10 Best College Towns


The best college towns in America, ranked one through 10.

Best College Towns


Courtesy of Gerald R. Ford of Public Policy under a CC 4.0 license.

Ranking Criteria

  • Population of 25- to 29-year-olds
  • High percentage of jobs in education sector
  • Local restaurants and bars
  • Affordable housing
  • Diversity

While the term "college town" may bring to mind solo cup-littered parties and riotous football games, there's far more to these youth-filled cities than tailgating and sports. It starts with education itself. An educated workforce brings in industry and employment opportunities, which is why many college towns also made it onto our list of the 50 Best Cities for Entrepreneurs. Successful universities are always huge employers in communities, too. That’s why just to get on our 2016 list, towns had to have more than three colleges, and a high percentage of jobs in the education sector.

But a great town is about more than just numbers. It’s about heart. And history. It’s about being a breeding ground for culture, and a celebration of what makes our country great. There might not be a better expression of the American dream, in fact, than our next generation of youth working their way through college. That’s why our team of experts weighed in, as well—to give it our own personal touch.

The 100 Best Places to Live 2016

The universities that reside in the towns on our 2016 list range from the elite and private (Harvard University in Cambridge), to the huge and public (University of Michigan in Ann Arbor). Each of them gives as much as they get from their communities. And the real winners are the residents, who get the kind of quality of life that only comes from living in one of the Top 10 College Towns in the US. Whether you’re looking for a place with career options, high wages, great housing options and plenty of things to do, or even a place to live the solo cup lifestyle, you’ll find it in each of these 10 towns.

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