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QS Best Student Cities ranking: joint 13th

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Boston is certainly one of the world’s best-known academic hubs, and in the QS Best Student Cities 2016 it retains its position within the global top 15, ranking joint 13th alongside Canadian cities Toronto and Vancouver.

Boston’s leading position is bolstered by universities located within the Greater Boston area, in the neighboring town of Cambridge. The most famous of these are the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Harvard University, which are both consistently ranked among the very top universities in the world. In the QS World University Rankings® 2015/16, MIT retains its place as the world’s number one university, while Ivy League member Harvard University comes second.

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 open green 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, forming a hub 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 the Best Student Cities index. It’s also one of the highest scorers in the “employer activity” category, reflecting the strong international reputation of its institutions among graduate employers around the world.

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



Students (% of total population)

2.6% (based on ranked institutions)

International students

21.0% (of students at ranked institutions)

Average tuition fees


Global Liveability Ranking

36th  (out of 140)

Mercer Cost of Living rank

64th  (out of 214)

Cost of a Big Mac


Cost of an iPad


Numbeo safety rank

194th  (out of 446)

Numbeo pollution rank

252nd  (out of 300)

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).

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Written by QS Staff Writer

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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