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Tufts Admissions Essays Professional School

Founded in 1852 in Medford, Massachusetts, Tufts University’s main campus sits on Walnut Hill, the highest point in Medford, overlooking the beautiful New England town just outside of Boston. Emphasizing active citizenship and public service, the research university boasts renowned undergraduate programs in International Relations, Biology, Computer Science, and Fine Arts, among more than seventy other majors.

The undergraduate program at Tufts spans three schools: the School of Arts and Sciences, the School of Engineering, and the School of the Museum of Fine Arts (SMFA). SMFA students direct their own course of study through areas including ceramics, drawing, film and animation, graphic arts, metals, painting, performance, photography, print and paper, sculpture, sound, and video. These students also take fourteen courses within the School of Arts and Sciences, and ultimately earn a Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) degree.

Combined Degree and Early Admission Programs

Tufts also offers several combined degree programs. Students may pursue a five-year combined Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Science and Bachelor of Music from Tufts School of Arts and Sciences and the New England Conservatory of Music, blending a music intensive program with a liberal arts curriculum.  Students who want to pursue both academic and artistic studies may enroll in a separate five-year combined degree program through Tufts School of Arts and Sciences and SMFA, which gives them the opportunity to earn a Bachelor of Fine Arts and a Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Science.

Once enrolled at Tufts, students may apply for the opportunity to earn a Bachelor’s degree and a Master’s degree in five years.  Students may also gain early admission into Tufts’s professional schools, including the School of Medicine, the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine, and the School of Dental Medicine. They may also pursue early admission/combined degree programs in Public Health and Health Communications.

Study Abroad and Bridge-Year Programs

As a leader in International Relations and other international programs, Tufts is famous for its study abroad experiences. Around 40-45% of students participate in full-year or semester-long overseas programs. Tufts has campuses in Chile, China, Germany, Ghana, Hong Kong, Japan, London, Madrid, Oxford, and Paris, or students may choose from more than 80 pre-approved programs offered by other institutions.

Students may also participate in Tufts 1+4 Bridge-Year Service Learning Program. After you are accepted to Tufts, you may apply to engage in this unique year-long program before beginning your four-year undergraduate studies. Participating students begin the year with an orientation at Tufts, before traveling to one of four locations across the globe to work on issues like community building, education, child development, environmental stewardship, and public policy. This year, Bridge Year Fellows will be placed in Santa Catarina, Brazil, Leon, Nicaragua, Madrid, Spain, or any of 27 domestic sites affiliated with CityYear.

Statistics, Financial Aid, and Deadlines

Tufts is a very selective school, with an acceptance rate of 16% for the class of 2019.

Tufts offers need-based financial aid, but does not offer merit-based scholarships. You may use the Net Price Calculator to estimate your financial aid at Tufts. Financial aid forms are due November 15th for Early Decision I, January 15th for Early Decision II, and February 1st for Regular Decision. Federal tax forms are due December 1st, February 1st, of and February 15th respectively. Tuition costs $51,304 annually, for a total cost of $68,200, including room, board and other fees, annually for residential students. Commuter students have the same cost of tuition, but their annual total fee is $60,400.

Tufts offers two binding Early Decision programs.  Early Decision I application materials are due November 1st, and applicants will be notified of their admission decisions in mid-December. Early Decision II applicants must submit their materials by January 1st and will receive their decisions in mid-February. Students may be deferred to the Regular Decision pool or denied admission under both plans. Regular Decision candidates must submit application materials by January 1st and will receive their admission decisions April 1st.

Tufts uses a waitlist, but does not provide statistics on waitlist acceptances. Students who are offered a position on the waitlist will be notified of their final admission decisions by mid-June.

Applying to Tufts

Tufts accept the Common Application, Coalition Application, or QuestBridge Application, along with the Tufts supplement. There is a $75 application fee.

The Tufts application supplement has four sections, along with a writing supplement: General, Academic, Contacts, and Family.


In this section, you will indicate that you plan on starting in Fall 2017 as a full-time student. These are the only options for student status and start term. You have the option of stating your gender identity and whether or not you identify as transgender. You are not obligated to answer these questions, and your gender identity will not influence your admission in anyway. These questions are used for demographic purposes only.

You will also indicate if you are using a fee waiver for the application and if you are applying for financial aid. Additionally, you will state if you are interested in participating in Tufts 1+4 Bridge-Year Service Learning Program. Keep in mind that you are not committing to the program here; you will undergo a separate application process if you are accepted to Tufts.

The application offers the following information about art portfolios:

An Art Portfolio is required for students applying to the BFA or 5 year BFA+BA/BS Combined Degree programs at the SMFA at Tufts. Students applying to the School of Arts and Sciences or the School of Engineering may submit an optional arts or maker portfolio to highlight talent in studio art, drama, dance, music, or engineering. Please see our website for further information.

If you are planning on submitting an art portfolio, you will specify that you are doing so here.

Finally, you will answer whether or not you planning on participating in Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC).


Here, you will designate to which school or program you are applying: School of Arts and Sciences, School of Engineering, BFA, 5 year BFA + BA/BS, or 5 year BA/Bachelor of Music with New England Conservatory. You will also list your first, second, and third choice academic interests. Keep in mind that you are not declaring a major here, but simply giving the admissions committee an idea of your current interests.


In this section, you will state if you have previously applied to Tufts, and if so when. You will also indicate how you learned about Tufts. There are ten slots available, so there are multiple ways in which you learned about Tufts, you should list them in order of influence. You do not need to fill in all ten slots.


This section asks you about any affiliations your family members have with Tufts. You will specify if you have any siblings who are applying to Tufts, any relatives who have attended, and any parents or stepparents who currently work there. If you answer yes to any of these questions, you will be prompted for the relatives’ names, relationships to you, years affiliated, and degrees or departments, if applicable.


The required prompts for Tufts will appear in this section once you have noted the school or program to which you are applying in the Academic section.

The supplement has three prompts, two of which all applicants must answer, and one you will choose to answer from a list of four prompts.

All applicants:

There is a Quaker saying: “Let your life speak.” Describe the environment in which you were raised—your family, home, neighborhood or community—and how it influenced the person you are today. (Required length is 200-250 words)

Which aspects of Tufts’ curriculum or undergraduate experience prompt your application? “Why Tufts?” (Required length is 50-100 words)

These prompts require you to be as specific as possible given the limited space. You should emphasize your personal experiences and how Tufts will help you continue to pursue your goals, rather than simply stating what aspects of Tufts appeal to you. Be sure to use examples and anecdotes if possible.

For the final piece of writing, you may choose among five prompts:

Answer one of the following questions. Think outside the box: take a risk and go somewhere unexpected. Be serious if the moment calls for it but feel comfortable being playful if that suits you, too. (Your response must be between 200 – 250 words.)

  1. Nelson Mandela believed that “what counts in life is not the mere fact that we have lived. It is what difference we have made to the lives of others that will determine the significance of the life we lead.” Describe a way in which you have made or hope to make a difference.
  2. It’s cool to be smart. Tell us about the subjects or ideas that excite your intellectual curiosity.
  3. Whether you’ve built blanket forts or circuit boards, produced community theater or mixed media art installations, tell us: what have you invented, engineered, created, or designed? Or what do you hope to?
  4. What makes you happy?
  5. Celebrate the role of sports in your life.

For tips on how to choose a prompt and approach your essay, check out our “How to Write the Tufts University Application Essays 2016-2017” post.

If you are applying to the BFA program or combined BFA/BA or BS program, you will not have the opportunity to select a prompt, but will be given the following question:

Please answer the following question – we encourage you to think outside the box. Be serious if the moment calls for it but feel comfortable being playful if that suits you, too. Your response must be between 200 – 250 words.

Artist Bruce Nauman once said, “One of the factors that still keeps me in the studio is that every so often I have to more or less start all over.” Everyone deals with failure differently; for most artists failure is an opportunity to start something new. Tell us about a time when you have failed and how that has influenced your art practice.

Because these essays are very specific to Tufts, you should leave yourself plenty of time to write compelling answers. Some of the options are very similar to come Common Application essay prompts, so try to make your essays as distinct as possible, and if you find yourself being repetitive or telling the same anecdotes, consider choosing a different prompt for this section. Pay close attention to tone—Tufts encourages you to be yourself, so allow your personality to shine through.

Other Requirements

Students may request an optional interview conducted by a member of the Tufts Admissions Network or a senior interviewer. You may request an interview via your Application Checklist once you have submitted your application. Interviews are not guaranteed, and the absence of completing one will not reflect negatively on your candidacy.

You must submit scores from either the SAT plus two SAT subject tests, or the ACT. For students applying to the School of Engineering, one of the subject tests must be Math Level I or II, and the other must be Physics or Chemistry. Subject tests are optional for the School of the Museum of Fine Arts.

You should also submit one letter of recommendation from a teacher who taught you in a major subject (math, natural science, social science, English, or a foreign language) during your junior or senior year of high school, along with a letter of recommendation from your guidance counselor. BFA candidates must submit a recommendation from an art teacher as well. If you wish, you may submit an additional letter of recommendation if it offers additional information, but are not required to do so.

Although Tufts carefully evaluates extracurricular activities in the admissions process, it does not accept resumes submitted as a supplement, so the Activities section of your application is the only place where you may describe these activities.

BFA or combined BFA and BA or BS candidates are required to submit a 15-20-piece art portfolio representing their strengths and interests.

The Tufts supplement may seem a bit more extensive than those for some of the other selective schools, so be sure to give yourself plenty of time to be as thorough as possible. Good luck!

Looking for guidance on applying to Tufts and other colleges? Our Personal Admissions Specialists are here to help. Click here to find out more about our College Application Guidance Program.

Laura Berlinsky-Schine

Senior Blogger at CollegeVine

Laura Berlinsky-Schine is a graduate of Johns Hopkins University, where she majored in Creative Writing and minored in History. She lives in Brooklyn, New York, and works in publishing. She also writes, dreams of owning a dog, and routinely brags about the health of her orchid.

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Let Your Life Speak

Looking for examples of past college essays that worked? These are some admissions essays that our officers thought were most successful from last year.

Amir Abdunuru Rwegarulira '20
Dar es Salaam, Tanzania

I grew up knowing exactly what it felt like to have parents everywhere. Of course, my biological parents - a retired social worker and an economist - had nothing omnipresent about them, it's just that in my immediate neighborhood, every adult automatically became my parent. This ideology was based on a Swahili saying “mkono mmoja hauuguzi mtoto” meaning one hand cannot nurse a child. I learned to respect neighbors the way I do relatives. There were no wedding invitations or funeral ceremonies that one could excuse oneself from attending. Everything was done with the welfare of the community as a whole in mind. As children we could not pass by a woman carrying a bucket of water without helping her, and adults would take the liberty of escorting us all the way home if we were returning late from school. Regardless of age or gender, there was an intangible sense of obligation that unified everyone and its importance was deeply instilled in me from a young age.

My life is still speaking; as I scale the ladder in education, sports and personal life. I continue to see the world through the lenses created by my community and treating everyone I encounter as part of it. Whether it is a primary school student struggling to finish his homework or a friend grieving over a lost loved one, I know that I am responsible not just for my own self but also for the people around me.

Sacdio Ali ’21
Jamaica Plain, MA

When I was in second grade, I wished my mom could talk to my teachers like the other parents did. Instead, I had to translate from English to Somali so that my mom could understand what was going on. Since my parents never went to school and I am the oldest of my siblings, I was used to this: if I went home, I had to be my own homework help, so I often stayed late at school to get help from my teachers. I was sad to see my friends working at home with their parents because I couldn't do that with my mom. I wanted to be them so badly--but even more, I wanted that for my siblings. I managed to do well in school thanks to my mother's constant encouragement, but I promised myself that I would never let my siblings feel sad that they couldn't come home for help. When my siblings were growing up, I read to them. Before they started school, I taught them how to read and do simple math. With time, they looked up to me for guidance and any help they needed outside of school. The strong connection I developed with my siblings helped me realize how much I enjoy working with children. I started helping other students like my classmates, which inspired me to become a school counselor so that I can explore how the environment and people around a child can influence his or her life.

Emma Tombaugh ’21
Oradell, NJ

Dinnertime  in the Tombaugh household is seldom dull. I sit down, never knowing what topic will be introduced that night. When the standard chatter subsides, and the last bits of food are being plucked off the plates, any innocent query can launch itself into a lengthy scientific discussion. Why does my dad's watch have a ratcheting bezel around the edge? I'm plunged into a lesson on why decompression stops are necessary for scuba divers. (Nitrogen bubbles in the blood vessels...Who knew?). Evidence for the theory of evolution is presented as neatly as the silverware next to my plate. I now know more than I ever thought I would about mimicry in animals and antipredator adaptation. The justifications for the demotion of Pluto (our favorite planet, discovered by Clyde Tombaugh) are hotly contested. Scientific and mathematical concepts are explored, debated, and questioned. How does one classically condition mice? Let me count the ways. Together, we marvel at the sheer enormity of the universe and in an instant might be awestruck by the small size of a single cell. Conversations like these feed my insatiable appetite for learning. I regard the world around me with inquisitive eyes; there is always something new to discover. Scientific phenomena exist to be doubted and scrutinized. In cultivating these investigations, my family has stimulated me to be curious and engaged. Never satisfied with the facts that are placed in front of me, I am constantly on the lookout for the hows, the whys, and the what-ifs.

Looking for more insider tips on the admissions process? We can help! The admissions officers blog about every aspect of applying to college here!

Joe Hyatt ’21
Nashua, NH

Five years ago, I became the member of a new community, a community of siblings. I was an only child for over twelve years. Life was great-  I had my parents' undivided attention and no one stealing my toys. Then my world changed dramatically. Our family was blessed with three baby girls.  I went from being the center of the universe ,to one of Pluto's moons. My life of order spiraled into disorder.  "Me time" became "story time."  Now I'm in high school with three baby sisters. They cry at my basketball games when the buzzer blares, escape onto the court during volleyball warm-ups, but melt my heart nonetheless. Plenty of my friends have younger siblings, but none are babies. While my friends were teaching their siblings how to skateboard and throw a fastball, I was changing diapers and rocking babies so my mom could shower. While buddies were helping their sisters with homework, I was feeding mine oatmeal in their high-chairs so my dad could grill.   My sisters are finally old enough that I can teach them to shoot a basketball and skip and to create snowflakes from popsicle sticks and sparkles.  I can now explain simple math on their fingers and perform science experiments with a coke can and a flame. Above all, I now also understand the meaning of the phrase "herding cats."  My new micro-community has turned my world upside down, changing me forever.  I wouldn't trade it for the world.

Celina Vidal ’21
Larkspur, CA

From age three until nine I attended a Waldorf school, or as I affectionately refer to it, the "school of fairies and gnomes". While my high school classmates spent their childhoods decorating coloring books and watching cartoons, I crocheted a poncho, played the violin, and learned a type of rhythmic dance that allowed me to spell words with my body. As archaic and unproductive as these activities might sound, I am eternally grateful for the person I have become due to my lack of media exposure and excess of wooden toys throughout my youth. Primarily, I developed in an environment where I had the opportunity to test my creative outlets. This innovative drive has continued to fuel my academic experience through high school, and I constantly find myself searching for interactive ways to obtain knowledge rather than turning to textbooks. Also, in a society overrun with technology, having the prior knowledge of detachment allows me to observe my surroundings, not my phone screen, and inspires me to explore my community. Fond memories of third grade nature days in which we gained a basic knowledge of botany established my lasting appreciation for the outdoors. Finally, having a safe place to believe in fairy tales for so long preserved an innocence in me that guides me through our often disturbing world. As I continue to inquire and create during my college experience, I hope my Waldorf background will help me imagine new discoveries and inventions no matter how fantastical they may seem.

William Wilson ’21
Lewiston, ID

I grew up in a town whose one traffic light only flashed yellow, there were more churches than gas stations, and the nearest clothing store was a thirty minute drive along a dusty road. Despite the barren land of the prairie, I kept busy by helping with chores around my household, serving pancakes as a cub scout at Lions Club feeds, and volunteering at the library to help my fellow peers with homework. My parents were both dynamic members of the city council in my home town. My mother worked as a courthouse clerk, my father was the mayor, and both were leaders in the local fire department as volunteer firefighters. Their impact on the community had an equal impact on me; I was encouraged to influence my surroundings in any way possible. This influence continued after I moved. I quickly found haven volunteering to help in children's education classes. In high school, I jumped at the opportunity to be in student government by running a campaign every year I was in school. My parents' active roles in my neighborhood inspired my love for having a positive influence on those around me. As I continue to grow, I aspire to enrich not only myself but also anyone else that I can impact.

Want to hear more from current students? Jumbo Talk has blogs from current students talking about every aspect of life at Tufts here!


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