Universities in Boston - QS Best Student Cities Ranking | Top Universities

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Study in Boston

By Staff Writer

Updated September 15, 2021 Updated September 15, 2021

QS Best Student Cities ranking: =9th

Ranked joint ninth best in the world, Boston is the second top student city in the US after New York City.

Boston is without doubt one of the world’s best-known academic hubs, and its position is further bolstered by universities located within the Greater Boston area, in the neighboring town of Cambridge. The most famous are the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Harvard University – ranked first and fifth worldwide respectively in the QS World University Rankings® 2022.

In addition to the academic might of MIT and Harvard, Boston is home to six more internationally ranked universities, forming a hub of intellectual endeavor which has earned it the nickname “the Athens of America”.

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.

The city’s weakest score, predictably, 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.

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.

Meanwhile, those who have studied in Boston rate the experience highly. The city comes within the top 10 for student view, due to its friendliness, ease of getting around, and its arts and cultural offerings.

Would you choose Boston? Tell us why.

Best ranked universities in Boston - QS Best Student Cities Ranking: =9th

World Ranking University
1 Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)
5 Harvard University
=112 Boston University
=275 Tufts University


Northeastern University


Brandeis University

=494 Boston College
651-700 University of Massachusetts - Boston

More about Boston

Boston has eight universities featured in the QS Best Student Cities ranking this year. While Boston scored well across multiple indicators, employer activity earned it its highest score, showcasing the career advancement opportunities which students and graduates can find in the city.

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


Number of universities ranked by QS


Highest-ranked institution

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) (1st)



Average international fees (at ranked unis)


Desirability rank


Employer Activity rank


Affordability rank


Student View rank


Why study in Boston?

Boston is undeniably a great city to be a student. Here are some of the perks of going to university in America's College Town.

A vibrant student atmosphere

You'll hardly feel more of a student than in Boston. Home to over 100 universities and colleges, the city welcomes students from all over the US and the world, fostering a vibrant atmosphere that'll make you feel right at home.

Good connections

Unlike other American cities, Boston is well connected both internally and with other cities on the East Coast such as New York and Philadelphia. Thanks to its average size and great transportation network, you'll never feel out of your depth in Boston.

Plenty of sports and culture

Between world-famous sports teams (ever heard of the Boston Red Sox and the Boston Celtics?), the Boston Marathon, the Freedom Trail and an exciting music, dance and theatre scene, there's always something to do in Boston.

Cost of studying in Boston

Much like many other big cities in America, Boston can't be called a cheap city to live in. Ranked 109th for affordability, you can expect to spend on average US$850 per month on living costs, as well as US$2,607 for an apartment in the city centre.

Life & culture in Boston

Boston has a vibrant and exciting cultural life. Full of events that span sport, music, dance, theatre and the arts, it's hard to get bored in the city.

Famous museums and local attractions include the Museum of Fine Arts, the National Center of Afro-American Artists, the Washington Street Theatre District and The Citi Performing Arts Center.

Boston is also the home of several annual events such as the world-famous Boston Marathon, the First Night festival, the Boston Globe Jazz and Blues Festival and the Boston Film Festival.

Careers in Boston

Boston is now ranked number two in the world for employer activity, a clear sign that the city is a great place to study and begin a career in.

In fact, many of the city's biggest industries and companies employ graduates straight out of university. Some of the biggest sectors include trade, manufacturing, biotechnology and life sciences.

This article was originally published in November 2014 . It was last updated in September 2021

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