A fast-paced, high-rise economic hub, Chicago is also a city that famously knows how to let its hair down. Nicknamed 'The Windy City', Chicago saw an explosion of blues and jazz music during the 20th century which earned it a reputation as the northern US's answer to New Orleans.
Chicago is also home to two of the nation's – and the world’s – most prestigious universities, the University of Chicago (ranked 11th in the world), and Northwestern University (ranked 34th), plus two more universities within the global top 500.
In fact, Chicago ranks among the world’s top 10 student cities for the international prestige of its universities, and also scores pretty well in the “desirability” and “employer activity” categories. As for other US cities, affordability is its weakest point by far, driven primarily by high tuition fees charged by leading private institutions such as the University of Chicago.
But for many students, the exceptional academic facilities on offer, alongside the myriad social and cultural opportunities offered by this bustling metropolis, will make studying in Chicago more than worth the investment.
QS ranked universities
More about Chicago
Number of universities ranked by QS
Top ranked institution
University of Chicago (11th in the world)
Students (% of total population)
0.8% (based on ranked institutions)
18.0% (of students at ranked institutions)
Average tuition fees
Global Liveability Ranking
36th (out of 140)
Mercer Cost of Living rank
85th (out of 214)
Cost of a Big Mac
Cost of an iPad
Numbeo safety rank
294th (out of 372)
Numbeo pollution rank
240th (out of 299)
Transparency International score
19th (out of 177)
Sources: QS World University Rankings; Global 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).