The 10 Best College Towns In Massachusetts For 2022


Editor's Note: We updated this article for 2022. This is our fifth time ranking the best college towns in Massachusetts.
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Believe it or not, America has the best colleges in the world. It's been proven by data (and surveys) that the U.S. educational system is of the highest quality

It's actually not even close and Massachusetts is home to a handful of them.

While we could debate which colleges within the are the 'best,' that's not the goal of this post.

Instead, ride along with us as we determine which college towns in Massachusetts are the best.

You know, the type of places where there's energy and stimulation, but the type of place you can walk around at night. The happiest, chillest, most downright fun places where you can send your kids off to college where you won't break the bank, or worry about their well being.

Without further ado, here are the best college towns in Massachusetts for 2022.

The 10 Best College Towns In Massachusetts For 2022

  1. Waltham, MA
  2. Wellesley, MA
  3. Cambridge, MA
  4. Boston, MA
  5. Northampton, MA
  6. Milton, MA
  7. Brookline, MA
  8. Lowell, MA
  9. Needham, MA
  10. Worcester, MA

While some of these may not seem like a 'real' college town per se, when you look at the numbers, it's hard to argue against.

And for those who live in Waltham, Wellesley and Cambridge - we tip our hats to you and we'll schedule a tour for next week. You can see where Waltham ranks in terms of the best college town in America.

Read on to find out more or for more on Massachusetts check out:

The 10 Best College Towns In Massachusetts For 2022

Waltham, MA
Overall SnackAbility
9.5
/10

Population: 62,597
% Undergrad Pop.: 12.1% (3rd best)
Median Rent: $1,774 (15th best)
Unemployment Rate: 258.5% (best)
Crime Rank: 5th best
More on Waltham: Real Estate | Cost Of Living | Crime Report

Colleges: Bentley University, Brandeis University

Wellesley, MA
Overall SnackAbility
7.5
/10

Population: 28,747
% Undergrad Pop.: 14.0% (best)
Median Rent: $2,177 (19th best)
Unemployment Rate: 471.4% (12th best)
Crime Rank: 2nd best
More on Wellesley: Real Estate | Cost Of Living | Crime Report

Colleges: Wellesley College, Babson College

Cambridge, MA
Overall SnackAbility
9
/10

Population: 117,822
% Undergrad Pop.: 13.9% (2nd best)
Median Rent: $2,293 (20th best)
Unemployment Rate: 395.3% (8th best)
Crime Rank: 16th best
More on Cambridge: Real Estate | Cost Of Living | Crime Report

Colleges: Harvard University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Lesley University

Boston, MA
Overall SnackAbility
8
/10

Population: 689,326
% Undergrad Pop.: 10.6% (5th best)
Median Rent: $1,685 (14th best)
Unemployment Rate: 688.0% (19th best)
Crime Rank: 17th best
More on Boston: Real Estate | Cost Of Living | Crime Report

Colleges: Northeastern University, Boston University, University of Massachusetts-Boston

Northampton, MA
Overall SnackAbility
8.5
/10

Population: 28,552
% Undergrad Pop.: 9.2% (6th best)
Median Rent: $1,189 (6th best)
Unemployment Rate: 314.8% (4th best)
Crime Rank: 15th best
More on Northampton: Real Estate | Cost Of Living | Crime Report

Colleges: Smith College, Marinello School of Beauty-Northampton

Milton, MA
Overall SnackAbility
7
/10

Population: 27,590
% Undergrad Pop.: 9.1% (7th best)
Median Rent: $1,239 (9th best)
Unemployment Rate: 331.6% (6th best)
Crime Rank: best
More on Milton: Real Estate | Cost Of Living | Crime Report

Colleges: Curry College, Laboure College

Brookline, MA
Overall SnackAbility
7.5
/10

Population: 59,223
% Undergrad Pop.: 4.7% (13th best)
Median Rent: $2,305 (2best)
Unemployment Rate: 306.9% (3rd best)
Crime Rank: 11th best
More on Brookline: Real Estate | Cost Of Living | Crime Report

Colleges: Newbury College, The New England Institute of Art, Hellenic College-Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology

Lowell, MA
Overall SnackAbility
8
/10

Population: 111,311
% Undergrad Pop.: 8.6% (9th best)
Median Rent: $1,229 (8th best)
Unemployment Rate: 551.2% (17th best)
Crime Rank: 14th best
More on Lowell: Real Estate | Cost Of Living | Crime Report

Colleges: University of Massachusetts-Lowell, Lowell Academy Hairstyling Institute, Lincoln Technical Institute-Lowell

Needham, MA
Overall SnackAbility
7
/10

Population: 31,177
% Undergrad Pop.: 0.0% (19th best)
Median Rent: $1,604 (11th best)
Unemployment Rate: 436.5% (9th best)
Crime Rank: 3rd best
More on Needham: Real Estate | Cost Of Living | Crime Report

Colleges: Franklin W Olin College of Engineering

Worcester, MA
Overall SnackAbility
7
/10

Population: 185,186
% Undergrad Pop.: 8.6% (8th best)
Median Rent: $1,115 (5th best)
Unemployment Rate: 497.2% (14th best)
Crime Rank: 18th best
More on Worcester: Real Estate | Cost Of Living | Crime Report

Colleges: Quinsigamond Community College, Worcester State University, College of the Holy Cross

How'd we figure out the best college towns in Massachusetts?

To crunch our data on Massachusetts's best college towns, we had to first decide which qualities (or rankings) make sense to use in the data, and then crunch the numbers for our rankings.

First off, we firmly decided that only cities with a 4 year college should make the cut -- so there has to be at least one college granting bachelors degrees in town.

You might be surprised to hear that there are only 18 places in Massachusetts with an institution of higher learning with that criteria.

Source of data include OpenStreetMaps, the College Scorecard, the U.S. Census, and FBI reporting data to include the following factors:

  • Students Make Up Large % of the Population
  • College-specific Factors
    • Graduation rate
    • Tuition Cost
    • Student Body Diversity
  • Town Characteristics
    • Safety
    • Affordability
    • Income and Employment Opportunities
  • Things to Do
    • Bars
    • Museums & Libraries
    • Population Density

We ranked each city across each of the criteria, with one being the best.

We rolled up the individual scores into the category and ranked them again based on the category.

Finally, we took the average rank across each category, with the city posting the lowest overall score being crowned the winner of the title "Best College Town In Massachusetts For 2022".

And it looks like Waltham placed Summa Cum Laude.

There You Have It -- The Best College Towns In The

If you're looking for the best college towns in Massachusetts, you came to the right place.

These places all have great college sports programs, tons of stuff to do, and are great places to raise a family.

For more reading, check out:

18 Best College Towns In Massachusetts

Rank City Population
1 Waltham, MA 62597
2 Wellesley, MA 28747
3 Cambridge, MA 117822
4 Boston, MA 689326
5 Northampton, MA 28552
6 Milton, MA 27590
7 Brookline, MA 59223
8 Lowell, MA 111311
9 Needham, MA 31177
10 Worcester, MA 185186
11 Longmeadow, MA 15736
12 North Adams, MA 12897
13 Springfield, MA 153677
14 Haverhill, MA 63783
15 Medford, MA 58290
16 Chicopee, MA 55186
17 Newton, MA 88322
18 Quincy, MA 94389

Best College Towns By State

Enjoy The Snack?