QS Best Student Cities ranking: 8

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Boston's two highest-ranked institutions are actually in neighboring Cambridge, Massachusetts – part of the Greater Boston area but not the city proper. But let's face it, one of the things that make studying at MIT or Harvard so appealing (ranked number 1 and 2 in the world respectively...) is that you have Boston on your doorstep.

And what a doorstep it is. 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 New England is famous.

Boston's cluster of historic universities has earned it the nickname, “The Athens of America”. As well as its proximity to world leaders MIT and Harvard, the city also boasts a further five prestigious universities, including Boston University (within the world’s top 100) and Tufts University (just outside the top 200).

As a result, it has one of the strongest scores in the ‘rankings’ category of the Best Student Cities index, beaten only by London in this area, and also gets very high ratings from 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 so out of reach as they first appear.

QS ranked universities*:

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) ; Harvard University ; Boston University ; Tufts University  ; Brandeis University ; Boston CollegeNortheastern University

More about Boston

Number of universities ranked by QS*


Top ranked institution

 MIT (1st in the world)



Average university fees


Mercer Quality Of Living rank


Mercer Cost of Living rank


Cost of a Big Mac**


Cost of an IPad***


*Universities assessed within the QS World University Rankings®.

**Based on the Big Mac Index, published by the Economist Intelligence Unit.

*** Based on the iPad Index, published by Commsec.

See the full methodology of the QS Best Student Cities here >