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Boston for students

Rising by one place this year in the QS Best Student Cities ranking, Boston remains the top student city in the US. It’s ranked 12th this year, five places ahead of New York City.

Located in Massachusetts, Boston is without doubt one of the world’s best-known academic hubs. Its 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 – ranked first and third respectively in the QS World University Rankings® 2020.

Would you choose Boston? Tell us why.

Best universities in Boston - QS Best Student Cities ranking: 12th

More about Boston

Study in Boston overview

Number of universities ranked by QS


Highest-ranked institution



Average international fees (at ranked unis)


Desirability rank


Employer Activity rank


Affordability rank


Student View rank


To find out how each of the above categories is calculated, view the methodology.

Why study in Boston?

A friendly city

Boston comes within the top 10 for student view, with particularly strong ratings for friendliness.

Excellent academic institutions

Boston is home to some of the world’s top universities, including the top ranked university in the world, MIT.

Packed full of culture

Boston has a variety of museums, theaters and music venues, meaning students will never be short of things to do.

One of the best cities for sport

Home to the Red Sox (baseball) Celtics (basketball), Bruins (hockey) and New England Revelation (soccer), Boston is not one to be overlooked by sports fans.

Good graduate job prospects

Boston ranks second in the world for employer activity.

Cost of studying in Boston

Boston’s weakest score is for affordability, with fees at top US universities exceeding US$34,800 per year.

Fortunately, 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.

The cost of living in Boston isn’t exactly cheap, with a one-bedroom apartment costing around US$2,720 according to Numbeo. However consumer prices in Boston are around 19 percent lower than in New York.

Life and culture in Boston

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.

Boston is known for Fenway Park, its famous baked beans and the Boston marathons. The city’s residents enjoy a high quality of life, with plenty of green spaces, art galleries and theatres. 

It has also been named one of the top 10 fittest cities in the US, with the city containing a wide choice of parks, playgrounds and farmers' markets. 

Career in Boston

Thanks in part to the two showstoppers, MIT and Harvard, Boston has a very strong score in the university rankings indicator. Its strongest score, however, is for employer activity, reflecting the strong international reputation of its institutions among graduate employers worldwide.

Boston’s unemployment rate is below the national average, but nevertheless, getting a job in the city is not an easy job, due to the high level of skilled competition.

For those looking for work, Boston’s tech sector is one of its fastest-growing sectors, along with education, health and the business services sector.

Find out how to get a US work visa.

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Luka O, João Phelipe M & 23 others saved this
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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