Massachusetts’ Best Private Colleges and Universities of 2021

Private colleges, unlike large public institutions, can be a great option for students wanting a more intimate campus experience, more personal attention from excellent professors, and more immediate access to support services. Here is our list of the best private colleges in Massachusetts.

Massachusetts’ Best Private Colleges and Universities of 2021

Colleges and Universities in Massachusetts

Some of the most talked about universities in Massachusetts are its private schools, including Boston University, Harvard University, Northeastern University, and Massachusetts Institute of Technology, which also happen to be the largest. Tuition for these prestigious schools runs between $50,000 and $54,000. Students here have access to some of the top programs in the country in fields such as biology, literature, law, education, engineering, and religious studies. The alumni from New England schools are equally as impressive, including Martin Luther King Jr., Bill Gates, and Ralph Waldo Emerson.

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The public higher education institutes also boast top-notch programs, allowing students to pursue associate, bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees in fields like mathematics, social work, medicine, and economics. The University of Massachusetts Amherst, the state’s largest public university, offers tuition around $16,000 and serves over 28,000 students. Additionally, students who are interested in attending a religiously affiliated school have 17 options to choose from, most of which feature high graduation rates for their students. For future dental, medical, or mental health professionals, Massachusetts also offers loan forgiveness programs for those working in underserved communities.

As the port of destination for the Mayflower, home to the Plymouth colony, and site of the Salem Witch Trials, Massachusetts looms large in United States history, but this most populous New England state isn’t just for history buffs. The Bay State is also known for its delicious cuisine, beautiful coastlines, and devout sports fans. Not to mention, it has over 100 colleges for students to choose from.

Find a program that’s right for you and explore the best schools Massachusetts has to offer.


What are Massachusetts’ Colleges & Universities?

Massachusetts’ Best Overall

What is a public college? And what is the difference between a private and public college?

Public and private colleges and universities operate under different business models — one is a private company with private funding; the other is owned by the state and receives both state and federal funding to operate. If you’re weighing the pros and cons of private vs. public college, consider that many public colleges provide diverse course offerings, influential professors, and an excellent return on your investment.

Public colleges are schools that receive most of their funding from tax revenues. As a result, the cost of a four-year degree at a public university is often lower than the equivalent cost at a private college — especially for students attending a public school in their home state. According to the National Center for Educational Statistics, the average annual cost (tuition, fees, room and board for full-time students) at a four-year public university was slightly over $20,000. In contrast, private universities cost, on average, nearly $43,000 annually.

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How do we determine Massachusetts' best private colleges and universities?

Methodology

The people affiliated with a school are ultimately what make it great. This is why, at the undergraduate level, we rank the best colleges and universities based on what we call “Concentrated Influence”. Concentrated Influence takes the combined influence score of a college or university’s top academic influencers (including faculty and alums) and divides it by the school’s total number of undergraduates.

Using concentrated influence gives small and mid-sized schools an opportunity to shine by taking away the size advantage of larger universities. A small school with proportionately more influential faculty than a large school, whose influence in absolute terms may be bigger, will nonetheless score higher in a concentrated influence ranking. Our approach highlights undergraduate schools that truly rank for excellence, regardless of size.

If you are serious about finding the best colleges and universities for a bachelor’s degree, you should be asking where the most influential professors are teaching and whether their graduates are themselves advancing the school’s reputation for academic excellence.

Most ranking sites rely on an opaque combination of reputation surveys and arbitrary performance metrics. Concentrated Influence provides a ranking that is free from bias, insulated from manipulation, and reflective of real-world educational outcomes.

This list is composed entirely of private colleges and universities that offer four-year undergraduate degrees. We’ve identified 47 private universities in Massachusetts, 36 of which satisfy our criteria. The list below of the 21 best private universities in the state satisfies the following four conditions:

  1. It must be a private, non-profit institution.
  2. It must be fully accredited.
  3. It must offer a broad range of bachelor’s degrees.
  4. It must have a graduation rate of greater than 50%. The top 21 surpass a 75% graduation rate.

21 Best Private Colleges & Universities in Massachusetts

  1. #1

    Harvard University

    #1 institution's historical influence
    #2 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $54K

    Acceptance

    5%

    Graduation

    98%

    Student body

    25K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1515/34

    Cambridge, MA

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    What is Harvard University known for?

    Harvard University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Biology
    • Literature
    • Philosophy
    • Law
    • Mathematics
    • Medical
    • Business
    • Economics
    • Political Science
    • Psychology

    Most Influential Alumni

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  2. #2

    Massachusetts Institute of Technology

    #9 institution's historical influence
    #3 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $53K

    Acceptance

    7%

    Graduation

    96%

    Student body

    14K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1540/35

    Cambridge, MA

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    What is Massachusetts Institute of Technology known for?

    Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Computer Science
    • Engineering
    • Mathematics
    • Physics
    • Economics
    • Biology
    • Business
    • Chemistry
    • Philosophy
    • Psychology

    Most Influential Alumni

  3. #3

    Amherst College

    #123 institution's historical influence
    #26 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $61K

    Acceptance

    12%

    Graduation

    95%

    Student body

    2K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1415/32

    Amherst, MA

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    What is Amherst College known for?

    Amherst College’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Literature
    • Law
    • Biology
    • Philosophy
    • Political Science
    • Economics
    • History
    • Mathematics
    • Computer Science
    • Psychology

    Most Influential Alumni

  4. #4

    Brandeis University

    #98 institution's historical influence
    #167 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $57K

    Acceptance

    33%

    Graduation

    89%

    Student body

    7K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1435/31

    Waltham, MA

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    What is Brandeis University known for?

    Brandeis University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Mathematics
    • Philosophy
    • Psychology
    • Biology
    • Literature
    • Computer Science
    • Political Science
    • Business
    • History
    • Physics

    Most Influential Alumni

  5. #5

    Tufts University

    #93 institution's historical influence
    #25 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $61K

    Acceptance

    16%

    Graduation

    94%

    Student body

    10K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1465/33

    Medford, MA

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    What is Tufts University known for?

    Tufts University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Medical
    • Biology
    • Business
    • Political Science
    • Engineering
    • Philosophy
    • Economics
    • Literature
    • Psychology
    • Law

    Most Influential Alumni

  6. #6

    Wellesley College

    #202 institution's historical influence
    #33 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $58K

    Acceptance

    20%

    Graduation

    94%

    Student body

    3K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1445/32

    Wellesley, MA

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    What is Wellesley College known for?

    Wellesley College’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Literature
    • Philosophy
    • Education
    • Political Science
    • Biology
    • Physics
    • History
    • Psychology
    • Economics
    • Mathematics

    Most Influential Alumni

  7. #7

    Williams College

    #165 institution's historical influence
    #27 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $50K

    Acceptance

    15%

    Graduation

    96%

    Student body

    2K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1480/33

    Williamstown, MA

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    What is Williams College known for?

    Williams College’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Literature
    • Political Science
    • History
    • Philosophy
    • Biology
    • Economics
    • Mathematics
    • Physics
    • Psychology
    • Chemistry
  8. #8

    Smith College

    #164 institution's historical influence
    #111 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $54K

    Acceptance

    37%

    Graduation

    87%

    Student body

    3K

    Northampton, MA

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    What is Smith College known for?

    Smith College’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Literature
    • Education
    • Psychology
    • Political Science
    • History
    • Biology
    • Philosophy
    • Mathematics
    • Engineering
    • Sociology

    Most Influential Alumni

  9. #9

    Mount Holyoke College

    #283 institution's historical influence
    #228 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $55K

    Acceptance

    52%

    Graduation

    84%

    Student body

    2K

    South Hadley, MA

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    What is Mount Holyoke College known for?

    Mount Holyoke College’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Literature
    • Education
    • Mathematics
    • Biology
    • Philosophy
    • Political Science
    • History
    • Psychology
    • Computer Science
    • Physics
  10. #10

    Boston University

    #48 institution's historical influence
    #56 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $58K

    Acceptance

    20%

    Graduation

    89%

    Student body

    32K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1425/32

    Boston, MA

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    What is Boston University known for?

    Boston University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Medical
    • Literature
    • Biology
    • Business
    • Philosophy
    • Education
    • Political Science
    • Communications
    • Psychology
    • Computer Science

    Most Influential Alumni

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  11. #11

    Clark University

    #263 institution's historical influence
    #469 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $49K

    Acceptance

    47%

    Graduation

    75%

    Student body

    4K

    Worcester, MA

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    What is Clark University known for?

    Clark University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Psychology
    • Biology
    • Mathematics
    • Education
    • Business
    • Philosophy
    • Physics
    • History
    • Chemistry
    • Political Science

    Most Influential Alumni

  12. #12

    Emerson College

    #721 institution's historical influence
    #1246 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $50K

    Acceptance

    41%

    Graduation

    79%

    Student body

    5K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1305/29

    Boston, MA

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    What is Emerson College known for?

    Emerson College’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Literature
    • Communications
    • Business
    • Education
    • Medical

    Most Influential Alumni

  13. #13

    Boston College

    #211 institution's historical influence
    #49 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $60K

    Acceptance

    26%

    Graduation

    92%

    Student body

    13K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1420/32

    Chestnut Hill, MA

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    What is Boston College known for?

    Boston College’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Business
    • Law
    • Philosophy
    • Education
    • Religious Studies
    • Political Science
    • History
    • Literature
    • Biology
    • Medical

    Most Influential Alumni

  14. #14

    College of the Holy Cross

    #423 institution's historical influence
    #134 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $55K

    Acceptance

    38%

    Graduation

    93%

    Student body

    3K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1345/30

    Worcester, MA

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    What is College of the Holy Cross known for?

    College of the Holy Cross’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Literature
    • Education
    • Communications
    • History
    • Philosophy
    • Religious Studies
    • Biology
    • Political Science
    • Mathematics
    • Psychology
  15. #15

    Northeastern University

    #294 institution's historical influence

    Tuition + fees

    $55K

    Acceptance

    20%

    Graduation

    90%

    Student body

    23K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1465/33

    Boston, MA

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    What is Northeastern University known for?

    Northeastern University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Business
    • Computer Science
    • Engineering
    • Biology
    • Law
    • Education
    • Philosophy
    • Political Science
    • Literature
    • Medical

    Most Influential Alumni

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  16. #16

    Worcester Polytechnic Institute

    #511 institution's historical influence
    #826 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $54K

    Acceptance

    59%

    Graduation

    89%

    Student body

    7K

    Worcester, MA

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    What is Worcester Polytechnic Institute known for?

    Worcester Polytechnic Institute’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Engineering
    • Business
    • Computer Science
    • Chemistry
    • Mathematics
    • Physics
    • Education
    • Biology
    • Political Science
    • Economics
  17. #17

    Stonehill College

    #1817 institution's historical influence
    #367 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $47K

    Acceptance

    69%

    Graduation

    82%

    Student body

    3K

    Easton, MA

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    What is Stonehill College known for?

    Stonehill College’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Business
    • Philosophy
    • Political Science
    • Education
    • Computer Science
    • History
    • Communications
    • Literature
    • Religious Studies
    • Medical
  18. #18

    Wheaton College

    #1401 institution's historical influence
    #822 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $56K

    Acceptance

    77%

    Graduation

    78%

    Student body

    2K

    Norton, MA

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    What is Wheaton College known for?

    Wheaton College ’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Literature
    • Education
    • Medical
    • Biology
    • Political Science
    • Psychology
    • Mathematics
    • History
    • Computer Science
    • Philosophy

    Most Influential Alumni

    REQUEST INFO
  19. #19

    Bentley University

    #1763 institution's historical influence
    #217 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $54K

    Acceptance

    58%

    Graduation

    90%

    Student body

    5K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1320/29

    Waltham, MA

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    What is Bentley University known for?

    Bentley University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Business
    • Communications
    • Computer Science
    • Mathematics
    • Literature
    • Political Science
    • Medical
    • History
    • Philosophy
    • Criminal Justice
  20. #20

    Endicott College

    #3583 institution's historical influence
    #910 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $35K

    Acceptance

    70%

    Graduation

    79%

    Student body

    5K

    Beverly, MA

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    What is Endicott College known for?

    Endicott College’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Education
    • Computer Science
    • Nursing
    • Political Science
    • History
    • Psychology
    • Engineering
    • Medical
    • Literature
    • Communications
    REQUEST INFO
  21. #21

    Bay Path University

    #3817 institution's historical influence
    #264 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $36K

    Acceptance

    78%

    Graduation

    60%

    Student body

    3K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1065/22

    Longmeadow, MA

    View profile

    What is Bay Path University known for?

    Bay Path University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Education
    • Psychology
    • Business
    • Medical
    • Biology
    • Social Work
    • Nursing
    • Computer Science
    • Law
    • Criminal Justice

    Most Influential Alumni

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