Everyone has their own idea of the best colleges in the U.S., and each list is wildly different. What is not up for debate, however, is that New England is home to some of the world’s most prestigious academic institutions in the country. Specifically, Massachusetts boasts a high ratio of top-ranking universities per capita; there are more than 40 colleges and universities near the city of Boston itself. If your dreams are filled with visions of attending school in the Bay State, you might see yourself at one of the best colleges in Massachusetts. Whether you have your sights set on a school for technology, a liberal arts college, or anything in between, chances are good that Massachusetts has what you’re looking for.
How Are the Best Massachusetts Colleges Ranked?
The best colleges in Massachusetts can be ranked using a variety of different components. This list was created by considering the following factors:
- Retention rate
- Endowment per student
- Median earnings of graduates
- Return on investment
- Cost of attendance
- Student-faculty ratio
Whether you already have an idea of where you want to go or you haven’t given it much thought yet, it’s a good idea to start by becoming familiar with the best Massachusetts colleges.
The Best Colleges in Massachusetts
More than a quarter of a million students attend school across the more than 40 colleges and universities located in Massachusetts. Here are the top colleges for your consideration.
The University of Massachusetts — Amherst
UMass Amherst is the flagship college of the Massachusetts University System. One of the best colleges in Massachusetts, it’s also one of the largest in terms of numbers. More than 24,233 undergraduate students are in attendance here, and the acceptance rate is 65%.
The University of Massachusetts has had a profound presence in Amherst since it was founded as an agricultural school in the 1860s. The school’s middle 50% SAT score range is 1210–1370, and the middle 50% ACT score range is 27–32.
Brandeis University has an undergraduate enrollment of 3,493, and its acceptance rate is 33%. Steeply rooted in Jewish values, history, and experience, the school is named after Louis Brandeis, the first Jewish U.S. Supreme Court justice. However, Brandeis University welcomes students of all religions, backgrounds, and cultures.
The suburban 235-acre campus is located in Waltham, just outside of Boston. Only 30% of students claim their religion as Jewish, and 40% describe themselves as agnostic, atheist, or not religious at all. The median 50% SAT score range is 1350–1470, and the middle 50% ACT range is 31–33.
Not only is this one of the best Massachusetts colleges, but it’s also one of the largest. Northeastern University has over 19,000 undergraduates enrolled, and it’s located in Boston. The school’s acceptance rate is 20%.
Northeastern University is famous for its co-op program, which is one of the best and oldest in the U.S. for students of its kind. Over 90% of students participate in at least one co-op; Northeastern’s program offers opportunities in 150 countries around the world. The middle 50% SAT score range is 1430–1540, and the middle 50% ACT range is 33–35.
Clark University in Worcester, MA, offers over 30 majors ranging from urban studies to ancient civilization. Founded in 1887, it was the first graduate-only institution in the United States. It remained “graduates only” until 1902 when undergraduates were finally welcomed to attend.
In 1905, 43 undergraduate degrees were conferred after Clark’s first undergraduate commencement address was given by President Theodore Roosevelt. Today, more than 2,240 undergraduates make Clark University their home.
The school has an acceptance rate of 47%, middle 50% SAT scores between 1160 and 1360, and middle 50% ACT scores between 27 and 32.
Bentley University is well-known as one of New England’s best colleges for business. This school has a student-run organization that manages a portion of the college’s endowment and even has its own trading room! In total, there are just over 4,060 undergraduates on campus.
Bentley University offers 13 business majors, from quantitative economics to accountancy. An additional 13 arts and sciences majors are available, including philosophy, history, and English. Its acceptance rate is 61%, median SAT scores range from 1200–1350, and median ACT scores are 26–31.
With an undergraduate enrollment of just over 3,800, Emerson College in Boston, MA, has an acceptance rate of 40%. The school offers 25 majors, including sports communication, comedic arts, and business of creative enterprise. Emerson is famous for its literary magazine, Ploughshares, and the student-run radio station, WERS.
Emerson College is nestled within Boston’s theatre district and has satellite campuses in the Netherlands and Los Angeles. The middle 50% SAT score range is 1220–1380, and the same range for ACT scores is 27–32.
Worcester Polytechnic Institute
Worcester, MA, is home to another college, Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI). This college focuses on a student-centered approach to learning that is project-based. Students don’t use quarters or semesters; seven-week terms allow them to study deeply because they can take fewer classes.
WPI has an undergraduate enrollment of 4,891 students, and just about every one of them is involved in at least one research project. Ranking as one of the best-value colleges in Massachusetts, it’s also one of the best-value schools in the U.S.
The acceptance rate at WPI is 59%, the middle 50% ACT score range is 29–33, and the middle 50% SAT score range is 1320–1450.
Mount Holyoke College
Mount Holyoke College is located in South Hadley. The school has long been considered one of the best colleges in Massachusetts for women and people who identify as female. The prestigious liberal arts college is the proud home of a very diverse student body, despite the single-gender convenant.
Mount Holyoke College has a student-faculty ratio of 10:1 and offers liberal arts and STEM programs across more than 100 classes. There are almost 2,000 undergrad students at the college, which has an acceptance rate of 52.4%. The middle 50% SAT score range is 1320–1450, and the same range for ACT scores is 27–30.
Offering over 300 programs to undergraduates, Boston University is undoubtedly one of the best colleges in Massachusetts. Even though there are 16,870 undergraduate students on campus, the school is still able to maintain an incredible student-faculty ratio of 10:1.
Admission to Boston University is competitive — the acceptance rate is just 20%. The school has 17 colleges spread over three campuses and offers numerous research opportunities, athletics, music, and more. The middle 50% ACT score range is 30–34, and the middle 50% SAT score range is 1340–1460.
Tufts University is located in Medford, MA, and has an acceptance rate of just 11%. There are 6,114 undergraduate students on campus, and this very selective school offers more than 90 majors and 200 programs through its nine schools. Tufts University is well-known for its civic engagement and internationalist focus.
Students have many opportunities for research and extracurricular opportunities, and the study abroad program is second to none. In fact, incoming freshmen often participate in Tufts 1+4 or the Tufts Civic Semester, where they travel abroad or do a service semester before beginning their studies at the university.
The middle 50% SAT score range here is 1400–1510; for the ACT, it’s 32–35.
Harvard, the oldest institution of higher learning in the United States, needs little introduction. With an undergraduate enrollment of just over 5,200 students and an astonishing acceptance rate of only 3.4%, Harvard is located in the town of Cambridge, just across the river from the city of Boston.
Harvard University has the largest endowment of any university in the country, and students enjoy opportunities to cross-register at nearby colleges and take their pick of more than 50 majors. Students also spend about one-third of their coursework at Harvard on distribution requirements.
The middle 50% test score range is 1460–1580 for the SAT and 33–35 for the ACT.
No list of the best Massachusetts colleges would be complete without Boston College. Located in Chestnut Hill, MA, this school is home to 9,445 undergraduates with an acceptance rate of about 26%. This Jesuit research institution has eight schools and colleges and confers degrees to more than 14,000 students annually.
With an emphasis on service and athletics, this school is characterized by the surrounding historic district, which is easily accessible to students by the MBTA’s Green Line. The middle 50% SAT score range for incoming freshmen at Boston College is 1410–1520, and the ACT score range is 33–35.
Babson College is an elite business school for both graduates and undergraduates. Located just 15 miles west of Boston in Babson Park, MA, this college is ranked #1 in the country for entrepreneurship. Undergraduates can choose from 27 concentrations in various fields and can earn a bachelor of science in business administration.
Babson College has an undergraduate enrollment of 2,300 students, many of whom participate in the Foundations of Management and Entrepreneurship. This year-long course enables students to start their own businesses during their first year of college.
The middle 50% SAT score range for incoming freshmen at Babson is 1340–1490; the middle 50% ACT score range is 30–33.
Founded in 1821, Amherst College is a private liberal arts college and the state’s third-oldest institution of higher learning. Amherst is located in the town of the same name and has an esteemed alumni list that includes the likes of Dan Brown, Calvin Coolidge, and Prince Albert II.
The acceptance rate for Amherst is a mere 12% and its undergraduate enrollment checks in at about 1,745 students.
Amherst College offers an open curriculum in which students can choose their classes without core requirements getting in the way. Students commonly choose interdisciplinary studies and double majors at the college.
The alumni of Amherst College are some of the most active and dedicated out of all colleges in the country. The middle 50% ACT score range is 31–33, and the middle 50% SAT score range is 1410–1530.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)
MIT leads the country with an unparalleled track record of modern technological contributions to modern science. The school consistently turns out world-famous alumni who become entrepreneurs, and there are 4,360 undergraduates enrolled who aspire to do great things after graduation.
You might know MIT as the STEM powerhouse university of the U.S., but did you know that the school is also famous for its wonky traditions, grueling workloads, tomfoolery, fun, and pranks? Just ask its rival, Caltech, about some of the most notorious pranks between it and MIT through the years.
MIT’s acceptance rate is 4.1%, the average SAT scores are between 1510 and 1570, and the average ACT scores range from 34 to 36.
One of the best colleges in Massachusetts is located in Williamstown, MA. Williams College is home to just under 2,000 undergraduate students who enjoy Oxford-style tutorials and programs. Williams ranks as one of the top liberal arts colleges in the U.S. and offers 36 majors.
Williams College has an acceptance rate of just 15% and provides impressive study-abroad opportunities to students thanks to its relationship with Exeter College, Oxford.
Nicknamed “The West Point of Wall Street,” Williams boasts many influential alumni in finance. The middle 50% SAT and ACT score ranges are 1430–1540 and 33–35, respectively.
The Best Massachusetts Colleges
If you’ve got your heart set on attending one of the best colleges in Massachusetts, you certainly won’t suffer from a lack of options. From large universities with thousands of students to small liberal arts colleges to the most renowned STEM colleges in the world, Massachusetts institutions of higher learning provide any opportunity students could want.
Begin your research into different schools early in your high school career, and take the time to learn what each of them offers. Choosing the right college for you is an important part of your education that will impact the rest of your life — consider some of the top Massachusetts colleges in your search for the ideal school.