Is Boston College a Good School? (An IN-DEPTH Analysis)

When we talk about higher education, Massachusetts is one of the first places that comes to mind. As a matter of fact, this state is home to many of the most respected institutions in the United States and the world.

In particular, Boston College has been one of the big names for a long time. But is it really that good? Let’s find out:

In short, Boston College meets the criteria to be considered a good university, as it has a solid reputation in disciplines like Finance, Economics, and Communication. Furthermore, the school registers high student satisfaction levels and maintains a competitive position in the national rankings.

However, there are many different factors that come into play when choosing a college. In order to determine if BC is a good fit for you, it is important to be well informed and evaluate every important variable.

And that’s what we are about to do in this article. We’ll start off by taking a quick overview of this college. After that, we’ll analyze the key factors that may influence your decision, such as reputation, student satisfaction, cost of attendance, class size, and even the salaries that graduates are likely to earn.

So if that sounds interesting to you, let’s dive right in!

Overview of Boston College.

With almost 160 years of existence, Boston College is a private research university located in the village of Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts. It was founded in 1863 by the Society of Jesus, a Catholic order with a strong educational and missionary background.

BC is particularly popular in disciplines like Finance, Economics, Biology, and Communication. However, it offers over 50 undergraduate programs, as well as graduate degrees across the following academic divisions:

  • Robert J. Morrissey College of Arts and Sciences.
  • Boston College Law School.
  • James A. Woods, S.J. College of Advancing Studies.
  • School of Social Work.
  • Carroll School of Management.
  • William F. Connell School of Nursing.
  • Carolyn A. and Peter S. Lynch School of Education and Human Development.
  • School of Theology and Ministry.

As part of their liberal arts education, all undergraduate students at Boston College must complete the Core Curriculum, which consists of 15 courses in a broad spectrum of subjects, including history, math, philosophy, literature, theology, and natural science.

Despite not having Greek life, BC features more than 300 student organizations to choose from. Furthermore, there’s a wide variety of study abroad programs. According to U.S. News, over 1000 students go abroad each year. However, some of these programs have been limited because of travel restrictions.

Prestige and Rankings.

When it comes to reputation, we can get an idea of how Boston College has performed by checking out the latest college rankings, which are published on a yearly basis.

Rankings are a useful tool if you want to take a glance at a school’s prestige. And while your choice shouldn’t be based entirely on these numbers, they are still a good starting point in the decision-making process.

In the following table you can see which position BC holds in 2022, according to the most reliable publications:

U.S. News36
Times Higher Education57

However, looking at these simple numbers is not really that helpful. They only show you the school’s performance at this moment, causing you to miss the forest for the trees.

Besides, rankings tend to vary depending on the methodology used by the company, meaning that a school that does well in one ranking may have a very different result in another one.

In fact, that’s exacly the problem here. There is a difference of 21 spots between both rankings!

So in order to address this issue, we’ll take the average of the last years and visualize the historical trend. The main goal is to evaluate the school from a more unbiased point of view.

Below is a graph with the average rank for Boston College over time:

Boston College average national rankings
Average rankings calculated with data from US News and Times Higher Education

Now you have a wider view of what’s going on. Every chart tells you a story. And what we can see here is that has maintained a good position in the national rankings over time.

Now you have a wider view of what’s going on. Every chart tells you a story. And what we can see here is that BU has maintained a good position in the national rankings over the last years.

Back in 2017, Boston College registered an average position of 49.5. A couple of years later, it had a slight dip and went down to spot 52.5. And now in 2022, its average rank is standing at 46.5, which is an overall increase of 3 positions.

So with this information we can conclude that BC has remained competitive as time goes by.

By tracking Boston College’s position in the national rankings we were able to see a more precise image of its performance over the years. And even though U.S. News and Times Higher Education give very different ratings, we managed to get a more accurate view by plotting the average position and analyzing it.

What we just did is a more effective approach to evaluating how a school has performed over a given period.

In the next part of the post, we’ll use a similar method to assess how satisfied students are at BC. So keep reading because this will be important.

Student Satisfaction.

If you’ve been doing your research for a while, chances are you’ve visited other sites to read reviews from other students. And while internet reviews may be useful at first glance, the truth is that they are often contradictory and you might end up more confused after reading many of them.

Besides, there are several disadvantages to this approach. Just to name a few:

  1. There is no way to verify that online reviews were written by actual students.
  2. Fake reviews are a common practice and they are often hard to detect.
  3. Star ratings can be easily manipulated to artificially improve or damage a school’s reputation.

The above mentioned are just some of the reasons why you should take reviews with a big grain of salt.

But don’t worry. If you’re wondering if there is a more reliable way to gauge student satisfaction, the answer is yes. We achieve that by analyzing retention rates, and that’s what we are going to do in this section!

Before we get down to the nitty-gritty, let me give you some context on retention rates and their importance.

Retention Rates: What Are They and Why Should You Care?

A retention rate is simply the percentage of first-time students who remained at the same school for their sophomore year. It is one of the most accurate parameters to measure student satisfaction because of the following reasons:

  1. It’s calculated with actual data from real students.
  2. The data is reported to the National Center for Education Statistics and it’s hard to manipulate. Any attempt to falsify this information could have serious consequences for the school.

Even if this is the first time you hear about this concept, there are solid arguments why you should pay close attention to it.

A student will be more encouraged to keep studying at the same university if his freshman experience was positive. Accordingly, the higher the retention rate is, the better expectations you can have for your first college year.

On the other hand, a bad first-year experience will induce more students to drop out or transfer to another college, causing the retention rate to decrease. Therefore, this is something to keep in mind before you make your final decision.

There are, of course, other factors that may lead students to drop out, such as personal problems or lack of money. However, colleges that take good care of their freshmen indeed hold high retention rates throughout the years.

Retention Rate at Boston College.

As of 2020, Boston College reported a retention rate of 92.6%.

The following chart illustrates how retention rates have varied over the years at this institution. I want you to take a look at it carefully. What can you notice?

Boston College retention rate line graph
Retention rates calculated with data from the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS)

First of all, it is a fact that this parameter has remained incredibly high. And maintaining a retention rate above 90% is not an easy task. However, we can also see a slight dip in the last year.

In 2014, Boston College had a 96.05% retention rate. And over the next years it kept fluctuating around 94%. This behavior got abruptly interrupted in 2020, when the school’s retention rate decreased to 92.6%. But there could be an explanation for this.

Unlike other years, 2020 was quite different because of lockdown and social distancing. And despite that fact, the retention rate went down just by 2.07 percent points.

The data for 2021 has not been released yet, but it could get close to 94% as we gradually return to normal life.

This is a clear indicator that new undergraduate students are highly satisfied with their experience at Boston College. The odds of dropping out after the first year are low, and freshmen find a good environment to keep studying at this university.

Graduation Rates: What You Need to Know.

In the previous section, we analyzed how satisfied students are after their freshman year.

But now it’s time to answer an equally important question: how many undergrads actually finish their studies?

We can find the answer to that question by simply looking at the graduation rate of the school, which is the percentage of students who completed their program.

A high graduation rate is a very positive signal, as it reveals that all the time, effort, and resources you spend at this school will be probably worth it.

On the contrary, low graduation rates may suggest that students don’t get academic support along the way or they just feel disappointed over time. So this is also something that you’ll want to take into account.

Graduation Rate at Boston College.

According to the most recent data from the National Center for Education Statistics, Boston College registered the following graduation rates:

TimeGraduation rate
6 years91.74%
4 years88.16%
Graduation rates calculated with data from the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS)

In the following plot you’ll visualize the 6-year graduation rate over time. In other words, the proportion of students who completed their program within 6 years after enrolling:

Boston College graduation rate line graph
Graduation rates calculated with data from the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS)

As the graph shows, this parameter has consistently been above 90%. And keeping it at that level is extremely hard, but Boston College has done a good job to maintain it.

As of 2013, BC registered a graduation rate of 90.76%. This was followed by a marginal increase over the next years, hitting its highest value at 92.46% in 2018.

The last value we know corresponds to 2020, when the graduation rate reached 91.74%. And it will probably stay at a similar level in 2022.

In summary, it’s really hard to find a college that keeps its graduation rate at such a high level for many years. So this is an undeniable indicator that Boston College provides the right conditions for students to advance and graduate within a reasonable time.

Outcomes 8 Years After Attending.

We can dive a little bit deeper and find out the proportion of students that dropped out or transferred from Boston College. For this purpose, take a look at the following doughnut chart:

From this chart, you can tell that within 8 years of entry, 93% of the students had already graduated, while 6% transferred to another college. Probably the most interesting fact is that only 1% of the students dropped out, which is an extremely small proportion of the entering class.

Class Size / Student-to-Faculty-Ratio.

Class size is another factor that could define whether or not this school is a good fit for you. If you prioritize being able to interact with your professors regularly and receiving more personal attention, you’ll want to find a college with a low student-to-faculty ratio.

This parameter tells you how many students there are at a college for every faculty member. Thus, a lower value typically indicates that classes are more reduced and personalized.

On the other hand, a higher student-to-faculty ratio isn’t necessarily something negative. It all boils down to the type of experience you are looking for. Some people feel comfortable in larger classes, while some others don’t.

What Is the Student-to-Faculty Ratio at Boston College?

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, Boston College has a student-to-faculty ratio of 14:1, meaning that there are 14 students for every faculty member.

This number has not changed significantly in recent years, as shown in the following table:

CycleStudent-to-faculty Ratio
2020 – 202114:1
2019 – 202013:1
2018 – 201913:1
2017 – 201813:1
Source: Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS)

It is important to point out that you should not take this parameter literally. In other words, a 14:1 ratio doesn’t mean that every single class at BC will have exactly 14 students. However, it is still a good approximation to get an idea of how big or small classes are.

Additionally, Boston College does not reveal its average class size, but according to US News most classes have fewer than 20 students. This value is pretty similar to the student-to-faculty ratio of the school.

Keep in mind that class size is not set in stone, and it does vary across different courses and majors.

Estimated Student Expenses.

Paying for college is one of the main concerns that will have an impact on your final choice. So in order to make an informed decision, the first step is to get familiar with the expenses you’ll have to cover.

The following table contains the reported Cost of attendance (COA) for Boston College. The COA is a quick estimation of the amounts you would spend annually without receiving any kind of aid. This includes tuition and fees, room and board, books, supplies, and other expenses:

Tuition and fees$57,910
Room and board$14,826
Books and supplies$1,250
Other expenses$1,900
Total cost of attendance$75,886
Source: College Navigator. National Center for Education Statistics

This cost can be significantly lower if you are awarded financial aid. For that reason, we’ll dedicate this whole section to take an in-depth look into the questions that matter to you.

Is the college getting more expensive? What’s the average amount that students receive in grants or scholarships?

These are some of the key questions that we will respond in the next paragraphs. So stay tuned.

Cost of Attendance and Financial Aid.

In this part of the post, we will see how the amount of aid compares to the cost of attendance. Ideally, if the cost of attendance is going up, we want the amount of aid to be growing at the same or even at a higher rate.

But before we get in more detail, I want to make something clear:

This section is only intended to provide a general picture of how the cost and the amount of aid have performed.

All of the numbers presented here are estimates reported by the school. However, every person has a different background, and in case you are eligible for financial aid, the amount will strongly vary depending on your circumstances.

If you need a more accurate estimation based on your personal case, please refer to Boston College’s net price calculator.

Having said that, let’s take a look at the chart:

Boston College cost of attendance and financial aid line graph
Source: Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS)

As the graph shows, the cost of attendance is going up steadily.

Part of this increase is already expectable, as inflation consistently drives up prices. Nonetheless, there are many factors that define the cost of attendance. Consequently, the change in price from one year to another can easily be above inflation.

During the period we are analyzing, the cost of attendance grew by 20.41%, going from $63,022 to $75,886 in 5 years.

On the other hand, the average amount of grant aid for freshmen increased at a faster pace. In 2014-2015 it was standing at $36,668, and after five years it reached its highest point at $46,258, which is an increase of 26.15%.

The fact that the amount of aid experienced faster growth is a highly positive signal. However we still need to know more details before we can draw any conclusion. And that’s the topic of our next section.

Percentage of First-Year Students Receiving Grant or Scholarship Aid.

So far, we know how the annual cost and financial aid have varied over the last years at BC. But now it’s time to find out if there are enough freshmen receiving this benefit.

In the chart below, you’ll see the percentage of new students that have been awarded aid during the last cycles. What can you notice?

Boston College percent of first-time students receiving grant or scholarship aid
Percentages calculated with data from the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS)

The graph clearly shows that the percentage of students receiving aid is slowly reaching higher values. But it’s still below 50%.

Back in the 2013-2014 cycle, only 42% of the entering class at BC received grant or scholarship aid. However, the proportion saw a slight increase between 2015 and 2020, reaching a new peak at 45.19%.

In short, the odds of being awarded aid as a new student are gradually improving. But this improvement is taking place very slowly.

Keep in mind that you’ll have to visit Boston College’s net price calculator if you need an accurate estimation bases on your personal circumstances.

Bottom Line.

To summarize, in this section we analyzed the environment that students face when it comes to paying for college. Our key findings are listed below:

  • The cost of attendance at BC is going up steadily.
  • The average amount of grant or scholarship aid has increased at a faster rate in the last years.
  • The percentage of students receiving this benefit is going up as well. However, its growth is slow-paced and it may take a few years before it reaches 50%.

Expected Salaries.

Now we are getting to the final part of our analysis. And we cannot end this post without talking about about salaries. Even though people usually find it hard to bring up this topic, it is something you are probably interested in.

Hence the next question is, how much can you expect to earn after graduation?

The answer to this question is variable, as it depends on the major you selected, as well as the job offers available when you graduate. But the good news is that the U.S. Department of Education publishes a list of the typical salaries that graduates earn in the third year after graduation.

This piece of information is highly valuable for the following reasons:

  • It is calculated using data from actual Boston College graduates.
  • It corresponds to the early stage of their career. At this point, you probably care more about your starting salary than you do about your late career income.

There are other sites like Payscale or Glassdoor that upload their own estimates. And while that information may be reliable as well, it is not as in-depth as the data that the government provides.

Salary Table.

The table below contains the median annual income for BC alumni 3 years within graduation, according to the U.S. Department of Education:

ProgramMedian earnings
Applied Psychology and Human Development$50,512
Computer Science$105,872
International Studies$55,849
Mathematics $76,662
Political Science$50,892
Median salaries three years after graduation. To see the full list visit: College Scorecard. US Department of Education.

As the table shows, Computer Science graduates are the top earners during the first stage of their career, with a median income of $105,872.

Finance and Accounting graduates are also among the highest-payed professionals from BC. Their median salaries are $94,626 and $82,416, respectively.

Other disciplines like Economics, Nursing, Marketing, and Communication, have also seen competitive annual earnings.

Another interesting fact is that Mathematics and Sociology graduates have registered median salaries above $50,000. This is especially appealing considering the fact that these majors are not so popular at this school.

If your program doesn’t appear on the list, you can visit the university’s page on College Scorecard to check if the information is available.


So there you have it. Needless to say, this post was meant to be strongly data-driven. Rather than relying on other people’s opinions, we took a logical approach intended to provide a more accurate picture of the school.

After analyzing the most important variables, a story emerged from the data and we managed to evaluate the school’s performance from different angles.

The following are some of our key takeaways:

  • Boston College has maintained a good position in the national rankings.
  • First-year students are highly satisfied, as we could tell by tracking the retention rate over time.
  • Boston College’s graduation rate has been above 90% for many years. Meaning that students find the right environment to advance and complete their program.
  • Only 1% of the students dropped out, according to official data.
  • The average amount of aid is growing faster than the cost of attendance.
  • The proportion of students reveiving financial aid is increasing as well, but it hasn’t reached 50% of the entering class.
  • Overall Boston College satisfied the criteria to be considered a good university. In addition it has shown it is capable of maintaining a good level as the years go by.

Frequently Asked Questions.

What is Boston College known for?

Boston College is well-known for its Finance, Economics, Biology, and Political Science programs. As a liberal arts college, it has a core curriculum that all undergraduates have to complete. In addition, BC features more than 200 study-abroad programs. Approximately 50% of students go abroad.

Is Boston College a party school?

Boston College cannot be considered a party school on its own. It does offer a better party scene than most Jesuit institutions. However, it is far from being regarded as a top party school in the U.S. Most of the time, students go off campus when they want to have fun.

What are the most popular majors at Boston College?

According to the U.S. Department of Education, the most popular majors by the number of graduates are Finance (319), Economics (299), Biology (212), Political Science (187), Communication (144), Psychology (119), and Nursing (104)

How many students does Boston College have?

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, Boston College has a population of 14,934 students, out of which 9,780 are undergrads, while 5,154 are pursuing graduate studies.

Is Boston College a D1 school?

BC is part of the Atlantic Coast Conference in the NCAA Division I. The Boston College Eagles represent the school in a wide variety of sports, including baseball, basketball, fencing, football, ice hockey, soccer, tennis, swimming, and others.