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Study in Chicago

By Julia G

Updated July 28, 2021 Updated July 28, 2021

Chicago for students

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 (31st), plus one more university within the global top 400.

For many students, the exceptional academic facilities on offer, alongside the many social and cultural opportunities offered by this bustling metropolis, make studying in Chicago well worth the investment. In our student survey, one respondent praised “The variety of cultures and activities present throughout all its neighbourhoods.

Would Chicago get your vote? Tell us why.

Best ranked universities in Chicago - QS Best Student Cities ranking: =41st

World ranking Institution
10 University of Chicago
30 Northwestern University
=285 University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC)
444 Illinois Institute of Technology
801-1000 Loyola University Chicago

More about Chicago

In the QS Best Student Cities ranking Chicago scores strongly across several indicators, including employer activity, reflecting the robust reputation of its institutions among graduate employers. As with 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.

Number of universities ranked by QS

5

Highest-ranked institution

University of Chicago (10th)

Population

2,694,000

Average international fees (at ranked unis)

US$42,800

Desirability rank

36th

Employer Activity rank

25th

Affordability rank

110th

Student View rank

59th

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

Why study in Chicago?

Great public transport

Chicago has some of the best public transport in the US, which is great news for students who don't have a car. The city has great bus and rail links, plus a bike sharing system, as well as pedestrian walkways ('pedways') which make walking around the city even easier.

Music scene 

Chicago is synonymous with many important music scenes, such as jazz, blues, gospel, and soul. It's also often cited as the city where house music was born, as well as being important in the world of hip-hop (and is the birthplace of rapper Kanye West). 

Sports teams

A number of important American sports teams are based in Chicago, including two Major League Baseball (MLB) teams: the Chicago Cubs and the Chicago White Sox. It's also home to the former team of basketball legend Michael Jordan, the Chicago Bulls. 

Cost of studying in Chicago

Chicago's lowest score in the ranking is for affordability, which is common for US cities as the average tuition fees are among the highest in the world. The overall cost of living in Chicago is also a bit larger than the US as a whole. According to Numbeo, a single person living in Chicago can expect to spend around US$1,025, excluding rent. However, there are many scholarships available to both domestic and international students hoping to study in the city. 

Life & culture in Chicago

Chicago is the third most populous city in the US, so students here can experience all the benefits of big-city living. It's a cultural melting-pot with a diverse population, and in the past was the destination of a huge number of immigrants from countries like Ireland, Italy, Greece, and many more. Suffice to say, this cultural diversity also means that the city is home to some fantastic food!

Careers in Chicago

Chicago scores extremely well in the employer activity rank, increasing by two places this year, indicating that Chicago’s graduates are highly sought after by employers. Chicago is a major financial centre, with the second-largest central business district in the United States. Popular graduate employers include Boeing, JP Morgan Chase and Walgreens Boots Alliance.

This article was originally published in July 2021 .

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Written by
Julia is the Assistant Editor for TopUniversities, publishing articles for students and graduates across the world. A native Londoner, she holds an MSc in Marketing Strategy & Innovation from Cass Business School and a BA in Classical Studies & English from Newcastle University.

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