You are here


Boston main image

Back to the full ranking >

Boston is certainly one of the world’s best-known academic hubs, and in the QS Best Student Cities 2015 it ranks as the world’s sixth best city for students, moving up two places from the previous year.

Boston’s leading position is bolstered by universities located within the Greater Boston area, in the neighboring town of Cambridge – of which the most famous are MIT and Harvard University, consistently ranked among the top five universities in the world. In the QS World University Rankings® 2014/15, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) held onto its place as the world’s number one university, while Ivy League member Harvard University remains just slightly behind in 4th.

While these two institutions have no shortage of attractions of their own, the proximity of Boston certainly doesn’t take away from their appeal. As one of the most historic cities in the US, Boston combines the hustle and bustle of a major metropolis and a happening arts, politics and culture scene, with an abundance of green open space and the stunning fall colors for which Massachusetts and the region of New England are famous. In addition to the academic might of MIT and Harvard, Boston is home to five more internationally ranked universities, a cluster of intellectual endeavor which has earned it the nickname “the Athens of America”.

Thanks in part to the two showstoppers, MIT and Harvard, Boston has a great score in the “university rankings” category of this year’s Best Student Cities index. It’s also tied with London as one of the two top-scorers in the “employer activity” category, reflecting the strong international reputation of its institutions among graduate employers.

The city’s weakest score, predictably, is for affordability, with fees at top US universities exceeding US$40,000 per year. But in fact both MIT and Harvard operate need-blind admission policies for all applicants, including international students, and generous financial aid packages mean Boston’s universities may not be as out-of-reach as they at first appear.

QS ranked universities

More about Boston

Number of universities ranked by QS


Top ranked institution

MIT (1st in the world)



Students (% of total population)

2.3% (based on ranked institutions)

International students

21.0% (of students at ranked institutions)

Average tuition fees


Global Liveability Ranking

40th  (out of 140)

Mercer Cost of Living rank

109th  (out of 214)

Cost of a Big Mac


Cost of an iPad


Numbeo safety rank

178th  (out of 372)

Numbeo pollution rank

249th  (out of 299)

Transparency International score

19th  (out of 177)

Sources: QS World University RankingsGlobal Liveability Ranking (The Economist’s Intelligence Unit); Big Mac Index (The Economist’s Intelligence Unit); iPad Index (Commsec); Cost of Living Survey (Mercer);Corruption Perceptions Index (Transparency International).

Written by Laura Bridgestock

The editor of, Laura oversees the site's editorial content and student forums. She also edits the QS Top Grad School Guide and contributes to market research reports including Students Online: Global Trends.

See related categories:

Login from the top right-hand corner or click here to register to post comments

How can I come and study in usa?

Hi, for more information about studying in the US, please see our US country guide.  We have guides to every US state, as well as practical information about studying in the US, including tuition fees and visa requirements. We also have a state-by-state list of top universities and an article on scholarships to study in the US. Laura

How are you today?
If you are not registered yet, click here to join.