Many view Boston as the world’s greatest university city – indeed, it is home to more than 100 colleges and universities, which welcome over 250,000 students from around the world.
With access to internships and work experience in nearly every major and any field, many students end up staying in Boston to thrive in careers in education, medicine and finance when they graduate.
As well as Boston, with its top renowned universities in the Times Higher Education/Wall Street Journal US College Rankings 2021, there’s also Cambridge, just across the Charles River, which is home to Harvard University and Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) – and their revered faculties and research facilities.
Boston hosts world-class music, dance and theatre companies, and vibrant festivals that celebrate its multicultural heritage. And there’s a reason the city has gained a reputation as the “Athens of America". History fans will love learning about the American Revolution in its lively museums and along the Freedom Trail, a self-guided walking tour of the war’s related sites.
Sports fans have big-name teams to watch, including the Boston Red Sox (baseball), Boston Celtics (basketball), New England Patriots (American football) and Boston Bruins (ice hockey).
Every April, runners from all over the globe compete in the world’s oldest marathon and one of the country’s most celebrated running events, the Boston Marathon.
Being relatively small, the city is walkable, and most major attractions are accessible on foot. Bostonians can also use the reliable, good-value transport system; there’s the subway, buses and ferries, which are run by the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA). It’s just over an hour’s flight from New York City, Philadelphia and Montreal.
New England boasts an array of options for day trips, from charming historic towns to stunning natural parks and quirky craft breweries.
Here are the best universities in Boston, according to the Times Higher Education/Wall Street Journal US College Rankings 2021
Best public universities in the United States
Best liberal arts colleges in the United States
Best universities in Massachusetts
Best universities in Seattle
Best private universities in the United States
Established by Methodists in 1839, the original campus for Boston University was in Newbury, Vermont, before it moved to Boston in 1867. Although it’s now nonsectarian, it has maintained its historical affiliation with the United Methodist Church.
With more than 34,000 undergraduate and graduate students from over 130 countries, it is one of the largest universities in the greater Boston area. And with over 10,000 faculty members and staff, it’s also one of Boston’s largest employers.
There are 17 schools and colleges and 300 fields of study located across two campuses and numerous international programmes, with facilities concentrated mainly on its Charles River campus.
The main campus is located along the Charles River in Boston’s Fenway-Kenmore and Allston neighbourhoods, while the Boston University medical campus is in Boston’s South End neighbourhood. In the Fenway-Kenmore neighbourhood alone, there is the Museum of Fine Arts, the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, and the nightlife of Lansdowne Street as well as Fenway Park, home of the Boston Red Sox.
Around 75 per cent of undergraduates at Boston University live in student housing in and around campus, which offers more than 450 active student societies and whose library system houses 2.4 million physical volumes.
Sport is a huge part of college life, with around 7,000 students associated with sporting clubs and societies and more than 6,500 people using its fitness and recreation facilities each day.
The university holds more than 500 concerts and performances each academic year, and in excess of 50 exhibitions take place on campus.
Arguably its most famous graduate is the civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr, who undertook his PhD studies at Boston University in the 1950s. Other notable alumni include Academy Award winners Geena Davis, Marisa Tomei and Julianne Moore, radio DJ Howard Stern and congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.
Several Nobel laureates are connected to the university. Literature laureates Saul Bellow and Derek Walcott taught at Boston, and Peace Prize winner Elie Wiesel was a professor of the humanities. Current professor Sheldon Lee Glashow and Daniel C. Tsui each received the Nobel Prize for Physics, while Martin Luther King won the Peace Prize in 1964.
Two US poet laureates have also taught at Boston – Robert Lowell and Robert Pinsky.
Boston is also one of the US’ most international universities, with around 8,000 international students enrolled on its courses in total.
It has almost 100 study-abroad programmes based in London, Paris and more than 30 other cities, and it also runs programmes in Los Angeles and Washington. It runs almost 200 alumni abroad associations and operates more than 400 global initiatives.
Established in 1898, Northeastern University describes itself as a “global, experiential research university built on a tradition of engagement with the world”.
The private institution has its main campus in Boston, between the Fenway, Roxbury and Back Bay areas, but has satellite campuses in other parts of the state.
Its reach is not limited to New England, however, and Northeastern has graduate campuses in centres including Charlotte, Seattle, Silicon Valley and Toronto.
It caters for more than 24,000 undergraduate and postgraduate students, who study under the Latin motto: Lux, Veritas, Virtus (Light, Truth, Courage).
The institution places importance on global engagement and offers students learning opportunities with almost 3,000 corporate partners.
Faculty members regularly collaborate on research with colleagues on the other side of the world, and Northeastern alumni now live in 186 countries.
Northeastern has a proud sporting heritage, offering 18 varsity sports, 43 club sports and 32 intramural sports – all playing under the Northeastern Huskies moniker.
The university has produced notable alumni in a wide range of industries. Richard Egan and Roger Marino, co-founders of multinational EMC Corporation, graduated from Northeastern in 1962. Jeff Clarke, the former CEO of Kodak, took his MBA at the university.
Established in 1899, Simmons University is located in the heart of Boston and is made up of a primarily female undergraduate college, as well as a coeducational graduate school.
The college was founded by the estate of wealthy clothing manufacturer John Simmons, who believed women should be given the opportunity to study for professional roles in society. The university is renowned for its progressive view on education; the first African American student graduated in 1914 and it was one of a small number of private colleges not to impose admission quotas on Jewish students during the 1900s.
It also became the third women’s college in the country to accept transgender women.
Its academic campus and residential campus are located a short distance from one another. The residential campus is home to an auditorium, a dining hall, a fitness centre and a health centre. Students can choose to join student clubs and organisations, as well as the athletics teams, which are known as the Sharks.
The undergraduate college offers more than 50 diverse programs in four colleges: College of Natural, Behavioral, and Health Sciences; College of Organizational, Computational, and Information Sciences; College of Social Sciences, Policy, and Practice; and the Gwen Ifill College of Media, Arts, and Humanities
Notable alumni include civil rights activist Dorothy Celeste Boulding Ferebee, politician Allyson Schwartz and film producer Denise Di Novi.
Best universities in Boston 2021
Click each institution to view its full World University Rankings 2021 profile
|Boston Rank 2021||US College Rank 2021||University|
|6||=360||University of Massachusetts Boston|
|=7||401-500||Berklee College of Music|
|=7||401-500||Wentworth Institute of Technology|
|=9||501-600||Massachusetts College of Art and Design|
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