Boston Colleges and Universities
When it comes to Boston colleges and universities, there’s something for every student. Boston is a historic and beautiful city with some of the oldest architecture in the nation. There are dozens of incredible universities in Boston, all with varying programs and opportunities. In this guide, we’ll walk you through all of the best universities in Boston and discuss each school in depth.
In this article on Boston colleges and universities, we’ll cover everything you need to know about the best colleges in Boston, including:
- How many Boston colleges and universities there are
- The public, private, and community colleges in Boston (and a handy map of Boston colleges and universities to show you where they are)
- Where colleges in Boston ranked on national and Boston-specific college lists
- Ivy League Boston colleges and universities
- Some of the best architecture colleges in Boston, as well as Boston colleges and universities for music and art
- Details about the Five College Consortium located just West of Boston
- And, where to find more resources on Boston colleges and universities
Keep reading to learn more about universities in Boston!
Exploring Colleges in Boston
Boston colleges and universities are some of the finest in the country. From MIT to Harvard to Northeastern, there are dozens of colleges in Boston area (and Boston proper) that consistently top the rankings.
Colleges in Boston vary in size, type, and specialty—there’s truly something for everyone! And though rankings aren’t everything, you’ll find many top universities in Boston. As you’ll notice throughout this guide, the best colleges in Boston are some of the best in the world. Later on, we’ll look at specific college rankings and see where colleges in Boston ranked across different lists.
Different Boston colleges and universities will have different academic approaches and campus culture. If you do your research, you’ll find many different types of colleges in Boston that cater to different students’ needs. These include research universities, liberal arts colleges, women’s colleges, and community colleges.
Some of the top universities in Boston are research universities. When you think of the best universities in Boston, you’re likely thinking of high-powered research institutions. Research universities in Boston include schools like MIT, Harvard University, and Boston University.
You’ll find both public and private colleges in Boston with great resources, so don’t feel limited one way or another. All of these schools have ample facilities to conduct research, including access to labs and prestigious graduate programs.
Liberal Arts Colleges
Let’s say you’re looking for overlap between “colleges in Boston area” and “liberal arts colleges.” If this sounds like you, you’re in luck! Many of the best universities in Boston are liberal arts colleges.
A liberal arts education at one of the many colleges in Boston will help prepare you for many different careers. If you want a liberal arts education and research opportunities, Boston colleges can give you the best of both worlds. Many of the larger research universities, like Harvard or BC, have smaller colleges within them focused on the liberal arts.
One of the best universities in Boston is the nation’s top-ranked women’s college. Wellesley College is a small liberal arts college and one of the original Seven Sisters Colleges. If you’re looking at a map of Boston and wondering “where is Wellesley?” take your focus slightly west. Wellesley isn’t located in Boston proper but in Wellesley, MA, about 17 miles outside of Boston.
The list of Boston colleges and universities also includes many community colleges. These are great options for students who don’t want to or are unable to follow a traditional 4-year, full-time college schedule. We’ll take a deep dive into the community colleges in Boston, like Bunker Hill Community College, later in this article.
As you can see, there are many types of Boston colleges and universities to explore! Plus, there are plenty of reasons why students might choose one of the top universities in Boston.
Maybe you’ve always dreamt of a classic New England university experience complete with colorful autumn leaves and red brick buildings. Or, you might be interested in Boston colleges and universities because of the city’s rich history. Plus, students at most Boston schools are eligible for a free membership to the city’s renowned Museum of Fine Arts—another perk of attending the best universities in Boston.
With so many colleges in Boston, you may be feeling overwhelmed—but don’t worry! Let’s take a look at just how many colleges are in Boston.
How many colleges and universities are in Boston?
According to the Boston Redevelopment Authority, there are 35 institutions of higher education in Boston. Colleges in Boston include universities and colleges like Boston University, Boston College, and Northeastern University.
However, this number only includes the colleges in Boston proper. For a real understanding of how many colleges are in Boston, we need to look at the greater Boston area. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are 85 private universities and colleges in Boston. This includes one of the best colleges in Boston, Harvard University. While Harvard is technically located in Cambridge, MA (an adjacent city), you can still consider it alongside other Boston colleges.
Due to how many colleges are in Boston, Boston colleges and universities dominate the area. While Boston only has 10% of Massachusetts’ total population, it has 34% of the total college students. Boston has the 4th largest student population of any city and has an outsized percentage of students to other residents. So, no matter where you go, you’ll find yourself surrounded by Boston’s many college students.
If your “colleges in Boston area” research leads you to eventually attend a Boston college, know you won’t be alone. There are over 300,000 students at the many incredible Boston colleges and universities to share the journey with you.
What colleges are in Boston?
Now that we’ve covered the sheer number of Boston colleges and universities, you probably have more questions. You might even be wondering: what are some of the most popular colleges in Boston?
To start, let’s take a look at a quick list of colleges in Boston. If any spark your interest, we’ll go more in-depth on many of these Boston colleges and universities later!
Boston College and Boston University
Two of the most popular—and most often confused—colleges in Boston are Boston College and Boston University. BC is located in Chestnut Hill, MA, which is a suburb of Boston easily reachable by the Green Line train. BU, on the other hand, is located in Boston proper. Compared to Boston University, Boston College has a smaller student population and fewer graduate students. You can think of BC as a smaller liberal arts school and BU as a larger research university.
BU and BC have similar rankings, though BC comes out ahead. The Boston College ranking is #36 nationally, whereas the Boston University ranking is #41. Regardless of their college rankings, both the Boston College acceptance rate and Boston University acceptance rate are low. So, if you want to learn how to get into BU, check out this guide. If you’re more interested in BC, learn how to optimize your odds of impressing Boston College admissions here.
Of all the Boston colleges and universities, Harvard is the most prestigious. Harvard is the oldest university in the United States and is located in Cambridge, MA.
Though Harvard is the most prestigious, it isn’t always ranked the highest. A recent study puts MIT at the top of the list of best colleges in Boston. The MIT ranking is also above the Harvard ranking in the U.S. News list of best colleges in Massachusetts.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
The Massachusetts Institute of Technology, also known as MIT, is a STEM-focused university. MIT is a great choice for students dedicated to pursuing a career in science, math, and other technological fields.
Given that the acceptance rate for MIT is 4% and the MIT ranking is high, you might think MIT is a great school for you. However, this won’t be the case for every student. Remember, MIT provides a very specialized education. Just because it is #1 in Boston doesn’t mean it’s best suited for your academic needs.
Another of the best Boston colleges and universities is Tufts. Tufts is located in Medford and Somerville, two small cities adjacent to Boston. Out of the colleges in Boston, Tufts is a popular choice. Sometimes referred to as a “little Ivy,” Tufts’ acceptance rate is most selective at 11%.
At Tufts, students get the best of both worlds. It’s removed from the bustle of the city but close enough to easily reach Boston’s attractions via the subway system. Students get to live on an idyllic college campus with the excitement of downtown Boston mere minutes away.
This list of colleges in Boston is just a fraction of the many Boston colleges and universities that exist. For a full list of colleges in Boston, check out this page from the National Center for Education Statistics.
Map of Boston colleges and universities
There are so many Boston colleges and universities, it can be hard to keep track of all of them. Below is a map of colleges in Boston colleges and universities. It includes the locations of some prominent universities in Boston as well as other colleges in Massachusetts.
Above, you’ll find colleges like Boston University, Northeastern, and Berklee College of Music, one of the music colleges in Boston. Boston University has one of the largest presences in Boston and is located right on the Charles River. Northeastern is located in the heart of downtown Boston, between the Museum of Fine Arts and Boston Symphony Hall.
Emmanuel College, one of the liberal arts colleges in Boston, is one of the Colleges of the Fenway. This is a collaborative of five Boston-based colleges and universities with proximity to—you guessed it!—the famous Fenway Park.
This group of Boston schools also includes:
- Simmons University
- Massachusetts College of Art and Design
- Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Services
- Wentworth Institute of Technology
Across the river in Cambridge, you’ll find two of the best universities in Boston (and the best colleges in Massachusetts). Harvard actually spans both sides of the Charles River—from the undergraduate campus, you can look across the river and see the Business School. You can see Harvard’s proximity to the Charles River on our map of Boston colleges and universities. In fact, many of Harvard’s undergraduate dorms, called “houses,” are located right on the river. This makes it easy for students to walk, run, or picnic by the riverside on sunny days.
To the northwest is Somerville, sometimes seen as a more “hipster” city in the greater Boston area. There, you’ll find Tufts University, one of the many Boston colleges and universities in this guide. Tufts is a great choice for students who are looking to study in a slightly more laid-back setting.
The Tufts ranking is #32 out of all universities nationally, and the Tufts ranking in Massachusetts is #3. Within the colleges and universities in Boston, Tufts is known for their popular majors, Highly regarded Tufts majors include business, nursing, and psychology. Other popular programs include their International Relations program and study abroad options at their global campuses.
Outside of Boston
Boston’s suburbs are also rich in colleges. Even though these schools are sometimes included in lists of Boston colleges and universities, they are not technically colleges in Boston. Schools like Wellesley College, Brandeis, Bentley University, and even Boston College are all technically in the suburbs of Boston.
Keep in mind, a suburban setting doesn’t make these institutions less academically rigorous or prestigious as colleges and universities in Boston. For instance, the Boston College admissions process is very selective, and the Boston College ranking is #36 nationally. And, in Wellesley, MA, you’ll find the best women’s college in the US.
Further away from Boston, you’ll find many other great colleges in Massachusetts. The Five College Consortium is a group of five schools located in Western Massachusetts. The Five Colleges include Smith College, another prestigious women’s college, and Amherst College. If you’re wondering “where is Amherst college?” the clue is in the name. Amherst is located in Amherst, MA, and is considered one of the best liberal arts colleges in Massachusetts and the country. The Amherst college ranking is #2 in liberal arts colleges nationwide.
Now that you know where to find Boston colleges and universities, let’s focus on public colleges in Boston.
Public Universities in Boston
Despite the many Boston colleges and universities, there are surprisingly few public universities in Boston. So, it’s no surprise the city’s university population is weighted toward private colleges in Boston. That being said, here is a list of public colleges in Boston:
Public Universities in Boston
1. UMass Boston
The University of Massachusetts system is similar to that of many other states. The UMass universities make up four of the many universities in Boston and in Massachusetts. These are the Massachusetts state schools, meaning that in-state residents will pay lower tuition. UMass Boston is located in Boston proper, right on the waterfront.
2. UMass Lowell
Another one of the public universities in Boston is UMass Lowell. It’s a mid-size research university located north of Boston in Lowell, Massachusetts. The city is known historically for being a site of industry due to its mills and textile factories. UMass Lowell is a large presence within the city and ranks #176 out of all universities nationally.
The Massachusetts College of Art and Design, or MassArt, is located in the city of Boston. MassArt is one of the art colleges in Boston and is the city’s only public college of art and design. Like other Boston colleges and universities, MassArt is near beautiful museums like the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum and the Museum of Fine Arts Boston. MassArt is a unique option for students looking for an art-focused education in Boston.
Let’s look at another category of schools you might find while googling “colleges in Boston area.” Next, we’ll take a look at a different selection of the colleges and universities in Boston: private colleges in Boston.
Private Colleges in Boston
As previously mentioned, many of the top universities in Boston are private colleges. These colleges are all unique with regard to their college location, college size, and their college rankings. They run the gamut from small to large, from urban to suburban, and from co-ed to women only.
Private Colleges in Boston
A top university in Boston, Boston University was founded in 1839. BU is the fourth-largest private school in the country. The Boston university ranking is #41 nationally and #5 in Massachusetts. The Boston university acceptance rate is 19%, and popular majors include neuroscience and hospitality management. When looking at how colleges in Boston ranked against each other, BU comes out near the top at #5.
So, where is Boston University? Boston University’s college location is in the heart of Boston, along the Charles River and close to the famous Fenway Park. As current students might tell you, there’s a lot to do thanks to BU’s college setting. If you attend BU, you can catch a game, run along the river, and browse the shops on Newbury Street.
Known as one of the best colleges in the world, Harvard University is a prestigious Ivy League School located in Cambridge, MA. The Harvard acceptance rate can be as low as 3%, making it one of the most selective schools in the nation. Despite its relative renown, the Harvard ranking isn’t #1 nationwide. Harvard is ranked #3, behind Princeton and MIT, and is tied for its position with Stanford and Yale.
When looking at the colleges in Boston ranked, you’ll find Harvard at #2. Though Harvard isn’t located in Boston, Cambridge is a wonderful city all its own. Plus, you’ll coexist with people from all over the world who come to visit Harvard. There’s a reason it’s one of the best colleges in Boston (and the best colleges in the world).
Not far from the heart of Boston is Brandeis University, a private research university located in Waltham, Massachusetts. Though Brandeis’ website states that it’s located in Waltham/Boston, if you search “where is Brandeis,” your answer will be Waltham. Waltham is a suburb of Boston, about 30 minutes away by car.
The Brandeis University ranking is #44 nationally, and the Brandeis acceptance rate is 39%. Brandeis was founded in 1948 by the American Jewish community. This was at a time when racial and ethnic minorities like Jews weren’t welcome in many institutions of higher education. On the list of colleges in Boston ranked, Brandeis ranks at #6.
Located in the Boston suburbs, Wellesley has a more laid-back and campus-oriented college setting compared to other schools. Though not technically one of the top universities in Boston (as it’s not a Boston research university), it’s certainly one of the best colleges in Massachusetts.
The Wellesley acceptance rate is considered most selective at 16%. Wellesley’s college size is about 2,500 students, which puts it on the large end of smaller universities. Notable alumni of Wellesley include Hillary Clinton, Madeleine Albright, and Nora Ephron.
Don’t worry, #5 on our list of universities in Boston is actually located in Boston. As one of the top universities in Boston, the Northeastern ranking and the Northeastern acceptance rate are both prestigious. The Northeastern ranking is #44 nationally, and the Northeastern acceptance rate has recently plummeted to 6.7%. Unlike many other private colleges in Boston, Northeastern allows students to pursue co-op experiential opportunities. These allow students to combine their studies with work and internships—an offering unique to the school.
Now, you may be thinking, where is Amherst college? Amherst is located too far outside of Boston to be considered among the private universities in Boston. But, if you’re interested in going to a liberal arts school, Amherst is one of the best colleges in Massachusetts. Not only that, the Amherst college ranking is #2 out of all liberal arts colleges in the country.
Community Colleges in Boston
As you know, colleges (no matter where they are) can be pretty expensive. In fact, colleges like Tufts and Wellesley rank in the top 10 of our list of “Most Expensive Colleges.” For this reason, students might choose to pursue an education at one of the many community colleges in Boston.
Here’s a list of some notable community colleges in Boston:
Community Colleges in Boston
The best rated community college in Boston is Bunker Hill. This community college is located in the Charlestown neighborhood of Boston, near the monument for the Battle of Bunker Hill. (Fun fact: though its namesake centers on Bunker Hill, the battle actually took place on nearby Breed’s Hill). Bunker Hill Community College is the largest of the community colleges in Boston.
Another reputable community college in Boston is Roxbury Community College, located in the Roxbury neighborhood of Boston. Roxbury offers students the option to pursue 24 associate’s degrees and 19 different certificate programs. They also offer specialized support to help their students succeed, including career guidance, accessibility services, and internship opportunities.
Although, not technically one of the community colleges in Boston, North Shore Community College is still worth including. North Shore is located slightly outside the city of Boston, in Danvers, MA. The “North Shore” of Massachusetts refers to the coastal area between Boston and New Hampshire in the northern part of the state. Here, students can pursue a 2-year credit degree or 1-year credit certificate.
Middlesex Community College is also one of the community colleges in Boston that is located slightly outside the city. You can find Middlesex in the suburb of Bedford, MA, providing day/evening classes to students who need flexible schedules. Middlesex also has campuses in Lowell, MA, in the same city as UMass Lowell.
Why choose a community college?
Community college can be a great option for students for lots of different reasons. It’s always more affordable than a private college, and likely more affordable than a public school. This is especially true if you don’t live in Massachusetts and are applying as an out-of-state student.
Another benefit is that community colleges in Boston offer more flexibility with scheduling and when you take your classes. So, if you work a job or are caring for a child or family member, you can structure your schedule around your other responsibilities. Community colleges in Boston also offer transfer services to help you earn a 4-year degree after getting your associate’s degree.
Is Harvard University located in Boston?
Though Harvard is often considered one of the best colleges in Boston, it is technically located in Cambridge, MA. So, you could certainly say it’s one of the best colleges in the greater Boston area.
However, Cambridge is right next to Boston, and it’s incredibly easy to access Boston from Cambridge. In just a few stops on the Red Line, you can get from Harvard into the center of Boston. As a first-year student at Harvard, Boston is right at your fingertips. Whether you want to visit the MFA, see the swan boats at the Boston Common, or catch a Red Sox game, the opportunities are endless.
What Ivy League schools are in Boston?
If you’re searching for “colleges in Boston area” you may be wondering if Boston is home to any Ivies. Harvard is the only Ivy League school located in Boston. However, other Ivies like Yale in New Haven and Brown in Providence are fairly close by.
You can reach these schools easily by bus or train. Harvard students will often travel to Yale for games to show their school pride and root for the Harvard Crimson.
Remember, the Ivy League application process can seem a bit different from that of other schools. If you’re looking for more resources on how to apply to the Ivies, CollegeAdvisor has you covered. We have resources to guide you through every step of the process, from webinars with Admissions Officers to advice on navigating application deadlines.
Though there are no Ivy League colleges in Boston besides Harvard, that doesn’t mean there aren’t other stellar colleges in Boston. To continue your search of “colleges in Boston area,” read on.
Next, we’ll discuss how colleges in Boston ranked against one another in our list of colleges and universities in Boston.
10 Best Colleges in Boston
So, we’ve answered the question “how many colleges are in Boston?” and learned more about different Boston colleges and universities. Next, let’s dig a bit deeper.
We’ve gotten a glimpse of some private, public, and community colleges in Boston. Next, let’s check out some of the best universities in Boston. You’ll notice a mix of both public and private colleges in Boston on this list. In fact, many of the Boston colleges and universities on this list are among the best in the nation. And, while some of these colleges in Boston aren’t necessarily in the heart of the city, the college locations are close enough that students have access to the opportunities the city brings.
Here are the 10 best colleges in Boston area according to U.S. News:
Top Colleges in Boston
1. Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Just north of Boston, MIT is located in Cambridge, MA—an ideal college location. Known for its globally renowned STEM programs, the MIT ranking is #2 on U.S. News’ National Colleges list. With such a high MIT ranking, it’s no wonder that gaining admission to this research-driven, innovative school is difficult. The acceptance rate for MIT is 3.9%, making it not only one of the most competitive universities in Boston but also in the nation. While college rankings aren’t everything, they do tell us that MIT is not only one of the best colleges in Boston—it’s one of the best schools in the world.
2. Harvard University
Another of our colleges in Boston technically located in Cambridge, Harvard is arguably the most well-known university in the Boston area. Understandably, the Harvard ranking on best colleges and universities in Boston lists is high. As an Ivy League university, the Harvard acceptance rate is extremely selective—just 3.1%. However, the Harvard ranking isn’t everything. To learn more about this top school, check out some of the latest studies happening at Harvard. You can also read what this Harvard freshman would have loved to know so that you’re prepared for campus life.
3. Tufts University
Technically located in Medford, Tufts University is a top private research university. With over 90 Tufts majors to choose from, students have plenty of study options. The Tufts ranking is #32 on the U.S. News National Universities list. However, there’s another Tufts ranking that catches our eye. It’s #27 in Best Value Schools, which means students are able to get a high-quality education at an affordable price.
4. Boston College
Just outside of downtown Boston, Boston College is a top university that aims to provide an “education with heart and soul.” Founded on Jesuit principles, the Boston College ranking is consistently high. In fact, the Boston College ranking is #5 in Best Undergraduate Teaching, meaning that students will enjoy specialized faculty dedicated to instruction. The college setting is urban, so students will have ample opportunities in the city. However, Boston College admissions is selective, with a 19% acceptance rate. To impress Boston College admissions, check out our “how to get into Boston College” guide.
5. Boston University
Where is Boston University? Well, unlike some of our other best colleges and universities in Boston area, Boston University is one of the few top colleges in Boston proper. In fact, it’s located in the heart of the city. As another well-known university, it may come as no surprise that the Boston University ranking is high. The Boston University ranking is #41 in National Universities and #29 in Best Value Schools. Sensibly, you may be wondering about the Boston University acceptance rate. The Boston University acceptance rate is quite selective at 19%. If one of the many BU majors has caught your attention, you may want to learn more about the BU rankings before you apply.
6. Brandeis University
If you’ve asked yourself “where is Brandeis?”, then you will be happy to know that it’s in good company among the other Boston colleges and universities. Brandeis has a 235-acre campus in the suburbs of Boston. So, while not technically one of the colleges in Boston, it’s pretty close to the city. The Brandeis University ranking is #44 in National Universities. Although the Brandeis acceptance rate is slightly higher than the others on our list at 39%, it’s still considered a more selective university.
7. Northeastern University
Northeastern University is a private university located in the city, so students who live on campus are surrounded by urban life. The Northeastern ranking is #44 in National Universities, and the Northeastern acceptance rate is 18%. That, combined with the high Northeastern ranking, make its admissions among the most selective. Why is the Northeastern acceptance rate so competitive? Well, according to the university, “experience is at the core of all we do.” This type of experiential learning experience has caught the eye of many competitive applicants.
8. Simmons University
Simmons University is a private university located in Boston. What’s unique about Simmons? Well, it’s the only undergraduate program specifically for women in Boston. However, they have graduate programs open to everyone. Simmons also ranks at #30 in Best Value Schools. And, with a 9:1 student-to-faculty ratio, students are sure to have a more personal learning experience.
9. Suffolk University
Located in downtown Boston, Suffolk University offers its students the many advantages of the city right at their fingertips. Students have over 60 areas of study to choose from. Suffolk also has over 50 study-abroad opportunities and over 80 student organizations for students to get involved in.
10. UMass Boston
UMass Boston is actually Boston’s only public research university. It’s also the most diverse university in New England. Students are encouraged to take full advantage of the opportunities the city and the university facilities offer. Additionally, UMass Boston has over 80 undergraduate programs.
Many of the colleges and universities in Boston on this list also appear on the Boston 25 News’ list. On that list, many of these colleges in Boston ranked highly.
When creating your own list of Boston colleges and universities, you may wonder about the cost of attending. Of course, finances are a key part of the college process. So, find out how much colleges in Boston cost, and compare their financial aid awards and merit scholarship opportunities. Then, you can make a list of colleges in Boston ranked to fit your needs. Keep in mind, your goal is to find the best universities in Boston for you—not just the ones that top the rankings.
Planning for the application process
When looking at universities in Boston, whether you’re considering an Ivy League school or one of the many other private colleges in Boston, you’ll want to be sure to make your application as competitive as possible. This will help you boost your admissions odds at the best colleges in Boston.
With so many great universities in Boston, many students apply to Boston colleges and universities each admission cycle. So, start preparing early, meet the application deadlines, and get excited for what could await you at one of the many incredible Boston colleges and universities.
Colleges and universities close to Boston
There are 152,000 total students studying at Boston colleges and universities. But, what about outside of the city?
Let’s shift from colleges in Boston and focus on schools that are strictly outside of the city as we focus on colleges in Boston area. Keep in mind that you don’t have to be in the city to enjoy some of the benefits of attending colleges in Boston area. In fact, you’ll find that many colleges in Massachusetts give you easy access to Boston and its opportunities.
Suburban and greater metropolitan areas
Many of the universities from our previous best Boston colleges and universities list actually come up again here. Harvard and MIT are both located in Cambridge, technically outside of the city of Boston. Located just across the Charles River from Boston, students have easy access to the city’s many opportunities. However, they can also enjoy the benefits of a more suburban area with parks and neighborhoods. In fact, Cambridge is often recognized as one of the best college towns in the nation.
Tufts, Wellesley, and Brandeis are all located in the surrounding Boston area as well. Wellesley and Brandeis are both considered to be small universities. By contrast, with over 6,000 undergraduates, Tufts is technically a medium-sized school. However, due to their suburban locations, all three of these schools have a community-campus vibe.
As you build your college list, remember to focus on the factors that matter most to you. While college rankings are important, college size and campus feel matter more when it comes to finding your college fit.
Other colleges in Massachusetts
How many colleges are in Boston? Well, we’ve already seen quite a few Boston colleges and universities, including colleges in Boston area. However, what about the rest of Massachusetts? Well, New England is not only home to Boston colleges and universities but also some of the best universities in the nation.
Mount Holyoke, Clark University, Williams College, and Amherst College are all private liberal arts universities located in Massachusetts. All of these universities have an undergraduate enrollment of less than 3,000. So, if you’re looking for a small college setting, then these could be for you!
Specifically, the Amherst college ranking is quite high. The Amherst College ranking is #2 among national liberal arts colleges. So, are you now asking “where is Amherst College?” Well, Amherst College is located in Amherst, MA. Now that we’ve answered “where is Amherst College?”, you may be wondering “where is the town?” Amherst is a bustling college town located just two hours from downtown Boston.
Interested in a school with a large college size? Well, UMass Amherst can provide just that, but in the quaint town of Amherst (also the location of Amherst College). UMass has an undergraduate population of over 28,000.
Check out some other higher education institutions in Massachusetts. And, if you’re interested in looking at schools based on location, use this search tool from the National Center for Education Statistics to find options.
Colleges near Boston beyond Massachusetts
While there are many top colleges in Massachusetts, students also have ample options near Boston but outside of the state. In fact, two Ivy League schools are quite nearby: Yale, Dartmouth, and Brown University.
Brown University is located in Providence, Rhode Island—about an hour’s drive from Boston. Dartmouth University is located in Hanover, New Hampshire, which is also about an hour’s drive from Boston. Yale University is located in New Haven, Connecticut—just over a two-hour drive. So, if you’re looking for an Ivy League education and the best universities in Boston, remember that Harvard isn’t your only option.
Two other options outside of Massachusetts’ state limits are Bowdoin College and Colby College. Bowdoin College is a small private liberal arts school in Brunswick, Maine. Colby College is another small, private liberal arts college located in Waterville, Maine. Students attending either of these colleges will receive a high-quality education with personalized attention.
While there are many great Boston colleges and universities, remember that New England is home to some of the best higher education institutions in the nation. Check out this list of public and private universities in New England.
Five College Consortium
When looking at colleges in Massachusetts, you may have seen the Five College Consortium. Smith College, Mount Holyoke College, Amherst College, Hampshire College, and UMass Amherst are located within ten miles of each other in Western Massachusetts and make up the Five College Consortium. This group of universities was founded in 1914 with the goal of a joint education program for the Pioneer Valley.
What are the benefits? Well, there are plenty. Students who attend any of the five schools have access to courses, museums, programs, and other opportunities at the other campuses. When looking outside of the Boston colleges and universities, these five schools are a great option. In fact, it’s like being a part of your own little city of schools.
So, what schools make up the Five College Consortium?
Five College Consortium
Smith College is a private liberal arts women’s college in Northampton, MA. It’s one of the largest women’s colleges in the nation with about 2,500 undergraduate students. Smith is highly ranked nationally at #13 in National Liberal Arts Colleges. How does that high ranking affect Smith’s acceptance rate? Learn more in this article.
Mount Holyoke College is another private liberal arts women’s college, though they now accept students of all genders. The liberal arts education students receive at this college is focused on “connecting people, ideas, and solutions to make the world work better.”
Amherst College ranks at #2 in National Liberal Arts Colleges. The undergraduate population is just under 2,000 students. The small campus is rural, which makes the community feel quite close-knit. It’s also ranked #3 in Best Value Schools with one of the most substantial financial aid programs in the nation.
UMass Amherst is the only public university within the Five College Consortium. In fact, it is the largest public research institution in New England. Unlike the other schools in the Five College Consortium, UMass Amherst has a large student body of about 24,000 students.
Hampshire College is a great choice for students who’ve felt like the traditional education system just isn’t for them. Calling themselves “the original disruptors of higher education,” students are encouraged to get creative with their paths of study.
The Five College Consortium isn’t the only group of schools that have come together to give students the best education possible. The Colleges of Fenway is a group of five Boston colleges and universities that works in a similar way.
More top universities in Boston
We’ve talked about some of the best universities in Boston, as well as private colleges in Boston, community colleges in Boston, the Five College Consortium, and colleges in Boston area. But, what about those of you who are looking for Boston colleges and universities based on a specific major or program?
Well, there’s certainly no lack of colleges and universities in Boston and nearby for a wide variety of disciplines. There are plenty of art colleges in Boston, music colleges in Boston, and architecture colleges in Boston. And, as we’ve already seen, there are many liberal arts colleges in Boston with a variety of offerings.
Let’s check out some top universities in Boston for specific fields of study.
Liberal Arts Colleges in Boston
For students interested in liberal arts colleges in Boston, there are plenty of options. Next, let’s check out some of the best Boston colleges and universities for the liberal arts. Note that some of these schools are slightly outside of the city.
Emmanuel College is a private college located in Boston. It’s a small school with about 1,800 undergraduates. Students can study a wide variety of disciplines with over 70 areas of study. And, with such a small campus, you’re sure to find a close-knit campus community while having all the benefits of the big city just outside your door.
You may remember Wellesley College as one of the schools we highlighted in the suburbs of Boston. Where is Wellesley, exactly? Sensibly, it’s located in Wellesley, Massachusetts. It’s also one of the colleges in Boston ranked high on top liberal arts colleges lists. The Wellesley acceptance rate is 16%. Wellesley is a women’s college dedicated to providing one of the best liberal arts educations students can receive. They aim to educate women who will go on to make a change in the world.
More liberal arts colleges in Boston to consider
Located in Easton, Massachusetts, Stonehill College is among colleges in Boston ranked best in value and liberal arts education. And, with over 100 areas of study, students are sure to find an area of interest to pursue.
Gordon College is a highly-ranked Christian College located in Wenham, Massachusetts. A Gordon College education aims to “transform your heart and mind.” Students receive a quality liberal arts education within a Christian community.
Located in Norton, Massachusetts, Wheaton College is a highly-ranked liberal arts and science institution. Wheaton is committed to providing an accessible and inclusive liberal arts education to its students. In fact, 95% of students at Wheaton receive financial aid.
Art colleges in Boston
A liberal arts education is a great foundation for a myriad of careers. However, you may already know that the arts are your thing. Great! You’ll find plenty of art-focused colleges in Boston. In fact, some of the best Boston colleges and universities offer impressive art programs.
The Massachusetts College of Art and Design can only be described as an art student’s dream. With plenty of space to create and exhibit, students are prepared to use their abilities for the common good. MassArt was actually the nation’s first and only public independent college of art and design.
When you think “Ivy League”, you may not think of an excellent art program. However, Harvard has an excellent Art, Film, and Visual Studies department. The Harvard AFVS curriculum is based on both study and practice in the visual arts. This lets students benefit from both practical experience and theoretical knowledge.
You may recognize another of the universities in Boston that we’ve already highlighted. Tufts University makes up one of the best Boston colleges and universities, and it also has an excellent art program. Their aim at SMFA Tufts is to make students into “artists with purpose.”
Music colleges in Boston
When considering the top universities in Boston as a music major, you have a few excellent options.
Berklee College of Music is one of the best music colleges in Boston. While Berklee College of Music is for music, theater, and dance, musicians will specifically enroll at the Boston Conservatory at Berklee. Students at the conservatory will learn a new approach to classical music.
Another excellent option for musicians is the New England Conservatory of Music. This school is also located in Boston. The mission of the school is committed to “advancing music’s contribution to contemporary society.” The enrollment is small, with just 750 graduate and undergraduate students. So, students can expect small classes and a close-knit community.
Architecture colleges in Boston
With a mix of styles from some of the world’s greatest architects, it makes sense that students are searching for architecture colleges in Boston. And, the city doesn’t disappoint, with several excellent architecture colleges in Boston.
The Boston Architectural College offers a variety of degree programs from four study disciplines: architecture, interior architecture, design studies, and landscape architecture. With its location right in the heart of Boston, students will get inspiration and opportunities from the city that surrounds them.
You may recognize the next of our featured architecture colleges in Boston. MassArt also offers a bachelor’s and master’s architecture program. The program stresses the importance of teaching students practical and ethical architecture, focusing on meeting a client’s needs while respecting the surrounding environment.
MIT also makes the list as one of the best architecture colleges in Boston. While you may remember this school from our top universities in Boston section, you may be surprised that a STEM school has such an impressive architecture program. Logically, though, MIT uses cutting-edge technology within their architecture program.
While there are plenty of excellent Boston colleges and universities for architecture, if you’re not married to the idea of studying architecture in Boston, then check out some other options. Read our article to find some of the best architecture schools in the nation.
More CollegeAdvisor Resources on Boston Colleges and Universities
With so many students interested in Boston colleges and universities, you’ll want to make sure you have the most competitive application. After all, many colleges in Boston are among the best institutions in the world. CollegeAdvisor has a myriad of resources to help you in your application journey to Boston colleges and universities.
In our list of colleges in Boston, you may have noticed some prestigious schools. When applying to the top universities in Boston, such as Harvard, you’ll want to do everything you can to have an edge. Our How to Get Into Harvard guide outlines each step of the application process.
Another of the colleges in Boston ranked high globally is MIT. MIT appears in our top ten list of colleges in Boston as well as in our list of colleges in Boston for architecture. So, if you’re seriously interested in STEM, then it’s likely that MIT is among your top Boston colleges and universities. However, as such a highly recognized institution, you’ll want to make sure you understand the application process and make your MIT application stand out. Check out our webinar and guide to help you in your MIT journey.
Applying to BC and BU
Boston University and Boston College also made our top Boston colleges and universities list. Both schools are colleges in Boston ranked among the best in the nation. We’ve got plenty of resources to help with applying to each of these schools, which are some of the best colleges in Boston. Check out this BU and BC panel that highlights both schools to get some of your FAQs answered. You’ll also want to check out our How to Get Into Boston University guide and How to Get Into Boston College guide for specifics on applying to each.
There are also many other valuable resources such as essay guides specific to different universities. For Boston colleges and universities, we have a BC essay guide and Tufts essay guide to name a couple. As many Boston colleges and universities use the Common App, you’ll also want to check out how to write a personal statement. Remember that essays play a large role in getting accepted into the competitive Boston colleges and universities.
Another important part of the application process to Boston colleges and universities is understanding the FAFSA, scholarships, and financial aid. In fact, some of the Boston colleges and universities mentioned in this article are some of the most expensive schools in the nation. So, you’ll want to make sure you plan accordingly when applying to these universities in Boston.
Colleges in Boston – Key Takeaways
In this article, we’ve looked at many colleges in Boston and the surrounding area. We explored just how many Boston colleges and universities there are and where they’re located on a map. There are ample Boston colleges and universities: private, public, Ivy League, and community colleges that might make a great addition to your college list. We even looked at the colleges in Massachusetts and the Five College Consortium. We saw a top ten list of colleges in Boston and the best Boston colleges and universities for different majors.
Keep in mind that college rankings aren’t everything when it comes to choosing the right colleges in Boston for you. While college rankings can be helpful, you’ll ultimately want to look at schools that fit with your study interests and career goals. Of course, location is an important factor to consider as well. And, if you’ve decided on colleges in Boston, you’ve got plenty of excellent options!
CollegeAdvisor is here to help!
We’ve answered the question “how many colleges are in Boston?” and have gone into detail about the many types of Boston colleges and universities you could apply to. If you want more tips to help you apply to Boston colleges and universities, CollegeAdvisor is here to help.
Start early to maximize your chances of getting accepted into the best colleges in Boston. Whether it’s making a college list stacked with universities in Boston or writing stellar essays to stand out to colleges in Boston ranked highly, we’re here to support you.
This guide was written by Rachel Kahn and Sarah Kaminski. Looking for more admissions support? Click here to schedule a free meeting with one of our Admissions Specialists. During your meeting, our team will discuss your profile and help you find targeted ways to increase your admissions odds at top schools. We’ll also answer any questions and discuss how CollegeAdvisor.com can support you in the college application process.