QS Staff Writer

Updated September 18, 2021 Updated September 18

QS Best Student Cities ranking: 12th

Rising by one place this year in the QS Best Student Cities ranking, Boston remains the top student city in the US, ranked 12th this year, five places ahead of 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 of these are the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Harvard University – ranked first and third respectively in the QS World University Rankings® 2020.

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, with particularly strong ratings for friendliness, ease of getting around, and its arts and cultural offerings.

Would you choose Boston? Tell us why.

Internationally ranked universities in Boston

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)Harvard UniversityBoston UniversityTufts UniversityBoston CollegeNortheastern UniversityBrandeis UniversityUniversity of Massachusetts - Boston

More about Boston

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



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

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

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