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QS Best Student Cities ranking: joint 30th with Barcelona

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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 10th in the world), and Northwestern University (ranked 32nd), plus two more universities within the global top 500.

The city’s strongest score is in the “employer activity” category of the index, reflecting the strong reputation of its institutions among graduate employers. As for other US cities, the weak point is affordability, due to the 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 well 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 (10th in the world)



Students (% of total population)

0.8% (based on ranked institutions)

International students

19.0% (of students at ranked institutions)

Average tuition fees


Global Liveability Ranking

33rd  (out of 140)

Mercer Cost of Living rank

42nd (out of 214)

Cost of a Big Mac


Cost of an iPad


Numbeo safety rank

362nd  (out of 446)

Numbeo pollution rank

227th  (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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