The 11 Best Colleges in Massachusetts

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New England weather isn’t getting better, but Massachusetts remains home to some of the world’s finest academic institutions. Between top-ranking liberal arts colleges (LACs) and internationally acclaimed universities, the Bay State has it all! Most schools are located near the state capital of Boston, which hosts ~250,000 students across 40+ universities and colleges, but don’t discount the rural regions — the nation’s greatest LACs are just a few hours west. Keep reading to learn more about the 11 best colleges in Massachusetts. 


11 Best Colleges in Massachusetts




Location: Amherst, MA

Acceptance Rate: 13%

Middle 50% SAT/ACT: 1420-1560/31-35

Undergrad Enrollment: 1,800


One of the top LACs in the country, Amherst is a member of the Five College Consortium and offers an open curriculum, allowing students to choose coursework free of distribution or core requirements. Double majors and interdisciplinary studies are accordingly commonplace, along with cross-registration opportunities at other consortium colleges. Alumni participation rates are among the highest in the country, with nearly half donating annually. Amherst also enjoys a rivalry with (relatively) nearby Williams and Wesleyan Colleges, making up the “Little Three.” 


Learn more about Amherst and what it takes to get accepted. 




Location: Babson Park, MA

Acceptance Rate: 27%

Middle 50% SAT/ACT: 1340-1490/30-33

Undergrad Enrollment: 2,300


Ranked #1 for entrepreneurship in the country, Babson boasts both undergraduate and graduate schools of business just 15 miles west of Boston. All undergraduates earn a Bachelor’s of Science in Business Administration, selecting from 27 concentrations in fields like accounting, finance, and operations management. The yearlong Foundations of Management and Entrepreneurship course allows students to start a business in their first year of college, and Babson’s collaboration arrangement (nicknamed BOW) with neighboring Olin and Wellesley Colleges allows for ample cross-registration opportunities. 


Learn more about Babson and what it takes to get accepted.


Boston College


Location: Chestnut Hill, MA

Acceptance Rate: 26%

Middle 50% SAT/ACT: 1350-1480/31-34

Undergrad Enrollment: 9,900


“College” might be in the name, but don’t let that fool you! BC is actually a Jesuit research university with eight colleges and schools, conferring bachelor’s through doctoral degrees to over 14,000 students annually. The Chestnut Hill campus is a historic district featuring some of the country’s earliest Gothic architecture and has its own MBTA stop on the Green Line, allowing students easy access into Boston proper. Division I athletics and an emphasis on service characterize the campus culture. 


Learn more about Boston College and what it takes to get accepted.


Boston University


Location: Boston, MA

Acceptance Rate: 19%

Middle 50% SAT/ACT: 1430-1540/33-35

Undergrad Enrollment: 18,500


BU consists of 17 schools and colleges across three campuses, offering 300+ programs of study to undergraduates alone. Despite the large student population, the student-faculty ratio remains at an impressive 10:1 with an average class size of 27. Students may join BA/MA programs and take graduate-level courses, along with a required series of general education requirements known as BU Hub. You’ll also find Division I athletics and plentiful research opportunities at this prime location in the heart of Boston. 


Learn more about Boston University and what it takes to get accepted.


Franklin W. Olin College of Engineering


Location: Needham, MA

Acceptance Rate: 16%

Middle 50% SAT/ACT: 1470-1540/34-35

Undergrad Enrollment: 300


Founded recently in 1997, Olin has quickly risen to the top as one of the best engineering schools in the country. With a highly interdisciplinary and project-based curriculum, students can major in engineering (with concentration options like bioengineering, design, and robotics), electrical and computer engineering, or mechanical engineering. Culture is ruled by collaboration and the honor code, and cross-registration opportunities exist at neighboring Babson and Wellesley Colleges as part of the BOW Three College Collaboration. 


Learn more about Olin and what it takes to get accepted.




Location: Cambridge, MA

Acceptance Rate: 5%

Middle 50% SAT/ACT: 1460-1570/33-35

Undergrad Enrollment: 9,900


The oldest institution of higher learning in the United States and a brand name worldwide, Harvard is located right across the river from Boston and just a mile down the road from MIT. Undergraduates choose from 50 concentrations (majors) and devote a third of their college coursework to distribution requirements, with opportunities to take graduate-level courses and cross-register at neighboring schools. Harvard also has the largest endowment of any academic institution in the country, not to mention a record-breaking roster of famous alumni. 


Learn more about Harvard and what it takes to get accepted.




Location: Cambridge, MA

Acceptance Rate: 7%

Middle 50% SAT/ACT: 1560-1580/35-36

Undergrad Enrollment: 4,600


With an unparalleled history of contributions to modern science and technology, MIT leads at the cutting edge of innovation and entrepreneurship worldwide. Undergraduates choose from 54 majors and complete a core curriculum of General Institute Requirements (GIRs), including eight semesters of courses in the humanities, arts, and social sciences. The vast majority of students also take graduate-level courses and participate in the Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program (UROP). Expect a grueling workload alongside hacks, pranks, and tomfoolery. 


Learn more about MIT and what it takes to get accepted.

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Location: Medford, MA

Acceptance Rate: 16%

Middle 50% SAT/ACT: 1420-1550/33-35

Undergrad Enrollment: 5,600


With over 200 programs across nine schools in the Boston area, Tufts is famous for its internationalist focus and emphasis on civic engagement. Besides hosting an array of study-abroad programs and the nation’s oldest graduate school of international relations, entering freshmen may participate in Tufts Civic Semester or Tufts 1+4, doing a service semester or year in a foreign country before starting at Tufts. Students also enjoy a wealth of research and extracurricular opportunities, along with easy access to Boston via the T. 


Learn more about Tufts and what it takes to get accepted.




Location: Wellesley, MA

Acceptance Rate: 20%

Middle 50% SAT/ACT: 1370-1510/31-34

Undergrad Enrollment: 2,500


A historically women’s college just 12 miles away from Boston, Wellesley is one of the top LACs in the country and a member of the Seven Sisters. Economics, computer science, and political science lead the pack of 50+ majors, alongside cross-registration opportunities and double-degree programs with MIT and Olin. Besides a postcard perfect campus, Wellesley boasts the largest endowment of any historically women’s college in the country and a famous alumnae roster that includes Hillary Clinton, Madeleine Albright, and Madame Chiang Kai-Shek. 


Learn more about Wellesley and what it takes to get accepted.




Location: Williamstown, MA

Acceptance Rate: 13%

Middle 50% SAT/ACT: 1430-1540/33-35

Undergrad Enrollment: 2,000


Right up there with Amherst, Williams has ranked #1 in LACs since 2004 and also hosts the most successful Division III program nationwide. Students enjoy Oxford-style tutorials across 36 majors and unique study-abroad opportunities due to a special relationship with Exeter College, Oxford. Williams may be ~160 miles from Boston, but it remains the “West Point of Wall Street” thanks to numerous alumni in finance. A particular strength in art history has also produced the deeply influential “Williams Art Mafia.”


Learn more about Williams and what it takes to get accepted. 




Location: Northampton, MA

Acceptance Rate: 31%

Middle 50% SAT/ACT: 1350-1490/31-34

Undergrad Enrollment: 2,500


A member of both the Seven Sisters and the Five College Consortium, Smith offers incredible academic freedom thanks to an open curriculum and plentiful cross-registration opportunities. Besides 41 departments overseeing 50+ undergraduate majors, Smith’s graduate programs enroll applicants of all genders. Also the first historically women’s college to offer an engineering degree and join the NCAA, famous Smith alumnae include Margaret Mitchell, Nancy Reagen, and Sylvia Plath. 


Learn more about Smith and what it takes to get accepted.


What Are Your Chances of Acceptance?


As you can see, Massachusetts has no shortage of excellent schools. All of the colleges listed above are very selective—annual acceptance rates fall below 30%. We encourage you to build a balanced school list while shooting for the stars, so check out our free chancing engine. It will calculate your chances of admission based on academic and extracurricular profiles, along with offering application tips and entries for our scholarship contests


You may also have noticed that many LACs appeared on this list. If you’re interested in learning about similar institutions, take a look at the Top 10 Liberal Arts Colleges in New England


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Lauralyn Lin
Blog Writer

Short Bio
Lauralyn is a junior at Wellesley College studying political science and psychology. She's been with CollegeVine for two years now as a test prep consultant, marketing intern, and livestream host, and spends the rest of her time on ballroom dance and books.

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