Best Value Colleges And Universities In Massachusetts

Explore the best value colleges and universities in Massachusetts. If you have ever wanted to live in Massachusetts, we'll help you find the best school for you. is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

Are you ready to discover your college program?

Best Massachusetts Schools

By Iris Stone

Best Value Schools badge

New England is known for being saturated with top colleges and universities, and Massachusetts is no exception. It is home to some of the oldest, most prestigious institutions of higher education in the entire country, including powerhouses like Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. But just as important, Massachusetts supports a diverse array of smaller, liberal arts colleges - hidden gems, you might say. These schools treasure uniqueness, diversity, inclusion, and creativity as essential aspects of any life-changing education. Plus, Massachusetts' public school system holds its own amongst some of academia's most formidable giants, providing powerful research capabilities without the painful price tag.

In order to give you the best sense of the "best value" schools in Massachusetts, we aimed to rank schools using a metric that would take into account both cost and quality. You can see the result below - a list of the 30 colleges and universities in the state that best utilize tuition dollars when educating their students. Looking to pursue an online education? Check out our ranking of the top affordable online colleges in Massachusetts">.

Our Ranking Methodology:

Graduation Rate: This indicator refers to the percentage of students who complete their degree within 150% of normal time (six years for a typical four-year degree program). Schools that perform well in this area have a track record of keeping students engaged and successful for their entire time on campus. We weighted this category 30% of the total and retrieved the information from College Navigator.

Net Price: In order to make sure that cost was still a factor in the ranking, we also considered overall net price as an indicator. Taken from data on College Navigator, "net price" is an approximate value that refers to the average amount of money a student could expect to pay each year after taking into account tuition, room and board, living expenses, scholarship awards, and financial aid packages. We weighted this category 25% of the total.

Acceptance Rate: Academically challenging, popular universities tend to be more selective and thus have a lower acceptance rate. In order to pinpoint those colleges that boast rigorous academics and also receive a large number of applications, we considered acceptance rate - the percentage of students out of the total number of applicants who receive an acceptance letter. We retrieved this information from College Navigator and weighted it 30% of the total.

20-Year Net Return on Investment: Taken from information on the website PayScale, this statistic provides a picture of how much students can expect to make after they graduate from a particular college. More specifically, the figure is calculated by taking the average income an alumnus will make over his or her first 20 years after graduation and subtracting the amount paid in tuition. Schools with a high ROI tend to be better at preparing their students for the job market. We weighted this category only 15% because data was not available for all colleges considered.

After adding all the points, we gave each university a final score out of 200. The schools below have scores ranging from 95 to 188, and each has something different to offer in terms of its cost, quality, and reputation. No one college is perfect (which is why the scores vary so much) but this ranking offers you a premier selection of universities to help get you started on your search for an education in Massachusetts.

#1 Harvard University Cambridge, MA
#2 Amherst College Amherst, MA
#3 Massachusetts Institute of Technology Cambridge, MA
#4 Tufts University Medford, MA
#5 Babson College Wellesley, MA
#6 Wellesley College Wellesley, MA
#7 Boston College Chestnut Hill, MA
#8 College of the Holy Cross Worcester, MA
#9 Williams College Williamstown, MA
#10 Massachusetts Maritime Academy Buzzards Bay, MA

Featured Online Programs

Figuring out where to apply? These top, accredited schools offer a variety of online degrees. Consider one of these accredited programs, and discover their value today.

  1. Harvard University

    Cambridge, MA



    It won't surprise many that Harvard University has risen to the #1 spot on yet another ranking. Between its extreme selectivity (6% acceptance rate), unparalleled commitment to student success (98% graduation rate), highly-accomplished alumni ($646,000 20-year net ROI) and strong financial programs to offset tuition costs, Harvard University is hard to beat. Distinguished professors stand at the helm of undergraduate classes, pushing students to get involved in every aspect of campus life. Harvard offers more than 45 "concentrations" - many of them interdisciplinary - and myriad opportunities for research. All this, along with enrichment programs that give students the flexibility to study abroad and design their own courses, paint a clear picture of why Harvard is one of the best universities in Massachusetts.

  2. Amherst College

    Amherst, MA



    In a small town of just 35,000 in Western Massachusetts, Amherst College thrives as one of the best liberal arts schools in the nation. A group of 1,800 students gather on Amherst's idyllic campus (which even includes a wildlife sanctuary!) to pursue their passions and receive an education for the simple love of learning. B.A. programs exist in Asian Languages and Civilizations, Philosophy, Economics, History, Music, and more than 30 other traditional areas of study. Amherst also excels when it comes to bucking stereotypes of liberal arts colleges; unlike other small, elite private schools, Amherst works hard to keep its total costs to students low. The university also proves that liberal arts students can be plenty successful in the real world - its 20-year ROI is nearly $400k.

  3. Massachusetts Institute of Technology

    Cambridge, MA



    The Massachusetts Institute of Technology has an esteemed reputation as an international leader in science and engineering, and in fact it's the top-rated university in the world in many respects. MIT's academic and research programs focus primarily on STEM topics, including Aeronautics and Astronautics, Computational and Systems Biology, Mathematics, Physics, and Nuclear Science and Engineering (there are programs in the humanities as well, although they are less popular). Getting into MIT is almost as difficult as the classes it offers, and an acceptance rate of a mere 8% suggests that this top university in Massachusetts only takes in the very brightest minds. And since the student body is full of intelligent, motivated individuals, MIT has no problem maintaining a graduation rate of 91%.

  4. Tufts University

    Medford, MA



    Tufts University is a tough school, to say the least. It's also tough to get into, thanks to an acceptance rate of just 17%. But it's worth the effort; students who attend Tufts enjoy four scenic campuses (one in France!) and an inviting atmosphere with small classes. As far as academics are concerned, students can choose between the School of Arts and Sciences and the School of Engineering, both of which offer majors that are designed to prepare young learners for the real world. Both schools also offer research opportunities - Tufts attendees might help out at the Center for Cognitive Studies, the Institute for Global Leadership, or the Ultrafast Nonlinear Optics and Biophotonics Laboratory, among others.

  5. Babson College

    Wellesley, MA



    Students with a strong spirit and a serious entrepreneurial streak will fit in well at Babson College, a school where business training meets traditional liberal arts courses to help students "cultivate an entrepreneurial mindset." This mission is apparent from day one of students' journey, and all freshmen have the opportunity to actually start a business in their required Foundations of Management and Entrepreneurship class. And although all students follow the same general curriculum, they can also customize their program with up to two concentrations in areas like Environmental Sustainability, Social and Cultural Studies, Quantitative Methods, and Computational and Mathematical Finance. With such a focused approach to education, it's no wonder Babson's graduation rate is 90% and its 20-year ROI is $812,000!

  6. Wellesley College

    Wellesley, MA



    Wellesley College is known for its unique campus culture - a culture with a successful track record of producing thoughtful graduates and empowered female leaders. "A transformative educational experience," Wellesley accepts only the most promising young learners (the acceptance rate is 30%) and places them in a rigorous environment that challenges women to think creatively and critically. And although the college's tuition can run somewhat high, its still one of the best Massachusetts colleges for people on a budget. This is all thanks to WellesleyX, a learning collaborative that brings online open coursework in liberal arts topics to anyone with an internet connection.

  7. Boston College

    Chestnut Hill, MA



    Another Jesuit institution (and another top university in Massachusetts) comes in the form of Boston College. BC is particularly well known for the caliber of students it attracts, and over the years the student body has included Rhodes, Fulbright, Goldwater, and Marshall scholars. These ambitious learners flock to Boston College and acquire knowledge in a vast array of areas, studying Bioinformatics, Earth and Environmental Sciences, Medical Humanities, and much more. Students can also join the Honors Program or try for the Gateway Scholars Program, which offers special support to those interested in STEM fields. Of course not everyone can attend BC (the acceptance rate is only 34%) but the statistics at the other end of the tunnel are just as impressive - the graduation rate is above 90%!

  8. College of the Holy Cross

    Worcester, MA



    With breathtaking scenery and regal buildings of historic stature, the College of the Holy Cross provides a serene setting for a diverse group of academic scholars. The school claims a Catholic, Jesuit identity, which is what drives its unparalleled commitment to education. The vibrant campus supports students with a range of interests, and academic programs cover everything from Classics to Philosophy to Religious Studies. And although the college isn't limited to religious applicants, many Holy Cross students get involved in faith and service initiatives on campus. The tight-knit community and supportive environment helps students thrive, and a full 92% of attendees graduate in six years or less.

  9. Williams College

    Williamstown, MA



    There are few schools that invest in their undergraduates the way Williams College does. While many universities are busy supporting graduate-level research, WC is putting all its energy into helping undergrads transform into ambitious adults with a clear plan for success. Students can major in areas like Astrophysics, Environmental Policy, Global Studies, Materials Science Studies, and Political Economy, or design their own major. Williams is also chockfull of experiential learning initiatives; students can take a semester to teach in a K-12 school in New York, travel to Cape Town to study politics and economics, or even spend an entire semester on the coast learning about ocean life and maritime history.

  10. Massachusetts Maritime Academy

    Buzzards Bay, MA



    Massachusetts Maritime Academy is not like most colleges. There are plenty of other schools that offer a specialized breadth of majors - like art schools and music conservatories - but very few other universities take an approach like MMA. The school offers majors in Emergency Management, Marine Engineering, International Maritime Business, Energy Systems Engineering, and a few other related areas. It's an ideal choice for students who are set in their desire to work with naval systems or in technical, mechanical, or management jobs related to the maritime industry. And students who make a commitment to MMA receive plenty in return; the 20-year ROI for this top Massachusetts college is nearly $700k.

College Navigator
Pay Scale

About the Author:
Iris Stone began her writing career as a freelance writer and researcher. She now owns and operates a writing and editing firm that works with clients all across the country. Her work has included articles related to education policy, colleges and universities, academic programs, and careers.

Get prepared for your next steps

Use articles and resources to uncover answers to common questions, get guidance on your goals, and learn about applying to schools.

Discover a program that is right for you.

Explore different options for you based on your degree interests.