Subscribe iStudy

Boston: The Best Student City in North America

By James Drakeford

Posted: 2nd July 2014 16:10

Ever since the QS World University Rankings for the Best Student Cities in the World was first launched, Boston has continually been recognised as the number one city in North America.  Despite changing the criteria for 2014 the results are in, and Boston is still number one.

Boston has a lively nightlife scene, world-class arts and culture, and a rich history, but it is also a forward thinking city that combines the hustle and bustle of a major metropolis with an eco-friendly policy and an abundance of green open space, including more than 2,600 acres of park land. 

One of the oldest cities in the United States, Boston’s rich history includes several key events of the American Revolution, such as the Boston Massacre, the Boston Tea Party, the Battle of Bunker Hill and the Siege of Boston.  It is also home to the world’s oldest annual marathon. 

However, eclipsing the city’s important past is its prosperous present and exciting future.  Boston is ranked as the number one digital city in the United States and features in the top 30 most economically powerful cities in the world.  It is also recognised as one of the most liveable cities in the Global Livability Survey and scores highly for Employer Activity.

Choosing Your Study Options

There are more than 50 institutions of higher education in Metropolitan Boston including Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Harvard University in neighbouring Cambridge.  These two prestigious universities are considered to be the two best institutes in the QS World University Rankings and both feature in the top five of the Times Higher Education World University Rankings, but one of their major unique selling points is having the city of Boston right on its doorstep.

For life sciences and medicine you should look no further than Boston University which is ranked as the 28th best university in the world for this particular faculty.  The university also scores fairly impressively for Arts & Humanities (67th) and Social Sciences & Management (86th) and features in the top 100 World University Rankings 2013.  With over 33,000 undergraduate and graduate students from more than 140 countries, Boston University is a prime example of the multi-cultural diversity of the city’s student population. 

Four Excellent Universities & Colleges to Consider

Berklee College of Music

Boston is home to an eclectic music scene.  It is considered to be one of the birthplaces of hardcore punk in USA.  With bands such as Dropkick Murphys hailing from Boston the city is also famous for its own brand of Celtic Rock.  Then there’s The Pixies and Rock & Roll Hall of Famers’ Aerosmith to add to its mantle.  At Berklee College of Music you can add your name to the city’s rich musical heritage.  Specialising in Jazz and Modern American Music, Berklee’s alumni have accumulatively received 229 Grammy Awards.

Benjamin Franklin Institute of Technology

Established in 1908, the Benjamin Franklin Institute of Technology is one of New England’s oldest colleges of engineering and industrial technologies.  Funded using money bequeathed to the city of Boston in Benjamin Franklin’s will as part of a 200 year vision, the Institute owes much more than just money to the former President.  Benjamin Franklin believed “good apprentices are most likely to make good citizens”, and that ethos continues to resonate in the BFIT mantra today. 

Boston Architectural College

The standard produced by students at the Boston Architectural College is so high the college operate a Gallery to show off their work.  The McCormick Gallery frequently hosts conferences and symposia on spatial design and has a capacity for 200 students with 30 to 50 square feet (4.6m2) of space allocated to each installation.  The BAC offers bachelors and master’s degrees in architecture, interior design, landscape architecture and non-professional design studies.

The Boston Conservatory

Specialising in performing arts, The Boston Conservatory grants undergraduate and graduate degrees in music, dance and musical theatre.  Their impressive alumni list includes a Eurovision Song Contest finalist, various TV personalities, and a whole host of Broadway stars currently on national tour in stage shows ranging from Mamma Mia, Rock of Ages and Wicked through to Sister Act, War Horse and even Rocky The Musical.

English as a Second Language

Aside from university studies Boston is a popular destination for those eager to experience America’s student lifestyle whilst brushing up on their language skills.  Many institutes throughout Boston, such as Education First and Boston School of Modern Languages, offer English as a Second Language (ESL) courses with a variety of programs and locations available to suit every need.

One of the many reasons why students choose Boston is due to its social acceptance of foreign citizens and its multicultural status as one of the most diverse cities in the United States.  Between 1990 and 2010, Boston’s foreign-born population grew from 114,597 to 167,311 with immigrants now accounting for 26.7% of the city population.  The percentage of residents speaking a language other than English at home also increased during this period from 26% to 35% with Spanish the most popular language (15.2%) followed by French (4.8%), Chinese (3.8%) and Portuguese (2%).

About the Courses

Generally your school will assess your current level of spoken and written English prior to your first lesson in order to ensure students with a similar level of language proficiency are grouped together.

The duration and fees for each course may vary from institute to institute with many schools offering a range of course options in order to adhere to your target whilst fitting in to your schedule.

Intensive full-time programs and summer schools are widely available for those with a limited period of free time available.  Alternatively you can opt for evening or part-time courses.

Some language schools allow you to progress at your own level with beginner, intermediate and expert classes broken down into 12 levels with each stage advanced at least once every six weeks. 

For international students seeking acceptance into an American University, many language schools will offer preparation for the necessary examinations or language proficiency qualifications.

Four of the Best Neighbourhoods

In order to make the wider region more accessible, the City of Boston have installed more than 62 miles of bike lanes, bike paths, greenways and other bike-friendly streets since 2008 to complement its popular bike-share program.  Take advantage of this scheme to get on two wheels and explore the many highlights and attractions that Boston has to offer.

Downtown Boston is the perfect place to unwind after a long day of study.  Take a stroll down to the waterfront promenade and you are sure to find residents relaxing in the picturesque surroundings of the landscaped gardens and fountain-lined Rose Kennedy Greenway.  Make sure you create the time to follow the 2.5-mile redbrick Freedom Trail from Boston Common to Bunker Hill.  As one of the most popular cultural and historical attractions in Boston no visit to the city is complete without it.

At the end of the Freedom Trail lies Charlestown, a suburb that holds the distinction of being Boston’s oldest neighbourhood.  Originally a separate city from Boston entirely, it was the capital of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, one of the first English colonies to settle in the New England area.  This area, steeped in history from the dawn of America, boasts attractions such as The Bunker Hill Monument and the USS Constitution, the world’s oldest commissioned warship.

Also known as the South Boston Waterfront, the former wastelands of the Seaport District have been taken over by developers, designers, artists and entrepreneurs, who over the course of a decade have turned it into one of the coolest hotspots for nightlife in the city.  Now you can find an excellent array of waterfront restaurants, open air bars and plenty of culture in the guise of The Institute of Contemporary Art.

Boston is a baseball city and the neighbourhood of Fenway is home to one of the oldest stadiums in Major League Baseball, Fenway Park.  Hosting the famous Boston Red Sox, even the most casual sports fan cannot resist catching the 2013 World Series Champions in action.  Aside from sports, Fenway also boasts many top cultural institutes such as the Museum of Fine Arts and the Symphony Hall.  It is also a particularly green neighbourhood with an abundance of public parks.

Subscribe to our newsletter

Sign up here and get the latest news and updates delivered directly to your inbox

You can unsubscribe at any time