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
- Harvard University - Cambridge, MA
- Massachusetts Institute of Technology - Cambridge, MA
- Williams College - Williamstown, MA
- Amherst College - Amherst, MA
- Wellesley College - Wellesley, MA
- Tufts University - Medford, MA
- Babson College - Wellesley, MA
- College of the Holy Cross - Worcester, MA
- Boston College - Chestnut Hill, MA
- Smith College - Northampton, MA
- Mount Holyoke College - South Hadley, MA
- Brandeis University - Waltham, MA
- Northeastern University - Boston, MA
- Boston University - Boston, MA
- Bentley University - Waltham, MA
- University of Massachusetts - Amherst, MA
- Worcester Polytechnic Institute - Worcester, MA
- University of Massachusetts - Lowell, MA
- Clark University - Worcester, MA
- Emerson College - Boston, MA
- Simmons College - Boston, MA
- Wheaton College - Norton, MA
- Worcester State University - Worcester, MA
- Stonehill College - Easton, MA
- 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.
Ranking Accredited Colleges in Massachusetts
|Cambridge, MA||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 96%||
One of the most renowned and prestigious institutions of higher education in the world, Harvard University enrolls approximately 6,700 undergraduates and 13,100 postgraduate students each year. This private, Ivy League research university sits on a 210-acre campus in Cambridge, with additional sites in Allston, Longwood, and elsewhere around the world.
Harvard offers more than 50 undergraduate programs along with 80 master's and doctoral programs within the arts and humanities, engineering and applied sciences, physical sciences, and social sciences. Undergraduates may also petition to craft a special concentration, combining various disciplines in pursuit of a uniquely challenging academic goal. Harvard students enjoy access to on-site housing, study abroad options, and extensive research opportunities.
Admission to Harvard is highly selective. The school accepted only 4.5% of all undergraduate applicants for the class of 2023. Prospective students must provide a complete application, answers to written questions, transcripts, ACT or SAT scores, and two teacher recommendations.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
|Cambridge, MA||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 94%||
Affiliated with 93 Nobel laureates, 26 Turing Award winners, and many other individuals of distinction, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology is one of America's most highly respected private research universities. The school's 166-acre main campus in Cambridge houses notable research facilities, including a pressurized wind tunnel, nuclear reactor, and towing tank.
A majority of MIT students -- approximately 7,000 -- are enrolled in graduate and postgraduate programs. The dozens of master's degrees available at MIT include programs in urban studies and planning, comparative media studies, management studies, and medical engineering. The institution's five schools and 30 departments also offer diverse undergraduate options in the arts, humanities, social sciences, architecture, and STEM. Students enjoy small class sizes, hands-on learning, and a diverse campus community.
MIT makes admission selections based on several key factors. Prospective first-year students must supply letters of recommendation, short essays, transcripts, and ACT or SAT scores.
|Williamstown, MA||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 94%||
Established in 1793, Williams College is a private liberal arts institution with an annual undergraduate enrollment of approximately 2,000 and a low student-to-faculty ratio of 7-to-1. Located on 450 acres in Williamstown, the campus features more than 100 academic, athletic, and residential buildings, including 13 sacred spaces to accommodate various religious and spiritual beliefs.
Williams offers bachelor's degrees in 50 areas of study. The most popular undergraduate majors at Williams include economics, mathematics, biology, and political science. The school also delivers master's degrees in art history and development economics. Students may choose to enhance their academic experience through study abroad. Outside of class, involvement opportunities include NCAA athletics and more than 150 student organizations.
Prospective students must supply a completed application, ACT or SAT scores, high school transcripts, a counselor recommendation, two teacher recommendations, and a $65 fee, unless eligible for a waiver.
|Amherst, MA||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 95%||
Named after the town in which it's located, Amherst College is a private four-year institution that serves approximately 1,800 undergraduate students each year. Amherst is a member of the Five College Consortium, allowing students to attend classes at four other institutions in the Pioneer Valley region at no additional tuition cost.
Students at Amherst can pursue a bachelor of arts degree in 40 different majors, representing disciplines in the arts, sciences, social sciences, and humanities. Amherst was the first college in the country to offer an undergraduate program in neuroscience. Other degree options include film and media studies, black studies, astronomy, and religion. With approval, students can also create their own interdisciplinary major.
First-year applicants must provide a completed application, a writing sample, high school transcripts, ACT or SAT scores, teacher and counselor recommendations, and a $65 fee, unless eligible for a waiver.
|Wellesley, MA||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 89%||
Wellesley College is a private liberal arts college for women located in the Massachusetts town of the same name. Wellesley serves a diverse enrollment of 2,400 undergraduates each year, with less than half of all students identifying as Caucasian. Notable alums include politician Hillary Clinton, journalist Diane Sawyer, and screenwriter Nora Ephron.
Students play a major role in everything at Wellesley. Beyond academics, students serve on committees of the Board of Trustees, contribute to strategic planning, and participate in faculty research. In the classroom, learners can choose from more than 50 departmental and interdepartmental majors including geoscience, psychology, health and society, and women's and gender studies. A large percentage of students participate in international study, internships, and dual-degree programs with other institutions.
Applying to Wellesley requires submitting a free application, two essays, high school transcripts, and ACT or SAT scores. If desired, applicants may also schedule an interview and/or provide an arts, music, or theatre supplement.
|Medford, MA||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 93%||
Tufts University is an independent, private research university located in Medford and Somerville. Tufts offers world-class education, extensive study abroad opportunities, NCAA athletics, and more than 300 student organizations, including the Tufts Beelzebubs a cappella group, known for their performances on NBC's "The Sing-Off" and Fox's "Glee."
Approximately 11,500 undergraduates and 5,500 graduate students attend Tufts each year, selecting pathways that span more than 150 undergraduate majors and minors in addition to more than 60 master's and doctoral programs. Whether studying engineering, health, arts, math, science, or the humanities, Tufts students are encouraged to engage in interdisciplinary and global education. Tufts offers several combined degree programs in partnership with other institutions, including the New England Conservatory, MIT, and Harvard Law School.
Admission to Tufts is selective. Prospective first-year students must supply high school transcripts, ACT or SAT scores, one or two letters of recommendation, a writing sample, and a $75 application fee.
|Wellesley, MA||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 92%||
Independent, nonprofit business school Babson College holds accreditation from the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business. More than 2,000 undergraduate students and nearly 1,000 graduate students attend Babson each year. The main 350-acre campus located in Wellesley offers on-site housing, more than 100 student clubs and organizations, recreation opportunities, and 22 NCAA varsity programs.
All undergraduate Babson students pursue a bachelor of science degree with a foundational core curriculum and the option to declare a concentration in their junior or senior year. Twenty-seven concentration options include finance, global business management, real estate, and statistical modeling. Accelerated undergraduate degree options feature a timeline of 3-3.5 years. Babson also offers a number of graduate programs and executive programs.
Undergraduate applicants must provide a completed application, high school transcripts, letters of recommendation, and ACT or SAT scores. Prospective students must pay a $75 application fee unless eligible for a waiver.
College of the Holy Cross
|Worcester, MA||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 92%||
The College of the Holy Cross is a private, Jesuit liberal arts college located in Worcester. The 175-acre campus, which has won national awards for landscaping, houses 37 academic, residential, and athletic buildings. Approximately 3,000 students enroll each year, 90% of whom live on-site. Involvement opportunities include varsity and intramural sports, 103 student organizations, and 20 honor societies.
A liberal arts curriculum serves the call of Jesuit education to help students develop intellectually, spiritually, and personally. Holy Cross offers 31 undergraduate majors, 21 minors, and six concentrations in two dozen diverse departments, including Asian studies, English, mathematics and computer science, and visual arts. To graduate, learners must typically complete a minimum of 32 semester courses through eight semesters of full-time study.
Prospective students must provide high school transcripts, two letters of recommendation, and a $60 application fee. If desired, applicants may also complete a personal interview, provide ACT or SAT scores, or submit supplementary materials.
|Chestnut Hill, MA||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 92%||
Formally founded in 1863, Boston College was the first institution of higher education to operate in Boston. Construction for a major campus began in 1909, six miles west of the city in the unincorporated village Chestnut Hill. Today, the private, Jesuit research university spans 175 acres, with additional satellite campuses in Newton and Brighton.
BC enrolls approximately 14,500 students each year and organizes academic offerings into nine schools and colleges. The most popular undergraduate majors include economics, finance, biology, political science, and communication. Graduate students can pursue disciplines including geophysics, Hispanic studies, Irish literature and culture, and theology. Outside of class, engagement opportunities include 31 NCAA varsity teams, intramural sports, and 273 clubs and organizations.
Undergraduate application requirements include a writing supplement, ACT or SAT scores, high school transcripts, a counselor recommendation form, two teacher evaluations, and an $80 application fee. Perspective art, music, or theatre students can supply additional materials if desired.
|Northampton, MA||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 88%||
Smith College is a private, liberal arts college for women with a student body of 2,500 undergraduates and 400 graduate students. The campus houses a museum of art, a botanical garden, residence halls, and NCAA athletics facilities. As a member of the Five College Consortium, Smith permits its students to attend classes at four other institutions in the area.
Smith's undergraduate catalog offers more than 50 areas of study in social sciences, history, the arts, languages, literature, mathematics, and natural science. An open curriculum provides each student with the freedom to personalize their academic experience through a variety of courses, concentrations, and internship opportunities. Smith also offers six master's degrees and a Ph.D. in social work. The school uses a coeducational format for graduate programs.
Required admission materials for undergraduates include a completed application, a writing supplement, an official high school transcript, two teacher evaluations, and a counselor recommendation. Applicants may choose to submit ACT and/or SAT scores.
Mount Holyoke College
|South Hadley, MA||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 86%||
Part of the region's Five College Consortium, Mount Holyoke College is a nondenominational, research-oriented liberal arts college for women, including transgender and nonbinary individuals. The 800-acre campus in South Hadley welcomes more than 2,000 students each year and offers notable facilities like an 806,000-volume library, a state-of-the-art science center, and an equestrian center.
Students can pursue a bachelor of arts, a master of arts, a certificate, or teacher licensure. MHC offers majors and minors in 48 disciplines including art history, ethnomusicology, film studies, physics, and sociology. Engineering students can pursue a dual-degree BA/BS program in partnership with the California Institute of Technology, the University of Massachusetts, or Dartmouth College. Additionally, learners can seek out interdisciplinary and customizable special majors.
To be considered for admission, prospective students must provide a completed application, high school transcripts, a counselor recommendation, and two teacher evaluations. MHC does not require applicants to submit test scores.
|Waltham, MA||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 90%||
Located on 235 acres in Waltham, a suburb of Boston, Brandeis University is a nonsectarian, private research university that serves approximately 5,800 undergraduate and graduate students each year. Brandeis offers on-site housing, more than 260 clubs and organizations, and 19 varsity sports teams.
Undergraduates may pursue up to three majors from four broad areas: creative arts, humanities, sciences, and social sciences. Graduate students can select from 40 master's and 17 doctoral programs, including 10 part-time, online programs and an accelerated executive MBA for physicians offered in a hybrid format. As a member of the Boston-Area Consortium, Brandeis enables students to cross-register and attend one course per semester at other member insitutitions including Babson College, Tufts University, and Wellesley College.
Prospective undergraduates must provide a completed application, high school transcripts, letters of recommendation, and an $80 application fee. In lieu of ACT/SAT scores, some applicants may be able to submit a graded analytical paper or scores from certain other exams.
|Boston, MA||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 87%||
In addition to a 73-acre campus in Boston, private research institution Northeastern University hosts satellite campuses throughout the U.S., as well as in London, Toronto, and Vancouver. Approximately 18,000 undergraduate and 7,500 graduate students enroll each year.
Northeastern organizes academics into more than 60 diverse departments and programs, including American Sign Language, bioinformatics, engineering leadership, game design, and journalism. More than 80 certificate, bachelor's, master's, and doctoral programs offer online opportunities.
A leader in experiential learning, Northwestern operates a cooperative education program. These students can alternate classroom study with relevant, full-time employment at more than 3,000 partner organizations across all seven continents.
Undergraduate admission consideration requires a completed application, a $75 fee or need-based waiver, high school transcripts, ACT or SAT scores, a counselor recommendation, and a teacher evaluation. Applicants may need to provide supplemental materials or portfolios, depending on the program.
|Boston, MA||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 87%||
Each year, Boston University enrolls more than 35,000 students from more than 130 countries. This nonsectarian, private research university offers educational opportunities at two locations in Boston: a main campus along the Charles River and a medical campus located in the South End neighborhood.
Students can choose from more than 300 bachelor's, master's, and doctoral programs offered through 21 schools and colleges. A few program options include ancient Greek, costume production, earth sciences, public health, and supply chain management. BU is a member of the Boston-Area Consortium, allowing students to cross-register at other local institutions. Online certificate and degree programs are available in 42 disciplines. Beyond academics, BU offers NCAA athletics, student-run publications, arts and culture events, and nearly 500 clubs and organizations.
First-year applicants must submit a completed application, official high school transcripts, counselor recommendation and teacher evaluation forms, and either ACT or SAT scores.
|Waltham, MA||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 91%||
Recognized as one of the top business schools in the nation, private Bentley University is conveniently located in Waltham, just 20 minutes from downtown Boston. The 163-acre campus welcomes approximately 5,500 students each year, offering on-site housing, NCAA athletics, and small class sizes.
Bentley offers undergraduate, graduate, postgraduate, and executive education programs. Students pursuing a bachelor's degree can choose from 13 business majors and 13 liberal arts majors, with options including professional sales, corporate finance and accounting, English, and philosophy. All master's and Ph.D. programs exclusively offer business focuses, including an MBA that can be completed full time or part time and online or on campus. Eight research centers and 11 high-tech learning labs allow Bentley students to gain advanced skills and confront industry challenges.
Prospective undergraduates must submit a completed application, a $75 fee or waiver request, official high school transcripts, an essay, ACT or SAT scores, and two letters of recommendation.
University of Massachusetts-Amherst
|Amherst, MA||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 77%||
The University of Massachusetts-Amherst is a public, land-grant research university and the flagship campus of the University of Massachusetts system. More than 30,000 students enroll each year. The 1,463-acre campus houses nine residential buildings, the world's second-tallest library, a combined heat- and power-generation facility, and extensive facilities for academics, athletics, and recreation.
UMass Amherst delivers programs through 12 colleges and schools, including a graduate school that offers 75 master's degrees and 47 doctoral programs. Undergraduate students can pursue more than 90 bachelor's degrees in dozens of disciplines, including animal science, comparative literature, industrial engineering, and linguistics. UMass Amherst is also a member of the Five College Consortium, which expands student access to classes and resources at four partner institutions in the area.
General undergraduate admission consideration requires a complete application, test scores, transcripts, and a letter of recommendation. Architecture, art, dance, and music majors must meet audition and portfolio requirements.
Worcester Polytechnic Institute
|Worcester, MA||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 89%||
One of the first-established universities for engineering and technology in the U.S., Worcester Polytechnic Institute has educated engineers, scientists, and entrepreneurs for more than 150 years. WPI serves more than 6,000 students annually at its picturesque 65-acre campus in Worcester, which offers Greek life, NCAA athletics, more than 235 clubs and organizations, and a number of weekly and annual events.
WPI's immersive seven-week terms emphasize project-based learning, allowing undergraduates to combine theory and practice for maximum benefit. Students can choose from more than 50 major areas of study, including aerospace engineering, environmental and sustainability studies, neuroscience, and professional writing. Dozens of minors allow for study in fields like theatre, music, and social entrepreneurship. Distance learners can pursue 26 graduate certificates and master's degrees online.
Prospective undergraduates should supply a completed application, high school transcripts, two letters of recommendation, and, if desired, supplemental materials of their choice. Applicants do not need to submit test scores.
University of Massachusetts-Lowell
|Lowell, MA||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 60%||
The second-largest public institution in the state, the University of Massachusetts-Lowell serves more than 18,000 students each year. Located 45 minutes north of Boston, the city of Lowell boasts a thriving arts scene and 1,000 acres of nearby state forest. On campus, students enjoy numerous dining options, over 250 student organizations, and 16 NCAA athletic teams.
UMass Lowell offers more than 150 accredited bachelor's, master's, and doctoral degrees in six colleges focused on the arts, humanities, and social sciences; business; education; engineering; healthcare; and science. Learners can work toward more than 70 certificate and degree options through asynchronous online or hybrid learning. New facilities like the Innovation Hub and the Emerging Technologies and Innovation Center provide world-class resources to students, faculty, and community members alike.
Prospective first-year students can complete an online or paper application. Required materials include high school transcripts, a personal essay, and a letter of recommendation.
|Worcester, MA||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 83%||
Located on a 50-acre campus in Worcester, Clark University was originally founded in 1887 as the nation's first all-graduate institution. Today, Clark is a private research university serving both undergraduates and graduates and reaching an annual enrollment of approximately 3,000 students.
Clark offers 33 undergraduate majors, 12 certificate programs, 17 master's degrees, and nine doctoral degrees. The most popular bachelor's disciplines include psychology, management, political science, and biology. Eligible students who pursue one of Clark's 14 accelerated, dual BA/master's programs can receive a partial or full tuition scholarship for their fifth year of study. As part of the Higher Education Consortium of Central Massachusetts, Clark allows students to cross-register for courses at other area institutions including College of the Holy Cross and Worcester Polytechnic Institute.
Prospective freshmen must supply a completed application, high school transcripts, and two letters of recommendation. Clark does not require ACT/SAT scores but encourages interviews, held either on-site or through Skype.
|Boston, MA||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 81%||
A private institution based in Boston's theatre district, Emerson College also offers external programs in Los Angeles and the Netherlands. Emerson is a founding member of the Professional Arts Consortium, a group dedicated to fostering collegiate arts education. The college enrolls approximately 3,800 undergraduate students and 600 graduate students each year.
Undergraduates can choose from 25 majors and more than 30 minors. Majors focus on fields in arts and communication, like theater, creative writing, and public relations. Minors provide additional focus areas in diverse disciplines including science, global studies, and philosophy. Emerson delivers 13 master's degrees (two available online), four graduate certificates, and a variety of credit and noncredit professional programs. Students engage in thriving residence communities, NCAA athletics, and cultural offerings of the surrounding metro area.
Undergraduate admission requires submission of high school transcripts, counselor and teacher evaluations, and a completed application. Applicants do not need to provide ACT or SAT scores.
|Boston, MA||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 73%||
Established in 1899, Simmons University is a private, nonprofit, nonsectarian institution offering women-focused undergraduate study and coeducational graduate study. Features like small class sizes, on-campus housing, more than 80 clubs and organizations, and nearly 100 study abroad opportunities attract approximately 4,000 students to the Boston campus each year.
Customizable bachelor's degrees offer majors and minors in more than 50 disciplines in the arts, humanities, and sciences. Fourteen dual-degree programs offer accelerated access to master's degrees in business, education, social work, library science, and healthcare. Undergraduates can participate in internships and summer research programs with Simmons faculty. Dozens of graduate and postgraduate options are also available, with flexible on-campus, off-site, evening, and online completion options.
Prospective students can apply to Simmons for free. Undergraduate applicants must provide high school transcripts, ACT or SAT scores, an essay, and two letters of recommendation.
|Norton, MA||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 78%||
Originally founded in 1834 as a female seminary, Wheaton College received its college charter in 1912. Today, this private, coeducational, liberal arts college enrolls approximately 1,750 students each year. Wheaton boasts a conveniently located campus in Norton, a low student-to-faculty ratio of 11-to-1, and a respected reputation in NCAA Division III athletics.
Wheaton offers 47 majors and 59 minors in arts, sciences, humanities, and social science disciplines. The school's most popular academic interests include psychology, business and management, biology, education, and pre-medicine. Minors are available in diverse disciplines including animal behavior, dance, and medieval and Renaissance studies. Wheaton emphasizes an experiential, interdisciplinary curriculum for all students, encouraging participation in internships, research projects, and off-site experiences including study abroad programs on six continents.
First-year applicants must provide a completed application, academic transcripts, and a teacher evaluation form. Test scores are optional. Portfolios are encouraged for applicants to arts, music, and other creative programs.
Worcester State University
|Worcester, MA||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 55%||
State-supported Worcester State University is a public liberal arts and sciences university located on 58 acres in Worcester, the second-largest city in New England. More than 5,000 undergraduate students and nearly 1,000 graduate students attend each year. Involvement opportunities include more than 30 clubs and organizations, leadership development, dining, and NCAA athletics.
Undergraduates can choose from 60 undergraduate majors and minors in diverse areas of study including early childhood education, liberal studies, public health, and visual and performing arts. WSU also offers 29 graduate certificates and degrees, eight of which can be pursued by eligible undergraduates in a seamless, accelerated "4-plus" program format. Hands-on, real-world learning options include internships, service projects, and research opportunities.
Prospective students must supply a completed application and high school transcripts showing a minimum 3.0 GPA in required college preparatory courses. Test scores, essays, and letters of recommendation are optional.
|Easton, MA||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 80%||
Stonehill College is a private, Roman Catholic liberal arts school that serves approximately 2,500 undergraduate students each year. Stonehill's programs hold accreditation from organizations including the American Chemical Society, the Association of University Programs in Health Administration, and the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business.
From a 385-acre campus in Easton, just 22 miles south of Boston, students can pursue 47 majors and 51 minors in the humanities, arts, natural and social sciences, business, education, and pre-professional fields. Three master's degrees are also available, in data analytics, marketing communication, and special education. Stonehill boasts a number of academic partnerships with other institutions, including accelerated, dual-degree science and engineering programs with the University of Notre Dame.
First-year applicants must provide a completed application, an essay, high school transcripts, one or more teacher evaluations, and a $60 application fee or waiver.
Westfield State University
|Westfield, MA||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 65%||
Originally founded in 1838 as a teachers college, Westfield State University was the first public, coeducational college in the U.S. to accept students without barriers based on race, creed, or economic status. Today, Westfield State enrolls 5,000 undergraduate day students, 600 undergraduate continuing education students, and more than 800 graduate and postgraduate students.
Westfield State delivers programs through comprehensive colleges covering art, education, health, human services, social sciences, and mathematics. In keeping with its roots as a hub for teacher training, the university offers an extensive catalog of education degrees: 12 bachelor's and 19 master's. Westfield State also offers second bachelor's degrees, part-time bachelor's degrees, and online degree-completion options. Students interested in advanced education can pursue three dual-degree, accelerated programs in education, criminal justice, and law.
Freshman admission requirements include a completed application, a $50 fee, high school transcripts, and ACT or SAT scores. Additional requirements apply for certain programs (including music, art, nursing).