Boston College

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Updated August 6, 2020

Boston College was founded by the Society of Jesus, also known as the Jesuits, in 1863 in an effort to educate the large number of Irish Catholic immigrants in the area, but the need for a school was recognized by Benedict Joseph Fenwick, S.J., a Jesuit from Maryland, who became the second Bishop of Boston. He opened a school in the basement of his cathedral and personally instructed youth in the community.

Bishop Fenwick found it difficult to attract students to the school due to suspicion on the part of Boston's Protestant leaders and the fact that Boston was a significant distance from the center of Jesuit activity in Maryland. His relationship with the leaders of Boston deteriorated to the point that Bishop Fenwick eventually opened the College of the Holy Cross 45 miles west of the city in Worcester, Massachusetts where he felt Jesuits had more autonomy.

John McElroy, S.J., however, continued to see a need for a Jesuit college in Boston. He obtained approval of his superiors and began raising funds for the new school. In 1857, he raised enough to purchase lands for "The Boston College" on Harrison Avenue that had a schoolhouse and a church. The school opened with little fanfare in 1859, only to close two years later due to the outbreak of the Civil War as well as disagreement over the governing and financing of the college. The school was also unable to gain a charter from Massachusetts legislators who were openly anti-Catholic.

In 1863, a charter was finally granted and Boston College became the second Jesuit institution of higher learning in the state. It was the first in the Boston area. The school reopened on the original Harrison Avenue land and, for seven years, offered a single seven-year program that included high school and college level courses. Its first class in 1864 included 22 students whose ages ranged from 11 to 16 years. Curriculum focused on Latin, Greek, philosophy and theology.

By the turn of the century, the school's enrollment had grown to almost 500 students. The school expanded onto James Street, increasing the separation between the high school and college. In 1909, Thomas I. Gasson, S.J., who was the president of the school at the time, determined that the school needed to expand further in order to become the world-renowned university and beacon of Jesuit scholarship described in John Winthrop's early vision of Boston as the "city on a hill." Rev. Gasson purchased Amos Adams Lawrence's farm on Chesnut Hill and organized an international competition for design of a campus master plan.

By 1913, construction costs had surpassed the funds raised for the new construction, which left Gasson Hall, the main building, standing alone on Chestnut Hill for three years. A barn and gatehouse which had been part of the original farm were adapted for use by the college while the school raised additional funds for construction.

The high school was officially separated from the college in 1927 and the school conferred its first degrees to women in 1926, although the school did not become fully co-educational until 1970. Cultural changes in American society in the early 70s, however, forced the school to question its purpose. Poor financial management led to deteriorating facilities, rising tuition costs and limited resources. By 1972, the school was $30 million in debt and there were rumors that it would soon be merged with Harvard University. President J. Donald Monan, S.J. was chosen as president of the school and, under his direction, the Board of Trustees was reconfigured to include alumni and business leaders rather than requiring the board members to be members of the Society of Jesus. The restructuring was similar to that conducted at Notre Dame in 1967 and many other Catholic universities over the past few decades.

Today, Boston College continues to build upon its traditions. It is a leader in liberal arts education while continuing to fulfill its Jesuit Catholic mission of faith. More than 14,000 students attend Boston College and the school has endowments worth $2.3 million. It has been ranked as the 30th best college in the United States by U.S. News & World Report.

Boston College Accreditation Details

Boston College is accredited by the Commission on Institutions of Higher Learning of the New England Association of Schools and Colleges. Accrediting agencies are recognized as the reliable authority on the quality of education. Boston College meets or exceeds criteria established by the organization that indicates excellence in education. In addition, industry-specific organizations that accredit programs at the college include:

  • American Association of Colleges of Nursing
  • American Chemical Society
  • American Psychological Association
  • Association of Theological Schools
  • Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business
  • American Bar Association
  • Council on Social Work Education
  • Teacher Education Accreditation Council

Boston College Application Requirements

Freshmen who wish to attend Boston College must complete the Common Application and submit the Boston College Writing Supplement. Students must provide an official high school transcript as well as SAT or ACT scores. Students wishing to enter the arts may be required to submit a portfolio.

Transfer students who wish to attend Boston College must complete the Transfer Common Application along with the required supporting materials. Students must complete the Boston College Writing Supplement as well as official transcripts from all colleges or universities attended. Students who attended high school in the past five years must submit official ACT or SAT scores. Students must provide a mid-term grade report from the college they are currently attending.

Graduate admissions vary depending on the program the student plans to attend. Students are advised to contact an admissions counselor before applying for graduate programs.

Boston College Tuition and Financial Aid

Undergraduate full-time tuition at Boston College is $50,840 per year or $1,683 per credit hour. Graduate tuition ranges from $1,040 to $1,612 per credit hour. Financial aid is available in the form of scholarships, grants, loans and work-study programs. Students must complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) in order to qualify for financial aid. Approximately 70 percent of undergraduate students receive financial aid.

Boston College Degree Program(s) Available

Political Science

Boston College offers a Master's in Political Science that provide students with an understanding one subfield of political science. Students are able to conduct scholarly work at the post-secondary level and are strong candidates for doctorate programs in political science or for professional positions in the field. Students are also provided instruction in the proper professional ethics in the political science industry. It is a two-year program requiring ten courses with one course taken in three of the four fields of Political Science, which include American, Comparative, International Politics as well as Political Theory. Students must pass a comprehensive examination to complete the program, although students may choose to complete a thesis in lieu of the examination. Students must maintain a GPA of 3.0 in order to remain in good standing.

Master of Science in Cybersecurity Policy & Governance

The Master of Science in Cybersecurity Policy and Governance teaches students to help organizations protect data, identify and manage cyber risk as well as recover from cyber-attacks. The program emphasizes leadership, critical thinking, analytic problem solving and communication skills. Students learn to design, develop and implement cybersecurity strategies that defend against and ensure recovery from attacks as well as methods to develop and present cogent case for investing in cybersecurity measures to senior executives, boards and government officials. Students develop an understanding of the importance of ethical principles that protect company and governmental interests while bridging the communication gap between information technology security professionals and stakeholders.

Boston College has been providing Jesuit-based education in the Boston area for more than 150 years. The school offers a wide variety of degree programs, both undergraduate and graduate, that allow individuals to move into new careers or advance in current careers.

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