Introduction: This study aimed to use a novel MRI contrast, the standardized T1-weighted/T2-weighted (sT1w/T2w) ratio, to assess damage of the white matter and gray matter in multiple system atrophy (MSA). Furthermore, this study investigated whether the sT1w/T2w ratio was associated with cognitive impairment in MSA. Methods: The white matter and gray matter sT1w/T2w ratio of 37 MSA patients and 19 healthy controls were measured. Correlation analyses were used to evaluate the relationship between sT1w/T2w ratio values and clinical variables, and a multivariate analysis was used to identify independent factors associated with cognitive impairment in MSA. Results: MSA patients showed a higher white matter sT1w/T2w ratio value than controls (p < 0.001), and the white matter sT1w/T2w ratio value was significantly correlated with the International Cooperative Ataxia Rating Scale score (r = 0.377, p = 0.021) and the Addenbrooke’s cognitive examination III score (r = −0.438, p = 0.007). Cognitively impaired MSA patients had a significantly higher white matter sT1w/T2w ratio value than cognitively preserved MSA patients (p = 0.010), and the multiple logistic regression analysis revealed that the median white matter sT1w/T2w ratio value was independently associated with cognitive impairment in MSA. Conclusion: The sT1w/T2w ratio is sensitive to degenerative changes in the white matter that is associated with cognitive ability in MSA patients.