Finding the Top Colleges in Massachusetts

Massachusetts plays a prominent role in U.S. history. The state also has a rich educational pedigree. It is home to some of the oldest schools in the country, most notably Harvard College.

Best Colleges in Massachusetts Red Award Emblem

Award Emblem: Top 6 Best Colleges in Massachusetts

As a result, it’s no surprise that the state boasts many of the best schools in the country and in some cases the world. Students across the country and around the world vie for a spot at some of these top colleges in Massachusetts making it a favorite for many people.

This review of the best colleges in Massachusetts provides detailed descriptions of these top Massachusetts colleges to help you strategically decide which school you want to attend for the next four years.

See Also: Best For-Profit Colleges | Ranking | Top For-Profit Colleges Tuition and Fees

AdvisoryHQ’s List of the Top 6 Best Massachusetts Colleges

List is sorted alphabetically (click any of the names below to go directly to the detailed review section for that college)

Top 6 Best Colleges in Massachusetts | Brief Comparison & Ranking

Best Schools Massachusetts


Amherst College

$67,620 (includes tuition, room, and board)

Harvard University


Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)


Northeastern University

$23,360 (per term)

University of Massachusetts


Wellesley College


Table: Top 6 Best Schools Massachusetts | Above list is sorted alphabetically

Factors to Consider When Choosing the Best Colleges in Massachusetts

Our detailed reviews of the top 6 best colleges in Massachusetts provide great overviews of these schools. That said, there are a number of factors you’ll want to keep in mind when choosing between the best Massachusetts colleges. Consider:

  • The tuition: If a school is very expensive and you’ll need to take out a lot of loans to afford it, you might consider a school that is less pricey or one that offers more financial aid.
  • The campus life: When you settle on one of the top colleges in Massachusetts, you’ll be spending four years or more there. Choosing a campus with an ideal campus culture will make your time in university as enjoyable as possible.
  • Experiential learning opportunities: These days, your skills are valued more than the name of the school you went to. A school that offers co-ops and hands-on learning opportunities may set you up for post-grad job success.

Your education is what you make of it, so when you are comparing the best Massachusetts colleges, take the time to think about what you want out of your time in university.

AdvisoryHQ’s Selection Methodology

What methodology does AdvisoryHQ use in selecting and finalizing the credit cards, financial products, firms, services, and products that are ranked on its various top rated lists?

Please click here “AdvisoryHQ’s Ranking Methodologies” for a detailed review of AdvisoryHQ’s selection methodologies for ranking top rated credit cards, financial accounts, firms, products, and services.

Detailed Review – Top Ranking Best Colleges in Massachusetts

Below, please find the detailed review of each of the best Massachusetts colleges on our list of the top colleges in Massachusetts. We have highlighted some of the factors that allowed these Massachusetts colleges to score so well in our selection ranking.

Amherst College Review

Students looking for colleges in MA that offer an immersive liberal arts education and competitive varsity sports teams will want to consider Amherst College.

Located in Amherst, Massachusetts, a college town that is home to two other schools, Amherst College has a close-knit student population of over 1,800 students.

As one of the top colleges in Massachusetts, Amherst has a diverse student population despite its small size.

  • Students from 48 states plus Washington, D.C and Puerto Rico
  • Students from 54 countries
  • Female students make up 50 percent of the student population
  • Forty-five percent of U.S.-born students identify as people of color
  • Nine percent of the students are international students

Academics and Variety of Majors

Students looking for the best schools Massachusetts has to offer will be very interested in what kinds of programs this Massachusetts college offers as well.

As one of the top liberal arts colleges in Massachusetts, Amherst offers 38 different majors across the arts, humanities, sciences, and social sciences. Some of the majors offered by Amherst are:

  • Architectural Studies
  • Asian Languages & Civilizations
  • Computer Science
  • Film & Media Studies
  • Geology
  • Physics & Astronomy

The best colleges in Massachusetts and around the country seek ways to foster a culture of engagement, curiosity, and critical thinking in their classrooms. As one of the top colleges in Massachusetts, Amherst has developed an interesting but rather obvious way to do this: no core curriculum or distribution requirements.

The ultimate goal is to fill classrooms with motivated and interested students and allow them to explore different subject areas. Furthermore, students are encouraged to take responsibility for their education in the same way they will be expected to take responsibility for their careers and life choices after graduation.

Center for Community Engagement

To stand out as the best schools, Massachusetts colleges need to offer opportunities for students to apply their theoretical knowledge to the real world.

Amherst College is committed to being one of the best Massachusetts colleges, which is the purpose behind its Center for Community Engagement.

This center facilitates undergraduate research, internships, entrepreneurial endeavors, and more through:

  • The Idea Accelerator: A place for students with great ideas to find advice, mentorship, and possibly funding
  • ToolKit: A resource for students in need of tools and guidance
  • Skills for Life: Events and workshops organized for students who want to develop their skills and supplement their academic skills with professional skills


For 2017/2018, the comprehensive fee, which includes tuition, room, and board, is $67,620. Ninety-eight percent of the students at Amherst College live on campus.

Don’t Miss: Top Interior Design Schools | Ranking | Interior Design Colleges

Harvard University Review

Any list of Massachusetts colleges — let alone a list about the best Massachusetts colleges — is going to mention Harvard University.

Whether you think Harvard is the best university in the world or overrated, it’s unquestionable that it is one of the best colleges in Massachusetts.

While its name won’t guarantee a job, name recognition definitely does graduates many favors. Furthermore, Harvard boasts an impressive alumni network that is a valuable pool of potential employers, business partners, and colleagues for graduates.

Harvard College is the undergraduate liberal arts college of Harvard University.

Competitive Admissions

Of the 39,041 people who applied to Harvard College for its Class of 2020, 2,106 were admitted. Seventy-five applicants were admitted from the waiting list.

Harvard College is also one of the Massachusetts colleges that publishes stats on the diversity of its student community. Their profile of the Class of 2020 includes the following information on student ethnicity:

  • African American — 13.7%
  • Asian American — 22.1%
  • Hispanic or Latino — 12.6%
  • Native American or Pacific Islander — 2.6%

Undergraduate Study Options

Students looking for colleges in MA will be reading closely to see what majors and minors this Massachusetts college offers.

Harvard categorizes its academics a little differently.

  • Concentration: The primary field of study out of 49 defined programs that the school offers.
  • Special Concentration: For those who wish to pursue studies that require drawing from multiple fields.
  • Secondary Field: A different area a student would like to explore that is unrelated to their concentration.

Need-Blind Admission

As one of the top colleges in Massachusetts and the world, Harvard is committed to finding the brightest students.

In order to make a Harvard education accessible to brilliant students who do not have the financial means to pay tuition, Harvard offers financial aid that covers 100 percent of a student’s demonstrated need.

Harvard does not consider home equity or retirement assets when evaluating a family’s income.

Additionally, applicants to Harvard are considered on a need-blind basis. This means that their ability to pay for Harvard or their potential need for financial aid does not affect the school’s decision to admit them.


For the 2017/2018 school year, tuition at Harvard College, one of the top colleges in MA, is $44,990. This does not include room, board, and additional fees.

Related: Top Colleges with the Best Financial Aid | Ranking | Best College Financial Aid

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Review

Nearly everyone with even a little exposure to media and culture has heard of MIT. It is the genius playground where whiz kids and techies from around the world meet, compare brilliant ideas, and build cool stuff.

MIT, short for the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, is one of the most well-known colleges in MA. It was established in response to rapid industrialization in the United States and earned its reputation through its defense research and development during the conflicts of the twenty-first century.

MIT boasts an impressive number of Nobel laureates, National Medal of Science recipients, Rhodes Scholars, and more in its alumni network, further bolstering its status as one of the top colleges in Massachusetts.

Unmatched Research Opportunities

As one of the best colleges in Massachusetts, MIT offers its students the opportunity to participate in cutting-edge research. It’s no surprise that MIT is one of the best Massachusetts colleges. The private research university is renowned for its discoveries and innovations.

UROP, which stands for Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program, does exactly what it says: It provides cutting edge research opportunities to undergraduates.

Students considering MIT on their list of Massachusetts colleges will be excited to learn that UROP gives them the chance to work with a professor whose research interests them.

UROPs can be pursued at several research labs on campus, including the following:

  • The Center for Civic Media
  • The Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research
  • D-Lab
  • MIT’s nuclear reactor

Pass/No Record

Transitioning into any college, especially what is supposed to be one of the top colleges in Massachusetts let alone the world, can be difficult. Many students go from being a big fish in a small pond to a small fish in an even bigger pond — and with some of the biggest and smartest fish in the world.

It can be overwhelming.

MIT offers pass/no record grading for the first semester of freshman year. Freshmen can experiment with different course types and course loads to get a feel for MIT’s standards and rigor.

The way pass/no record works is simple. If you pass a course, it’s marked as pass, and if you fail, there is no record on your transcript that you took it. Students who are hardworking and smart, but uncertain whether they will sink or swim in MIT’s busy environment, can keep the school on their list of the best Massachusetts colleges.


Tuition for 2017/2018 is $24,790.

Popular Article:  Top Accredited Online Colleges | Ranking | Best Accredited Online Universities

Northeastern University Review

Students who desire a global, experiential education will definitely want to throw Northeastern University on their list of the best Massachusetts colleges to consider.

This private research university, which is considered one of the top colleges in Massachusetts, offers a cooperative program to its students. This provides a necessary bridge between the theoretical world of academics and the skills-based world of the workforce.

Northeastern’s focus on practical application is a lesson all of the top colleges in Massachusetts and across the country would do well to emulate.

Department of Cooperative Education and Career Development

Are you anxious about your job prospects after you finish attending one of the best schools Massachusetts has to offer? Chances are it is one of the things weighing on your mind as you research the top colleges in Massachusetts.

Cooperative education is not a recent initiative at Northeastern. It’s been a part of the school’s fabric for over one hundred years. Their current Department of Cooperative Education and Career Development helps the school continue to deliver excellent tools, resources, and opportunities to its students and alumni.

Their website’s Cooperative Education page provides resources for students, employers, parents, and alumni.

Ninety-two percent of graduates between the years 2006 and 2015 were either employed full-time or enrolled in graduate school.

This is a promising statistic for students drawing up their list of the best Massachusetts colleges, especially when you remember that this timeframe includes the Great Recession which had one of the worst job markets for graduates.

The best colleges in Massachusetts and elsewhere provide guidance for their students. Northeastern does this through their Cooperative Education and Career Development department. Through this department, students can:

  • Develop Their Path: Explore different majors and careers
  • Engage in Co-op: Discover and prepare for the available opportunities
  • Launch Their Future: Students can benefit from employment advice, graduate school advising, pre-law advising, pre-health advising, and more

Experiential Learning

Northeastern’s comprehensive co-op program falls under the umbrella of their “experiential learning” mission. As one of the top colleges in Massachusetts, Northeastern strives to provide learning experiences that mix the classroom with the real world.

This school does this in five areas of experiential learning:

  • Classroom
  • Service-Learning
  • Student Research
  • Global Experience
  • Co-op


The undergraduate full-time tuition, per term, at Northeastern University is $23,360

University of Massachusetts Review

As you can probably tell from this list of the best colleges in Massachusetts, there are a lot of private research institutions. The five Massachusetts state colleges or universities that make up the University of Massachusetts are actually five campuses that are part of the only public university system in the state.

The MA state colleges or universities that make up the University of Massachusetts system are:

  • UMass Amherst
  • UMass Boston
  • UMass Dartmouth
  • UMass Lowell
  • UMass Medical School

Applicants looking for state colleges in MA may find they prefer this public research institution due to its public service mission.

Industrial Partnerships

These Massachusetts state colleges play a vital role in the state economy by providing jobs and spearheading innovative projects that can revolutionize regional industries.

In addition to providing jobs, these state colleges in MA want to help their graduates find employment. One of the most proactive ways to do that is by forging relationships with those employers.

The UMass Innovation Institute (UMII) has worked to increase the working relationship between the university and industry partners. Through this office, students at these MA state colleges also interact with industry leaders.

Industry players can also access the Core Research Facilities of these Massachusetts state colleges for assistance. This has a twofold solution of assisting the region as well as cultivating a positive relationship between these MA state colleges and businesses.

Innovation Testing and Development

These state colleges in Massachusetts are eager to foster an environment of entrepreneurship and innovation among its students.

Like most institutions around the world, these state colleges in MA are actively assembling support and resources for creative students with ideas to build disruptive technologies.

There are several incubators and centers across these state colleges in Massachusetts and all students have access to them.

Available to students are experts in a number of fields, including engineering, life sciences, and health care. A few of the innovation centers found in these state colleges in Massachusetts are:

  • UMass Amherst Innovation Institute
  • The Venture Development Center (UMass Boston)
  • The Advanced Technology and Manufacturing Center (UMass Dartmouth)
  • The Massachusetts Medical Device Center (UMass Lowell/UMass Medical School)


The 2017/2018 tuition fee for in-state students is $15,345

Read More: Top Expensive Schools in the World | Ranking | Most Expensive Universities & Colleges in the World

Wellesley College Review

Wellesley College is a private liberal arts college in Massachusetts with a mission “to provide an excellent liberal arts education for women who will make a difference in the world”.

It is one of the most well-known women-only colleges in the United States in addition to being one of the top colleges in Massachusetts.

A Global, Interdisciplinary Education

Wellesley became one of the best Massachusetts colleges by creating an academic program that is both dynamic and rigorous for its students. Students can choose from a number of program options, including, but not limited to:

  • Astrophysics
  • Biochemistry
  • Cognitive and Linguistic Sciences
  • Comparative Race and Ethnicity
  • German Studies
  • Jewish Studies
  • Peace and Justice Studies
  • Russian Area Studies

Like the other top colleges in Massachusetts on our list of the best Massachusetts colleges, Wellesley encourages students to pursue learning opportunities outside the classroom and off campus.

Many Wellesley students pursue unique learning opportunities such as:

  • International studies/study abroad
  • Interdisciplinary majors
  • Internships

Wellesley also offers an interesting opportunity for students to get the best of two of the top colleges in Massachusetts: Wellesley and MIT. Students can apply to exclusive programs that allow them to earn a double degree from Wellesley and MIT. There is a similar opportunity available with Brandeis University. 

Comprehensive Health and Wellness Services

Access to quality support services is vital when choosing between the best universities in Massachusetts.

Like all of the top universities in Massachusetts, Wellesley College provides comprehensive health and wellness services to ensure all of its students have access to the care they need. Their services include:

  • Counseling Services: There are workshops, groups, and an on-call counselor when classes are in session.
  • Health Services: Medical care includes emergencies, physicals, pharmacy services, physical therapy, and more.
  • Health Education: Information and resources on topics like nutrition, sexual health, stress management, maintaining a healthy lifestyle, and more.
  • Sport and Recreation: Opportunities to get or stay active include varsity teams, club sports, fitness classes, and more.


Tuition for 2017/2018 is $50,840.

Conclusion – Top 6 Best Colleges in Massachusetts

If you’re looking at colleges, Massachusetts definitely has some great schools to offer.

When it comes to colleges, Massachusetts has several respected and prestigious options for prospective students to choose from.

top colleges in massachusetts

Source: Pexels

The colleges of Massachusetts value innovation, leadership, and well-rounded learning. For four years, you go through a busy, intense transition into adulthood. The best Massachusetts colleges go the extra mile to make the most of your time there by teaching you valuable skills useful for both your professional and personal life.

AdvisoryHQ (AHQ) Disclaimer:

Reasonable efforts have been made by AdvisoryHQ to present accurate information, however all info is presented without warranty. Review AdvisoryHQ’s Terms for details. Also review each firm’s site for the most updated data, rates and info.

Note: Firms and products, including the one(s) reviewed above, may be AdvisoryHQ's affiliates. Click to view AdvisoryHQ's advertiser disclosures.