Colleges in Boston

Boston is home to two public, four-year universities. One of the five University of Massachusetts campuses is in Boston, as is the Massachusetts College of Art and Design, which is part of the state university system. Of the 15 community colleges in Massachusetts, three are located in Boston: Bunker Hill Community College, Massachusetts Bay Community College and Roxbury Community College.

Boston has one of the most extensive networks of private, nonprofit four-year colleges and universities in the country. They range from tiny religious colleges with just around a hundred students, to behemoths such as Boston University, which enrolls more than 30,000. Harvard University is the oldest and arguably the most prestigious institution of higher learning in the country. MIT is one of the most elite engineering and scientific schools in the world, accepting fewer than 8 percent of applicants. The Berklee College of Music is the world’s largest independent college of contemporary music, known for the study of jazz and modern American music. Some other notable private Boston institutions are:

  • Boston College
  • Brandeis University
  • Cambridge College
  • Emerson College
  • Emmanuel College
  • Massachusetts School of Professional Psychology
  • New England School of Law
  • Northeastern University
  • School of the Museum of Fine Arts
  • Wellesley College

Five of Boston’s top colleges and universities

Institution Type Training/Degrees Offered
Boston University Private (nonprofit) More than 250 programs of study; more than a dozen schools and colleges, including communications, fine arts and theology.
University of Massachusetts, Boston Public More than 10 schools and colleges; more than 200 undergrad and graduate programs.
Boston College Private (nonprofit) Nine schools and colleges, including arts & sciences, advancing studies, law and nursing.
Northeastern University Private (nonprofit) Ten schools and colleges, including business, computer and information science, engineering, law and professional studies.
Wellesley College Private (nonprofit) More than 20 interdepartmental majors; students can combine a number of majors that blend academic disciplines.

Online Colleges in Boston

Boston’s wide range of private and public institutions brings an equally eclectic array of distance-learning options.

Among public schools, Bunker Hill Community College features not only courses but advisory help online. Students at the two-year school can do everything from enroll to take final exams without ever entering a classroom. Online orientation precedes every course of online study, and tutoring is available. Not only can students earn credits and take individual courses, but the college also offers eight degrees and eight certificates for online students.

The University of Massachusetts lists more than 100 degree and certificate programs, as well as more than 1,500 courses online. Subjects span the entire spectrum that would be available in traditional classroom settings, including education, liberal arts, public health and information technology. Online students can pursue an associate degree, bachelor’s degree, master’s degree or doctorate through a distance-learning program, all through UMass Online.

The largest private school in Boston, Boston University, provides online classes taught by the school’s regular faculty. Upon completion, distance-learning grads have access to the same resources as the school’s 250,000 other worldwide graduates. The university’s distance-learning program won the Sloan Consortium award for Excellence in Institution-Wide Online Education and the U.S. Distance-Learning Association award for 21st Century Best Practices.

Top Industries, Careers and Employers

Boston has a varied and changing economy. Since it is a nationally recognized hub of academia, its workforce is diverse and well educated. The evolving economy features new sectors, while retaining several industries that have played historically dominant roles. The following are the top employers in Boston:

  • Massachusetts General Hospital (Harvard)
  • Brigham and Women’s Hospital (Harvard)
  • Fidelity Investments
  • Boston University
  • Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (Harvard)
  • Tufts Medical Center
  • Children’s Hospital of Boston
  • Liberty Mutual
  • John Hancock
  • Boston Medical Center

Health Care and Finance

Boston’s renowned health care facilities — many of which are affiliated with its universities and colleges — are dominant among the employment opportunities in Boston. Many private and public research entities work in partnership with universities, their associated health care facilities, or both. The financial sector also plays a prominent role in Boston’s economy.


Boston is one of the country’s top 10 tourism destinations. The city has 62 historic sites, 2,000 restaurants and hundreds of hotels. Tourism is a year-round industry, with more than 16 million visitors spending $7.9 billion dollars in the city annually.


Although the manufacturing sector has lost some ground recently, several new businesses have entered the field in the last 20 years. Best known for wool and textiles, Boston has also become a player in the manufacture of leather goods in recent years.


The sheer number of colleges and universities in and around Boston drives much of the local economy. More than 350,000 students from around the world descend on Boston, flooding the economy with $4.8 billion a year. The city’s vast network of higher-education facilities employs large numbers of Bostonians, both as faculty and staff, and also in affiliated research, development and supporting industries. Logically, many of these education-related occupations require a strong academic background for job candidates.

Colleges & Universities in Boston

Colleges & Universities in Boston

Boston University 40,968 $40,848 Not For Profit (Private)
Northeastern University 36,462 $37,840 Not For Profit (Private)
University of Massachusetts-Boston 20,210 $1,714 Public
Suffolk University 10,433 $29,778 Not For Profit (Private)
Simmons College 5,721 $32,376 Not For Profit (Private)
Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences 5,025 $25,650 Not For Profit (Private)
Emerson College 4,804 $32,128 Not For Profit (Private)
Berklee College of Music 4,670 $33,460 Not For Profit (Private)
Wentworth Institute of Technology 4,003 $24,000 Not For Profit (Private)
Massachusetts College of Art and Design 3,292 $9,700 Public
Emmanuel College Boston 2,920 $32,100 Not For Profit (Private)
Fisher College 2,716 $24,783 Not For Profit (Private)
MGH Institute of Health Professions 1,907 $31,100 Not For Profit (Private)
Boston Architectural College 1,721 $16,594 Not For Profit (Private)
Wheelock College 1,533 $28,990 Not For Profit (Private)
New England School of Law 1,140 N/A Not For Profit (Private)
Urban College of Boston 959 $4,704 Not For Profit (Private)
Laboure College 826 $25,495 Not For Profit (Private)
The New England Conservatory of Music 810 $36,250 Not For Profit (Private)
School of the Museum of Fine Arts-Boston 790 $31,996 Not For Profit (Private)
Benjamin Franklin Institute of Technology 773 $15,950 Not For Profit (Private)
The Boston Conservatory 713 $35,800 Not For Profit (Private)
Massachusetts School of Professional Psychology 554 N/A Not For Profit (Private)

Community Colleges and Vocational Schools in Boston

Bunker Hill Community College 17,853 $576 Public

Online Colleges in Boston