Universities in Washington, DC - QS Best Student Cities Ranking | Top Universities

Study in Washington, D.C

By Niamh O

Updated June 30, 2022 Updated June 30, 2022

The capital city of the US, a wealth of culture and history right on your doorstep, and lots of career opportunities are just a few of the reasons students are choosing Washington, D.C.

Washington, D.C’s position as a leading study destination is helped by the five universities based in and close to the city that feature in the QS World University Rankings® 2023. These are led by the University of Maryland, College Park which is ranked joint 164th in the world, followed by Georgetown UniversityGeorge Washington University,  Howard University and American University.

And of course, studying in Washington, D.C means being right at the heart of US history and politics – the White House, Supreme Court and national monuments and memorials are all located here.

Once you've fully immersed yourself in the political history of the US, you might enjoy spending time in the pretty and vibrant old port area of Georgetown, seeing an exhibition at one of the 19 museums in the Smithsonian group.

Washington, D.C’s lifestyle has certainly proved a hit with its students over the years. One respondent to our student survey summed up: “It's the capital of the world. Every important person will go there; the internships, museums and events are incredible. But it's also a real place with good culture, fun bars, good food, and pretty parks. I love DC!”

Best universities in Washington, D.C: QS Best Student Cities ranking: =64th

University of Maryland, College Park (=164th); Georgetown University (=281st); George Washington University (362nd); American University (701-750); Howard University (751-800)

More about Washington

Number of universities ranked by QS


Highest-ranked institution

University of Maryland, College Park (=164th)



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 Washington, D.C?

Experiencing a dynamic capital

Students in Washington, D.C witness history in the making with some of the most important decisions made in the capital city.

Both the headquarters of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund are in Washington, D.C making the city a global political and business hub.

However, more than anything, D.C is considered the historic heart of the US. You'll understand why the city is a political powerhouse and a cultural extravaganza once you arrive, and that’s what makes studying there so intriguing.

Things to do and see

Washington, D.C. offers a myriad of attractions for you to sink your teeth into. The city is defined by neoclassical monuments and buildings, including the federal government’s three branches: The Capitol, White House, and Supreme Court.

And let's not forget Washington, D.C's iconic museums like the National Museum of Natural History, the National Museum of American History, the National Air and Space Museum, the US Holocaust Memorial Museum, D.C., the National Museum of Women in the Arts, the International Spy Museum, the African American Civil War Museum, and Madame Tussauds. Many of these museums are free for students too!

But if music is more your thing, be sure to check out the Kennedy Centre!

You can also take in world-famous sights including: The Lincoln Memorial, several war memorials, Thomas Jefferson, Franklin D. Roosevelt, and Martin Luther King Jr. Memorials.

Love running? Lots of locals and students alike enjoy running along trails to the Lincoln Memorial, or perhaps reading is more your thing? Why not get stuck into your favourite book while sitting on the benches lining the beautiful waters of the Jefferson Memorial.

Local boutiques, funky marketplaces, fabulous dining, cultural events, paddling on the Potomac, and a vibrant dining scene can all be found in this small but mighty metropolis. And an excellent public transportation system means that D.C. is as accessible as it is amazing.

The fourth of July

There’s probably no city that’ll give you a more all-American, patriotic Independence Day than Washington, D.C.

Revel in the pomp-and-circumstance of the National Independence Day Parade in the morning along Constitution Avenue NW, then find the best spot on the National Mall or across the Potomac River near the Marine Corps War Memorial in Arlington ahead of the evening's fireworks (usually starting just after 9pm).

Can you think of anything more mesmerising than basking in the rockets’ red, white, and blue glare with the glowing white monuments and memorials as a backdrop? We sure can't.

Cost of studying in Washington, D.C

Washington, D.C ranked 132nd in the world this year in the ranking - making it one of the more expensive cities. Which is unsurprising with tuition fees setting students back an average of US$42,200, and also high living costs too.

Numbeo estimates a single person's monthly costs without rent to be US$1,119.04, and then students could pay US$2,324.74 for a one-bedroom apartment in the city centre. Talk about breaking the bank, right?

Careers in Washington, D.C

Unsurprisingly, the majority of careers available for graduates in Washington, D.C are in politics, law, finance, and tech.

Graduates could land a job at Apple; CACI, LLC; Marsh and McLennan; Google; Fidelity Investments Careers.

However, the fastest growing jobs in Washington, D.C in 2021 were said to be:

  • Web Developer
  • Software Developer
  • Nurse Practitioner.
  • System Security Technician.

This article was originally published in July 2021 . It was last updated in June 2022

Want more content like this Register for free site membership to get regular updates and your own personal content feed.

Written by

Niamh is Deputy Head of Content at QS (TopMBA.com; topuniversities.com), creating and editing content for an international student audience. Having gained her journalism qualification at the Press Association, London and since written for different international publications, she's now enjoying telling the stories of students, alumni, faculty, entrepreneurs and organizations from across the globe.  

+ 36 others
saved this article

+ 37 others saved this article


Get assisted by higher education experts

Our expert teams can help start your academic journey by guiding you through the application process.

Related Articles Last year

Most Shared Last year

Most Read Last year