Tufts or Boston College for Fall 2020

Thoughts on choosing Tufts or BC? Son coming from Hawaii. Undecided major - bio or econ (maybe pre-med). Wants fun social scene, sports, strong academics. Sister at MIT. Obviously concerned with COVID and impact on freshman year. Neither school has plan for the fall. Large price tag at both for “remote learning.” Could do gap year, but unlikely to be able to travel or get a job with current situation.

From my experience, Tufts is considered on a higher tier than BC and is thus considered more “prestigious,” if that is of any value. Of course, across all colleges in the US, there is negligible difference in rank between the two. Bio at Tufts is one of the top programs in the country (number 3 out of 820 according to this website):


and the school also offers early assurance into Tufts Med school. BC is a Jesuit (religious) school while Tufts is not, which could heavily influence the social scene and the types of students that attend. BC wins for sports, as it is D1 while Tufts is D3. I would guess that academics are stronger at Tufts, and certainly the Tufts student body exudes a more intellectual/engaged atmosphere.

Overall, the schools are pretty different. Regarding COVID – I would heavily warn against starting college online. I personally will be taking the semester off this fall if it is online. Not worth the money when you’ll only be getting a fraction of the experience/resources.

Thanks for your comments. Agree about on-line school. Not worth the price tag anywhere.

I visited both campuses with my DD last fall. BC showed much better. So many of the buildings looked new or newly renovated. Work was underway on a new STEM building, scheduled to open in fall, 2021, which will provide new state of the art facilities. The dorm we saw was opened just 3 years ago. New athletic and recreation facilities are either open or under construction. Projects on other new academic buildings are also scheduled. There’s info on the BC website. Tufts facilities seemed tired by comparison.

The other advantage for BC - especially for an out of towner - is that transportation into Boston is much easier from BC. The T station is right at the edge of campus. From Tufts it’s a 15 minute hike to the T. The Chestnut Hill neighborhood around BC has restaurants, a movie theater, and other amenities. Not so much in the Tufts neighborhood.

The two schools are both first rate academically. BC is bigger with 9000 undergrads vs 5600 at Tufts. BC seemed more bustling, Tufts quieter when we were there. Take your pick on size. Don’t get me wrong. I’d be thrilled to have a kid go to Tufts which has a top faculty and excellent programs. For me, BC wins in terms of facilities, neighborhood, access to downtown transportation, and big time sports. That said, you really can’t go wrong with either one.

Don’t rely on on construction underway at any college. At almost all colleges, construction has stopped. Nobody knows how finances will look going forward.

As for the T, a new Tufts stop on the Green Line is about to open on the edge of campus.


It is not surprising that BC “shows better” external appearances tend not an important part of the Tufts culture. But money spent on making the appearance of the grounds and buildings that are included on the tours tends to take away funds from things that improve the quality of life. According to BC students, BC has gone without a student center for 60 years…

“Time and time again, we as students are promised a space to call our own, but then our needs are are cast aside in pursuit of shiny amenities that look good on a brocure, but do little to improve student life on campus” Josh Behrens, MCAS '18

Tufts has a nice student center that was built in the 80’s and updated in 2009

Tufts also prioritizes the arts over external appearances, so they invested $30M in what is known as “the best small performance hall in New England”. Tufts shares this facility with the greater Boston community by offering a community music program for local area children. It also provides a linkage to a world class conservatory program at NEC and as a base for a Music Engineering Minor that allows liberal arts students to learn engineering principles via an enjoyable medium. BC has no such facilities.

Tufts has already upgraded most of their athletic facilities. Tufts added a new 40,000 sqft fitness center in 2012. It also has a new softball field, new field hockey field, and new lacrosse field. There are plans to upgrade the baseball facility. Tufts has D3 rather than D1 sports, but it has won 10 team national championships (3 mens lacrosse, 3 softball, 3 mens soccer and one field hockey) in the last 10 years. Particiption in athletics (as opposed to spectating) is quite high. The mens soccer club fields two teams, the top team was ranked above BC’s club team last fall and the second team was ranked just below. The biggest weakness in Tufts athletic facilities is the pool. It got cut from the plans for the new center as a result of the '07-08 recession. A new pool is in the planning stages, but in the mean time the swim and dive teams rent time at MIT’s pool (a fellow D3 school). This is more time consuming, but the men’s team still won a NESCAC conference championship last year and finished in the top 10 nationally.

In terms of interdiciplinary STEM facilities, Tufts started building them back in 1990 - over 30 years before the projected delivery date of BC’s first building. They now have an entire Sci-Tech Corridor on the Medford/Somerville campus. It includes:

1990 - New 100,000 sq foot Sci Tech Center. It is not remarkable on the outside, but on the inside, it includes the NIH National lab for tissue engineering which is run by Tufts in partnership with Columbia. Some of the interior space was updated in 2009. It is the home of Chemical and Biological Engineering as well as Biomedical Engineering.

2010-Present - 150,000 square feet of new interdiciplinary research labs at the 200 Boston Ave facility. This facility includes the Tufts/US Army Center for Applied Brain & Cognitive Sciences. The facility also houses the Gordon Institute (one of the top engineering/entrepreneurial managment schools in the country and sponsor of the undergraduate minor in entrepreneurial leadership). The facility also houses a new biotech startup accelerator with a couple of biotech startups. Tufts is also a partner of Greentown Labs (located a couple of miles away) which is the largest Clean Tech start-up accelerator in the country.

2013- 40,000 Sq foot Electrical and Computer Engineering facility remodeled.

2015- New 100,000 Sq foot Collaboarative Learning and Innovation Complex. Home to classrooms, engineering and scocial science labs and the Physics and Astronomy department

2017- New 175,000 Sq foot Science and Engineering Complex. This is the new home of the Biology Department as well as the Allen Center - one of
of two University labs sponsored by one of the founders of Microsoft for novel applications of computers to biology problems (the other is at Stanford). This lab is also affiliated with the Wyss Institute at Harvard. Home of the Mechanical, Civil and Environmental Engineering departments.

2019- Barnum Hall (previous home of Bio Department) totally remodeled and turned into a new interdisciplinary building which includes Environmental Science. (this building is on “the hill”, not in the “corridor”)

2021 (Summer) Another new 100,000 Sq foot Center for Multidisciplinary Studies. It will include Economics as well as Computer Science and Data Science. Tufts is one of 25 university sites that the NSF is funding to develop Data Science Research programs. MIT and UMass Amherst are also Massachusetts sites. This building is already framed, and it is expected that construction will resume when when Massachusetts opens back up, but the scedule may be impacted. Other projects that are in the planning stages may have their start dates delayed. This new building is desigined to complement a new, on-campus, subway station that is being built by the state and scheduled to be completed in Dec 2021. Covid may impact this schedule. This new station will provide faster acees to Boston than the BC station, because it has fewer stops.

Note that Tufts currently has equal or better access to Boston as BC. The Red Line to Davis Square has much fewer stops than the Green Line to BC’s main campus, and Tufts runs a continuous shuttle bus between Davis Square and Tufts. Because Tufts SMFA campus is downtown (next to the Museum of Fine Arts) there is also a free shuttlebus that runs every half hour.

BC must have forgot to mention the fact that 40% of the freshman have to live on a separate campus that is 2 miles away from the main campus. (Tufts is only half a mile from Davis Square). This is a huge time sink that unlucky freshman have to experience every day, not just when they go in to Boston.

When it comes to dorms- Tufts completely remodeled two two uphill dorms in 2019 (Miller and Houston) creating a new freshman quad. They also remodeled the common areas and bathrooms in two downhill freshman dorms (Bush and Tilton) in 2019. Lastly, in 2019 Tufts created a new housing community for seniors by rehabbing 14 woodframe houses and turing them into apartments for seniors. They have plans to create another such community in the future.

Tufts also has some of the best food in the country (but not as good as UMass Amherst which may be the best in the country) and it is more healthy than typical because Tufts has a school of nutrition and is the location of one of the USDA national nutrition research labs.


As far as movie theaters go, one of the top 10 indie theaters in the country is located right in Davis Square. It offers live performances as well as movies and even offers original silent movies with a live organist (which is the way they were actually viewed in their day). The theater near BC is a vanilla megaplex that is at least a mile and a half from BC. Somerville also has a megaplex style theater, but it is about 3.5 miles from Tufts in an area with a bunch of outlet stores.


Davis Square was recently voted the most popular square for hanging out and it offers more for young people to do than the area around BC. Tufts also has Ball Square, Powder House Square, Teele Square and the Medford HIllside - all walkable

Harvard Square (about 2 miles from Tufts and 2 Redline stops from Davis Square was voted the second most popular. MIT is just two more Redline Stops away.

BU (which is closer to BC than Tufts) published a guide to Davis Square, but I have never seen a guide to the area around BC.


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that was a great post!

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The Green Line to Tufts was originally scheduled to open in 2018 and the new date for opening is 2022 and knowing the T I would not hold my breath for that date.

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Your warning is well founded, but they have been tracking pretty close to schedule the last couple of years. Pre-Covid it was my understanding that the Lechmere Viaduct contract completion date had moved out, but the T is claiming to still be on track for the Dec 2021 opening. Let me know if you have better info.

It also appears that work on the project is exempt from the construction ban…



According to the email sent by the GLX Project this morning, they are still on track for Dec. 2021, just to confirm the comments above.

Such an informative post! Thank you