GSU): The GSU is BU’s premier event facility, ideal for conferences, banquets, lectures, and meetings.
  • Metcalf Hall: 12,000 square feet, can be divided for smaller events. Equipped with integrated media and sound systems.
  • Ziskind Lounge: 7,000 square feet overlooking the Charles River, with an adjoining terrace.
  • Conference Auditorium: Seats 260 people with in-house media support.
  • Terrace Lounge (1,400 sq ft), East Balcony (2,300 sq ft), and several small conference rooms on the third floor.
  • GSU Food Hall: Features several eateries with mobile and on-site ordering options.
  • Metcalf Trustee Center: Located on the ninth floor of One Silber Way, this elegant venue offers a ballroom with crystal chandeliers, a cocktail lounge, and a private conference room, perfect for weddings, corporate meetings, or holiday parties.
  • Kenmore Room: Also on the ninth floor of One Silber Way, this intimate space is ideal for small dinners, receptions, and meetings with a stunning view of the Charles River, Boston, and Fenway Park.
  • Dahod Family Alumni Center at the Castle: A Tudor Revival mansion with lavish interiors, suitable for gatherings in its Great Hall, Music Room, Library, Dining Room, and outdoor terrace.
  • Tsai Performance Center: An ideal venue for concerts, theatrical and dance presentations, lectures, film programs, and conferences. The center features a 41ˈ x 31ˈ proscenium stage and fully supported sound and lighting systems.
  • Colloquium Room at the Photonics Center: Features a fixed stage, built-in sound system, dual LCD projector, and multimedia playback capabilities, with varied seating and floor configurations for different events.
  • 43 Hawes Street (Wightman Mansion): A historical mansion near the Fenway Campus with a variety of rooms for meetings, lectures, cultural events, or small social gatherings.

Female student smiling at the camera.

What is outside Boston University’s campus?

BU is nestled in a city rich with history and culture. In fact, it has more historical buildings than any other city in America! Here are some must-see attractions to get you started:

  • The Boston Common and Public Garden

As the oldest 24-acre park in the United States, Boston Common offers beautiful green spaces perfect for a leisurely stroll or a picnic. Adjacent to it is the Public Garden, known for its stunning floral displays and iconic Swan Boats since 1837. It is the first public botanical garden in the U.S. This beautifully landscaped garden features manicured paths, the iconic “Make Way for Ducklings” statues, a 4-acre pond with swans and various other birds, and several statues scattered throughout.

  • The Boston Public Library

The Boston Public Library is a pioneer in public library service in America. It was the first large free municipal library in the United States, the first to lend books, the first to establish a branch library, and the first to create a children’s room. Aside from being a treasure trove of books, this historic library has impressive, Renaissance-style architecture. It has grand reading rooms and a beautiful courtyard.

  • Boston Symphony Orchestra

The Boston Symphony Orchestra (BSO) is an esteemed American symphony orchestra founded in 1881 by Henry Lee Higginson. The BSO gained acclaim for its interpretations of the French repertoire under conductors like Pierre Monteux and Charles Munch, and for its dedication to contemporary music. Experience world-class performances at one of the most renowned concert halls in the country!

  • Fenway Park

Home to the Boston Red Sox, this historic baseball park is a must-visit for sports enthusiasts. Fenway Park is a historic baseball stadium in Boston, Massachusetts, just less than a mile from Kenmore Square. Since 1912, it has been the home of Major League Baseball’s Boston Red Sox. Fenway’s old-school atmosphere and authenticity contribute to its charm. Known for its rich history and distinctive architecture, Fenway Park is one of Boston’s most iconic landmarks.

  • The Freedom Trail

The Freedom Trail is a 2.5-mile path in Boston that takes visitors through 16 historically significant sites in the United States. Established in 1951 by the citizens of Boston, the trail features a unique collection of museums, churches, meeting houses, burial grounds, parks, a ship, and historic markers, all narrating the story of the American Revolution and beyond.

  • The Museum of Fine Arts

The Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, is one of the world’s largest art museums, ranking 20th in terms of public gallery area. It houses an impressive collection of over 8,000 paintings and more than 450,000 works of art, making it one of the most comprehensive collections in the Americas. The MFA’s most prized possessions include masterpieces such as Gauguin’s “Where Do We Come From?” and Millet’s “The Sower,” alongside works by Rembrandt, Degas, Sargent, and van Gogh.

Group of students walking in the campus.

  • Newbury Street

Newbury Street is a shopping, dining, and entertainment district in Boston, renowned for its beautiful 19th-century brownstones. It is home to hundreds of retail stores and eateries. It has become famous for its upscale boutiques and shops, earning a reputation as one of the most expensive streets in the world.

  • The North End, Boston’s Little Italy

The North End is one of Boston’s smallest neighborhoods, covering just one square mile along Boston Harbor. Despite its size, it has had a significant impact on the city’s cultural, historical, and culinary history. As one of colonial Boston’s first residential areas, it was home to elite families of the 18th century, including Governor Thomas Hutchinson and Paul Revere. Today, the North End’s rich history and vibrant atmosphere continue to attract millions of tourists each year.

  • Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum

Isabella Stewart Gardner meticulously curated a collection of over 7,500 paintings, sculptures, furniture, textiles, silver, ceramics, 3,000 rare books, and 7,000 archival objects. These pieces hail from ancient Rome, Medieval Europe, Renaissance Italy, Asia, the Islamic world, and 19th-century France and America. For mystery enthusiasts, the 1990 theft of 13 works of art from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum remains an intriguing unsolved case. Despite the passage of 33 years, the museum remains dedicated to solving this enduring mystery.

  • John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum

The John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum is dedicated to the 35th president of the United States, John Fitzgerald Kennedy. Students and scholars have the opportunity to conduct research using the extensive collection of historical materials that document mid-20th-century politics and the life and administration of John F. Kennedy.

  • New England Aquarium

The New England Aquarium is a nonprofit organization that exhibits marine life, including harbor and northern fur seals, California sea lions, African and southern rockhopper penguins, giant Pacific octopuses, weedy seadragons, and thousands of saltwater and freshwater fish. Highlights include the largest shark and ray touch tank and the impressive Giant Ocean Tank.

  • Museum of Science

The Museum of Science is located in Science Park across the Charles River. It is a premier nature and science museum with an indoor zoological component. It offers many activities, design challenges, and exhibits in science and technology for visitors of all ages.

Three students talking in front of a laptop.

What are the famous landmarks on Boston University’s campus?

Boston University has many iconic buildings that do more than just protect from the weather; they hold lifelong memories. From meeting a first roommate to pulling all-nighters or discovering new passions, these buildings have witnessed countless student journeys. Here are five of BU’s famous landmarks:

  • BU Law Complex: Sumner M. Redstone Building & Law Tower

In 2015, BU completed a major expansion and renovation of its Law School, including the new Sumner M. Redstone Building and the updated Law Tower, originally built in 1964 by architect Josep Lluis Sert. The Redstone Building is five stories tall and houses libraries, dining facilities, and social spaces. The project received LEED Gold certification and architectural recognition for preserving the mid-century brutalist structure’s integrity.

  • Center for Computing and Data Sciences

The Center for Computing and Data Sciences stands 19 stories tall and covers 345,000 square feet. Designed by KPMB Architects to resemble a stack of books, it will house the Faculty of Computing & Data Sciences, Mathematics & Statistics, Computer Science, and the Rafik B. Hariri Institute, symbolizing BU’s commitment to innovation and collaboration.

  • Warren Towers

Warren Towers is a significant first-year dormitory housing about half of BU’s freshman class. Designed by Von Storch & Burkavage, it is the second-largest non-military dorm in the U.S. and is centrally located next to the College of Communication and across from the College of Arts and Sciences.

  • Joan & Edgar Booth Theatre

Designed by Elkus Manfredi, the Joan and Edgar Booth Theatre is a 75,000-square-foot complex that includes classrooms, design labs, and production shops. It unifies the production and performance of students.

  • Howard Thurman Center for Common Ground

The Howard Thurman Center for Common Ground is BU’s cultural hub. Relocated to a renovated space that once was the CFA’s 808 Gallery, the center now spans over 19,000 square feet, designed by NBBJ to host thousands of students daily.

Two student walking in the campus.

  • Dahod Family Alumni Center, “The Castle”

The Dahod Family Alumni Center, also known as “The Castle,” is a Tudor-eclectic mansion serving as a gathering place for alumni. Built in 1915 and later donated to BU, it features the Tutor Library, event spaces, and Fuller’s BU Pub. A $2 million donation in 2018 modernized the building while preserving its historic charm.

  • Marsh Chapel

Marsh Chapel, built by Cram & Ferguson Architects, is a symbol of BU’s heritage. Featuring Gothic spires and intricate stained glass windows, it was originally intended to face the Charles River but was reoriented after the construction of Storrow Drive. Today, it hosts over 30 religious life groups and serves as BU’s spiritual heart.

How does Boston University impact Boston, Massachusetts?

Boston University has a profound impact on Boston, Massachusetts, both economically and socially. The university’s contributions to the city are multifaceted and substantial. This commitment reflects the university being an integral part of the community. Here’s a look at how BU influences Boston:

Economic Contributions

Boston University’s economic impact on Massachusetts is nearly $4 billion annually. This includes:

  • BU spends approximately $175 million each year on goods and services from Boston vendors.
  • In Fiscal Year 2018, BU awarded over $11 million in scholarships to graduates of Boston public schools.
  • BU contributes $6.3 million annually in payments in lieu of taxes (PILOT).
  • As Boston’s third-largest private employer, BU provides over 27,019 jobs to Massachusetts residents, paying more than $1.31 billion in salaries and benefits.
  • BU students and visitors spend over $275 million annually in Boston.

Historical and Cultural Influence

Since its charter in 1869, BU has been an urban institution deeply intertwined with the life of Boston. The university plays an important role in the city’s intellectual, scientific, and cultural activities.

BU’s faculty, students, and staff are encouraged to engage with the local community to enrich both their education and the lives of Boston residents. The university offers a wide range of educational, cultural, social, legal, and medical services to the community.

Community Engagement

  • Home to 13 student-run service programs, with over 4,500 volunteers contributing an estimated 130,000 hours of service annually, primarily in Greater Boston.
  • BU’s doctors and medical students provide house calls to senior citizens, and the BU Medical Center serves thousands of uninsured residents each year.
  • Programs like CityLab are not only beneficial locally but have also been studied and replicated nationwide.

Three students sitting on the bench inside the campus.

As a major employer and economic player in Boston, BU provides stability in uncertain times. The university’s significant spending on salaries and local goods and services helps support the city’s economy. BU is also one of Boston’s top taxpayers, contributing to the city’s financial health.

Boston University’s faculty lays the groundwork that inspires students to carry on the university’s distinguished tradition of accomplishment. This dedication is evident in the nearly 400,000 living alumni who serve as ambassadors for BU’s legacy of social justice, academic excellence, and innovation.

BU’s alumni have made pioneering contributions since the university’s earliest years, significantly influencing various fields such as civil rights, science and medicine, journalism, literature, business, government, politics, entertainment, broadcasting, popular culture, and sports. Their impact reflects the university’s long-standing tradition of excellence and leadership.

Today, Boston University continues to uphold its reputation that attracts the brightest and the best from around the world.

a male student sitting inside a classroom and smiling

Frequently Asked Questions

1. How do I get around BU?

Boston is easy to navigate on foot or via public transportation. The MBTA (subways, buses, trolleys) helps you travel around the city and suburbs, with discount passes available for BU students. BU also offers a free shuttle between its campuses, and biking is popular with bike lanes along Commonwealth Avenue.

2. How is the weather?

Boston experiences distinct seasons. In autumn, from September to late December, temperatures range from 46 to 73°F, providing comfortable weather with colorful fall foliage. Winter lasts from late December to late March, with temperatures dropping to between 0 and 37°F, bringing cold conditions, snow, and ice. Spring, from late March to late June, sees temperatures between 38 and 70°F and blooming flowers. Summer, from late June to late September, is hot and humid, with temperatures ranging from 60 to 95°F.

3. Why choose BU?

Boston University offers over 300 programs of study and guarantees housing for all four years of undergraduate education. It has a significant international presence, ranked seventh among campuses with the most international students by Open Doors. BU is ranked tenth in the US for employability by Times Higher Education, reflecting its strong academic reputation and career preparation.


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