Lucky for me, and the other 40 Independent College Counselors on the Greater Boston tour, the rain lightened up as we pulled onto the campus of Brandeis University. I was very anxious to finally tour the campus where 3,500 undergraduates call home. Brandeis is located in the residential neighborhood of Waltham, MA, which is just nine miles from downtown Boston. The campus is pristine and has a mix of modern and post modern architecture.
Brandeis is a very young research university. It was founded as a nonsectarian Jewish sponsored University in 1948. Its mission is, “merit for all faiths.” Our guide began our tour by pointing out Chapels Field. In the distance, we saw three buildings representing different faiths: Catholic, Protestant and Jewish. They were built so no chapel shall cast a shadow on another. It signifies respect of diversity. There is also a Muslim prayer space. Despite its Jewish roots, the student body is fairly diverse. Less than 50-percent of all students self-identify as being Jewish and nearly 20-percent are international students.
Students at Brandeis want to learn for the sake of learning. Undergraduate students study in the School of Arts and Sciences. Many students double major and/or minor across schools. Sciences are extremely strong here with popular disciplines in neuroscience, biology and chemistry. The science department receives significant funding from the NIH, which is only second to M.I.T. Students must write a senior thesis to graduate with honors. Otherwise, a senior thesis is not required. Students who have a strong foundation in economics and/or finance may opt to complete a five-year BA/MA.
The visual and the performing arts departments are strong and the facilities are beautiful. There are many performance ensembles open to all students to join. The on-campus Rose Art Museum, Campus Concert Series and the Brandeis Theater always have something new happening for students to view or listen to.
Students told us that there is plenty to do on campus. Greek life has a small presence. Athletes compete in division III athletics. Attending games is popular. The student section is called “The Jury” and the mascot is “The Judges,” in honor of Supreme Court Justice Brandeis. He was the first Jewish Supreme Court Justice and namesake of the school. Students go into downtown Boston by commuter train or the University shuttle to attend a Red Sox game, visit museums, shop or grab a bite to eat. Housing is guaranteed for two years, but many students decide to live on campus all four years. There are many dining options, including plentiful kosher items.
Brandeis reviews applications holistically. Sending ACT/SAT scores is optional. If students choose not to send their test scores, they are required to send a graded paper with a rubric and an additional teacher recommendation or three AP scores or 3 SAT Subject Test scores. Brandeis meets full demonstrated need and all students are automatically reviewed for merit aid.
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