Best Colleges in Massachusetts

The higher education experts at reviewed top 2-year and 4-year colleges in the state of Massachusetts. Start planning your future today.
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Updated on July 6, 2023
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Data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) suggests that a college degree can dramatically increase one's earning potential. Some of the largest industries in Massachusetts include sales, education, business/finance, manufacturing, and computer technology. A college degree satisfies entry-level education requirements for many occupations in these fields, including school teacher, financial manager, and computer systems analyst.

The college experience provides a host of benefits beyond increased employability. College graduates often boast enhanced critical thinking abilities and communication skills. College also provides students with access to enriching experiences like study abroad programs, community involvement, and arts events.

Massachusetts is home to a diverse collection of colleges -- both public and private, women's and coeducational, religious and nonsectarian. A few of the nation's most recognizable institutions of higher education -- like Harvard University and MIT -- call the Bay State home. The following rankings cover these two household names along with 23 other major colleges and universities throughout the state.

Best Colleges in Massachusetts

  1. Harvard University - Cambridge, MA
  2. Massachusetts Institute of Technology - Cambridge, MA
  3. Williams College - Williamstown, MA
  4. Amherst College - Amherst, MA
  5. Wellesley College - Wellesley, MA
  6. Tufts University - Medford, MA
  7. Babson College - Wellesley, MA
  8. College of the Holy Cross - Worcester, MA
  9. Boston College - Chestnut Hill, MA
  10. Smith College - Northampton, MA
  11. Mount Holyoke College - South Hadley, MA
  12. Brandeis University - Waltham, MA
  13. Northeastern University - Boston, MA
  14. Boston University - Boston, MA
  15. Bentley University - Waltham, MA
  16. University of Massachusetts - Amherst, MA
  17. Worcester Polytechnic Institute - Worcester, MA
  18. University of Massachusetts - Lowell, MA
  19. Clark University - Worcester, MA
  20. Emerson College - Boston, MA
  21. Simmons College - Boston, MA
  22. Wheaton College - Norton, MA
  23. Worcester State University - Worcester, MA
  24. Stonehill College - Easton, MA
  25. Westfield State University - Westfield, MA

Each ranking seeks to provide prospective students with relevant information on key elements like academic offerings, campus life, admission requirements, and school-specific details. Read on to learn more about the 25 best colleges in Massachusetts.

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Learn about start dates, transferring credits, availability of financial aid, and more by contacting the universities below.

Ranking Accredited Colleges in Massachusetts

Best Colleges in Massachusetts

  1. Harvard University

    Cambridge, MA



    One of the most renowned and prestigious institutions of higher education in the world, Harvard University enrolls approximately 6,700 undergraduates and 13,100 postgraduate students each year. This private, Ivy League research university sits on a 210-acre campus in Cambridge, with additional sites in Allston, Longwood, and elsewhere around the world.

    Harvard offers more than 50 undergraduate programs along with 80 master's and doctoral programs within the arts and humanities, engineering and applied sciences, physical sciences, and social sciences. Undergraduates may also petition to craft a special concentration, combining various disciplines in pursuit of a uniquely challenging academic goal. Harvard students enjoy access to on-site housing, study abroad options, and extensive research opportunities.

    Admission to Harvard is highly selective. The school accepted only 4.5% of all undergraduate applicants for the class of 2023. Prospective students must provide a complete application, answers to written questions, transcripts, ACT or SAT scores, and two teacher recommendations.

  2. Massachusetts Institute of Technology

    Cambridge, MA



    Affiliated with 93 Nobel laureates, 26 Turing Award winners, and many other individuals of distinction, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology is one of America's most highly respected private research universities. The school's 166-acre main campus in Cambridge houses notable research facilities, including a pressurized wind tunnel, nuclear reactor, and towing tank.

    A majority of MIT students -- approximately 7,000 -- are enrolled in graduate and postgraduate programs. The dozens of master's degrees available at MIT include programs in urban studies and planning, comparative media studies, management studies, and medical engineering. The institution's five schools and 30 departments also offer diverse undergraduate options in the arts, humanities, social sciences, architecture, and STEM. Students enjoy small class sizes, hands-on learning, and a diverse campus community.

    MIT makes admission selections based on several key factors. Prospective first-year students must supply letters of recommendation, short essays, transcripts, and ACT or SAT scores.

  3. Williams College

    Williamstown, MA



    Established in 1793, Williams College is a private liberal arts institution with an annual undergraduate enrollment of approximately 2,000 and a low student-to-faculty ratio of 7-to-1. Located on 450 acres in Williamstown, the campus features more than 100 academic, athletic, and residential buildings, including 13 sacred spaces to accommodate various religious and spiritual beliefs.

    Williams offers bachelor's degrees in 50 areas of study. The most popular undergraduate majors at Williams include economics, mathematics, biology, and political science. The school also delivers master's degrees in art history and development economics. Students may choose to enhance their academic experience through study abroad. Outside of class, involvement opportunities include NCAA athletics and more than 150 student organizations.

    Prospective students must supply a completed application, ACT or SAT scores, high school transcripts, a counselor recommendation, two teacher recommendations, and a $65 fee, unless eligible for a waiver.

  4. Amherst College

    Amherst, MA



    Named after the town in which it's located, Amherst College is a private four-year institution that serves approximately 1,800 undergraduate students each year. Amherst is a member of the Five College Consortium, allowing students to attend classes at four other institutions in the Pioneer Valley region at no additional tuition cost.

    Students at Amherst can pursue a bachelor of arts degree in 40 different majors, representing disciplines in the arts, sciences, social sciences, and humanities. Amherst was the first college in the country to offer an undergraduate program in neuroscience. Other degree options include film and media studies, black studies, astronomy, and religion. With approval, students can also create their own interdisciplinary major.

    First-year applicants must provide a completed application, a writing sample, high school transcripts, ACT or SAT scores, teacher and counselor recommendations, and a $65 fee, unless eligible for a waiver.

  5. Wellesley College

    Wellesley, MA



    Wellesley College is a private liberal arts college for women located in the Massachusetts town of the same name. Wellesley serves a diverse enrollment of 2,400 undergraduates each year, with less than half of all students identifying as Caucasian. Notable alums include politician Hillary Clinton, journalist Diane Sawyer, and screenwriter Nora Ephron.

    Students play a major role in everything at Wellesley. Beyond academics, students serve on committees of the Board of Trustees, contribute to strategic planning, and participate in faculty research. In the classroom, learners can choose from more than 50 departmental and interdepartmental majors including geoscience, psychology, health and society, and women's and gender studies. A large percentage of students participate in international study, internships, and dual-degree programs with other institutions.

    Applying to Wellesley requires submitting a free application, two essays, high school transcripts, and ACT or SAT scores. If desired, applicants may also schedule an interview and/or provide an arts, music, or theatre supplement.

  6. Tufts University

    Medford, MA



    Tufts University is an independent, private research university located in Medford and Somerville. Tufts offers world-class education, extensive study abroad opportunities, NCAA athletics, and more than 300 student organizations, including the Tufts Beelzebubs a cappella group, known for their performances on NBC's "The Sing-Off" and Fox's "Glee."

    Approximately 11,500 undergraduates and 5,500 graduate students attend Tufts each year, selecting pathways that span more than 150 undergraduate majors and minors in addition to more than 60 master's and doctoral programs. Whether studying engineering, health, arts, math, science, or the humanities, Tufts students are encouraged to engage in interdisciplinary and global education. Tufts offers several combined degree programs in partnership with other institutions, including the New England Conservatory, MIT, and Harvard Law School.

    Admission to Tufts is selective. Prospective first-year students must supply high school transcripts, ACT or SAT scores, one or two letters of recommendation, a writing sample, and a $75 application fee.

  7. Babson College

    Wellesley, MA



    Independent, nonprofit business school Babson College holds accreditation from the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business. More than 2,000 undergraduate students and nearly 1,000 graduate students attend Babson each year. The main 350-acre campus located in Wellesley offers on-site housing, more than 100 student clubs and organizations, recreation opportunities, and 22 NCAA varsity programs.

    All undergraduate Babson students pursue a bachelor of science degree with a foundational core curriculum and the option to declare a concentration in their junior or senior year. Twenty-seven concentration options include finance, global business management, real estate, and statistical modeling. Accelerated undergraduate degree options feature a timeline of 3-3.5 years. Babson also offers a number of graduate programs and executive programs.

    Undergraduate applicants must provide a completed application, high school transcripts, letters of recommendation, and ACT or SAT scores. Prospective students must pay a $75 application fee unless eligible for a waiver.

  8. College of the Holy Cross

    Worcester, MA



    The College of the Holy Cross is a private, Jesuit liberal arts college located in Worcester. The 175-acre campus, which has won national awards for landscaping, houses 37 academic, residential, and athletic buildings. Approximately 3,000 students enroll each year, 90% of whom live on-site. Involvement opportunities include varsity and intramural sports, 103 student organizations, and 20 honor societies.

    A liberal arts curriculum serves the call of Jesuit education to help students develop intellectually, spiritually, and personally. Holy Cross offers 31 undergraduate majors, 21 minors, and six concentrations in two dozen diverse departments, including Asian studies, English, mathematics and computer science, and visual arts. To graduate, learners must typically complete a minimum of 32 semester courses through eight semesters of full-time study.

    Prospective students must provide high school transcripts, two letters of recommendation, and a $60 application fee. If desired, applicants may also complete a personal interview, provide ACT or SAT scores, or submit supplementary materials.

  9. Boston College

    Chestnut Hill, MA



    Formally founded in 1863, Boston College was the first institution of higher education to operate in Boston. Construction for a major campus began in 1909, six miles west of the city in the unincorporated village Chestnut Hill. Today, the private, Jesuit research university spans 175 acres, with additional satellite campuses in Newton and Brighton.

    BC enrolls approximately 14,500 students each year and organizes academic offerings into nine schools and colleges. The most popular undergraduate majors include economics, finance, biology, political science, and communication. Graduate students can pursue disciplines including geophysics, Hispanic studies, Irish literature and culture, and theology. Outside of class, engagement opportunities include 31 NCAA varsity teams, intramural sports, and 273 clubs and organizations.

    Undergraduate application requirements include a writing supplement, ACT or SAT scores, high school transcripts, a counselor recommendation form, two teacher evaluations, and an $80 application fee. Perspective art, music, or theatre students can supply additional materials if desired.

  10. Smith College

    Northampton, MA



    Smith College is a private, liberal arts college for women with a student body of 2,500 undergraduates and 400 graduate students. The campus houses a museum of art, a botanical garden, residence halls, and NCAA athletics facilities. As a member of the Five College Consortium, Smith permits its students to attend classes at four other institutions in the area.

    Smith's undergraduate catalog offers more than 50 areas of study in social sciences, history, the arts, languages, literature, mathematics, and natural science. An open curriculum provides each student with the freedom to personalize their academic experience through a variety of courses, concentrations, and internship opportunities. Smith also offers six master's degrees and a Ph.D. in social work. The school uses a coeducational format for graduate programs.

    Required admission materials for undergraduates include a completed application, a writing supplement, an official high school transcript, two teacher evaluations, and a counselor recommendation. Applicants may choose to submit ACT and/or SAT scores.

Click here to see the best community colleges in Massachusetts.