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QS Best Student Cities ranking: 8th

It might seem obvious that at least one US city should feature in the top 10 of a list of the world’s best cities for students – but this has not always been the case. The Affordability category of the QS Best Student Cities index has often kept the US’s leading academic hubs lower down the list. This year, however, Boston breaks a general national pattern, climbing five positions to rank eighth overall.

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 of these are the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Harvard University –ranked first and third respectively in the QS World University Rankings® 2016-2017.

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. 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 category of the Best Student Cities index. 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$40,000 per year. But in fact 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.

Meanwhile those who have studied in Boston rate the experience highly. The city comes seventh in the new Student View category, with particularly strong ratings for friendliness, ease of getting around, and arts and cultural offerings.

Would you choose Boston? Tell us why.

Internationally ranked universities in Boston


More about Boston

Number of universities ranked by QS


Highest-ranked institution



Average international fees (at ranked unis)


Desirability rank


Employer Activity rank


Affordability rank


Student Experience rank



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

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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