Boston University offers students both a highly regarded education and a chance to learn in a coveted urban neighborhood.

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First-year students are required to live on campus, but many upperclassmen choose to remain: About three-quarters of the roughly 18,000 undergraduates take advantage of the opportunity to bunk on the main Boston campus, which stretches along the Charles River. (The nearby Boston University Bridge is one of the few places in the world where a plane can fly over a car driving over a train going over a boat.)

With a history dating back to 1839, Boston University has acquired a reputation over the years for its difficult classes. BU's 17 colleges and schools offer more than 300 programs, including ancient Greek, costume design, neuroscience and Asian studies.

There's still plenty of opportunity for fun, however. The BU Terriers compete in NCAA Division I sports, and the school's hockey team has won multiple national championships. The university also boasts over 450 student clubs for people interested in everything from anime to Shakespeare, and it sponsors more than 200 study abroad programs in places like Ecuador and Singapore. Martin Luther King Jr. was an alum; the school's library houses thousands of his personal documents, letters and even a briefcase.