Best Colleges in Massachusetts

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Massachusetts is called the “Cradle of Liberty” for its role in bringing about the American Revolution, but it might as well be called the Cradle of Education.

After all, it was the first state in the U.S. to require towns to establish a local school, it is home to the oldest school of any kind still in operation in North America, and it is home to the oldest college (and women’s college) in the country. These historic roots, however, have only aided in bringing excellent online education options as well.

Related: Best Online Schools in Massachusetts

And Massachusetts isn’t resting on its laurels. The neighborhood of Kendall Square outside of Boston has been called “the most innovative square mile on the planet” because of the amount and quality of start-ups that have emerged from the area. So it makes sense that in 2016, Bloomberg ranked Massachusetts as the Most Innovative State in America.

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Top 10 Best Colleges in Massachusetts

Rank School Location
1 Harvard University Cambridge, MA
2 Massachusetts Institute of Technology Cambridge, MA
3 Amherst College Amherst, MA
4 Williams College Williamstown, MA
5 University of Massachusetts at Amherst Amherst, MA
6 Tufts University Medford, MA
7 Boston College Chestnut Hill, MA
8 Wellesley College Wellesley, MA
9 Northeastern University Boston, MA
10 Boston University Boston, MA

What kind of College in Massachusetts should you attend?

With 121 institutions of higher education, the Commonwealth (as Massachusetts is often referred to) offers an extremely wide array of choices for your college education. You’ll have to narrow down your options according to certain criteria that you value the most. How much do you want to spend in tuition? What type of program do you want to attend? Another important step in choosing a college is to consider what kind of location you want to be in: urban, suburban, rural.

Hopefully the list below will help you identify some of the key features that accompany each of these schools in Massachusetts. Another direction you can go, especially if you prioritize flexibility in your education, is to check out the Best Online Colleges in Massachusetts.

How much money can you make with a degree from a College in Massachusetts?

Earning a college degree in Massachusetts is one way to guarantee a solid career and a secure income. Overall, the median income in Massachusetts is a solid $15k higher than the national average. But having an advanced degree just solidifies your chance to be in the top earning bracket.

In fact, our friends over at Payscale.com have figured out that the average person with a bachelor’s degree in Massachusetts earns anywhere from $62k to $71k. And folks with a master’s degree make an average annual salary of $81k. Those figures can fluctuate plus or minus a few thousand, but the big takeaway is that you’ll be earning a comfortable living in Massachusetts after you graduate.

What can you do with a degree from a College in Massachusetts?

An advanced degree can unlock doors for you that you didn’t even know were closed. If you already have a sense for what industry or sector you want to go into, then keep right on truckin’! If you’re having trouble deciding on a career, though, let us help you!

The Boston Business Journal recently came out with a list of the top 25 most in-demand jobs in Massachusetts. Let that be your guide! You can breathe easy, then, knowing that your degree will lead you straight into a job when you graduate. Here’s a look at a few of the jobs from the list:

  • Information Technology Managers
  • Industrial Engineers
  • Teacher Assistants
  • Retail Managers
Best Colleges in Massachusetts Badge

What are the Best Colleges in Massachusetts?

So how do you go about picking which college to go to? Well, Massachusetts is unique in that 80 percent of its population lives within the Greater Boston area, which means that many of its colleges are located there as well. There’s a reason Boston is called “America’s College Town.”

Then, take a look at our ranking of the Best Colleges in Massachusetts. We’ve put together this ranking to help you decide which colleges match your interests, as well as what you and your family can afford. Each school’s score comes from a consideration of academic quality, based on a variety of statistics including test scores, diversity, and percent of tenured faculty, as well as a consideration of return on investment. Return on investment is essentially a measure of net cost versus how much money you can expect to make early on in your career. Happy searching!

Rankings

See our rankings methodology page.

  1. Harvard University
    Location

    Cambridge, MA

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    Harvard University is a private, Ivy League research university that was established in 1636, making it the oldest university on this list. It is located in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and is best known for its system of 79 libraries and for producing eight U.S. presidents, including President Barack Obama. This school is regionally accredited by the NEASC.

    Features

    This is a university that is recognized for its selectivity and for its academic record. It has been nationally and internationally recognized with distinction as one of the best universities in the world by Forbes, the Princeton Review, and U.S. News and World Report. Harvard confers 36 undergraduate degrees, 134 graduate degrees, and 32 professional degrees. Some of the top programs are:

    Bachelor of Science in EconomicsBachelor of Arts in HistoryBachelor of Arts in Political Science and Government

    Notables

    The university offers over 200 student organizations, clubs, groups, and intramural sports teams for all students. It has several traditions as well, including the Harvard-Yale Regatta, music festivals, and end-of-term celebrations. While this is a demanding school, campus life is more relaxed, allowing students to unwind after a long day studying.

  2. Massachusetts Institute of Technology
    Location

    Cambridge, MA

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    Massachusetts Institute of Technology, known as MIT to students, is one of the leading institutions in the country. This is a private, land-grant research university that is headquartered in Cambridge, Massachusetts. It is known for adopting a European polytechnic university teaching model, offering many course online for free, and for its dedication to teaching STEM subjects. This school is regionally accredited by the NEASC.

    Features

    MIT has the distinction of being one of the largest producers of STEM professionals in the country. This school requires all undergraduate students to undergo the same Core Curriculum, known as the General Institute Requirements, which encompasses maths and sciences for all majors. The university collectively confers 175 degrees at the undergraduate, graduate, and postgraduate levels, all which focus on STEM fields of study. Some of the top degree programs include:

    Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering and Computer ScienceMaster of Business AdministrationJoint Program in Oceanography and Applied Ocean Science and Engineering (MIT-WHOI Program)

    Notables

    MIT recognizes over 500 student organizations. The institute also provides a ration station, a newspaper, weekly film screenings, and an annual entrepreneurship competition. Student also have the opportunity to take the Independent Activities Period, which is a four-week long optional term that gives students access to different lectures, courses, demonstrations and experiences that they may not find anywhere else.

  3. Amherst College
    Location

    Amherst, MA

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    Amherst College is a private, liberal arts institution that is located in the heart of Amherst, Massachusetts. It is an exclusively undergraduate college that enrolls less than 1,800 students per year. This school holds regional accreditation by the NEASC.

    Features

    This university is a member of the Five College Consortium, allowing students to take courses at other member institutions for a flat fee. Students also benefit from an open curriculum, where there are no set sequential formats for degrees and students can pick and choose whatever courses they feel will fulfill the requirements for their degree. Here are some of the top programs:

    Bachelor of Science in Computer ScienceBachelor of Arts in EconomicsBachelor of Science in Neuroscience

    Notables

    Student life at Amherst is nothing short of surprising at times; students have more than 140 student groups they can join, including a medieval sword-fighting club, and more.The school is also noted for community service and volunteer services provided by students. Each year, the campus reports more than 5,000 hours of community service and continues to uphold the idea that all students should give back to the city of Amherst and the nation.

  4. Williams College
    Location

    Williamstown, MA

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    Williams College is a private liberal arts institution that is located in Williamstown, Massachusetts. It has been nationally ranked in the top three best liberal arts college or university rankings by Forbes and the U.S. News and World Report. This college is regionally accredited by the NEASC.

    Features

    This school offers 26 degrees at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Students can also elect to concentrate their studies in an additional 12 academic areas that are not offered as majors but can complement a degree. Online offerings are also available. The top three programs at Williams include:

    Bachelor of Science in Computer ScienceBachelor of Science in PsychologyMaster of Art in the History of Art

    Notables

    Williams is home to more than 45 student clubs and organizations, but where the school thrives is its student-run media: the Williams Record newspaper and the schools radio station, 91.9 WCFM. Students also take part in traditions, such as an eight-hour, all-night trivia contest that is conducted at the end of every academic term, right after finals. This allows students to come together and blow off steam after finishing their studies before the break; it also has given rise to new traditions, enabling students to become a part of Williams history.

  5. University of Massachusetts at Amherst
    Location

    Amherst, MA

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    The University of Massachusetts at Amherst is a public, land-grant, institution that is located in Amherst, Massachusetts. It is the flagship university of the University of Massachusetts systems. With a student body of more than 29,000 students, UMass Amherst is the largest public institution in the New England region. This school is regionally accredited by the NEASC.

    Features

    This university offers more than 200 programs at the undergraduate, graduate, and postgraduate levels. These programs are divided into nine schools and colleges, most of which delve into doctoral and student-assisted research. UMass Amherst is a member of the Five College Consortium. Youll find that the top programs include:

    Bachelor of Science in Civil EngineeringMaster of Business AdministrationDoctor of Philosophy in Education

    Notables

    The UMass Amherst campus is known as having a bustling art and entertainment venue; here, students can enjoy festivals, art gallery showings, and even live musicals and plays. There are also over 200 registered student organizations at the school, with the most popular having roots in protest and activism, something which the school is well known for. Also available for students is a student organization, political groups, and volunteer opportunities.

  6. Tufts University
    Location

    Medford, MA

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    Tufts University is a private, non-profit research university that was founded in 1852, making it one of the oldest universities in the state. It has the distinction of being one of the best schools in Massachusetts for students interested in public service and international relations. It is located in Medford, Massachusetts and holds regional accreditation by the NEASC.

    Features

    This school confers over 80 degrees at the undergraduate, graduate, and postgraduate levels across two undergraduate schools and eight graduate colleges. Students can also get professional-level degrees from the law school and the medical school. Online courses and degrees are also available. Three of the most popular programs include:

    Bachelor of Science in Civil EngineeringMaster of Public AdministrationDoctor of Medicine

    Notables

    Tufts has a long and storied history when it comes to student activism; it was a center for Civil Rights activism in the late 1960s and continues that tradition today. Students organize and protest on a multitude of issues, including politics, climate change, and humanitarian issues. This is carried over into the student-run media, and therefore Tufts is a great university for any student who wants to become an agent of change.

  7. Boston College
    Location

    Chestnut Hill, MA

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    Boston College is a private, non-profit, Jesuit Catholic research institution that is located in Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts. It is affiliated with the Jesuit Order of the Roman Catholic Church and is a member of the Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities. This school is regionally accredited by the NEASC.

    Features

    This school has an undergraduate program that is currently ranked in the top 50 national universities by U.S. News and World Report. It delivers more than 150 degrees at the undergraduate, graduate, and postgraduate across nine schools and colleges; these include the Boston College Law School and the Carroll School of Management. Top programs within these academic schools include:

    Bachelor of Science in NursingMaster of Business AdministrationJuris Doctor

    Notables

    Student media is a hallmark of campus life at Boston College. It has six newspapers, three broadcasting stations, three journals, an undergraduate literary magazine, and a yearbook. Students are welcome to participate in any of these media publications; college credit may be received for exemplary work, depending on the students program of study.

  8. Wellesley College
    Location

    Wellesley, MA

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    Wellesley College is a private, womens liberal arts college that is located in Wellesley, Massachusetts. It is a member of the original Seven Sisters Colleges that was a consortium of all womens institutions. It is regionally accredited by the NEASC.

    Features

    This university has been ranked in the top five for best liberal arts colleges by U.S. News and World Report and the Princeton Review, both for its academic offerings and for its world-class faculty. This school currently hosts over 50 degree programs at all levels of education, including dual degree programs with Harvard, MIT, and Babson College. Some of the top degree programs include:

    Bachelor of Science in NursingBachelor of Arts in Education, Early Childhood EducationMaster of Science in Civil Engineering, Dual Degree with Olin School of Engineering

    Notables

    Nearly all Wellesley students live on campus, which offers the school the chance to provide a welcoming and inviting atmosphere to the entire student bodies. There is even an optional French-language home that provides students with the chance to practice the language. Wellesley also has over 180 student organizations; however, Greek life is not represented on campus.

  9. Northeastern University
    Location

    Boston, MA

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    Northeastern University is one of the best schools in Massachusetts for students interested in partaking in research. This is a private research university that is located in Boston, Massachusetts, with an R1 institution distinction by the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education. This school is regionally accredited by the NEASC.

    Features

    This university offers a combined total of over 190 degree programs at the undergraduate, graduate, and postgraduate levels. Certifications, study abroad opportunities, and student research can also be found at this school. This university puts a strong emphasis on experiential learning experiences, encouraging students to apply classroom knowledge to real-world problems. The top three programs are:

    Bachelor of Science in Business AdministrationBachelor of Science in NursingDoctor of Pharmacy

    Notables

    Northeastern has an astounding list of student organizations, clubs, intramural sports teams, fraternities, and sororities available for all students. Many departments have professional association chapters that are represented on campus; however, interest groups and drama clubs are also popular. Students will never have to go far to find something of interest to do on campus.

  10. Boston University
    Location

    Boston, MA

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    Boston University is a private, nonsectarian research university that is historically affiliated with the United Methodist Church. The school is located in Boston, Massachusetts and is home to over 33,000 students each year; it is also one of the citys largest employers. This university is regionally accredited by the NEASC.

    Features

    Boston University confers over 200 degrees at all levels of education across eighteen schools and two colleges on sister campuses in the city. Students can also obtain graduate business, dental, law, and medical degrees here. The school is a member of the Boston Consortium for Higher Education. Three of the top degree programs include:

    Bachelor of Arts in Business AdministrationDoctor of MedicineJuris Doctor

    Notables

    The school is known for having a thriving student life, including a strong tradition in student-run media. The school currently lists at least 12 publications, some of them independent endeavors, that can be found online or on campus for free for all students. In fact, many of the schools departments have their own journals and newspapers, allowing for students to get industry-specific news on a weekly basis.

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