University rankings can focus on many different factors, including attractiveness of campus, satisfaction of students and alums, extracurricular benefits (such as top athletics programs), affordability of tuition, and expected income of graduates.
But if the focus is on academic prestige, scholarly excellence, and intellectual horsepower, this article provides the ranking you want. At the universities in this ranking, you’ll be rubbing shoulders with the brightest faculty and students in the world, developing your knowledge and skills so that you yourself will be in a position to join the world’s elite academics, scientists, and thinkers.
For this ranking, we looked to the Center for World-Class Universities operated by Shanghai Jiao Tong University (left). This center specializes in ranking universities around the world by academic performance.
Accordingly, we identified the 100 best universities in the 2014 Academic Ranking of World Universities, better known as the “Shanghai Ranking.” Taking the Shanghai Ranking as our point of departure, we researched the most important characteristics of each of the top 100 universities on the list in order to reveal why each university appears where it does.
The Most Top 100 Universities, Period:
How do American universities stack up against the competition overseas? Next to each university in our ranking is the country where the university resides. The country that you’ll find overwhelmingly represented is the United States. Indeed, over half of the world’s hundred best universities (52 to be exact) are in the U.S.
As you scan this list, you’ll notice some interesting patterns. Of the top ten universities in the world, the top eight are in the United States. Most of the Ivy League schools are on the list. Also, most of the University of California campuses are on this list as well. Other interesting patterns emerge when looking at this list as a whole.
The Most Top 100 Universities Per Capita:
If one focuses on countries that have the most top-tiered schools per capita, Switzerland tops the list with five of the “100 Best” universities for a population of roughly eight million people. Denmark ranks second per capita with two universities from our list. Sweden, with three listed universities, ranks third per capita; Israel, fourth; and Holland, fifth.
The Cities with Highest Concentration of Top 100 Universities:
New York, London, and Paris tie as the cities with the highest concentration of top 100 universities, with three represented universities in each city. Munich, Germany, and Cambridge, Massachusetts, tied for fourth, housing two universities each from our list.
Top Universities Offering Online Programs:
Some of the best Universities in the world offer distance learning, including many on this list. If distance learning from a top notch University fits your needs, make sure to consult our ranking of the best online universities in the world. The higher quality the institution, the more you can trust that your online degree will be respected.
Without further ado, here is our list of the world’s 100 best universities. To assist our readers in seeing how American universities compare to themselves, we also include, in brackets, the relative rankings of U.S. universities.
The 100 Best Universities in the World
1Harvard University … [1st in U.S.]
(Cambridge, MA, USA)
Harvard University is the standard by which all other research universities are measured. No school has ever challenged its position as the world’s premier academic institution in the history of the Shanghai rankings.
Founded in 1636 (only 16 years after the Mayflower touched down at Plymouth Rock), Harvard is the oldest school in the world’s richest nation, and it has capitalized on the benefits this grants. Under manager Jack Meyer’s leadership, the school’s endowment fund grew from $4.6 billion to $25.8 billion in 15 years. Today, the university possesses over $36 billion, and its fortune is still growing.
But there is much more to Harvard than massive wealth. The school has produced 47 Nobel Laureates, 32 heads of state, and 48 Pulitzer Prize winners. It boasts the largest academic library in the world (Widener Library, home to some 6 million volumes), as well as leading medical, law, and business schools. It has an integrated alumni network that stretches around the globe.
It would be invidious to single out any of Harvard’s many academic departments for its excellence, for the school’s principal claim on the #1 position lies in the fact that it is at or very near the top in nearly every field across the entire spectrum of the sciences and the humanities!
Not only is Harvard dominant across a multitude of academic fields, it is also ideally situated to work alongside a variety of other schools. The most obvious example is MIT, but the greater Boston metropolitan area is also home to Boston College, Boston University, Northeastern, Tufts, Brandeis, and several other research universities. This fact equips both students and faculty with endless opportunities for collaborative research.
- See where Harvard ranks amongst The Richest University in the World
- See Harvard’s ranking among the Best Mathematics Programs in the World
2Stanford University … [2nd in U.S.]
(Stanford, CA, USA)
With an $18.7 billion endowment Stanford has access to numerous world-class research resources.
The school’s 1,189 acre Jasper Ridge Biological Preserve lets scientists study ecosystems first hand. Its 150-foot radio telescope, nicknamed “The Dish,” studies the ionosphere.
Stanford also boasts a 315-acre habitat reserve which is actively trying to bring back the endangered California tiger salamander. And the SLAC Accelerator Laboratory actively advances the U.S. Department of Energy’s research.
Stanford is also affiliated with the prestigious Hoover Institution, which is one of the nation’s leading social, political, and economic think tanks.
But it takes more than just great laboratories and facilities to build a great research center. Stanford also has some of the finest minds in the world working for it. The school’s faculty currently include 22 Nobel Laureates, 51 members of the American Philosophical Society, three Presidential Medal of Freedom recipients, 158 National Academy of Science members, five Pulitzer Prize winners, and 27 MacArthur Fellows.
- See where Stanford ranks amongst The Richest University in the World
- See Stanford’s ranking among the Best Mathematics Programs in the World
3Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) … [3rd in U.S.]
(Cambridge, MA, USA)
In the century and a half since its founding in 1861, MIT has become the world’s preeminent science research center.
The university is known for a focused approach that uses first-class methodologies to tackle world-class problems. This pragmatic creativity has produced legions of scientists and engineers, as well as 80 Nobel Laureates, 56 National Medal of Science winners, 43 MacArthur Fellows, and 28 National Medal of Technology and Innovation winners.
Nevertheless, the school’s more than $10 billion endowment still leaves plenty of room for the arts and humanities. This is why MIT Press can publish 30 prestigious journals and 220 state-of-the-art books every year. Since 1899, MIT Technology Review has continuously researched developing trends in the industrial sciences and other related fields, making their publications essential for anyone trying to understand where future innovation is headed.
Notable people affiliated with MIT include Apollo 11 astronaut Buzz Aldrin, father of linguistics Noam Chomsky, former U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan, and former Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke.
4University of California at Berkeley … [4th in U.S.]
(Berkeley, CA, USA)
Berkeley is unique among the elite universities of the world. Most of the schools it competes with are privately owned, but Berkeley is a state school—albeit one with the elite status of a private school.
The university is nestled in a pleasant city by the same name, within easy commuting distance of San Francisco. With over 36,000 students, Berkeley is also one of the larger elite universities.
An impressive selection of talented students feeds its over 350 degree programs, producing more Ph.D.’s annually than any other U.S. institution. Student research is encouraged as each year 52 percent of seniors assist their professors in their research.
Berkeley draws students from over 100 nations. During the previous decade the National Science Foundation granted its students more graduate research fellowships than any other school.
The faculty has produced 39 members of the American Philosophical Society, 77 Fulbright Scholars, 32 MacArthur Fellows, and 22 Nobel Laureates (eight of whom are current faculty members).
- See where The University of California System ranks amongst The Richest University in the World
- See Berkeley’s ranking among the Best Mathematics Programs in the World
5University of Cambridge
As one of the oldest universities in the world (founded in 1209), Cambridge is an ancient school steeped in tradition.
It is small exaggeration to say the history of western science is built on a cornerstone called Cambridge. The roster of great scientists and mathematicians associated with the university includes Francis Bacon, Isaac Newton, Charles Darwin, James Clerk Maxwell, Augustus De Morgan, Ernest Rutherford, G.H. Hardy, Srinivasa Ramanujan, Alan Turing, Francis Crick, James Watson, Roger Penrose, and Stephen Hawking. Whether speaking of the unifying ideas in physics, the foundations of computer science, or the codifying of biology, Cambridge has been at the forefront of humanity’s quest for truth longer than most nations have existed.
Of course, great achievements are not restricted to the sciences. Such luminaries in the humanities as Desiderius Erasmus, John Milton, G.E. Moore, Bertrand Russell, Ludwig Wittgenstein, John Maynard Keynes, and C.S. Lewis, among dozens of other great names, taught and studied here.
But despite the many memories conjured by its imposing Gothic architecture, Cambridge does not live in the past. The university remains one of the world’s elite research institutions, with only Oxford to rival it in the U.K. and only a handful of American schools able to do so from overseas.
Its over 18,000 students represent more than 135 countries and its faculty have earned over 80 Nobel laureates.
- See where Cambridge ranks amongst The Richest University in the World
- See Cambridge’s ranking among the Best Mathematics Programs in the World
- Cambridge ranks as “The Best University in the United Kingdom.”
6Princeton University … [5th in U.S.]
(Princeton, NJ, USA)
Princeton University is one of the oldest, most historic universities in the United States. Its famous Nassau Hall (right) still bears a cannonball scar from the 1777 Battle of Princeton, and its former president, John Witherspoon, was the only University president to sign the Declaration of Independence.
The school’s nearly three-century history has given it ample time to develop an impressive $18.2 billion endowment. But unlike the other big institutions it competes with—such as Yale, Harvard, and Stanford—Princeton spreads its considerable wealth across a far smaller number of students and programs.
Princeton has no law school, medical school, business school, or divinity school. Instead of developing professional programs, it has self-consciously evolved into a massive, research-driven think tank.
Whereas other schools typically direct their elite faculties’ attention towards graduate students, Princeton expects its professors to teach students of various academic levels. Furthermore, Princeton, more so than many other leading institutions, continues to challenge its students with a difficult grading scale. Even brilliant valedictorians who come here from around the country find that they need to focus on their studies.
- See where Princeton ranks amongst The Richest University in the World
- See Princeton’s ranking among the Best Mathematics Programs in the World
7California Institute of Technology (Caltech) … [6th in U.S.]
(Pasadena, CA, USA)
Any school can assign a textbook for you to read on your own, but research universities pride themselves on giving you the opportunity to work alongside leaders in their respective fields who write the textbooks.
Of course, in order to do this efficiently a school needs a decent student/faculty ratio. Few schools can beat Caltech’s three-to-one ratio—which is one of the many reasons why this relatively young school has risen to international prominence.
Its faculty includes 33 Nobel Laureates, 58 National Medal of Science recipients, 13 National Medal of Technology and Innovation recipients, and 111 National Academy of Science members.
But to gain access to this prestigious collection of brilliant professors you will have to be the best of the best. Six thousand six hundred twenty-five applicants compete to be one of the 226 members of the freshman class—which is why 98 percent of the student body graduated in the top 10 percent of their class.
These students and teachers can also study at some of the school’s world-famous research centers, such as the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, the Seismological Laboratory, and the International Observatory Network.
8Columbia University … [7th in U.S.]
(New York, NY, USA)
As one of the colonial colleges and the fifth-oldest school in the United States, Columbia has a lot of history. That history has created an internationally recognized, elite university with an $8.2 billion endowment and a library containing nearly 13 million volumes.
Columbia University is spread across five distinct campuses in New York City, including Columbia College, the undergraduate division. In 2013, 26,376 students applied for 1,751 admittances to Columbia College.
The university’s medical school—the College of Physicians and Surgeons, which was founded in 1767—produced the first M.D.’s in the 13 colonies. The school now graduates nearly 1,400 doctors per year.
Columbia is the leading university in the New York metropolitan area, which gives its students numerous unique opportunities that only proximity to Wall Street, the U.N., Broadway, and other epicenters of finance, politics, and culture can bring. The university’s ideal location also gives its students the chance to interact with various other respected institutions, such as New York University.
Eighty-two Columbians have won a Nobel Prize at some point in their careers.
9University of Chicago … [8th in U.S.]
(Chicago, IL, USA)
The University of Chicago was only founded in 1890, making it one of the youngest elite universities in the world. But despite its youth, the school has spearheaded many of the world’s most important scientific achievements.
It was here that Italian physicist Enrico Fermi created the world’s first controlled, self-sustaining nuclear chain reaction in 1942. It was likewise at Chicago that Stanley Miller and Harold Urey demonstrated in 1952 that amino acids essential to life could be produced starting from simple molecules such as methane and ammonia, thus founding the entire field of what has come to be known as “origin of life” research. Today, the university is one of the leading universities building on the work of its famous alum, James Watson, in the exploration of the human genome.
But Chicago is not just a science school. It also possesses great depth, with elite programs in the humanities and the social sciences, including its world-renowned Economics Department and its interdisciplinary gathering of highly distinguished thinkers known as the Committee on Social Thought.
Of Chicago’s 89 Nobel Prize winners, 22 have been in economics, which is remarkable given that the economics prize was only first awarded in 1969 (45 years ago at the time of this writing). Perhaps this is one reason why the university weathered the 2008 financial crisis relatively well!
In any case, the school’s approximately $7 billion endowment is now rapidly growing once more, assuring the continuation of the ample research opportunities it provides its faculty and students well into the future.
Oxford University traces its origins back to the 13th century. With its intellectual roots firmly planted in medieval scholasticism, Oxford has survived the centuries, adapted to the times, and grown into what it is today—one of the world’s most impressive centers of learning.
Perhaps more than any other school in the world, Oxford’s name has become synonymous with knowledge and learning. This is because the school runs the world’s largest—and arguably most prestigious—academic press, with offices in over 50 countries.
One in five people who learn English worldwide do so with Oxford University Press materials. This international appeal may explain why almost 40 percent of the student body comes from outside the U.K.
Oxford’s academic community includes 80 Fellows of the Royal Society and 100 Fellows of the British Academy. Over 17,200 people applied for 3,200 undergraduate places in 2014.
However, despite thousands of undergraduate students willing to pay full tuition and centuries of accumulated assets, the highest source of income for Oxford continues to be research grants and contracts.
- See where Oxford ranks amongst The Richest University in the World
- See Oxford’s ranking among the Best Mathematics Programs in the World
11Yale University … [9th in U.S.]
(New Haven, CT, USA)
Yale University has everything one would expect from a major research university: it is one of the eight original Ivy League schools; it has a $20 billion endowment; and roughly one in six of its students come from foreign nations.
Yale has also had a disproportionate influence on American politics. Numerous major U.S. political careers have begun at Yale—the school’s notorious Skull and Bones secret society has produced three Presidents—and Yale Law School has been the preeminent law school in the country for years.
The university’s research centers address topics as varied as Benjamin Franklin’s writings, bioethics, magnetic resonance research, and the Russian archives.
Whereas many other elite institutions develop areas of specialization—be it Caltech’s and MIT’s focus on science and technology or Princeton’s focus on pure research—Yale is equally dominant in the humanities, the sciences, and the learned professions. This gives the school a unique ability to pursue interdisciplinary research.
Yale also enjoys a flexible alumni network that stretches to every corner of the globe.
12University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA) … [10th in U.S.]
(Los Angeles, CA, USA)
With over 72,000 applications for the fall of 2012 alone, UCLA receives more applications than any other school in America. This is all the more impressive when one considers the institution was only founded in 1919 as a two-year, undergraduate teacher-training program.
Today, the university can claim 13 Nobel Laureates, 12 Rhodes Scholars, 12 MacArthur Fellows, 10 National Medal of Science winners, three Pulitzer Prize winners, and a Fields Medalist.
UCLA has also produced numerous athletic achievements, with over 111 NCAA championships, 110 professional athletes, dominance over the No. 1 pick in the major league drafts, and 250 Olympic medals.
With a roughly $3 billion endowment and a budget exceeding $4.5 billion, UCLA has recovered rapidly from the 2008 financial crisis. Its substantial research funds are a part of the reason why over 100 companies have been created based on technology developed at the school.
- See where The University of California System ranks amongst The Richest University in the World
- See UCLA’s ranking among the Best Mathematics Programs in the World
13Cornell University … [11th in U.S.]
(Ithaca, NY, USA)
Cornell University is a sprawling city of scholarship that seems almost out of place amid the rolling upstate New York countryside.
Typically, schools numbering in the tens of thousands are integrated into much larger cities. Thus, in many ways Cornell has both the air of a quaint college nestled in the woods and the endless opportunity characteristic of urban centers.
But Cornell is not limited by its beautiful upstate campus. It also runs one of the nation’s leading medical schools in New York City. Moreover, the university is among the most active schools in seeking out international connections. In 2001, it started the first American medical school outside the states, in Qatar, and continues to develop strong ties with China, India, and Singapore.
Cornell is building itself into a transnational hub of intellectual inquiry. It has also developed multiple interdisciplinary research centers in nanotechnology, biotechnology, genomics, and supercomputing.
The university was also the first to build entire colleges for hotel administration, labor relations, and veterinary medicine.
14University of California at San Diego … [12th in U.S.]
(San Diego, CA, USA)
With a roughly $750 million endowment and over 30,000 students, no one would ever expect that the University of California at San Diego is younger than many of its faculty members.
The school lies on the frontiers of knowledge despite being founded in 1960. It is also unique in that unlike many of the private schools it competes with, UC San Diego is a public school with competitive costs. In-state students pay only $13,302 for tuition, and even out-of-state students will typically save $10,000 or more per year.
The school is one of the 10 largest centers for scientific research in America, which is why it has attracted 16 Nobel Laureates to teach there during the past 50 years.
Over 650 companies were launched or utilize technology developed at UC San Diego and, as of 2013, the university’s Technology Office managed over 400 license agreements. This propensity for innovation has been especially productive in the increasingly lucrative field of biotechnology.
Besides being ranked 14th in the world overall, UC San Diego is also ranked 15th for scientific impact (according to the Center for Science and Technology Studies), sixth for happiest freshmen in America (CBS News), and first for positive impact on the world (Washington Monthly).
15University of Washington … [13th in U.S.]
(Seattle, WA, USA)
University of Washington’s $2.1 billion endowment combines with 54,000 students paying state school tuition via three campuses and distance learning. This combination makes the school a top-notch research center available to the masses.
The university runs several highly respected professional schools in medicine, engineering, business, and law.
However, unlike many schools of its size and caliber, UW does not forget about its undergraduates. They enjoy a low 11:1 student-to-teacher ratio, as well as an annual undergraduate research symposium. The university also boasts an impressive 93 percent freshman retention rate.
UW has launched multiple prominent social research centers such as the Diversity Research Institute, the Center for Women’s Health and Gender Research, the Institute for Ethnic Studies in the U.S., and the West Coast Poverty Center.
The school has produced 35 Rhodes Scholars and seven Marshall Scholars. Moreover, four current professors and three alumni have won the Nobel Prize, and over 130 have become Fulbright Scholars.
16University of Pennsylvania … [14th in U.S.]
(Philadelphia, PA, USA)
The University of Pennsylvania (universally known as “Penn”) is an Ivy League school dating back to 1740. To this day, the university—which has become an integral part of the city of Philadelphia—carries forward the practical curiosity of its founder, Benjamin Franklin, in a wide spectrum of fields.
Penn is extremely diverse. Of the class of 2017, 50 percent of the student body is black, Hispanic, Asian, or Native American. The school also has just under 500 international students.
The faculty include 84 Academy of Arts and Sciences members, 81 Institute of Medicine members, 33 National Academy of Science members, 31 American Philosophical Society members, 175 Guggenheim Fellowship recipients, and 12 National Academy of Engineering members.
These first-class thinkers power the school’s more than 100 research centers and institutes, and direct much of its $8 billion endowment.
The school owns 357 buildings spread over 994 acres, in addition to its own teaching hospital.
17Johns Hopkins University … [15th in U.S.]
(Baltimore, MD, USA)
Many of the universities on this list began their existence as small schools aimed primarily at religious instruction. Johns Hopkins is different—it was designed from its inception to be at the forefront of scientific discovery.
The university operates what is widely regarded as the world’s leading medical school. As such, it has received more extramural National Institutes of Health awards than any other medical research institution in the country. Which is the main reason why the school receives more federal research funds than any competitor.
But Johns Hopkins is much more than just a medical school. The university as a whole also receives more federal research and development dollars than any other school—which helps it to further such prestigious institutions as the School of Advanced International Studies, the Carey Business School, and the Whiting School of Engineering.
Its faculty members include 51 American Academy of Arts and Sciences fellows, 61 Institute of Medicine members, 28 National Academy of Science members, and four Nobel Prize winners.
18University of California at San Francisco … [16th in U.S.]
(San Francisco, CA, USA)
The vast majority of universities on this list take a broad-brush approach to education: they have a variety of departments dedicated to the study of law, art, and the humanities, in addition to science. Some—such as MIT or Cal Tech—are known for specializing in the natural sciences.
However, the University of California at San Francisco (UCSF) is the world’s highest-ranked research university focused on only one field of study: namely medicine. The school is the only one within the 10-campus-wide University of California system dedicated solely to the health sciences.
But what UCSF lacks in versatility it more than makes up for in research success. Its more than 3,000 students are divided into divisions studying medicine, nursing, pharmacy, or graduate research, each of which is commended as a national leader in its respective field.
UCSF’s all-professional/graduate level student body lends a seriousness to the school often compromised at large state schools. Five Nobel Laureates teach at this $1.9 billion institution.
19Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH)
The Swiss Federal Institute of Technology—widely known by its German acronym ETH—is the leading university in Switzerland and the highest-ranked school on the continent of Europe.
Once the home of Albert Einstein, today ETH draws over 18,000 students from roughly 80 countries (36.9 percent of its students are foreign), who study in both German and English. Twenty-one Nobel Laureates are associated with the school.
ETH is especially well-connected to the private sector. It produces approximately 80 new patents a year. The school also helps its scientists develop and market the products of their research, and has consequently paved the way for hundreds of spin-off companies.
The university has special strengths in the areas of energy supply, risk management, city development, global food security, and international health.
ETH also benefits from its location within one of Europe’s leading cultural centers. Zurich has the reputation of a clean and pleasant place, which is why it has long been ranked as the city with the world’s highest standard of living.
ETH also benefits from its proximity to another major research institution, the University of Zurich.
20University College London
University College London (UCL) is blessed with an elite staff. Their ranks include 53 members of the Royal Society, 51 of the British Academy, 15 of the Royal Academy of Engineering, and 117 of the Academy of Medical Sciences.
Moreover, the school’s past and present students and faculty members have earned 29 Nobel Prizes (40, if you include research fellows and honorary graduates). Two alumni and one current faculty member have earned the coveted Fields Medal in mathematics.
UCL ranks third among U.K. schools for national funding. It has also recently linked efforts with Yale to form a transatlantic research initiative called the Yale UCL collaborative.
The school also runs multiple interdisciplinary research programs, such as the UCL Energy Institute, the UCL Centre for Multidisciplinary & Intercultural Inquiry, and the UCL Cancer Institute.
As its name implies, University College London benefits from its location within the British capital and world-class city that is London.
21University of Tokyo
University of Tokyo is not only the leading school in Japan, but also the leading school in all of Asia.
University of Tokyo has made many strides in an effort to become an internationally renowned research center. In 2012, the school developed PEAK, or “Programs in English at Komaba,” and now attracts students from over 100 nations.
University of Tokyo runs numerous research institutes studying multiple fields, including medical science, earthquakes, Asian culture, molecular bioscience, cosmic ray research, solid state physics, and environmental science. The school has produced seven Nobel Prize winners and one Field’s Medalist.
The university has also fully utilized its strategic location in the world’s largest city, and has had a major impact on the domestic front. Fifteen Japanese Prime Ministers have come from University of Tokyo.
The school’s influence on the Japanese government has been so extensive that former Prime Minister Kiichi Miyazawa felt the need to order government agencies to reduce their percentages of University of Tokyo alumni to under 50 percent in order to promote diversity!
22Imperial College London
What MIT is to the U.S., Imperial College London is to the U.K.
This university—whose full, official name is “Imperial College of Science, Technology, and Medicine”—focuses on the empirical disciplines. It ascended to prominence by absorbing several smaller institutions, including the Royal College of Chemistry, the Royal School of Mines, the Royal College of Science, and the City and Guilds College.
Along the way, multiple medical facilities also joined with Imperial College, until now the university represents a conglomeration of research centers spread out across several campuses. Today, Imperial College is divided into three main schools: Engineering; Natural Science and Medicine; and Business.
Imperial College’s faculty has laid claim to 14 Nobel Prizes, and the Queen and the Prime Minister share the same physician who teaches there.
Imperial College is also ideally situated to work alongside of University College London, and to tap into the massive political and economic power associated with the U.K.’s capital city.
23University of Michigan … [17th in U.S.]
(Ann Arbor, MI, USA)
With 51,000 students and 5,600 faculty spread over three sites, the University of Michigan’s flagship campus is an extremely large research university with the expansive alumni network that such numbers grant.
Students have 17 distinct schools and colleges, 588 majors, over 600 student organizations, and a staggering 350 concerts and recitals annually to choose from. The pleasant college town of Ann Arbor was listed as the Number One College Town in 2010 by Forbes Magazine.
The university’s faculty include many Pulitzer Prize winners, Guggenheim and MacArthur Fellows, and Emmy Award recipients. Eight Nobel Prize winners number among the school’s alumni.
Michigan runs one of the world’s largest health care facilities, gives its students first class computer access, and possesses a library system with holdings of over 10 million volumes altogether.
It is little wonder that the school attracts students from all 50 states and over 100 countries. Almost half of the student body graduated in the top five percent of their class, and two thirds graduated in the top ten.
Michigan sends more undergraduates to medical school than any other school in America.
24University of Toronto
(Toronto, ON, Canada)
University of Toronto is the leading Canadian research university. Even by the standards of large state schools, this institution is utterly massive, with over 80,000 students, 20,000 faculty and staff, and 530,000 alumni around the world.
Students can choose from 215 different graduate, 60 professional, and more than 700 undergraduate degrees spread over three different campuses. The student body represent over 150 nations.
Toronto has 44 libraries with holdings of over 21 million in all. The school has an operating budget of C$1.9 billion and contributes C$15.7 billion to the Canadian economy every year.
Toronto has produced no fewer than 10 Nobel Prize winners, including the first two from Canada. Given its immense size and resources, coupled with the world-class intellects it attracts, it should come as no surprise that Toronto ranks second among North American universities for faculty publications and third for citations.
The university’s ample research leads to dozens of new patents every year and many new technological spin-offs.
25University of Wisconsin … [18th in U.S.]
(Madison, WI, USA)
The University of Wisconsin’s flagship campus at Madison is a large public school comprising 40,000 students divided into 13 schools and colleges, supported by a $2 billion-plus endowment (third in the U.S. for research expenditures).
Speaking of its impressive budget, the university has recently invested a lot of money in new facilities. In 2010, it built the Wisconsin Institute for Discovery, which is designed for biomedical research. In 2012, it added a 200,000-square-foot addition to its Human Ecology Building. And in 2013, it opened the Wisconsin Energy Institute for advancing alternative energy technology.
However, University of Wisconsin represents more than state-of-the-art facilities. For over 100 years, this school has also developed a tradition of public service. Besides a vast collection of research programs directed towards more specific problems, the school’s Morgridge Center for Public Service has also engaged such broad social issues as poverty, inequality, and globalization.
In 1897, Kyoto University became the second university founded in Japan. Within a decade, the school added programs in science, engineering, law, medicine, and humanities.
The university, which is divided among three campuses, now has 17 graduate schools, 14 research institutes, 21 research/educational centers, and 10 faculties.
Eight of the 22 Japanese Nobel Prize Laureates have been affiliated with Kyoto. The school is also home to two Fields Medalists, as well as Gauss Prize winners and recipients of the Japan Prize.
Kyoto University has also recently received several major donations. In 2007, Japanese entrepreneur Tetsuro Funai gave the school enough funding to establish the Tetsuro Funai Auditorium and the Funai Center. Just three years later, Canon gave the school $4.89 million for the Advanced Medical Device Development and Clinical Research Center. Currently, the school has a $2.2 billion endowment.
Kyoto University runs multiple research centers, including the Yukawa Institute for Theoretical Physics, the Research Institute for Mathematical Sciences, the Primate Research Institute, the Kosobe Conservatory, and the Seto Marine Biological Laboratory.
27New York University … [19th in U.S.]
(New York, NY, USA)
New York University (NYU), located in the Washington Square neighborhood adjacent to Greenwich Village, pursues academic excellence while striving to be as diverse as the city it resides in. Eight-seven different foreign nations and 48 states are represented in its freshman class alone.
NYU also sends more students abroad than any other American school. Even in the present unpredictable economic atmosphere, 83 percent of the graduating class leave with jobs. This number increases to 94 percent employed or in graduate school within six months of commencement.
Furthermore, in 2014, the average starting salary of recent graduates was an impressive $55,647.† Almost half of the graduating class will receive multiple job offers.
NYU has also expanded into two foreign countries, with campuses in Shanghai (China) and Abu Dhabi (United Arab Emirates). Students can choose from over 230 areas of study and enjoy an intimate 10:1 student-to-faculty ratio.
28Northwestern University … [20th in U.S.]
(Evanston, IL, USA)
Northwestern University’s 21,000 students enjoy three campuses, two of which border on Lake Michigan, while the third resides in Doha, Qatar. These campuses house 12 schools and colleges.
The school employs a prestigious 3,344-strong full-time faculty that currently includes a Nobel Prize winner, MacArthur Fellowship winners, and Tony Award winners. The university is also known for its 19 teams’ presence within the Big Ten athletic conference.
Its $9.8 billion endowment is why the school can afford to utilize more than $500 million for research in a given year, and why its library can hold over 5 million items, including numerous journals and microforms.
As often seems to be the case, this leading research university benefits from its close proximity to an even stronger neighbor, the University of Chicago.
Northwestern also runs several major graduate research initiatives, including the Center for Global Health, the Initiative for Sustainability and Energy at Northwestern, and the Global and Research Opportunities at Northwestern.
29University of Illinois … [21st in U.S.]
(Urbana-Champaign, IL, USA)
In the modern world, many marvel at the technological advances of science. The University of Illinois prides itself on a deep commitment to this progress through the kind of interdisciplinary research done at the Applied Research Institute—which brings together a wide assortment of engineers—or the Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology—which unites a multitude of fields such as biology, computation, and physics—as well as the Academy for Entrepreneurial Leadership—which helps propagate the university’s nearly $2 billion endowment.
Yet, the school also utilizes much more focused research programs. These more specialized research programs include the Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies and the European Union Center.
This is why the University of Illinois, whose flagship campus is located at Urbana-Champaign, has produced 22 Noble Laureates and 22 Pulitzer Prizes. Famous Illinois alumni include many wealthy, successful people such as Oracle founder Larry Ellison, Playboy founder Hugh Hefner, and two of You Tube’s three founders.
30University of Minnesota … [22nd in U.S.]
(Minneapolis-St. Paul, MN, USA)
The University of Minnesota has more people than most armies in history had soldiers. With just under 70,000 students, 25,000 faculty administering instruction, and an alumni network of over 400,000, Minnesota’s web of influence has encircled the globe. The school now impacts Minnesota’s economy to the tune of $8.6 billion annually.
This combination of massive financial resources and legions of brilliant minds is why Minnesota has no less than 325 research centers and institutes, giving students the opportunity to pursue their passions no matter where they lead.
The university, whose flagship campus is located in the “Twin Cities” of Minneapolis-St. Paul, has developed an especially successful medical research program through its children’s hospital and biomedical library.
Typically, one would expect a school of Minnesota’s size and prominence to be driven by publications and patents. However, in spite of its size the university has maintained a compassionate touch. In addition to its children’s hospital, the school also runs an extremely successful education program for students in grades K–12. This allows future educators, parents, and children to learn about learning while learning about everything else. As a result, Minnesota stands at the forefront of education research.
- The University of Minnesota ranks as one of the Best Online Universities in the world!
- See where The University of Minnesota ranks amongst The Richest University in the World
31Duke University … [23rd in U.S.]
(Durham, NC, USA)
Often called the Ivy League of the South, Duke University’s 14,600 students enjoy a first-class education in one corner of North Carolina’s famed “Research Triangle” (the other two corners being North Carolina State University at Raleigh and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill).
Duke is especially well known for its two most prestigious professional programs. The first is Duke’s medical program which includes the Duke University Health System, Medical School, Nursing School, and Duke Hospital, all working in partnership. The second is the university’s well-rated law school, which consistently ranks among the top 10 in the country (and has never dropped out of the prestigious top 14). Given these two areas of expertise, it is not surprisingly that Duke runs one of the world’s most sought-after dual J.D./M.D. programs.
The school also operates Duke University Press, which publishes about 120 new books each year and maintains 30 academic journals. In addition, the school maintains 700 acres of undisturbed woods called Duke Forest, which serves as a natural laboratory.
32Washington University … [24th in U.S.]
(St. Louis, MO, USA)
Washington University is a private university located in St. Louis, near the confluence of the mighty Mississippi and majestic Missouri Rivers. It was from here that Lewis and Clark set out on their great voyage of discovery in 1804; today, Washington University in St. Louis carries on in their tradition by extending the frontiers of knowledge.
U.S. News & World Report named the school first in social work and sixth among comprehensive medical schools, while Princeton Review named it seventh for best value in private colleges and eighth in top schools for entrepreneurs.
The U.S. Department of Education ranked Washington University 21st highest for freshman retention rate. Students enjoy an impressive 8:1 student-to-faculty ratio.
The university’s faculty are among the most highly honored in the world, including three Pulitzer Prize winners, two Poets Laureate of the United States, 53 members of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, 45 National Academy of Sciences members, 18 American Law Institute members, and 16 National Medal of Science winners. Twenty-four Nobel Laureates have also been affiliated over the years with Washington University in Saint Louis.
33Rockefeller University … [25th in U.S.]
(New York, NY, USA)
Many universities try to study as wide a range of subjects as possible. Rockefeller University is different. More than any other school in the world’s top 100, Rockefeller specializes in bioscience and medical research.
The areas of biology that its departments focus on range from stem cells to neuroscience, and from biochemistry to structural biology.
Twenty-four Nobel Prizes have been connected to Rockefeller, as well as 21 Lasker Awards, 20 National Medals of Science, 16 members of the Institute of Medicine, 33 members or foreign associates of the National Academy of Sciences, and 18 recipients of the Canadian Gairdner International Award.
What this university lacks in breadth it more than makes up for in depth. There are other schools that have faculties of comparable distinction spread out over all of their respective departments, but few schools can match Rockefeller University’s incredible concentration of talent within the frontiers of medical science.
34University of Colorado … [26th in U.S.]
(Boulder, CO, USA)
The University of Colorado, whose flagship campus is located in Boulder just north of Denver, sits against the backdrop of the Rocky Mountains—one of the most spectacular settings of any college campus.
But there is much more to this university than beautiful scenery. The school boasts five Nobel Laureates and more than 50 members of prestigious academic societies.
The University of Colorado at Boulder has a humanitarian-driven outlook. It is one of the top five contributors to the Peace Corps and founded the first Engineers Without Borders chapter.
The University runs 11 different research institutes empowered by the more than $350 million in research funds awarded to faculty. The school offers 3,600 undergraduate courses in roughly 150 fields for 81 different degrees at the bachelor’s level alone.
University of Colorado students come from every state and over 100 foreign countries. They also participate in study-abroad programs in 65 different nations.
Colorado-Boulder alumni have found success in fields from theology and ethics (Baptist theologian Stanley J. Grenz) to statesmanship and politics (President of Liberia and Nobel Peace Prize winner, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf).
35Pierre and Marie Curie University (Paris VI)
As the chief science and medicine faculty in Paris, Pierre and Marie Curie University (also known as “Paris Six”) is its nation’s leading academic institution.
The university has 18 campuses spread over four regions. Its four museums advance cultural awareness of the arts, while its 125 laboratories partner with a variety of nationally funded research initiatives, including the French National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS).
The school, with 10,500 staff members and 5,820 teacher-researchers in residence, produces over 6,700 publications and 745 theses each year. Paris VI spends €400 million on scientific research projects annually. Of the school’s 32,000 students, some 10,000 are studying science and 11,000 medicine.
The university has also built a network of marine biology labs around the world—making the school a leader in the field of oceanography—as well as the impressive Paris Astrophysics Institute and the respected Henri Poinacaré Institute.
- Pierre Marie Curie ranks among the 10 Best Mathematics Programs in the World
- Pierre and Marie Curie University ranks as “The Best University in France.”
36University of North Carolina … [27th in U.S.]
(Chapel Hill, NC, USA)
As the oldest public school in America, the University of North Carolina (UNC) combines the long-standing traditions and prestige more typical of a private school with the economic heft and intellectual prowess of a big state school.
UNC—whose flagship campus is located in the “Research Triangle” town of Chapel Hill—has just under 30,000 students who routinely participate in 325 study-abroad programs in 70 countries.
The university was listed first on Princeton Review’s “Top 10 Best Value Public Colleges for 2014” list, ranked the fifth-best public school by U.S. News & World Report for the 14th straight year, and slotted #46 in the world according by London-based Times Higher Education.
UNC also cycles through a staggering number of research dollars. The National Institutes of Health awarded the university over $428 million in 2014, while another $141.5 million went to various UNC centers and institutes. Last year the university spent a total of $792.7 million on research supporting over 10,000 researchers, professors, scientists, and various other UNC staff.
37University of British Columbia
(Vancouver, BC, Canada)
The University of British Columbia (UBC) consistently ranks among the world’s top 40 research universities, and likewise among the top 20 public universities.
The school has produced seven Nobel Laureates, 65 Olympic medals, 68 Rhodes Scholars, and 180 Royal Society of Canada members. Both Kim Campbell and Charles Joseph Clark—two of Canada’s Prime Ministers—also came out of UBC.
The school’s great size (over 58,000 students and 5,130 faculty members) contributes to its vast alumni network of over 300,000 people spread out over 120 countries.
The school induces C$12.7 billion worth of economic impact on a yearly basis, and uses a C$2 billion operating budget. Up until now, 158 different companies have spun off of UBC-fnanced research.
The school is spread across two campuses, the larger of which is located in Vancouver and is surrounded by beautiful mountain scenery. The second campus is in the city of Kelowna in the Okanagan Valley.
UBC’s more-than-ample library system has 15 divisions and over 7 million items.
38University of Manchester
The University of Manchester’s 38,000 students and over 4,400 academic and research staff make this school the largest single campus-university in the United Kingdom.
The school has many illustrious accomplishments to its credit, including 25 Nobel Laureates. Several famous scientific experiments were performed here, such as Ernest Rutherford’s historic Gold Foil Experiment proving that the so-called “atom” has an internal structure (a nucleus).
Alan Turing laid the conceptual foundations for the field of computer science at Manchester, and later on it was here that the world’s first supercomputer was built. This university is also responsible for the discovery of graphene. Britain’s Research Assessment Exercise found nearly two-thirds of Manchester’s work to be either world-leading or internationally excellent.
Over 90 percent of graduates directly enter employment or further studies.
And as if all this success were not enough, Manchester has just invested £750 million into upgrading its facilities, and plans to spend a further £1 billion by 2022. This will be the greatest investment ever implemented into any university in the U.K.
39University of Texas … [28th in U.S.]
(Austin, TX, USA)
The University of Texas (UT) is one of the fastest-growing institutions of higher learning in the U.S., with an ever-increasing population and business potential.
UT—whose flagship campus is located in the state capital, Austin—is the anchor of the Texas University System, which consists altogether of nine universities and six medical schools. UT-Austin is considered one of the Public Ivy League schools.
UT’s research allowance is approaching $700 million annually, its operating budget is well over $2 billion, and its endowment is a whopping $6 billion.
Some 51,000 students and 24,000 faculty members pursue the love of learning here. The school’s faculty have earned rewards such as the Nobel Prize, Pulitzer Prize, Wolf Prize, and the National Medal of Science.
There are 17 seventeen libraries and seven museums on campus. UT-Austin also runs the McDonald Observatory in the Davis Mountains of West Texas.
The school is very successful in the athletic arena, as well, where it competes within the well-known Big 12 Conference.
40University of Copenhagen
Founded in 1479, the University of Copenhagen is the oldest and the second-largest University in Denmark.
The university has over 38,000 students and 9,000 employees. It is a member of the international Alliance of Research Universities and has produced eight Nobel Laureates.
The school is divided into six departments, namely medicine, law, humanities, theology, social science, and science. It runs over 100 research centers that cover topics as diverse as real-time language change, international courts, military studies, dark-matter cosmology, aging, and Søren Kierkegaard.
University of Copenhagen has produced many noteworthy historical figures, such as the great astronomers Tycho Brahe and Ole Rømer. In more recent years, numerous Scandinavian, and especially Danish, Prime Ministers have graduated from the university.
The school continues to add to its rich history of intellectual and artistic achievement. For instance, the Copenhagen Orchestra—only founded in 2007—has already established an impressive reputation as one of Europe’s top symphony orchestras.
41University of California at Santa Barbara … [29th in U.S.]
(Santa Barbara, CA, USA)
The University of California at Santa Barbara (UCSB) is a young school, barely a century old. But in the last 60 years, it has surged onto the world scene and become internationally renowned.
The university’s 21,500 students and 1,100 faculty enjoy one of the most aesthetically stunning campuses in the world. Newsweek has written of UCSB: “If there’s a more beautiful campus than this one at the edge of the Pacific, we haven’t seen it.”
The current faculty include five Nobel Prize Laureates since 1998, as well as members of the National Academy of Sciences, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the National Academy of Engineering, as well as recipients of the Fields Medal and the Millennium Technology Prize. These first-class intellects pursue research at the school’s 12 national research centers.
This rapid rise to prominence was rewarded in 1995, when UCSB joined the 62-school Association of American Universities, an honor which less than two percent of North American Universities enjoy.
42University of Paris-Sud (Paris XI)
The University of Paris-Sud (also known as “Paris Onze”) is an ancient school founded in the 12th century. It is in many ways reminiscent of the city it calls home.
Just as Paris is both one of the cultural capitals of the world and simultaneously advancing in the ever-evolving information age, so too Paris XI combines its historic linage with a bold future.
One hundred thirty-two nationalities are represented within the student body’s vibrant, 28,000-strong membership. The school also attracts 1,900 teachers and 2,500 researchers.
These people advance their work in over 100 laboratories and produce 5,000 international publications annually. Most of this body of work is cited at above the average rate. Paris XI has also produced two Nobel Prize Laureates and four Fields Medalists.
The university’s Industrial and Commercial Activity Office regularly produces 50 patents a year. Most of the patents are in cutting-edge hard science such as physics, engineering, and medicine.
Paris XI earns €19 million each year through contract research.
43University of Maryland … [30th in U.S.]
(College Park, MD, USA)
The University of Maryland (UMD) is the leading research center in its state.
UMD’s flagship school is located on a beautiful 1250-acre campus in College Park, Maryland, which is effectively a suburb of Washington, D.C. The school is only nine miles from the White House, the Library of Congress, the Smithsonian Institution, and the National Archives. Students work with federal agencies, labs, NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, and the National Institute of Standards and Technology.
In 2013, the school’s Food Recovery Network received its first large grant through Sodexo. Now, this organization provides food for hungry people in 53 colleges across 20 states. UMD pioneered the hugely successful living-learning programs, which have given students hands-on experience in fields as diverse as entrepreneurship and cybersecurity.
The faculty includes members of various national academies, Pulitzer Prize winners, and Nobel Laureates. UMD researchers have worked alongside NASA on multiple space missions, including Voyagers I and II and the Deep Impact missions.
UMD’s environmental researchers are currently working to restore the Chesapeake Bay.
44University of Melbourne
(Melbourne, Victoria, Australia)
The University of Melbourne is both the oldest and the leading university in Australia. The school sits next to Melbourne’s center of commerce, and consequently benefits from all the culture and opportunity that a city which has been called “the fourth best city for college students” affords.
The University offers over 340 graduate tracks. One can study everything from professional degrees in law and medicine, to research programs in various sciences.
This is why every year 52,000 students—12,000 of whom are foreigners representing 129 different countries—come to Melbourne. This healthy research environment is one reason why Melbourne gave the world its first bionic ear and is currently developing the first bionic eye.
The school belongs to several prestigious university groups, such as the Asia-Pacific Rim and the Group of Eight. The university has refocused its research directives towards discerning three broad issues: our place/purpose, promoting well-being, and supporting sustainability.
Melbourne actively seeks to engage public discourse through its biennial Festival of Ideas and public lecture program.
- See where Melbourne ranks amongst The Richest University in the World
- University of Melbourne ranks as “The Best University in Australia.”
45University of Edinburgh
(Edinburgh, Scotland, UK)
Founded in 1583, the University of Edinburgh is one of the oldest colleges in the English-speaking world. Its list of historic luminaries includes Adam Smith, David Hume, Charles Darwin, James Clerk Maxwell, and Alexander Graham Bell.
The school has also produced heads of state for Canada, Malawi, Syria, Nicaragua, South Korea, Tanzania, and of course, the United Kingdom.
Edinburgh scientists cloned Dolly the Sheep (the first cloned mammal), while Peter Higgs created his theory of the Higgs Boson here. Scientists at this university created the first genetically engineered hepatitis B vaccine, and helped design the first industrial-assembly robot.
Students can study 500 degree programs spread throughout 100 disciplines. Edinburgh has the largest proportion of international students (two-thirds of the world’s nations are represented in the student body) of any school in Scotland, and participates in many foreign exchange programs.
During the past five years, the school has invested £80 million in improving educational facilities. Students can enjoy all these opportunities right in the middle of Scotland’s beautiful capital.
46University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center … [31st in U.S.]
(Dallas, TX, USA)
The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas is the largest medical training facility in the Texas University System. It trains over 4,700 students and postdoctoral fellows from the medical, graduate, and health professions every year. The school’s students and faculty care for 92,000 hospitalized patients and 2.1 million outpatients each year.
The school receives $415.5 million from various federal agencies, including the National Institutes of Health. These funds support over 3,300 research projects.
Southwestern Medical has 13,800 employees utilizing a $2.3 billion operating budget. The faculty do not restrict their teaching to just students and fellows. They also teach 1,600 clinical residents and 63,000 physicians pursuing continuing education each year.
The graduate school runs 12 different degree programs covering every area of modern medicine. The current faculty hold six Nobel Prizes. In addition, 21 are members of the National Academy of Sciences and 19 are members of the Institute of Medicine.
For many scientists around the world, winning the Nobel Prize in their field is equivalent to an athlete’s winning an Olympic gold medal, or to a politician’s being elected President or Prime Minister.
Five researchers affiliated with the Karolinska have received the Nobel Prize, all right—but more interestingly, it is here that the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine has been awarded every year since 1895 (except during World War II).
This world-class medical science center—located in a suburb of Stockholm—produces over 40 percent of the medical research done in Sweden. It was here that in 1915 researchers discovered the sedimentation reaction (ESR), which remains a useful diagnostic tool to this day.
The Karolinska was also the first to develop methods for the production of pure insulin and non-toxic heparin and other blood thinners. The institute also conducted important studies on the impact of the fluoridation of drinking water on public health, the use radiation to examine blood vessels, and the purification of myoglobin.
Finally, it was here that the first pacemaker was implanted into a live person, and the foundations for mitochondrial medicine were laid.
This illustrious list of contributions to medicine continues unabated into the present and will continue for the foreseeable future.
48University of California at Irvine … [32nd in U.S.]
(Irvine, CA, USA)
The University of California at Irvine shares many traits with its sister schools in the University of California public research system. It is young (founded in 1965) and large (over 29,000 students), and has rapidly climbed the ranks from an unknown entity to one of the world’s premier research universities.
Times Higher Education ranks UC Irvine as the number one university under 50 years old, and it was the youngest school to enter the Association of American Universities.
Its yearly contribution of outside funding now exceeds $300 million per year. Its endowment is rapidly expanding, having nearly reached its $1 billion fundraising goal set for its 50th anniversary next year.
These growing assets allow the school to develop cutting-edge technology, such as new extremely lightweight but strong materials in resilient micro-lattice metal, or the work of famous computer scientists like Deva Ramanan.
UC Irvine also runs first-class professional schools. Its business school is now respected as one of the best in the world and is particularly known for employing many female professors, while the university’s law school is now ranked among the top 10 for scholarly publications.
Founded in 1386, Heidelberg University is Germany’s oldest research university. The school has also used a combination of research-based teaching and effective doctoral training to become one of Europe’s most respected science schools.
Heidelberg focuses on four broad areas of research: materials and structures; molecular and cellular pattern formation; self-organization and regulation; and global culture.
The school also runs the interdisciplinary Centre for Advanced Study and works alongside independent research centers, including the German Cancer Research Center and the Max Planck Institute.
The school’s 30,000 students study and work in 12 different faculties and can choose from 160 different programs. This incredibly wide range of topics of study is unparalleled in Germany, and further enhances the institution’s ability to do interdisciplinary research.
Heidelberg is also plugged into a worldwide collection of over 400 research universities. It is a member of the League of European Research Universities, the Coimbra Group, and the European University Association. The school also has a satellite campus in Latin America and offers courses in various other locations.
Roughly 20 percent of both the student body and the researchers are international. The school is also connected to a staggering 55 Nobel Prizes, as well as numerous other faculty awards.
50University of Munich
The Ludwig Maximilian University Munich—or the “University of Munich,” for short—is a leading European research university over half a millennia in age.
The university was chosen by the German government’s Excellence Initiative as a university of excellence. Seven hundred forty professors and 4,750 academic staff conduct research via its many laboratories and medical facilities.
Unlike many younger schools which have a far stronger tendency to focus on the hard sciences, the University of Munich also maintains an impressive emphasis on the humanities. For example, it has two separate theology departments—one Protestant and the other Catholic—that work side-by-side with its Philosophy department.
Half of the university’s 18 faculties are dedicated to studying various aspects of culture. The school offers 150 subjects for its 48,000 students, 5 percent of whom (about 6,800) are foreigners.
The school’s operating budget is an impressive €488.6 million, which leaves plenty of room to still focus on the hard sciences.
This is one reason why Munich has produced 34 Nobel Prizes, and has 1,800 doctors treating over 500,000 patients each year.
51University of Southern California … [33rd in U.S.]
(Los Angeles, CA, USA)
Although the University of Southern California (USC) is a relatively young school among such prestigious company, it has become one of the premier schools in America and is the oldest private university in the western U.S.
USC, which enrolls more international students than any other American university, has 41,000 students, of whom 23,000 are seeking graduate or professional training. The university has an impressive $3.9 billion endowment which translates into a $646 million research budget.
The school has produced four Nobel Prize Laureates, three National Medal of Science winners, two National Medal of Technology recipients, and three MacArthur Fellows. The faculty also has 33 members of the National Academy of Engineering, 17 members of the Institute of Medicine, and 15 members of the National Academy of Sciences.
USC has produced many noteworthy alumni, such as Neil Armstrong, the first man on the moon. Moreover, the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences has nominated at least one USC graduate every year since the creation of the Academy Awards in 1929.
52Rutgers University … [34th in U.S.]
(New Brunswick, NJ, USA)
Rutgers—officially, the State University of New Jersey—is one of the nine colonial colleges built in America before 1776.
The School is centrally located in between New York City and Philadelphia, and consequently well positioned to tap into either city’s substantial economic and cultural opportunities. The flagship Rutgers campus in New Brunswick benefits from a working relationship with its sister campuses in Camden and Newark, as well as a partnership with New Jersey’s premier medical school, the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, also in Newark.
Rutgers has long been considered one of the most diverse colleges in the U.S., with a 40,000-plus member student body drawing from a wide range of economic, social, and national backgrounds. The university is blessed with a first-class faculty that includes an Abel Prize winner, MacArthur Fellows, Guggenheim Fellows, Pulitzer Prize winners, and 37 members of various national academies.
Rutgers is a member of the Association of American Universities and the international Committee on Institutional Cooperation. Each year it spends $430 on research in the life sciences alone, and it generates $304 million in contracts and externally sponsored research grants, making the university an internationally recognized research leader.
53Technical University of Munich
The Technical University of Munich (TUM) benefits from its good company: It is centrally located in one of Europe’s cultural gems and neighbors the University of Munich.
But unlike its fellow Munich university, TUM is much more focused on the sciences. Its 500 professors, 9,000 staff, and 36,000 students focus on engineering, natural science, life science, medicine, and economics.
In 2006, TUM was selected by the Science Council and the German Research Foundation as an “Elite University.” The school is responsible for 13 Nobel Laureates.
But perhaps a better indicator of TUM’s success is the transformation it has led in the German state of Bavaria. Before the school’s long list of scientific accomplishments, the region was mainly known for agriculture; now, the state has become one of Europe’s centers of scientific research and technological innovation as more and more companies flock to Munich.
In addition to TUM, the Bavarian capital is now home to several other scientific research centers, including the Center for Digital Technology and Management and the Max Planck Institute Munich.
54Vanderbilt University … [35th in U.S.]
(Nashville, TN, USA)
Vanderbilt University is one of the major academic institutions in the southern U.S. Its 12,000 students enjoy such a beautiful campus populated by more than 300 tree and shrub varieties that it has been named a “national arboretum.”
The school has an impressive 8:1 student-to-faculty ratio, is a member of the Association of American Universities, and has produced six Nobel Prize Laureates.
Vanderbilt has a $5.3 billion endowment and a yearly operating budget of $4 billion, which is why the university can spend such substantial resources on its projects. In 2013, it invested $573.1 into research, while its hospital spent $843.6 million.
Vanderbilt advances science through many first-class institutes such as the Center for Medicine Health and Society, the Treatment and Research Institute for Autism Spectrum Disorders, and the Institute for Space and Defense Electronics.
In addition to these first-rate resources, scholars here enjoy a research library with more than 4.4 million volumes.
55University of California at Davis … [36th in U.S.]
(Davis, CA, USA)
The University of California at Davis is a significantly sized state school with over 34,000 students and 222,000 living alumni. It offers over 100 undergraduate majors and 90 graduate programs, many of which are nationally and internationally respected.
The university has substantial resources which include an $807 million endowment and an annual $754 million research budget. UC Davis Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital treats 45,000 animals a year, while its Health System treats 6 million people.
In an effort to further sustainability research, UC Davis built the West Village. This facility was designed to be America’s largest zero net energy community and now serves as a model for sustainable housing development.
The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation recently awarded UC Davis $16 million for research in developing highly nutritious and cost-effective dietary supplements to prevent malnutrition in developing countries. Moreover, the UC Davis Institute for Regenerative Cures is currently pursuing medical advancement through stem cell research.
56University of Zurich
With 26,000 students, the University of Zurich is the largest university in Switzerland. Given its substantial student population, it is not surprising that the university also offers the widest range of academic programs of any school in its country (over 100 to date).
The university’s academics are divided into seven broad departments, ranging from science through professional schools to the humanities. Undergraduate courses are taught in Swiss Standard German, although the master’s degrees in science and several other programs are taught in English.
The school has produced a dozen Nobel Laureates to its credit, including the 20th century’s embodiment of science itself, Albert Einstein (who also studied at Zurich’s other famous institution of higher learning, ETH).
The University of Zurich runs 160 institutes and clinics, including an especially noteworthy research project known as the Swiss National Super Computer Centre. The University of Zurich has also been recognized for its contribution to science through its inclusion in the League of European Research Universities.
But Zurich is more than just a research center; it has also taken up the challenge of sharing its knowledge with the general public. The school runs 12 museums, constantly rotates through public lecture series, and regularly produces publications for a general audience in order to share as much knowledge with as many as possible.
(Utrecht, The Netherlands)
As early as 695 AD, students began studying at a school in the city of Utrecht, a community founded by a monk of the same name.
Although the modern Utrecht University bears little resemblance to its humble beginnings, it still carries on both the tradition expected of an ancient institution and the curiosity fundamental to education, making it one of the most deeply respected universities in the Netherlands.
The school is divided into seven faculties: humanities, law, geosciences, social and behavioral sciences, science, medicine, and veterinary medicine.
Utrecht offers a wide range of subjects both in Dutch and English, including 45 undergraduate programs (four in English), 153 graduate programs (81 in English), and 32 teacher training programs (both Dutch and English). Twelve Nobel Prize winners have come through Utrecht, as well as 14 Spinoza Laureates.
The university can capitalize on a substantial student body of over 30,000 students, 1,500 of whom are exchange students from 118 different countries.
In addition to its size, Utrecht also benefits from an impressive €765 million endowment.
58Pennsylvania State University … [37th in U.S.]
(University Park, PA, USA)
Even by the standards of world-class, state-run research universities, Pennsylvania State University (universally known as “Penn State”) is utterly massive. It takes 24 campuses to house its 100,000-plus students and 17,000 faculty and staff statewide. The flagship campus is found in the centrally located, purpose-built town of University Park.
In many ways Penn State is more of a state-wide unified system of colleges working under one federation than a single university. The university runs one of the largest graduate schools in the U.S., and cycles through more than $2 million in research every day.
In addition to the over $800 million spent annually on research, Penn State also generates $100 million in industry and private funding each year. Its hospital-integrated medical school treats over 1 million patients annually.
Penn State’s more than half-million alumni have access to the largest required-dues alumni association in the U.S., with over 275 branches across the globe. The school also runs an online campus and the world’s largest student-organized and -led philanthropic society.
- See where Penn State ranks amongst The Richest University in the World
- Also a leader in online education, Penn State World Campus ranks #1 among The 100 Best Online Colleges.
59King’s College London
Historically, King’s College London (“Kings” or “KCL”) has stood at the forefront of extending higher education to women and men in lower social economic classes.
The school has developed and merged with several other respected academic institutions over the years, including the United Medical and Dental Schools of Guy’s and St Thomas’ Hospitals (the world’s first professional school for nursing), Chelsea College, Queen Elizabeth College, and the Institute of Psychiatry.
Now, this unified conglomerate forms a first-class research university with an endowment exceeding £154 million. KCL is connected to 12 Nobel Prizes.
It was here that the great poet John Keats received his training (in medicine), and here that the civil rights activist and Nobel Peace Prize winner Desmond Tutu began his fight against apartheid.
The distinguished physicist James Clerk Maxwell conducted his pioneering research here as well (proving that magnetism, electricity, and light are all different aspects of the same physical phenomenon).
60Purdue University … [38th in U.S.]
(West Lafayette, IN, USA)
Purdue University offers over 500 undergraduate majors and specializations, as well as 70 graduate programs for its 72,000 students.
Its flagship campus, located in the town of West Lafayette, is divided into 10 smaller undergraduate schools: Agriculture, Education, Engineering, Health and Human Sciences, Liberal Arts, Management, Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, Science, Technology, and Veterinary Medicine (in addition to the Graduate School).
Multiple major ranking sites have good things to say about Purdue. For example, the Center for World University Rankings considers Purdue to be #52 worldwide, and the Financial Times called the school’s MBA program #56 in the world.
Purdue has also developed an increasingly well-known online writing lab that allows anyone anywhere to instantly answer whatever questions concerning style and grammar their writing may raise.
The university has produced 13 Nobel Prize Laureates. Purdue also has a very strong connection to NASA, having produced an impressive 23 astronauts. In fact, over one-third of NASA’s manned missions have had a Purdue graduate on board.
Uppsala University was the first university in Scandinavia. This Swedish school has grown to include over 40,000 students studying in over nine facilities supported by €549.6 million.
The university is affiliated with multiple prestigious international university collaborations, such as Coimbra, U4, Matariki, SANORD, Nordic Centre India, Nordic Centre Fudan University, and the Baltic University Programme, as well as an especially strong exchange program with the Collège de France.
Uppsala is also a leader in the national database Swedish ScienceNet, a joint program among 10 Swedish schools that constantly updates the world on emerging empirical discoveries. The school also offers over 40 international master’s degrees in English.
This strong collaboration, combined with the school’s first-class resources, is why Uppsala has produced eight Nobel Prizes, most of which are in physics and chemistry. The school also networks with many more Nobel Prize winners, as it is a long-standing tradition for the Laureates to visit Uppsala in conjunction with the Nobel banquet in Stockholm.
62Carnegie Mellon University … [39th in U.S.]
(Pittsburgh, PA, USA)
Carnegie Mellon University was founded in 1900 for the sake of expanding the scientific enterprise, and has continuously pursued research among the hard sciences ever since.
The Association of University Technology Managers found that the school produced the highest number of start-up companies per dollar of any university. U.S. News & World Report called it the #1 school for computer science and #5 for engineering in 2014.
Students here are known for both their contributions to technical fields and their ability to harness those developments for successful entrepreneurial ventures. This has contributed to Carnegie Mellon’s development across the globe.
The university now has three campuses. The historic campus is located in Pittsburgh, while two new campuses have been added, one in Silicon Valley and the other in Doha, Qatar.
Carnegie Mellon University has obviously developed quickly in its relatively short life span. It now has a $1.4 billion endowment, 13,000 students, 1,500 faculty, and 131 research centers.
The school has produced 19 Nobel Prizes, four members of the Institute of Medicine, 49 members of the National Academy of Engineers, and 13 members of the Academy of Sciences.
63University of Bristol
The University of Bristol attracts students from over 100 nations to the beautiful city that shares its name. The school boasts 11 Nobel Laureates, 21 Fellows of the Academy of Medical Science, 15 Fellows of the British Academy, 11 Fellows of the Academy of Royal Academy of Engineering, and 40 Fellows of the Royal Society.
Bristol is also affiliated with multiple prestigious university groups, such as the Russel Group, Coimbra Group, and the Worldwide Universities Network. The school also sends students to over 500 other European Universities through the Erasmus University Charter.
Bristol is powered by a healthy £459.2 million endowment. And unlike too many institutions in these financially troubled times, it cycles through £100.6 million of capital investment, leaving a stable £12.5 million surplus, so that students may be confident that the school’s research activities are secure.
Bristol’s research now involves both the Bristol Laboratory for Advanced Dynamics Engineering (BLADE)—which is the most advanced center for studying aircraft design in Europe—and the development of a new type of computer on the principle of quantum information processing (“qubits”).
64Ohio State University … [40th in U.S.]
(Columbus, OH, USA)
Ohio State University’s flagship campus is located in the state capital of Columbus, one of the most prosperous cities in the U.S.
The school is one of the top public universities in the U.S., with 44,000 students in 175 majors, 492 specializations, various graduate and professional schools, and over 1,000 extracurricular activities and internships. The university has a $3.1 billion endowment, and is one of the few schools with all three categories of land, sea, and space grants.
Ohio State runs several major medical research centers, such as the Arthur James Cancer Hospital and the Heart and Lung Research Institute. Its faculty includes a Nobel Prize winner, 21 members of either the National Academy of Engineering or the Academy of Sciences, four members of the Institute of Medicine, and 177 fellows of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).
Since 2002, Ohio State has always either been first or second among American universities for AAAS affiliation of its faculty.
65University of Pittsburgh … [41st in U.S.]
(Pittsburgh, PA, USA)
The University of Pittsburgh (known as “Pitt”) is a member of the Association of American Universities. The university’s flagship campus in Pittsburgh itself has more than 100 buildings on 132 acres of land.
At the center of the Pitt main campus lies the Cathedral of Learning, a 42-story Gothic-style tower that is also the tallest university building in the Western Hemisphere. Almost 5,000 faculty train roughly 29,000 pupils, including over 10,000 graduate students. The school’s classrooms enjoy an impressive 14:1 student-to-faculty ratio.
Pitt has a long list of scientific accomplishments to its credit. Its research is responsible for the polio vaccine, synthetic insulin, the world’s first double transplant operation, and discovery of the most distant known galaxy.
The university has also benefited greatly from a close relationship with the Pittsburgh Medical Center, and stands in close proximity to the internationally renowned Carnegie Mellon University.
Pitt has an annual operating budget of $2 billion, of which $900 million is dedicated to research.
66University of Geneva
The University of Geneva was founded in 1559 by one of history’s great theologians, John Calvin. It has since blossomed into a major center for scientific research.
The second-largest university in Switzerland, Geneva is included in the League of European Research Universities and the Coimbra group. It offers over 280 degrees and runs six National Centres of Competence in Research in subjects such as genetics, materials with novel electronic properties, chemical biology, affective sciences, synaptic bases of mental disease, and overcoming vulnerabilities in a life-course perspective.
Geneva works with nearly 100 other research universities and employs almost 4,000 researchers from 113 nations. It receives well over SFr100 million each year from the Swiss National Science Foundation and SFr24 million from the European Commission for research.
The university contributes over 10 articles a day to the world of the peer-reviewed scientific journals. During the past 10 years, it has produced 20 start-up companies, 150 license agreements, 350 invention announcements, and 600 industrial research agreements.
Thirty-one University of Geneva researchers have received a European Grant of Excellence.
67École Normale Supérieure
Founded in 1793 on Enlightenment principles, the École Normale Supérieure (ENS)—the name means “Higher Normal School”—is a product of the French Revolution. It was re-chartered a few years later by Napoleon himself.
The ENS has since become a leading French university with a unique character. Whereas many schools pursue influence through sheer weight of numbers, ENS has remained small, even by college—let alone university—standards. It has a mere 2,700-member student body, which includes about 650 doctoral students, and only 800 faculty members.
But what ENS foregoes in size it makes up for in elite reputation. The school attracts over 300 top international students from 46 countries, offers 60 master’s degrees, and 23 doctoral programs. These degree programs are spread across 15 teaching and research departments, and feed the college’s 21 research centers.
ENS’s library system consists of 12 smaller libraries that house some 850,000 volumes combined. The prestigious school has produced 13 Nobel Prize winners and an astounding 10 Fields Medalists, making it one of the most significant contributors to mathematics in the world.
(Montreal, QC, Canada)
McGill University, located in the multicultural metropolis of Montreal, is one of the leading schools in Canada. Its 38,500 students study in 300 buildings, and its quarter-million alumni are spread across 180 countries.
McGill produces more Rhodes Scholars than any other Canadian university. It also has the highest percentage of doctoral students, and 20 percent of its student body consists of international students drawn from 150 nations.
McGill invests roughly C$500 million each year. Much of this funding comes from the university’s participation in entrepreneur-backed collaborations that utilize its 1,600 researchers, 8,000 graduate students/postdoctoral students, and its 46 research centers.
These partnerships run from minor support for preexisting projects to licensing very specific research initiatives. These collaborative efforts have led McGill to make significant contributions to science—most recently through the mapping of the brain’s motor cortex.
The school’s faculty and alumni account for nine Nobel Prizes.
69University of Oslo
The University of Oslo is the oldest school in Norway. It has 27,000 students, 7,000 employees, and 3,000 Ph.D. students studying in eight faculties.
The university houses the Viking Ship Museum and a library with 3.6 million holdings, and is also home to eight National Centres of Excellence, as well as Centres for Research-based Innovation and Environment-friendly Energy Research.
Oslo can pursue these numerous research projects with its substantial government funding that helps produce its NOK652.8 million endowment.
But Oslo is more than just a Norwegian gem. It also offers over 800 courses in English, has received seven individual grants from European Union research projects, and has contributed to five Nobel Prize winners.
The school is particularly noteworthy for its strong connection to peace studies. Between 1947 and 1989, it hosted the ceremony for the Nobel Peace Prize and consequently is the only university to have hosted a Nobel Prize Ceremony.
Johan Galtung, the founder of the academic field of peace and conflict studies, founded the world’s first chair in that discipline here at Oslo; the famous explorer, humanitarian, and Nobel Peace Prize winner Fridtjof Nansen taught here as well.
The University of Oslo also awards the prestigious Abel Prize in mathematics annually.
Ghent University was founded in 1817 as the first Flemish-speaking university in Belgium.
Belgium is a biethnic, bilingual country (French and Netherlandish). Moreover, the Belgian capital, Brussels, is also the seat of the European government—which makes the city effectively the capital of Europe. These facts place the University of Ghent near the center of pan-European cultural and social change.
The university has 41,000 students and 9,000 staff members working in 11 faculties with over 120 departments. Each year it brings in an impressive €410 million.
In 2010, Ghent established five multidisciplinary research partnerships. The university runs many research facilities, such as its world-famous Laboratory of Molecular Biology. This lab was the first to demonstrate that genomic DNA can form a physical ring, was the first to complete a gene nucleotide sequence, and has cloned human cytokine genes. It is currently working on a vaccine for influenza.
Given these accomplishments, it is not surprising that the University of Ghent has played a major role in the development of organic chemistry. Additionally, 13 Ghent research groups are affiliated with the Sustainable Energy Technologies (SET) organization.
The school also works side-by-side with the University Hospital of Ghent.
71Hebrew University of Jerusalem
The Hebrew University of Jerusalem opened its doors less than a century ago (in 1925), with the backing of illustrious intellectuals like Albert Einstein, Martin Buber, and Sigmund Freud. Since then, it has quickly established itself as one of the world’s premier research universities.
The university serves 23,000 students from 70 countries. It has produced eight Nobel Prize Laureates, a Fields Medalist, and 263 Israel Prize winners.
The Hebrew University dominates higher education in Israel. The majority of the nation’s Ph.D. holders earned their degree here, and a third of Israel’s research grants go to scholars affiliated with the school. The Hebrew University has also developed an international presence, with dozens of exchange programs and partnerships with over 150 other universities.
The Hebrew University has many strengths, but has taken special advantage of Israel’s growing biotech industry. Israel in general, and the Hebrew University in particular, have become leading centers for the integration of biology and engineering.
72Boston University … [42nd in U.S.]
(Boston, MA, USA)
As its name implies, Boston University (BU) lies squarely in the middle of America’s college Mecca.
The greater Boston area is home not just to BU, but also to Harvard, MIT, Northeastern, Boston College, Tufts, Brandeis, and numerous other schools which altogether form the highest concentration of academic institutions in the U.S. This gives BU students innumerable opportunities to study with as diverse a group of scholars as can be found.
But BU does more than just network with its prominent neighbors. It also equips its over 33,000 students, almost half of whom are graduate students, with 324 academic buildings, 23 libraries, and a staggering 2,285 laboratories on its several campuses.
The university attracts students from all 50 states and over 130 nations. It boasts an impressive 12.6:1 student-to-faculty ratio, and holds close to $five billion in assets.
BU’s faculty includes six Nobel Laureates, six Pulitzer Prize winners, and three MacArthur Fellows. The school has also produced numerous famous alumni, including singer Joan Baez, actress Julianne Moore, and civil rights activist and Nobel Peace Prize winner, Martin Luther King, Jr.
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73University of Helsinki
The University of Helsinki’s 40,000 students and staff members study across 21 locations, four of which are campuses in in the Finnish capital.
Here, students can choose from over 300 subjects taught by professors belonging to 11 different faculties. Founded in 1640, it is one of the oldest universities in the Nordic lands.
The University of Helsinki is involved with over half of the both the Finnish and Nordic Research Centres, and is one of the only Finnish Universities to join the League of European Research Universities.
Its Viikki Campus of Life Sciences by itself has attracted an increasing number of businesses and major branches of the MTT Agrifood conglomerate’s research division, such as the Finnish Game and Fisheries Research Institute and the Finnish Food Safety Authority Evira. The Viikki campus is also home to tropical vegetation.
Helsinki has produced both luminaries and movers and shakers such as Lars Ahlfors, one of the first two mathematicians to be awarded the Fields Medal, Kaarlo Juho Stahlberg, the first President of Finland, and Linus Torvalds, the computer scientists who built Linux.
Aarhus University is the largest institution of higher education in Denmark, with 44,500 students (5,000 of whom are foreign) and 6,000 academic staff. It is also the second-oldest.
Aarhus has produced a Nobel Prize Laureate in chemistry and another in economics. The classic architecture of its University Park campus has become iconic in Danish architecture. The school focuses on four broad areas: art, science and technology, health and business, and social science.
Aarhus University operates out of campuses in Aarhus, Copenhagen, and Herning. The city of Aarhus is located on the mainland of Europe—what one might call the the “southernmost tip of Scandinavia”—which makes the university an ideal bridge between the Nordic countries and the rest of Europe.
Several major rankings have recognized Aarhus University’s recent rise to prominence. The 2013 National Taiwan University Rankings considered it the #86 best university in the world, while the Leiden Ranking placed it at #77.
The school has produced many successful individuals, such as Bjarne Stroustrup, the designer of the C++ computer program, and Anders Fogh Rasmussen, former Prime Minister of Denmark.
75Brown University … [43rd in U.S.]
(Providence, RI, USA)
Nestled in the historic town of Providence, Rhode Island, Brown University is the seventh-oldest university in the U.S.
This beautiful campus with its surrounding community is a federally listed architectural district with a high concentration of vintage buildings, which gives the urban Brown a small-town collegial atmosphere.
But despite its long history, this Ivy League school has maintained a relatively small, intimate setting with about 9,000 students (including undergraduates, graduate students, and medical school students) and 700-member faculty.
Brown nevertheless boldly marches into the future, filing for close to 100 patents a year, while Brown University Library’s special collections department alone holds over 3 million items of rare and historic value.
The school spends over $170 million each year on research. It is also affiliated with the prestigious Marine Biological Laboratory on Cape Cod, which has 54 Nobel Prizes to its credit.
Brown University’s small student size and impressive $3.2 billion endowment combine to produce a tremendous ratio of resources per student.
76Australian National University
(Canberra, ACT, Australia)
The Australian National University (ANU) was established just after the close of World War II in order to promote healing, unity, and a sense of patriotic identity.
Since then, this Australian national treasure has grown tremendously. Today, ANU entersinto a partnership both with other Australian academic, private, and public institutions, and also has many international connections.
ANU’s main campus is located in parkland within the center of the nation’s capital city. The university has seven research colleges and numerous research centers, such as the Mt. Stromlo and the Siding Spring Observatories.
ANU is the most research-driven school in Australia. It grown to over 18,000 students, 40 percent of whom are postgraduates. About 25 percent of the student body is international. The school’s 75,000-member alumni network is graced by six Nobel Prize winners and two Prime Ministers.
ANU is the only Australian university within the International Alliance of Research Universities. Its research library has 2.5 million items, as well as access to over 63 million electronic sources spread over five research areas.
(Leiden, The Netherlands)
Leiden University is a well-respected school with 23,000 students from 110 nations, as well as and 5,500 staff.
The university, which offers 46 bachelor’s and 73 master’s programs, focuses on 11 broad disciplines: Asia; bioscience, neuroscience, and fundamentals of science; global community, historical culture, and power; health; the human life cycle; legal systems; language; political legitimacy; institutions and identities; drug development; and vascular and regenerative medicine.
Leiden University has gained inclusion in the prestigious League of European Research Universities. It also collaborates with Leiden’s Bio Science Park, which includes more than 70 specialized life science businesses.
Leiden University has produced a long list of famous scholars and statesmen, including Hugo Grotius, Christiaan Huygens, Herman Boerhaave, John Quincy Adams, Enrico Fermi, and Ayaan Hirsi Ali.
Sixteen individuals affiliated with Leiden University have won the Nobel Prize, four have won Spinoza prizes, and a dozen have become Vici Laureates.
Osaka University is the sixth-oldest school in Japan, and one of the seven national universities. It has four campuses, 11 undergraduate schools, 16 graduate schools, and 29 research centers and institutes.
Osaka runs two university hospitals. Its substantial university library has four branches: Main, Life Sciences, Science and Engineering, and International Studies.
The university runs three different national joint-use facilities: the Research Center for Nuclear Physics, the Cybermedia Center, and the Institute of Laser Engineering. Osaka’s faculty number some 3,170. The university produces ¥151,826 in revenue each year.
The faculty have produced one Nobel Prize Laureate, as well as Lasker Award, Gairdner Interantional Award, Wolf Prize, Crafoord Prize, and Japan Prize winners.
Several Osaka alumni have made tremendous contributions to the modern computer industry, including Sony founder Akio Morita and Akira Yoshino, inventor of the lithium-ion battery.
Stockholm University shares a home with Sweden’s capital. With over 70,000 undergraduate and master’s students and 6,000 employees, Stockholm is the largest university in Sweden.
About fourteen hundred members of the student body are international. Over half of the university’s resources are directed towards research and postgraduate studies.
Four professors have won Nobel Prizes in chemistry, while another has received the Nobel Prize for Economics. Poet and Stockholm alumnus Tomas Tranströmer won the 2011 Nobel Prize for Literature.
Stockholm University has several agreements with other leading institutions, such as the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, Peking University, UNAM in Mexico, St. Petersburg State University, Moscow State University, and Universidad de Buenos Aires. Stockholm University is blessed with park-like scenery, despite its location in one of the cultural capitals of Europe.
Stockholm University has established several field stations, including Askö Laboratory for marine biology, Tarfala for geology, and Tovetorp for zoology.
80Technion-Israel Institute of Technology
The Technion-Israel Institute of Technology is the leading institution for empirical inquiry in Israel. With over 50 scientific research centers, this school has spearheaded Israel’s transformation into one of the leading science centers in the world.
Three Nobel Laureates teach the 9,529 undergraduate, 2,384 masters, and 943 doctorial students. Over 70 percent of both the nation’s founders and managers of high-tech industries graduated from Technion.
This has led to incredible development. Israel now has the highest density of high-tech start-up companies anywhere in the world outside Silicon Valley. Eighty percent of Israel’s NASDAQ companies are run by Technion graduates. As a result, 54 percent of Israel’s exports and 26 percent of its imports are now in the high-tech sector.
Israel now has the highest percentage of engineers or scientists of any nation in the world, with 135 out of every 10,000. By way of comparison, the U.S. comes in at a distant second, with 85 out of 10,000. Israel also has nearly doubled the percentage of its workers who are pursuing research and development—which is also almost double what either the U.S. or Japan produces.
It looks as if Israel will remain at the forefront of science for the foreseeable future—and Technion will remain at the forefront of Israel.
81University of Florida … [44th in U.S.]
(Gainesville, FL, USA)
The University of Florida, whose flagship campus is in Gainesville, has grown substantially since its humble beginnings as a small seminary. Now, the school enrolls 50,000 students and is home to 16 colleges and over 150 research centers and institutes.
Florida has over 4,000 faculty members with impressive credentials. They include the holders of 34 Eminent Scholar chairs and 42 members of one of the national academies. The school also boasts two Nobel Prize Laureates, a Fields Medalist, two Pulitzer Prize winners, a recipient of the Smithsonian’s Institution’s conservation award, and recipients of NASA’s top research award.
The university spends $740 million on research. Gatorade—the original and still most the popular sports drink—is just one of the hundreds of products developed from research conducted here. The school also has research relationships with groups like Scripps Florida, the Burnham Institute for Medical Research, and the Moffitt Cancer Center.
The astronomy department is especially known for its contribution to telescope technology. Another of the university’s remarkable specialties is one of the world’s largest butterfly and moth collections (over nine million and counting).
The University of Florida produces $8.76 million worth of commerce, and every state dollar given to the school produces a $15 return.
- See where The University of Florida ranks amongst The Richest University in the World
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82Rice University … [45th in U.S.]
(Houston, TX, USA)
Some research universities take a scattershot approach: they take as many students as they can in order to have the resources to attack big scale research projects by sheer weight of numbers.
Rice University has taken the opposite approach. It only has 643 full-time, 136 part-time, and 147 adjunct faculty. This small faculty teaches a modest 3,920 undergraduate and 2,567 graduate students in just eight schools.
But despite being one of the smaller schools in the top 100, Rice is still an elite research university. Ninety-seven percent of the full-time faculty have a terminal degree in their field.
The students enjoy their instruction with an impressive 6:1 student-to-faculty ratio, with an average class size of just 14. Moreover, only one out of every 16 applicants is accepted.
Those who do find a place at Rice enjoy an endowment of $772,147 per full-time student. The university spends $94 million each year on research.
Unlike many schools, Rice opens research opportunities to undergraduates, 67 percent of whom participate in research before graduating.
83University of Groningen
(Groningen, The Netherlands)
Founded in 1614, the University of Groningen is now celebrating its 400th anniversary.
The school, which offers 49 bachelor’s and 146 master’s degrees, is divided into nine faculties that serve 27,500 students, of whom 3,750 are international. Moreover, 20 percent of Groningen’s 6,500 faculty and 48 percent of its 1,500 Ph.D. students are international.
Nineteen of the bachelor’s programs are taught in English, while 101 of the master’s programs (including 10 double programs) are in English.
The university is a part of the 56-member “Excellence Group,” which includes the best 1.3% of schools in Europe. The International Students Barometer has voted Groningen the best university in the Netherlands three years in a row.
The Academic Rankings of World Universities, QS, and Times all rank Groningen—which also runs 27 research centers—among the world’s 100 most elite universities.
The school’s alumni include the distinguished historian Johan Huizinga, the physicist H.K. Onnes (one of the discoverers of superconductivity), the noted astronomers Willem de Sitter and Jan Oort, and Dutch Foreign Affairs Minister Dirk Stikker (who was instrumental in creating NATO).
84Moscow State University
Moscow State University (MSU) is located in Russia’s capital, one of the world’s premier cities. The school has over 40,000 students, 5,000 specialists who do refresher courses, and 6,000 professors and lecturers.
About 4,000 international students come to MSU each year. The university has 1,000 buildings, including eight dormitories. Its library holds nine million books, two million of which are in foreign languages.
MSU has an extremely decorated faculty and alumni network that includes 11 Nobel Laureates and 7 Fields Medalists. Famous politicians like Mikhail Gorbachev and Mikhail Suslov were affiliated with the university, as well as many famous writers such as Ivan Turgenev and Anton Chekhov.
The school has some of the most sophisticated scientific equipment and training in Russia, including UNESCO courses in international demography and hydrology, an International Biotechnology Center, and an International LASER Center. MSU also houses Russia’s largest supercomputer.
In addition to its main Moscow facility, MSU has satellite campuses in Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, and Uzbekistan.
85The University of Queensland
(Brisbane, QLD, Australia)
The University of Queensland (UQ) is one of three Australian schools to belong to the prestigious global Universitas 21 Alliance; it has also joined the Group of Eight.
About 34,200 undergraduates and 12,600 postgraduates study under 7,000 staff at UQ. Of these, about 11,500 are foreigners representing 142 nations.
UQ’s 15 libraries includes two million volumes. The school runs research out of numerous hospitals, veterinary centers, agricultural science farms, seismograph stations, and marine science centers.
Currently, UQ spends some A$368.02 million on research annually. The university has 692 buildings and an operating budget of A$814,450.
In 1990, UQ dramatically expanded its presence in agricultural science when it merged with the Queensland Agricultural College. Then, in 1999, UQ opened a third significant campus when it took over a location formerly held by the Challinor Centre Mental Health Facility.
UQ alumni include five Australian state governors, several Olympic medalists, and a Nobel Prize winner, as well as former Australian of the Year immunologist Peter C. Doherty.
86University of Arizona … [46th in U.S.]
(Tucson, AZ, USA)
The University of Arizona is home to 31,000 undergraduates and 7,400 graduates students. The university also runs a major hospital and medical school.
Arizona’s size allows it to offer courses leading to 334 different bachelor’s, master’s, doctoral, and professional degrees. It also offers students 100 study abroad programs in 50 different countries.
The school has 12 libraries. Arizona is one of 56 public “research-intensive universities” and belongs to the 62-member Association of American Universities.
The graduate college, which has over 80 research centers, offers some 100 doctoral and master’s degree programs each. It also runs several specialized Doctor of Pharmacy programs.
Several Nobel Laureates and Pulitzer Prize winners, 20 members of the National Academy of Sciences, nine members of the National Academy of Engineering, two members of the Royal Society, four MacArthur Fellows, and a Vetlesen Prize recipient are all associated with the University of Arizona.
The university is #2 in America in producing Peace Corps Fellows and #24 for Fulbright Fellows.
87University of Utah … [47th in U.S.]
(Salt Lake City, UT, USA)
The University of Utah is located in Salt Lake City just beyond the breathtaking Wasatch Mountains. Over 24,000 undergraduates and 7,500 postgraduates study 72 majors and 90 graduate fields of study. The university’s endowment is $668 million.
Utah hosted the 2002 Winter Olympics Village, as well as the opening and closing ceremonies. The university is particularly known for its contributions to biology and medicine. Its medical school implanted the first permanent artificial heart in 1982, while the Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology has done groundbreaking research in epilepsy treatment via their anticonvulsant drug development program.
Utah has also contributed to genetics through multi-generational studies done in conjunction with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.
The university also made fundamental contributions to building the first packet-switching computer network that laid the groundwork for the Internet.
The University of Utah’s law school has also dominated state politics of decades, and was the only law school in the state until 1970.
88Arizona State University … [48th in U.S.]
(Phoenix, AZ, USA)
Arizona State University (ASU) attracts some 76,000 students from all 50 states and 160 nations.
Since 2003, ASU has made a concerted effort to pursue leading faculty. During this time, it has added 156 award recipients and academy/fellow members. This prestigious group now includes two Nobel Laureates, 11 National Academy of Sciences members, 11 American Academy of Arts and Sciences members, 121 Fulbright American Scholars, 27 Guggenheim Fellows, one Rockefeller Fellow, 1 MacArthur Fellow, and three members of the Royal Society.
Students can choose from 250 majors and 100 graduate programs. The school has tripled its research expenses since 2002; they now total $552.8. In 2012 alone, ASU spawned over 55 companies and then produced 47 patents the following year.
ASU is also a national space-grant university: it built a $110 million, 298,000-square-foot Interdisciplinary Science and Technology Building for NASA in 2012. In 2004, the Pentagon partnered with the school through a $43.7 million grant. The Army Research Laboratory also gave $50 million for the schools Flexible Display Center in 2009.
ASU is currently the only U.S. university to produced 20 megawatts of electricity via solar arrays. The school also generates power through wind turbines.
89University of Western Australia
(Perth, WA, Australia)
The University of Western Australia, colloquially known as “Sandstone University”, is located in the capital and largest city of the state of Western Australia. Some 25,000 students come to study in this two-million population city each year.
The university is a member of several prestigious university coalitions, including the Group of Eight, the Matariki network, and the Worldwide Universities Network.
Western Australia has produced two Nobel Prizes in Physiology or Medicine for their research in peptic ulcer disease. The university, which has an endowment of A$326 million, has 1,700 academic staff members, 17,000 undergraduate, and 5,000 postgraduate students on campus. There are six specialized libraries.
The university has official agreements with 44 foreign universities that assist in staff and student exchanges. The school also has established several offshore teaching sites in Singapore, Indonesia, and the Philippines.
The University of Western Australia spends A$117 million on research each year, but in the process generates A$71 million back. The university is now developing a robotically controlled, one-meter, modified Ritchey-Chrétien telescope.
The Western Australian government is also providing $20 million for an international radio astronomy research center.
(Hamilton, ON, Canada)
Like most secular Canadian schools, McMaster is a public university. The school, which boasts an impressive endowment of C$553, has 22,367 undergraduate and 3,408 graduate students from Canada and 92 foreign countries.
McMaster’s alumni form a vast 170,654-strong network residing in 137 countries. They include Canadian cabinet ministers, university presidents, Hollywood actors, Olympic athletes, astronauts, and intellectuals.
The student body is taught by 1,413 faculty members and clinicians from 70 nations, 94 percent of whom hold a doctorate. It is the only North American host site for a U.N. University: the Institute for Water, Environment, and Health.
McMaster has over 70 international exchange agreements. The university, with a library housing 1.24 million books, rests on a beautiful 377-acre campus that lends itself to outdoor activities.
Scholars affiliated with McMaster University, which is located between Toronto and Niagara Falls, have won Nobel Prizes, Lasker Awards, and Rhodes Scholarships.
91University of Basel
Founded in 1460, the University of Basel is the oldest school in Switzerland. It self-consciously directs its research towards the life sciences and culture.
The University of Basel’s endowment is an impressive SFr538.9 million and 11,300 students, of which 7,600 are undergrads and 3,700 are graduates. This makes Basel a small school when compared to most of its competitors.
Nevertheless, Basel maintains a very high proportion of graduate students. These students—in conjunction with the school’s 3,500-member faculty—keep the school at the forefront of scientific achievement. The University Library of Basel, with over three million books, is the largest library in Switzerland.
Basel was one of the founding schools in EUCOR, the multinational coalition of the five Upper Rhine universities which united two decades ago. Famous Basel alumni include the theologian Huldrych Zwingli, the great mathematicians Leonhard Euler and Jacob and Daniel Bernoulli, the historian Jacob Burckhardt, and the psychologist Carl Jung.
92University of Rochester … [49th in U.S.]
(Rochester, NY, USA)
The University of Rochester is an elite private school in upstate New York. It was founded in 1850 as America’s first school specializing in optics.
The University of Rochester has since then grown in size and scope. Its campus now houses 158 buildings for its 10,500 students and over 2,000 faculty, giving the school an impressive 10:1 student-to-teacher ratio. Students can study over 200 majors.
The university, which has a $1.81 billion endowment, built a $7.5 million HIV/AIDS research center with support from the National Institutes of Health in 2013. Rochester made up almost a quarter of the scientists advising NASA during the creation of the James Webb Space Telescope, which will replace the Hubble in 2018.
The University of Rochester can claim 10 Pulitzer Prize winners, eight Nobel Prize Laureates, one MacArthur Fellow, and 20 Guggenheim Fellows. The school’s four libraries house over 3.5 million volumes and many musical scores. Rochester also has a memorial 50-bell carillon.
93University of California at Santa Cruz … [50th in U.S.]
(Santa Cruz, CA, USA)
Many of the schools in this ranking are ancient academies that have shaped the history of science since the enlightenment. The University of California at Santa Cruz, however, will be celebrating its 50th anniversary next year.
So, how did such a young school earn a spot among such illustrious company? Well, for starters Santa Cruz has grown substantially despite its youth. It now has 15,000 undergraduate and 1,500 graduate students who study in 65 majors and 41 graduate programs.
But Santa Cruz has done more than just attract large numbers of students; It has also built a world-class faculty. Its instructors include 14 members of national academy of sciences, 26 members of the American Academy of the Arts and Sciences, and 35 members of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.
In 2003, the university initiated a $330-million program to develop a new university-affiliated research center. Now, the school’s research is organized into two separate research units: the Institute of Marine Sciences and the Santa Cruz Institute of Particle Physics.
94University of Bonn
Older readers will recognize Bonn as the pleasant city on the Rhine where Ludwig van Beethoven was born in 1770 and which served as the capital of the western part of a divided Germany following World War II.
The surrounding Rhineland was incorporated into Prussia by the Congress of Vienna following Napoleon’s defeat in 1815—which explains how the University of Bonn came to be founded by the Prussian king, Friedrich Wilhelm III, three years later in 1818.
Thus steeped in history, today the University of Bonn is home to a major research university with 30,000 students, 4,000 of whom are international. Its 500 professors and various other researchers engage in over 1,500 projects.
The university owns or uses over 350 buildings throughout the city of Bonn, although seven particular facilities form its core. The university, with total expenditures of €570 million, is also affiliated with multiple teaching hospitals.
The University of Bonn brings in €156 million through third-party funding. Its medical-related enterprises run 14 collaborative research centers, 17 research units, and five research training groups.
Partnered with 56 universities in Europe, America, Asia, and Australia, Bonn has produced two Nobel Prizes and holds 5.5 million items in its 100 libraries.
95University of Strasbourg
The University of Strasbourg is home to 43,000 students, of whom 20 percent are international. It is the second-largest university in France and boasts an impressive endowment of €430 million. Some 15 Nobel Prize winners are affiliated with the school.
More than 4,600 teachers and researchers staff the school, which has 79 research units, 32 libraries, 86 laboratories and research centers, and 110 buildings in all. Nearly 400 doctoral theses are submitted to the school annually.
Strasbourg is currently working in conjunction with the nearby universities of Basel, Freiburg, Karlsruhe, and Mulhouse in order to build a sophisticated Upper Rhine academic community. The university is exceptionally well situated to take on intercollegiate activities due to its location at the meeting point between Northern Europe and the Mediterranean countries.
Famous people associated with Strasbourg include the writers Johann Wolfgang von Goethe and Maurice Blanchot, the statesman Klemens von Metternich, the philanthropist/musicologist/theologian Albert Schweitzer, the physicist Max von Laue, the chemist Jean-Marie Lehn, the art historian Aby Warburg, and the philosopher Emmanuel Levinas.
96KU Leuven (Catholic University of Louvain)
Founded in 1425 by Pope Martin V, the Catholic University of Louvain is the oldest Catholic university in the world. It is also the oldest university in the Low Countries. The quintessential humanist, Desiderius Erasmus, lectured at this school.
In 1968, this ancient university split into two parts: a Dutch-speaking (KU Leuven) and a French-speaking part (Université Catholique de Louvain). The French-speaking school subsequently relocated to the suburb of Louvain-la-Neuve.
KU Leuven is Belgium’s largest university, both in terms of students and research funding/expenditures. It attracts 41,000 students, 8,000 of whom are international. Also, 6,500 researchers from 120 countries work here. Combined, these groups represent 140 nationalities.
KU Leuven is a charter member of the league of European Research Universities. Its annual research expenditure is €418 million and the overall endowment is €950 million.
Despite the fact that its library burned down in both world wars, the school now has 30 auxiliary libraries with 4.3 million volumes. The school partners with a teaching hospital and has produced multiple Nobel Prize Laureates.
97Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne (EPFL)
The Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne—better known by the acronym of its name in French, EPFL—is located on the north side of Lake Geneva, the largest lake in Europe, at the foot of the Alps. This places the school in one of the most visually stunning locations in all of Europe.
EPFL’s 10,000 students study in one of five schools or two colleges and utilize over 350 laboratories and research groups. The students, professors, and staff represent over 120 nationalities. More than half of the professors are from abroad.
In 2010, the school built the Rolex Learning Center which has become the flagship building of the school. This beautiful 500,000-plus volume library is one of largest scientific collections in Europe.
EPFL is developing the project of building a long-range solar-powered aircraft. The university is also integral to the Human Brain Project (a successor to Blue Brain Project), in which 86 institutions across Europe are investing €1.19 billion.
EPFL’s endowment has grown to €595.5 million and its campus includes 65 buildings on 136 acres. The university partners with 179 universities worldwide.
98Texas A&M University … [51st in U.S.]
(College Station, TX, USA)
As the state’s first public institution of higher learning, Texas A&M University has strategically grown into one of the nation’s largest and most comprehensive Tier One research universities.
It has 16 colleges and schools, including the Health Science Center and the Texas A&M School of Law. As one of a select few schools holding land-, sea- and space-grant designations, Texas A&M’s research expenditures reached more than $820 million in 2013.
Undergraduate students are encouraged to participate in research projects taking place across colleges, departments and disciplines. Texas A&M’s researchers and scholars are tackling the real-world challenges of today and tomorrow—the global demand for energy; the connections between human, animal and environmental health; addressing 21st century educational needs with an emphasis on science, technology, engineering and math and other daunting problems that require creative and innovative solutions.
The university, which is the home of the George H.W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum, has a $5 billion endowment, and is one of 62 schools to hold membership in the Association of American Universities.
A&M draws 5,000 international students from 123 different countries, and operates centers in Italy, Mexico, and Costa Rica.
99Georgia Institute of Technology … [52nd in U.S.]
(Atlanta, GA, USA)
The Georgia Institute of Technology—universally known as “Georgia Tech”—is located in the metropolitan Atlantic area where it enjoys beautiful weather, contact with over six million people, proximity to major businesses like Coca Cola and AT&T, one of the world’s largest airports, and the federal Centers for Disease Control.
Over 21,000 students attend this Georgia Tech every year. The school advances science in over 100 centers focused on interdisciplinary research.
More than 1,000 full-time faculty with doctorates work here, and the institute’s library holds over a million titles.
Famous alumni include U.S. President Jimmy Carter, Georgia Senator Sam Nunn, Master’s tournament founder Bobby Jones, and Walmart CEO Mike Duke.
The school has produced two Nobel Laureates and over 20 graduates associated with NASA.
Georgia Tech’s endowment surpasses $1.7 billion, which is why it can afford a reasonable 18:1 student-to-faculty ratio despite its copious research. The university maintains five satellite campuses, including ones in China, France, and Ireland.
100Free University of Amsterdam (VU Amsterdam)
(Amsterdam, The Netherlands)
The Free University of Amsterdam (also known by its Dutch initials, “VU,” pronounced “voo”) was founded by Abraham Kuyper in 1880 as the first private college in the Netherlands. This theologian, journalist, reformer, and Dutch Prime Minister instilled a deep commitment to interdisciplinary thinking that lives on to this day.
Today, the school teaches 25,000 students with the help of 2,150 academic staff. The Free University wishes to live out its Christian values through its three stated goals of diversity, academic community, and vision.
The Free University takes its research very seriously. Each institute must produce a self-assessment every three years. Furthermore, research is evaluated every six years by another, independent assessment group.
This rigorous self-regulation assures that every aspect of the research initiative efficiently produces new peer-reviewed publications, patents, and joint projects integrated with other universities and businesses, as appropriate.
The university’s endowment is just under €500 million.
†NYU, Life Beyond the Square, https://www.nyu.edu/content/dam/nyu/wasserman/documents/Life-Beyond-the-Square-Survey-2014.pdf ⮭