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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.

Read a student's guide to Chicago >

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)

International students

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 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.

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