ip target image
You are currently browsing our site with content tailored to students in your country

Our cookies

We use cookies to offer you a better browsing experience with personalized content, relevant ads and enhanced functionalities. By allowing all you agree to the use of cookies as per the cookie policy and remember you can manage your preferences anytime.
The basics
THE USA: Destination Guides - Must read

The top 5 best student cities in the USA

Choosing where you’ll study is a big decision. We guide you through the top student cities in the USA and their famous universities to help you decide.

share image


Part of the experience of studying abroad is getting to know your new environment and culture. Picking a good university is obviously important and part of that decision will be influenced by where the institution is located. If you’re like most students you’ll want a vibrant student life outside of the classroom, with things to keep you active and engaged. With lots of international students selecting the USA as their go-to destination, we give you details about the 5 best student cities in the U.S. 


To put together our list we’ve considered several factors including the social and cultural attractions, and of course how student-friendly and convenient a city is to live in. We’ve also made use of the QS Best Student Cities 2023 rankings. 


It’s time to take you on a tour of the USA’s most desirable student cities. 


New York City 


Cherry blossoms and New York city skyline in the background


Need we say more? No list of great American cities would be complete without New York. Known for its energy, vibrancy and 24/7 lifestyle or ‘the city that never sleeps', New York has always attracted people from around the world, including students. 


New York was ranked in the top 20 cities for students in the QS Best Student Cities 2023 and there is no shortage of things to see and do. From the world-famous architecture and the bright lights of Broadway to the cultural hub of Harlem and the world-famous Statue of Liberty. 


New York is home to two universities in the top 100 worldwide as per the QS World University Rankings 2023:



That’s not all. The city has 110 universities and colleges in the city. Some of the well-known institutions include:


If it’s postgraduate studies you’re interested in then you can find out more about some of the best postgraduate institutions in the USA




When you think of Boston, some of you may think baseball or maybe the distinct accent associated with the city? Well, there’s much more to Boston than just this. The city has a diverse nightlife, great food options and is situated on a natural harbour with all the natural beauty that this brings. 



Boston is one of the cities in the US that played an important part in the American war of independence and the formation of the modern United States. It’s also close to two of the most famous universities in the world:



Naturally, these institutions are not the only places to study in the city. Boston is home to numerous universities that include:



While ticking the boxes on the education front Boston also holds its own on the QS Best Student Cities 2023 rankings coming in at 11th in the world. 


Thinking about studying in the USA and wondering what it has to offer international students




Often called ‘the windy city’ Chicago, Illinois is a city known for its impressive architecture, entrepreneurial spirit, cultural heritage and diverse multicultural community. Located on the shores of Lake Michigan, Chicago has many world-famous sites including the Navy Pier, Millennium Park, and the Field Museum of Natural History. If you are a sports fan you can also go past the United Centre to catch a glimpse of the world-famous statue of basketball player Michael Jordan. 


Boat on chicago river with buildings in the background


Chicago has some world-class higher education institutions. These include:



Other well-known universities in Chicago include:



A point to remember about Chicago is that it is well known for heavy snow and extremely cold winters, so be prepared with some warm clothing if it’s your destination of choice. 


San Francisco 


Famous for both the Golden Gate Bridge and as the home of ‘big tech’, San Francisco sits alongside the Pacific Ocean on the west coast of the USA in California. It’s rated as a top 30 student city by QS Best Student Cities 2023 and offers a great lifestyle for students studying abroad. There is the well-known Pier 39 shopping and entertainment centre, the Golden Gate Park, riding the famous trams, taking advantage of the free museums and of course a trip to the beach. 



San Francisco has a reputation for offering great internship, work placement and employment opportunities. This is not surprising as it’s home to some of the biggest companies in the world including Apple, Google and Facebook. On the plus side, San Francisco is also known for its relatively cheaper cost of living compared to other big cities. 


The city also has much to be proud of in terms of higher education with both Stanford University and the University of California, Berkeley close by. Both universities are ranked in the global top 10 by the Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2022. These universities form part of a network of colleges and universities in the city that also includes:





Last but not least, is ‘the city of brotherly love’, Philadelphia. The QS Best Student Cities 2023 rankings place the city 7th in the USA and this is not surprising given what it offers. The city has a world-known historical heritage, a great food scene, a dynamic cultural scene and numerous museums and entertainment venues. 


Love Park, Philadelphia


Philadelphia has the distinction of being an Ivy League city with the top-ranked University of Pennsylvania (UPenn) located in the city. UPenn is ranked in the top 20 globally by the QS World University Rankings 2023 and also ranks highly for several subjects, including medicine and engineering. Other universities that form part of the fabric of the city include:



Remember that the USA is a very big country and there are many other cities in which to study. What’s important is that you find a student lifestyle that suits you best while being able to pursue your dream academic path.


Here are some other articles which you may find useful:





Study in the USA


'Study in the USA' eBook

Enjoy what you’ve read? We’ve condensed the above popular topics about studying in the USA into one handy digital book.

Get your eBook

Must read

article Img

Common cultural misconceptions about the USA

A global business and cultural powerhouse, America is a key international hub for visitors, professionals and students alike. The USA has not only been hugely influential of global pop culture, but continues to significantly impact international trends of economic growth and technological innovation. Unfortunately, the nation is also subject a number of damaging stereotypes. We’ve laid out some of the key, and perhaps most distasteful misconceptions about US

article Img

The must do things for international students in the US

With a population of 382 million and 50 diverse states, the U.S. is an expansive country with a huge variety of different cultures and attractions. However, this means that it can be hard to know where to begin if you choose to study in the USA. That’s why we’ve decided to take a look at some of the top sights and experiences for international students to give you a clearer idea of what you should do while studying in the USA.   Eat American food

article Img

What does the USA offer international students?

The USA continues to attract the largest number of international students year after year, now welcoming more than one million to its world-renowned universities and colleges. In addition to its prestigious reputation for academic excellence, the USA has plenty of unique experiences and opportunities to offer international students. Here we explore what exactly makes the USA such a desirable study location.   World-leading universities You’ve

article Img

The top universities in the USA

When evaluating any study abroad destination you’ll want to get an idea of the higher education landscape, including the institutions that are highly ranked and rated. Offering some of the top universities in the world, excellent teaching quality, a great student experience and a world-renowned university culture the USA remains a firm favourite for international students. In this article, we take you through the top universities in the USA and some of the reasons