The 100 Best Universities in the World Today
| TBS Staff
Are you ready to discover your college program?
Some university rankings focus on factors unrelated to academic merit. Thus, some rankings of colleges and universities may give weight to attractiveness of campus, satisfaction of students and alumni, extracurricular benefits (such as top athletics programs), affordability of tuition, and expected income of graduates.
This is not such a ranking.
In contrast, if you are looking for a ranking with a focus on academic prestige, scholarly excellence, and sheer intellectual horsepower, then this is the ranking you want.
At the universities in this ranking, you will be mixing with the brightest faculty and students in the world, and developing your knowledge and skills so that you yourself will be in a position to join the world’s elite academics, scientists, and thinkers.
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To counteract the apparent gaming of university rankings, TheBestSchools.org contracted with AcademicInfluence.com to form a ranking based on statistical document analysis across the Web. For the present ranking, this meant selecting a representative sample of disciplines at universities (not just natural and social sciences, as with Shanghai, but also humanities and professional schools), finding the influencers in each discipline, and then pooling these influencers to see where they are on faculty and where they got their degrees. Details about the underlying methodology can be found here.
The result is a ranking immune to gaming because it is based entirely on the “footprint” of key researchers and scholars on the Web — not just in terms of some broad popularity measure (such as number of Google search results), but by measuring their strength of association on the Web with the topics in which they are supposed to be expert.
Accordingly, the result is a ranking that focuses on the preeminent factor that ought to be used to gauge academic merit in the first place — namely, the combined influence of a school’s faculty across fields of study. Yes, this ranking is entirely Web-based. But today, if you’re alive and currently active but not influential on the Web, then you’re not influential, period!
A cursory examination of our new ranking shows that we are on to something. All the schools in the ranking clearly deserve a place here, as evidenced by their national reputations, as well as by their appearance in other existing rankings (note that are not dismissing other rankings, but merely note their acknowledged vulnerability to gaming).
But our ranking also offers some genuinely new insights. All the usual suspects are there, to be sure, but their order may seem counter-intuitive. Harvard, as always, is at the top. But the University of Chicago sits at number 3 (often it is ranked around number 10). However, the University of Chicago is not just a great school for the natural sciences, which tend to get pride of place with Shanghai, it is strong in economics (with a slew of Nobel laureates in that field), as well as in professional schools (such as law and medicine), and in the humanities. By contrast, Caltech, which is extremely strong in the natural sciences, is weaker in other disciplines, and thus drops from its usual perch among the top 15 down to number 38.
A lot of interesting patterns emerge as one examines this ranking. Fifty-five of the schools listed are in the United States (52 were in the US in the previous version of this ranking). Of those outside the US, 15 are in the U.K., eight in Germany, three in Canada, three in Australia, three in the Netherlands, and one each in 13 additional countries.
100 Best Universities in the World Today — 2020
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1. Harvard University
Cambridge, Massachusetts, U.S.
Harvard University is the standard by which all other research universities are measured. No school in recent history has challenged its position as the world’s premier academic institution. It is the oldest school in the world’s richest nation, and has capitalized on the benefits this grants. Under financial guru Jack Meyer’s management, the school’s endowment grew from $4.6 billion to $25.8 in 15 years. Today, the school possesses over $35.7 billion and its fortune is still growing. But there is more to Harvard than massive wealth. The school has produced 49 Nobel laureates, 32 heads of state, and 48 Pulitzer Prize winners. It boasts the largest academic library in the world, leading medical, law, and business schools, and an alumni network integrated across the globe. Not only is Harvard dominant across a broad spectrum of fields, it is also ideally situated to work alongside a variety of other schools. The most obvious example is MIT, situated at the opposite end of Massachusetts Avenue in Cambridge; however, the greater Boston area is also home to Boston College, Boston University, Northeastern University, Tufts University, and Brandeis University — some 60 institutions of higher learning, all in all. This equips both students and faculty with endless opportunities for collaborative research.
2. University of Cambridge
Cambridge, England, U.K.
As the seventh-oldest university in the world, Cambridge is an ancient school steeped in tradition dating back to 1209. It is but small exaggeration to say the history of Western science is built on a cornerstone called Cambridge. The long list of great scientists, mathematicians, and logicians who either studied or taught there (or both) includes Isaac Newton, Augustus De Morgan, Charles Darwin, Charles Babbage, James Clerk Maxwell, J.J. Thomson, Ernest Rutherford, Bertrand Russell, Alfred North Whitehead, J. Robert Oppenheimer, Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar, G.H. Hardy, Srinivasa Ramanujan, Alan Turing, Francis Crick, James D. Watson, Rosalind Franklin, and Stephen Hawking, among many others. Whether in fundamental physics, mathematical logic, number theory, astrophysics, the theory of computation, or structural chemistry and biology, Cambridge has been at the forefront of humanity’s quest for truth longer than most nations have existed. Nevertheless, its great achievements have not been restricted to the sciences. Numerous towering intellects in the humanities such as Erasmus of Rotterdam, William Tyndale, Francis Bacon, John Milton, Lord Byron, William Wordsworth, Ludwig Wittgenstein, John Maynard Keynes, C.S. Lewis, Sylvia Plath, and Ted Hughes all studied or taught here. But despite the many memories that tread past its imposing Gothic architecture, Cambridge does not live in the past. Cambridge 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 Prizes.
3. Columbia University
New York City, New York, U.S.
As the fifth-oldest school in the United States and one of the colonial colleges, Columbia has a lot of history. That history has created an internationally recognized, elite university with a $10 billion endowment and a library with nearly 13 million volumes. This school, which once produced America’s first MD, now graduates nearly 1,400 doctors per year from one of the world’s most well-connected medical schools. Columbia is spread across five distinct campuses in the New York metropolitan area. As the leading school in New York City, its students have numerous unique opportunities that only proximity to Wall Street, Broadway, the United Nations, and other epicenters of business, culture, and politics can bring. Columbia’s ideal location simultaneously gives its students the chance to interact with various other respected institutions such as New York University. Ninety-six Columbians have won a Nobel Prize, making it third in the world in that coveted category (after Harvard and Cambridge University in the U.K.). It has also produced 29 heads of state, including three US Presidents. Columbia also administers the Pulitzer Prize.
4. University of Oxford
Oxford, England, U.K.
Oxford University traces its origins back to the thirteenth century. Like the other great medieval universities, it was founded by Catholic clerics who espoused a philosophy that combined Christian teachings with the doctrines of Plato, Aristotle, and other ancient and medieval thinkers, which came to be known as the “philosophy of the Schools”, or “Scholasticism.” However, Oxford evolved with the times, surviving down through the centuries the manifold changes wrought by the Renaissance, the Reformation, the Scientific Revolution, and the Enlightenment, to grow into one of the contemporary world’s most impressive centers of learning. Today, just as 800 years ago, Oxford’s name is synonymous with knowledge and learning. Its high reputation is well earned, as is evidenced (among other things) by the fact that the school runs the world’s largest — and many would say, 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 explains why almost 40 percent of the student body comes from outside the U.K.. Over 17,200 people applied for 3,200 undergraduate places in 2014. But despite many hundreds of students willing to pay tuition, and centuries of accumulated assets, the school’s highest source of income continues to be research grants and contracts. Oxford’s academic community includes 80 Fellows of the Royal Society and 100 Fellows of the British Academy.
5. Yale University
New Haven, Connecticut, U.S.
Yale University has everything one would expect form a major research university. It is one of the original eight 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 over American Politics. Numerous major US political careers begin at Yale (the infamous Skull and Bones Society by itself has produced three Presidents), and Yale Law School has been the preeminent US law school for years. Its research centers address topics as varied as Benjamin Franklin’s writings, bioethics, magnetic resonance imaging research, and the Russian archives. Whereas many other elite institutions have developed areas of specialization — be they Caltech’s and MIT’s focus on science or Princeton’s focus on research in the humanities and social sciences — Yale is equally dominant in the humanities, the sciences, and the professions. This gives the school a unique ability to pursue interdisciplinary research, as well as a flexible alumni network that stretches to every corner of the globe.
6. Stanford University
Stanford, California, U.S.
With an $18.7 billion endowment, Stanford has access to numerous world-class research resources. The school’s 1189-acre Jasper Ridge Biological Preserve lets scientists study ecosystems firsthand. Its 150-foot radio telescope, nicknamed the Dish, enables studies of the ionosphere. Stanford also boasts a 315-acre habitat reserve, which is trying to bring back the endangered California tiger salamander, as well as the SLAC Accelerator Laboratory, which actively advances the US Department of Energy’s research. Furthermore, Stanford is affiliated with the prestigious Hoover Institution, which is one of the 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.
7. University of Paris (Sorbonne)
Today, the University of Paris is a network of universities spread across the historic City of Lights. The nucleus of this network dates to the twelfth century, but the modern division into 11 main campuses dates from the reorganization which occurred in 1970 in the wake of “the events of ’68.” The word “Sorbonne” has long been used in a loose sense as a synonym for the University of Paris as a whole, but also, and more correctly, in a stricter sense for the campus located on the original site of the university in the Latin Quarter. Beginning in 2018, some consolidation of this mammoth system will begin to occur, notably the reunification of Paris-Sorbonne University (specializing in the humanities) and Pierre et Marie Curie University (science and medicine). The reorganized system will once again be officially known as Sorbonne Universities. Other notable entities comprising this grand alliance of schools include the following: the technological institute UTC; the medical school INSERM; the performing arts school PSPBB; the education school CIEP; the business school INSEAD; and the highly prestigious think tank, CNRS (Centre national de la recherche scientifique). CNRS is the world’s top producer of scientific research papers; all by itself this one branch of the Sorbonne has produced 20 Nobel Prize laureates and 12 Fields Medalists.
8. University of Chicago
Chicago, Illinois, U.S.
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. The famous Miller — Urey experiment, which proved seminal for the development of research on the origin of life, was carried out there in 1952. Chicago is now one of the leading universities in the sciences, famous for its many distinguished alums, such as James D. Watson, the co-discoverer of the structure of DNA who also helped launch the Human Genome Project. And for better or for worse, émigré Italian physicist Enrico Fermi created the first controlled, self-sustaining nuclear chain reaction at Chicago in 1942. But the university is not just a science school. It also possesses great depth with elite programs in social studies and the humanities. Of the school’s 90 Nobel Prize winners, 29 have been in economics since the Prize was first awarded in 1969, which has proved useful as the university — home of the world-famous “Chicago school of economics”---quickly recovered from the 2008 — 09 world financial crisis. This has left Chicago with a nearly $7 billion endowment that is rapidly growing, with all the ample research opportunities that such resources provide.
9. University of Michigan
Ann Arbor, Michigan, U.S.
With 50,000 students and 5,500 faculty spread over three campuses, the University of Michigan is an extremely large research university with the expansive alumni networks that such numbers grant. Students have 17 distinct schools and colleges, roughly 600 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 faculty include Pulitzer, Guggenheim, MacArthur, and Emmy recipients. The school’s alumni have produced 14 Nobel Prize winners and one Fields Medalist. Michigan also runs one of the world’s largest healthcare facilities, gives its students first-class computer access, and utilizes a library with over 13 million volumes. It is little wonder why 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 10. Michigan puts more students into medical school than any other school in America
10. Princeton University
Princeton, New Jersey, U.S.
Princeton University is one of the oldest, most historic universities in the United States. Its famous Nassau Hall still bears a cannon ball 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 drive their elite faculty’s attention towards graduate students, Princeton expects its professors to teach undergraduates, as well. Moreover, Princeton continues to challenge its students with a difficult grading scale, to a much greater degree than many other leading institutions. Even brilliant valedictorians need to focus on their studies if they come here.
11. Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)
Cambridge, Massachusetts, U.S.
In the century and a half since its beginning in 1861, MIT has become the world’s preeminent science research center. MIT 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. That is why MIT’s university press can publish 30 journals and 220 academic books every year. Since 1899, the 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, founder of modern linguistics Noam Chomsky, former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, and former Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke.
12. University of California – Berkeley
Berkeley, California, U.S.
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 with the elite status of a private school. The school is nestled in a pleasant city of the same name within easy commuting distance of San Francisco. With over 42,000 students, Berkeley is large for a school of its status. Such an impressive selection of talented students feeds its over 350 degree programs and produces more PhD’s annually than any other US institution. Student research is encouraged as each year 52% 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 school’s faculty, who benefit from a more than $4 billion endowment, include 42 members of the American Philosophical Society, 108 Faculty Fulbright Scholars, 31 Faculty MacArthur Fellows, and 30 Nobel Prize winners (seven of whom are current faculty members).
13. University of Edinburgh
Founded in 1583, the University of Edinburgh is one of the oldest schools 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 Malawi, Tanzania, Syria, South Korea, Nicaragua, Canada, and, of course, the United Kingdom. Edinburgh scientists cloned Dolly the sheep (the first cloned mammal). Peter Higgs created the Higgs Boson theory here. This university created the first genetically engineered hepatitis B vaccine, and helped design the first industrial assembly robot. Students can choose from among 500 degree programs spread throughout 100 disciplines. Edinburgh has the largest proportion of international students of any school in Scotland (two-thirds of the world’s nations are represented in the study body), as well as many foreign exchange programs. Students can enjoy all these opportunities right in the middle of Scotland’s beautiful capital. The school now has a £392 million endowment and a £905.8 million operating budget.
14. Cornell University
Ithaca, New York, U.S.
Cornell University is a sprawling city of science that almost seems out of place amidst the rolling upstate New York countryside surrounding the village of Ithaca (town pop. approx. 10,000; gown pop. about twice that). Typically, schools numbering in the tens of thousands are integrated into much larger cities. Thus, Cornell in many ways has both the character of a quaint college nestled in the woods and the endless opportunity characteristic of urban centers. But Cornell is not limited by its beautiful campus. It runs one of the nation’s leading medical schools in New York City. It is also among the most active schools in seeking out international connections. In 2001 it started the first American medical school outside the United 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. Moreover, the university was the first to build entire Colleges for hotel administration, labor relations, and veterinary medicine.
15. University of Pennsylvania
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.
The University of Pennsylvania (“Penn”) is an Ivy League school dating back to 1740. To this day, it carries on the pragmatic curiosity of its illustrious founder, Benjamin Franklin, in a wide spectrum of fields, and has become an integral part of the history and character of Philadelphia. 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 empower the school’s over 100 research centers and institutes and direct much of its $8 billion endowment. The school has 357 buildings spread over 994 acres, in addition to its own teaching hospital.
16. Humboldt University of Berlin
Humboldt University of Berlin is the oldest of Berlin’s four universities. Founded in 1810 by Wilhelm von Humboldt, it was the first university to emphasize the unity of research and teaching in addition to the value of research without restrictions. During the Cold War, the university split into the original university in East Berlin and a sister administration called the Free University of Berlin in West Berlin. Today, the two are still linked by a shared medical school. Humboldt prioritizes research in several disciplines and collaborates with other faculties through Integrative Research Institutes and Interdisciplinary Centres. The university has a long history as the preeminent university for the natural sciences. Today, in addition to natural sciences, Humboldt University is also considered one of the finest universities in the world for its 189 disciplines, including the humanities, social sciences, cultural studies, mathematics, medicine, and agricultural sciences.
17. New York University
New York City, New York, U.S.
New York City is filled with great places of learning from secondary schools up through graduate research centers. Nevertheless, even in this extremely wealthy and competitive environment, New York University has earned an impressive reputation second only to Columbia’s. NYU pursues its academic excellence while striving to be as diverse as the city it resides in. Eighty-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 time of economic unpredictability, 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, the average starting salary is an impressive $53,350. Almost half of the graduating class will receive multiple job offers. NYU has also expanded into two foreign countries, with campuses in Shanghai and Abu Dhabi. Students can choose from over 230 areas of study and enjoy an intimate 10:1 student/faculty ratio.
18. Northwestern University
Evanston, Illinois, U.S.
Northwestern University’s 21,000 students enjoy three campuses, two of which border Lake Michigan (one in suburban Evanston just north of Chicago, the other in the city itself), while the third is in Doha, Qatar. These campuses house 12 Schools and Colleges. The university employs a prestigious 3,400 full-time faculty members who currently include a Nobel Prize laureate and several MacArthur Fellowship and Tony Award winners. The university is also known for its 19 teams’ presence within the Big Ten athletic conference. Its $10.456 billion endowment is why the school can afford to utilize more than $500 million for research in a given year, and why its library holds over five million books. along with numerous journals and microforms. As is so often the case, this leading research university comes in a pair and benefits from its close proximity to the University of Chicago. The school 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.
19. Johns Hopkins University
Many of the schools in this ranking were founded amid humble ambitions; they may have begun as small colleges or places aimed primarily at religious instruction. In contrast, from its very inception its founders wanted Johns Hopkins to be at the forefront of scientific discovery. That is one reason why the school has blossomed into the elite vanguard of research that it now is. Located in Baltimore, the university operates what is widely regarded as the leading medical school in the world, and has received more extramural National Institutes of Health (NIH) awards than any other medical school. This is also why it receives more federal research funds than any competitor. But Johns Hopkins is much more than just a medical school. The university at large also receives more federal research and development funds than any other school, which helps further its prestigious School of Advanced International Studies, Carey Business School, and Whiting School of Engineering. The faculty 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.
20. University of Toronto
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
The 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 graduate, 60 professional, and more than 700 undergraduate degree programs spread over three different campuses. The student body represents over 150 nations. The school has 44 libraries with over 21 million holdings, and an operating budget of $1.9 billion; it contributes $15.7 billion to the Canadian economy every year. Toronto has produced no fewer than 10 Nobel Prizes, 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 in North American publications and third in North American citations. Its ample research leads to dozens of new patents every year and many new technological spin-offs.
21. City University of New York
New York City, New York, U.S.
As its name suggests, City University of New York (CUNY) has actively tried to integrate itself into arguably the world’s most-influential city. It began life in 1961 when the school combined the city’s 114-year-old municipal college system into an overarching university. Today, with 24 campuses, 6,700 full-time faculty, more than 10,000 part-time faculty, and roughly 273,000 students spread across a city with easy access to the United Nations, Wall Street, and a diverse cultural capital, this $3 billion — endowment university exposes its pupils to a world of opportunity. With approximately 160 centers and institutes, the school has produced a Fields Medalist, 13 Nobel laureates, and 21 MacArthur Fellows. The school is also associated with many famous individuals, such as the political figures Secretary of State General Colin Powell and Senator and presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, the scientist Charlotte Friend, discoverer of the Friend leukemia virus, and the inventor Eli Friedman, developer of the portable dialysis machine.
22. University of Vienna
Founded in 1365 by Rudolph IV, Duke of Austria, the University of Vienna is one of the oldest universities in the world, and one of the most respected among the German-speaking peoples. Over its six-and-a-half-century existence, it has grown large enough to serve 94,000 students, about a third of whom are international students from over 140 different nations. It offers 174 different degree programs and about 40 continuing education programs. The university also benefits from its location: It is spread across 70 different venues intertwined throughout the Austrian capital. The school has produced 15 Nobel Prizes and maintains a library that houses well over seven million volumes. Not surprisingly, the University of Vienna is the largest university in Austria. Famous alumni and professors include Protestant reformer Huldrych Zwingli; physicists Ernst Mach, Ludwig Boltzmann, Paul Ehrenfest, Erwin Schrödinger, and Lise Meitner; philosophers Franz Brentano, Edmund Husserl, Alexius Meinong, and the “Vienna Circle” (Moritz Schlick, Rudolph Carnap, Otto Neurath, and Karl Popper, among others); mathematician Kurt Gödel; psychologists Sigmund Freud and Wilhelm Reich; writers Adalbert Stifter, Stefan Zweig, Hugo von Hofmannsthal, and Arthur Schnitzler; composer Gustav Mahler; and the economists now known as the “Austrian School of Economics” (principally Carl Menger, Eugen von Böhm-Bawerk, Friedrich von Wieser, Ludwig von Mises, and Friedrich A. Hayek), as well as Joseph Schumpeter.
23. University of Washington
Seattle, Washington, U.S.
Washington’s $2.968 billion endowment combines with 56,000 students paying state school tuition via a combination of three campuses and distance learning. This makes the school a profound research center available to the masses. Located in Seattle, the school runs several highly respected professional schools in medicine, engineering, business, and law. But unlike many schools of its size and caliber, Washington does not forget about its undergraduates. They enjoy a low 11:1 student/teacher ratio, participate in an annual undergraduate research symposium, and boast an impressive 93 percent freshman retention rate. The school 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 US, and the West Coast Poverty Center. Washington has produced 35 Rhodes Scholars and seven Marshall Scholars. The school spends some $331.4 million on research annually, and has 24 small business development centers and four research and extension centers to help further state-wide agriculture.
24. Duke University
Durham, North Carolina, U.S.
Often called the Ivy League of the South, Duke University has some 14,600 students who enjoy a first-class education in the city of Durham, North Carolina, one of the three vertices of that state’s “research triangle” (the other two being the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill and North Carolina State University in Raleigh). Duke is especially well known for its two most prestigious professional programs: the first is Duke’s medical program, which includes Duke University Health System, School of Medicine, School of Nursing, and Duke Hospital, all which work in partnership; the second is its 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 surprising that Duke runs one of the world’s most sought-after dual JD/MD programs. The school also operates Duke University Press, which publishes about 120 new books each year and maintains 30 academic journals. Duke also preserves 700 acres of pristine woods called Duke Forest, which serves as a natural laboratory.
25. University of Minnesota – Twin Cities
Minneapolis/St. Paul, Minnesota, U.S.
The University of Minnesota, Twin Cities, has more people than most armies in history had soldiers. With just under 70,000 people studying under its instruction, 25,000 faculty administering that instruction, and an alumni network of over 400,000, Minnesota’s web of influence has encircled the globe. The giant school, sprawling along the boundary between the cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul, 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 fewer than 325 research centers and institutes, giving students the opportunity to pursue their passions no matter where they lead. The school has developed an especially successful medical research program through its children’s hospital and biomedical library. Typically, one would expect a school of such size and prominence to be driven solely by publications and patents. The University of Minnesota, however, has maintained a compassionate touch with its giant hands. In addition to its children’s hospital, the school also runs an extremely successful education program for pupils in grades K-12. This allows children and parents, as well as future educators, to learn about learning while learning about everything else; as a result, Minnesota stands at the forefront of education research.
26. King’s College London
London, England, U.K.
Historically, King’s College London (King’s, or KCL) stood at the forefront of extending higher education to women, as well as to men from the lower social and economic classes. The school has developed and merged with several other respected academic institutions, including the United Medical and Dental Schools of Guy’s and St Thomas’ Hospitals (the latter of which created the world’s first professional school for nursing), Chelsea College, Queen Elizabeth College, and the Institute of Psychiatry. Today, 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 Romantic poet John Keats received his training, the civil rights activist and Nobel Peace Prize winner Desmond Tutu began his fight against apartheid, and the distinguished Scottish physicist James Clerk Maxwell conducted his research proving that light, electricity, and magnetism are all different aspects of the same phenomenon.
27. The University of Texas at Austin
Austin, Texas, U.S.
Texas is one of the fastest-growing regions in the US with an ever -increasing population and business potential. The University of Texas at Austin has become the flagship university of the larger, state-wide University of Texas System, which contains nine universities and six medical schools. It is considered one of the public Ivy League schools. Its endowment is $3.7 billion, and its research allowance approaches $700 million. There are 17 libraries and seven museums on campus. Moreover, the university, which is affiliated with nine Nobel Prize winners, runs the McDonald Observatory. The school’s faculty have also earned honors such as the Pulitzer Prize, the Wolf Prize, and the National Medal of Science. The University of Texas is very successful in the athletic arena, as well, where it competes within the well-known Big 12 Conference. Here, 51,000 students and 24,000 faculty and staff pursue the love of learning.
28. University College London
London, England, U.K.
With almost 39,000 students from over 150 countries, University College London (UCL) is the third-largest school in the U.K., and its more than 20,000 graduate students give it the largest collection of such students in the country. Founded in 1826, it is also the third-oldest U.K. school. It was founded on the principles of social philosopher Jeremy Bentham, one of the principal creators of modern Utilitarianism. Not surprisingly, it became the first university to admit women on an equal basis with men, in 1878. It was also the first university in Britain to welcome students of any religious creed. UCL is affiliated with 30 Nobel Prizes — making it the leading school in that category within the University of London network of schools — as well as three Fields Medals. Famous alumni include five-time Nobel Peace Prize nominee, Mohandas K. (“Mahatma”) Gandhi, and co-discoverer of the double-helix structure of DNA, Francis Crick. University College London also operates campuses in the countries of Qatar and Australia.
29. London School of Economics
London, England, U.K.
The London School of Economics and Political Science (to give its full name) is the U.K.’s only social science — based university. As its name suggests, the school produces substantial research related to money and society. It has an entire department dedicated to the specialist field of economic history and runs many research centers such as the Centre for Climate Change Economics and Policy, the International Growth Centre, the Financial Markets Group, and the Centre for Analysis of Social Exclusion. The university is exceptionally cosmopolitan with over 100 languages spoken on campus, 155 nations represented, and over 70 percent international students (the highest in Britain), thus making it arguably the most diverse school in the world. Furthermore, the London School of Economics has access to the vibrant city lifestyle and numerous neighboring schools surrounding it. The school was founded in 1895 and now serves well over 10,000 students and employs almost 1,700 academic staff.
30. University of Wisconsin – Madison
Madison, Wisconsin, U.S.
The University of Wisconsin at Madison is a large public school of 40,000 students in 13 Schools and Colleges; it has a more than $2 billion endowment, which has enabled it to rank as high as third in the US for research expenditures. Speaking of its impressive budget, the school has recently invested a lot of money into building 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. But the University of Wisconsin at Madison represents more than state-of-the-art facilities. For over 100 years this school has developed a tradition of public service. Moreover, from a vast collection of research programs directed towards solving important empirical problems, the school’s Morgridge Center for Public Service has also engaged numerous social issues, such as poverty, inequality, and globalization.
31. University of Göttingen
The University of Göttingen was founded in 1734 in the German city of the same name. It supports 31,500 students and 4,500 academic staff. The school is connected to no fewer than 40 Nobel Prizes and has a more than €1.1 billion budget. It participates in multiple prestigious university affiliations, such as the German Universities Excellence Initiative and the Coimbra Group. The school also maintains close ties with the Max Planck Society for the Advancement of Science (the pioneering physicist was associated with the university and is buried in the town of Göttingen) and the Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz Scientific Community. Its eight-million-unit library is one of the largest in all Germany. Numerous luminaries from intellectual history have graced its halls, from sociologist Max Weber, physicist J. Robert Oppenheimer, and mathematician Emmy Noether, to statesman Otto von Bismarck and the pioneering folklorists, the Brothers Grimm. The school has 13 facilities and 47 centers and institutes.
32. University of Glasgow
Glasgow, United Kingdom
Founded by Pope Nicholas V in 1451, Scotland’s University of Glasgow is the fourth-oldest university in the English-speaking world. It was one of the first universities in the 19th century to educate students from the urban and middle classes instead of only the wealthy. The University of Glasgow is currently a member of Universitas 21, the Russell Group, and the Guild of European Research-Intensive Universities. The university comprises four colleges: The College of Arts; the College of Science and Engineering; the College of Medical, Veterinary, and Life Sciences; and the College of Social Sciences. Students from over 140 countries attend the University of Glasgow; they are drawn by its focus on interdisciplinary education and research.
33. University of California – Los Angeles
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
With over 72,000 applications for the fall 2012 alone, UCLA receives more applications than any other school in America. This is all the more impressive when one considers that the institution was only founded in 1919, as a two-year, undergraduate teacher training program. Now, the university has produced 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 part of the reason why over 100 companies have been created based on technology developed at UCLA.
34. Trinity College Dublin
Trinity College Dublin was first established by Queen Elizabeth I in 1592. Although modeled after the universities of Oxford and Cambridge, only one college was established. Graduates of Trinity College can receive equivalent degrees at either Oxford or Cambridge without further examination. Trinity College boasts a liberal environment with diverse interdisciplinary fields of study. Students who attend Trinity can choose from over 170 societies and sports clubs as well as pursuing a degree in any of the major disciplines in the arts and humanities, business, law, engineering, science, and health sciences. The college also houses the Book of Kells, a medieval manuscript that documents the four Gospels of Jesus Christ; visitors from around the world come to view it. The Library of Trinity College is also a legal deposit library for Ireland and Great Britain and contains over 6.2 million books and manuscripts.
35. California Institute of Technology
Pasadena, California, U.S.
Any school can assign you a textbook to read on your own. Real research universities pride themselves on giving you the opportunity to work alongside the leaders in their respective fields who write those textbooks. Of course, in order to do this efficiently, a school needs a decent student/faculty ratio. Few schools can beat Caltech’s 3:1 ratio, which is one of the many reasons why this relatively young institution, located in the Los Angeles suburb of Pasadena, has risen so quickly to international prominence. Its faculty includes 37 Nobel laureates, 58 National Medal of Science recipients, 13 National Medal of Technology and Innovation recipients, and 115 National Academies members. But to gain access to this prestigious collection of brilliant professors, you will have to be the best of the best. Nearly 7,000 applicants compete to be one of the 200 to 250 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 also study and conduct research at some of the school’s world-famous research centers, such as the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, the Seismological Laboratory, and the International Observatory Network.
36. Pennsylvania State University
State College, Pennsylvania, U.S.
Even by the standards of world-class state-run research universities, the Pennsylvania State University System (“Penn State”) is utterly massive. It takes 24 campuses to fit its nearly 100,000 students and 9,000 faculty statewide. Its flagship campus alone, University Park, with an enrollment of about 48,600 undergraduate and graduate students, is one of the largest in the country. The university also runs one of the largest graduate schools in the US, 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. It has a $3.64 billion endowment and a $3.602 billion budget. Its hospital, with integrated medical school, treats over one million patients each year. Penn State’s over half-million alumni have access to the largest dues-required alumni association in the US 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.
37. LMU Munich
The University of Munich — or, to give it its official name, the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München — is a leading European research university over half a millennium in age. It was chosen by the German government’s Excellence Initiative as a “university of excellence.” Six thousand academic staff members 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 Munich’s 18 faculties are dedicated to studying various aspects of culture. The school offers 150 subjects for its 51,000 students, five percent (about 6,800) of whom are foreign students. The school’s operating budget is an impressive €1.727 billion, which leaves plenty of room to still focus on the hard sciences. This is why Munich has produced 36 Nobel Prizes, and has 1,800 doctors treating over 500,000 patients each year.
38. Ohio State University
Columbus, Ohio, U.S.
Ohio State University’s main campus is in the state capital of Columbus, one of the most prosperous places in the US. The school is also one of the top public universities in the US with 59,000 students (plus an additional 7,000 spread across other campuses) in 175 majors, 492 specializations, various graduate and professional schools, and over 1,000 extracurricular activities and internships. This makes Ohio State the third-largest university in the United States. The school has a $3.6 billion endowment, and is one of the few schools with land, sea, and space grants. It also 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, and since 2002 the university has always been either first or second among American schools for the number of faculty members affiliated with the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). Athletes from Ohio State University have won 100 Olympic medals, including 44 gold, 35 silver, and 21 bronze.
39. Brown University
Providence, Rhode Island, U.S.
Nestled in the historic town of Providence, Rhode Island, Brown University is the seventh-oldest school in the US. This beautiful community is a federally listed architectural district with a high concentration of vintage buildings, which gives Brown a collegial atmosphere. But despite its long history, this Ivy League school has maintained a relatively small, intimate setting with over 9,300 undergraduate, graduate, and medical school students, as well as more than 730 faculty members. The university nevertheless boldly marches into the future: Brown files for close to 100 patents a year. Given the school’s small student size, its impressive $3.5 billion endowment produces a tremendous amount of resources per student. Brown Library’s special collections alone hold over three million items of rare and historic value. The university is affiliated with eight Nobel Prize laureates, five National Humanities medalists, 10 National Medal of Science winners, 55 Rhodes Scholars, 52 Gates Cambridge Scholars, 49 Marshall Scholars, 19 Pulitzer Prize winners, 12 MacArthur Fellows, and 54 members of Congress.
40. Leipzig University
Leipzig University, in the Free State of Saxony, Germany, emphasizes three strategic research fields that cover the humanities and social sciences, the life sciences, and the natural sciences. The university was initially founded in 1409 and has been engaged in teaching and research since its creation. It houses one of the oldest German university libraries, the University Library of Leipzig, which contains historical and special collections that are nationally and internationally renowned. The university itself comprises 38 locations in Leipzig; the main buildings remain located in the same spots as the original buildings built in 1409. Students at Leipzig University can earn degrees in over 190 study programs. The student body is diverse, due to not only the range of available subjects, but also due to multiple colleges and universities located in the city of Leipzig. Student activities and organizations include an annual dance festival, a book fair, and sports training opportunities.
41. University of Southern California
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
Although the University of Southern California (USC), located in Los Angeles, is a relatively young school among such prestigious company, it is the oldest private school in the western US, and has become one of the premier universities in America. USC enrolls more international students than any other American university. It has 42,000 students, almost 24,000 of whom are seeking graduate or professional training, and has an impressive $5.1 billion endowment, which leads to a $4.9 billion budget. USC has produced many noteworthy alumni, such as Neil Armstrong, the first man on the moon. It is also affiliated with 288 Olympic medals. The school’s faculty can boast of six Nobel Prizes, three National Medals of Science, three National Medals of Technology, and five MacArthur Fellowships, and has contributed 97 Members to the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). Also, 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.
42. University of Manchester
Manchester, England, U.K.
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 honors to its name, including 25 Nobel laureates. Several famous scientific experiments were performed here, including Ernest Rutherford’s celebrated experiment demonstrating the nuclear model of the atom by bouncing alpha particles off of the nuclei of the atoms in a sheet of gold foil. Also, Alan Turing continued his earlier foundational work in the theory of computation and artificial intelligence here, while also developing software for one of the world’s first true computers, which was built at Manchester. This university is also responsible for the discovery of graphene. The 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 amount of money ever invested into any British university.
43. Heidelberg University
Founded in 1386, Heidelberg 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: molecular and cellular biology; material structure and pattern formation; global culture; and self-organization and -regulation. The university also runs the interdisciplinary Marsilius Kolleg (MK) center for advanced study, and works alongside independent research centers, including the German Cancer Research Center and the Max Plank 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 Chile, 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 56 Nobel Prizes, as well as numerous other faculty awards.
44. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Chapel Hill, North Carolina, U.S.
As the oldest public school in America, the University of North Carolina (UNC) combines the long-standing traditions and prestige of a private school with the large-scale appeal of a big state school. It has roughly 30,000 students served by nearly 4,000 faculty and over 8,000 administrative staff and spread out across 17 campuses. Students at the flagship campus of Chapel Hill routinely partake in 325 study abroad programs in 70 countries. UNC also cycles through a staggering number of research dollars. The National Institutes of Health gave North Carolina over $428 million in 2014, while another $141.5 million was awarded to various UNC centers and institutes. Altogether, the university spends close to a billion dollars on research supporting over 10,000 researchers, professors, scientists, and various other UNC staff. Chapel Hill has a $2.7 billion annual operating budget. The UNC School of Medicine partners with NC Memorial Hospital, NC Children’s Hospital, NC Neurosciences Hospital, NC Women’s Hospital, and NC Cancer Hospital.
45. University of Pittsburgh
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, U.S.
University of Pittsburgh (“Pitt”) is an urban campus with more than 100 buildings on 132 acres of land. At the center of the campus lies the Cathedral of Learning, a 42-story, Gothic-style tower that is also the tallest school building in the Western Hemisphere. Almost 5,000 faculty train roughly 29,000 pupils here, including over 10,000 graduate students. The school’s classrooms enjoy an impressive 14:1 student/faculty ratio. Pitt has a long list of scientific accomplishments: Its research is responsible for developing the polio vaccine, synthesizing insulin, performing the world’s first double transplant operation, and identifying the most-distant known galaxy. The university has also benefited greatly from a close relationship with the Pittsburgh Medical Center, and stands near the internationally renowned Carnegie Mellon University. The university has an annual operating budget of $3.53 billion, about $1 billion of which is dedicated to research. The University of Pittsburgh is a member of the Association of American Universities.
46. University of Maryland
College Park, Maryland, U.S.
The University of Maryland is the premier public school in its state. The school’s flagship College Park campus benefits from its location just four miles outside of Washington, DC. Thirty-nine thousand students study there alongside of 10,000 faculty and staff. The school’s alumni network includes over 350,000 people. The school is a land-grant, sea-grant, and space-grant university. These grants integrate the university into funding and research opportunities connected to agriculture, marine life, and space exploration, all which feed into the school’s impressive $280 million endowment and $2.1 billion budget. Students here can study 127 different undergraduate degrees and 112 graduate degrees. Maryland runs several research initiatives relevant to politics and social issues, such as the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism and the Center for American Politics and Citizenship. Maryland also spearheads research in the hard sciences through the Space Systems Laboratory and the Center for Advanced Life Cycle Engineering.
47. Leiden University
Leiden University is a well-respected school in the Netherlands. The university, which has 27,000 students coming from 110 nations, along with 1,300 academic staff, offers 46 bachelor’s and 73 master’s programs. Seven different graduate schools offer the Ph.D. degree, as well. Leiden focuses on 11 broad disciplines: Asia; bioscience, neuroscience, and the fundamentals of science; global community; historical culture and power; health and the human life cycle; legal systems; language; political legitimacy; institutions and identities; drug development; 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 has produced a long list of leaders, including US President John Quincy Adams, Ghana Prime Minister Kofi Abrefa Busia, and U.K. Prime Minister John Stuart, Third Earl of Bute. Sixteen individuals affiliated with Leiden University have won the Nobel Prize, 21 have won Spinoza Prizes, and a dozen have become Vici Award laureates.
48. University of Bucharest
The second oldest university in Romania is the University of Bucharest, a public university founded in 1864. The Romanian Ministry of Education classifies it as an advanced research and education university. Students there can obtain a bachelor’s degree in one of almost 100 majors. There are 20 faculties that cover fields such as the natural sciences, the humanities, the social sciences, and theology. Acceptance is competitive, with 30,000 candidates vying for only 8,000 places. Graduate students may wish to undertake Bucharest’s master’s or doctoral programs, which are internationally recognized and accepted. The university does not have a single campus but rather has multiple buildings throughout Bucharest. This allows students to see many aspects of the city on their way to their classes. The University of Bucharest also has partnership agreements with over 50 other universities and participates in European programs that include ERASMUS, UNICA, Lingua, and TEMPRA. The university contains a publishing house and various research institutes and groups, such as the Institute for Political Research, the Center for Byzantine Studies, and the Center for Nuclear Research.
49. The University of Tokyo
The University of Tokyo is not only the leading school in Japan, it is also one of the leading schools in all Asia. It has made many strides to become an internationally renowned research center: for example, in 2012 the university developed PEAK, or “Programs in English at Komaba,” and now attracts students from over 100 nations. It also runs numerous research institutes studying multiple fields, including medical science, earthquakes, Asian cultures, molecular bioscience, cosmic ray research, solid-state physics, and environmental science, and has produced 11 Nobel Prize winners and one Fields 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 here. In fact, 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 the percentage of University of Tokyo alumni on their staffs to under 50 percent in order to promote diversity.
50. University of Florida
Gainesville, Florida, U.S.
The University of Florida has grown substantially since its humble beginnings as a small seminary. Now, the school, whose flagship campus is in Gainesville, enrolls 55,000 students and is home to 16 colleges and over 150 research centers and institutes. The university has more than 5,000 faculty members with impressive credentials. They include 34 Eminent Scholar chairs and over 60 elections to one of the national academies. The school also boasts a Fields Medal, two Pulitzer Prizes, the Smithsonian Institution’s conservation award, two Nobel Prizes, and NASA’s top research award. The university spends $740 million on research. Gatorade, the original and still most-popular sports drink, is one of the hundreds of products developed from research conducted here. The school 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. The school also holds one of the world’s largest butterfly and moth collections (over nine million specimens 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.
51. University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Champaign, Illinois, U.S.
In the modern world, many marvel at the technological advances of science. 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 wide variety of fields such as biology, computation, and physics, or the Academy for Entrepreneurial Leadership, which helps propagate the university’s nearly $2 billion endowment. Yet, the school also utilizes more-focused research programs. Among Illinois’s many more-specialized initiatives are the Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies and the European Union Center. This is why the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign has produced 24 Nobel laureates and 26 Pulitzer Prize winner. Famous Illinois alumni include many wealthy, successful people such as Oracle founder Larry Ellison, Playboy founder Hugh Hefner, and two of YouTube’s three founders.
52. Lomonosov Moscow State University
Established in 1755, Moscow State University (MSU) is in Russia’s capital, one of the premier cities of the world. It has over 47,000 students, 5,000 specialists who do refresher courses, and 6,000 professors and lecturers. About 4,000 international students come to Moscow University each year. It has 1,000 buildings and structures with eight dormitories. Its library holds nine million books, two million of which are in foreign languages. The school has an extremely decorated faculty and alumni network that includes 11 Nobel laureates and six Fields Medalists. Several famous politicians and activists like Mikhail Gorbachev, Yevgeny Primakov, Vladimir Zhirinovsky, and Anna Politkovskaya have been affiliated with MSU, as well as numerous distinguished scientists, such as Alexander Oparin, Andrey Kolmogorov, and Andrei Sakharov; several highly accomplished dramatists, filmmakers, and actors, including Vsevolod Meyerhold, Vsevolod Pudovkin, and Sergei Bodrov, Jr; and many famous writers, such as Mikhail Lermontov, Ivan Turgenev, Anton Chekhov, Boris Pasternak, and Varlam Shalamov. The school has some of the most sophisticated scientific equipment and training in Russia, including the UNESCO courses in International Demography, UNESCO Hydrology, the International Biotechnology Center, and the International LASER Center. MSU also houses Russia’s largest supercomputer. In addition to its Moscow campus, MSU also offers classes in the former Soviet republics, now sovereign countries, of Azerbaijan, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, and Ukraine.
53. University of British Columbia
Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
The University of British Columbia 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 medalists, and 70 Rhodes Scholars. Both Kim Campbell and Charles Joseph Clark, two of Canada’s prime ministers, graduated from UBC. The school’s great size (over 63,000 students and 5,400 faculty) contributes to its vast alumni network of over 300,000 people spread out over 120 countries. The school has a C$2.1 billion operating budget and produces C$12.5 billion worth of economic impact on a yearly basis. Currently, 158 different companies have spun off of UBC research. The school is spread across two campuses, the larger of which rests 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 housing more than seven million items.
54. University of Copenhagen
Founded in 1479, the University of Copenhagen is the oldest and second-largest university in Denmark. The school has over 38,000 students and 9,000 employees. It is a member of the international Alliance of Research Universities and has produced nine Nobel laureates. The university is divided into six departments: medicine; law; humanities; theology; social science; and science. It runs over 100 research centers that cover topics as diverse as language change in real time, international courts, military studies, dark cosmology, aging, and Søren Kierkegaard. Copenhagen has produced many noteworthy historical figures, such as the astronomers Tycho Brahe and Ole Rømer. In recent years, numerous Scandinavian prime ministers, especially Danish, have come from the university. The school continues to add to its rich history of intellectual and artistic achievement: for instance, the Copenhagen Orchestra, founded only in 2007, has already established an impressive reputation as one of Europe’s centers for classical music.
55. University of Sydney
Sydney, NSW, Australia
The University of Sydney, founded in 1850, is the oldest university in Australia. The school has an A$1.8 billion endowment and serves over 52,000 students. Sydney has produced two Crafoord and five Nobel laureates. A significant number of major Australian political figures have graduated from here, including seven Australian prime ministers, nine state governors, two Governors-General of Australia, 24 High Court of Australia justices, and four chief justices. Sydney is also responsible for 110 Rhodes Scholars. The school is a part of several prestigious university organizations such as the Group of Eight, the Association of Pacific Rim Universities, the Academic Consortium 21, the Association of Southeast Asian Institutions of Higher learning, the Association of Commonwealth Universities, the Australia-Africa Universities Network, and the Worldwide Universities Network. Sydney runs over 90 research centers and institutes. The university runs a special Innovation Hub in order to assist startup companies.
56. College of William & Mary
Williamsburg, Virginia, U.S.
The College of William & Mary was founded in 1693, which makes it the second oldest college in the U.S. It is known as “the Alma Mater of the Nation” because numerous Founding Fathers — such as Thomas Jefferson, James Monroe, Henry Clay of Kentucky, and sixteen members of the Continental Congress — attended it. Since 1779, it has also offered graduate programs in law and medicine; this makes it one of the earliest higher level universities in the U.S. In 1776, Phi Beta Kappa, the nation’s first academic Greek society, was founded on at William & Mary. Today, William & Mary is known as a “Public Ivy” because it offers an Ivy League-level education with a public university tuition. William & Mary offers a rigorous liberal arts curriculum, with degrees at the bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral levels. There are two main campuses; one these, the Virginia Institute of Marine Science, is a leading marine research and education center in the U.S.
57. University of Bonn
The Prussian King Friedrich-Wilhelm III created the University of Bonn (or, to give it its official name, Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Bonn) in 1818 in the birthplace of the immortal composer Ludwig van Beethoven, as well as the future capital of the Federal Republic of Germany (West Germany) between 1949 and 1991. The pleasant city on the Rhine now provides a home for a major research university with 35,000 students, 4,000 of whom are international. Its academic staff of 4,500 engage in over 1,500 projects. The university owns or uses over 350 buildings throughout the city of Bonn, although seven facilities form its core. The University of Bonn is affiliated with multiple teaching hospitals, while its medical-related enterprises run 14 collaborative research centers, 17 research units, and five research training groups. Bonn partners with 56 universities in Europe, America, Asia, and Australia. It has produced seven Nobel Prize winners, three Fields Medalists, and 12 Leibniz Prize winners. The university has also produced many significant historical figures, such as the scientists Justus von Liebig, Anton Dohrn, and Hermann Emil Fischer; the mathematicians P.G.L. Dirichlet, Karl Weierstrass, and Peter Scholze; the anthropologist Franz Boas; the artist Max Ernst; the poet Heinrich Heine; the playwright Luigi Pirandello; the composer Karlheinz Stockhausen; the economists Walter Eucken and Joseph Schumpeter; the statesman Konrad Adenauer; and the philosophers Karl Marx, Friedrich Nietzsche, Jürgen Habermas, and Joseph Ratzinger (Pope Benedict XVI).
58. University of Melbourne
The University of Melbourne is both the leading and the oldest university in Australia. Melbourne is the country’s second-largest city, as well as a bustling center of commerce; consequently, the university benefits from all the culture and opportunity of a metropolis which QS World University Rankings calls the fourth-best city for college students. The university offers over 340 different graduate tracks. Here, you can pursue everything from professional degrees in law and medicine to research programs in the various sciences. This is why every year 45,000 students, 12,000 of whom are foreigners representing 129 different countries, come to the University of Melbourne. This healthy research environment is why the school gave the world the first bionic ear and is currently developing the first bionic eye. The university belongs to several prestigious groups, such as the Asia-Pacific Rim and the Group of Eight. It has recently adopted three overarching research orientations it calls “Grand Challenges”: Understanding our Place and Purpose; Fostering Health and Well-Being; and Supporting Sustainability and Resilience. The University of Melbourne actively seeks to engage public discourse through its biennial Festival of Ideas and public lecture program.
59. University of Virginia
Charlottesville, Virginia, U.S.
The University of Virginia traces its origin to 1819 when Declaration of Independence author Thomas Jefferson founded the school. Along with Jefferson’s home of Monticello, the university was one of the first two world heritage sites named in the US in 1987. The school was designed to be a public research university where people from all walks of life could pursue truth. It pioneered the student honor code and system of self-governance. Today, the school has more than $8.6 billion behind its endowment and an operating budget of $1.39 billion (include $372 million in research awards), which provide resources for over 22,000 students. The school is also located in Charlottesville, which has one of the fastest-growing economies in the United States. Virginia’s alumni include eight NASA astronauts, eight Pulitzer Prize winners, 53 Rhodes Scholars, 14 governors of Virginia, 14 governors of other states and territories, and a Nobel laureate, U.S. President Woodrow Wilson.
60. Saint Petersburg State University
Saint Petersburg, Russia
Saint Petersburg State University (SPBU) focuses on fundamental research in science, engineering, and the humanities. The university comprises 24 specialized faculties and institutes on two campuses; the first is on Vasilievsky Island and the second is in Peterhof. SPBU was founded in 1724 by the decree of Peter the Great, which makes it the oldest university in Russia. Since then, it has focused on advancing science and training professionals. In 2009, SPBU and Moscow State University were granted the special status of “unique scientific and educational complexes.” In addition to the usual variety of bachelor’s degrees, SPBU also offers special degrees in subjects such as fundamental mathematics, dental medicine, animated cartoon artist, and easel painting. SPBU also offers several master’s and doctoral degrees. The university places a strong emphasis on research; it focuses on nanotechnology and materials science, biomedicine, information systems and technology, ecology, social research technologies, and human resource technologies.
61. University of Iowa
Iowa City, Iowa, U.S.
The University of Iowa is a public university that comprises 11 colleges and offers more than 200 areas of study. UI is classified as an R1 Doctoral University due to its very high research activity. Its programs in health care, law, and fine arts rank among the top in the nation. Additionally, the University of Iowa has a long history of diversity and inclusiveness. It was the first state university to admit men and women on an equal basis. It was also the first to grant a woman (Mary B. Hickey Wilkinson) a law degree, the first to offer an African American man (G. Alexander Clark) a law degree, and the first to allow an African American man (Frank Kinney Holbrook) to compete in varsity athletics. It was also the first to open a coeducational medical school. Its Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender, and Allied Union was founded in 1970 and is the oldest GLBTA student organization in the country. Today, the university operates the Iowa Writer’s Workshop, from which 17 of the 46 Pulitzer Prize winners have originated. It boasts a 15:1 student ratio, with 78% of classes having fewer than 30 students.
62. University of Arizona
Tucson, Arizona, U.S.
Chartered in 1885, the University of Arizona has grown into a large, public research center. It now supports 34,000 undergraduates, 7,900 graduates, and over 1,500 doctoral students with more than 3,000 academic staff and a $673 million endowment. The school runs a medical school and a medical center. Its great size lets it 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 one of the 62-member Association of American Universities. The graduate college offers almost 100 doctoral and over 100 master’s degrees. It also runs several specialized Doctor of Pharmacy programs. It has over 80 research centers. Two Nobel laureates and eight Pulitzer Prize winners are affiliated with the school. Over 50 faculty are members of prestigious academies, such as the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the Royal Society.
63. Imperial College London
London, England, U.K.
In 1907 the Royal College of Science, the City & Guilds College, and the Royal School of Mines combined to create Imperial College London. Today, the school’s 7,500 staff members provide training for 17,000 students. Undergraduates come from over 125 countries to study here. This school focuses on applied subjects across four major disciplines: science; engineering; medicine; and business. Imperial College London holds a Silver Athena Swan award for advancing women in the sciences. It is associated with 14 Nobel Prizes and two Fields Medals. Thomas Henry Huxley, the famous biologist known as “Darwin’s bulldog”; H.G. Wells, influential author of The Time Machine, The Invisible Man, The War of the Worlds, and The Island of Doctor Moreau, as well as many other futuristic and more traditional novels; and Sir William Crookes, pioneer of the vacuum tube, all spent time at Imperial College. The university has a nearly £1 billion endowment, as well as an operating budget of £142 million. It also runs seven different global research institutes.
64. Rutgers University
New Brunswick, New Jersey, U.S.
Originally founded as Queens College in 1766, Rutgers University is one of the nine colonial colleges built before the revolution. Rutgers University – New Brunswick is the flagship home of Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, centrally located between New York City and Philadelphia, and consequently well positioned to tap into both cities’ substantial economic and cultural opportunities. The city of New Brunswick has evolved into a college town whose identity is saturated by the university’s school spirit. Rutgers – New Brunswick also benefits from a close working relationship with sister institutions in Rutgers Camden and Rutgers Newark, as well as an alignment with Rutgers Biomedical and Health Sciences, New Jersey’s academic health center. Rutgers has long been considered one of the most diverse colleges in the US, with a ~69,000 member student body drawing from a wide range of economic, social, and national backgrounds. It is blessed with a first-class faculty that include an Abel Prize winner and several MacArthur “Genius Award” Fellows, Guggenheim Fellows, and Pulitzer Prize winners, as well as members of various national academies. Rutgers – New Brunswick is a member of the Association of American Universities and the Big Ten Conference.
65. Purdue University
West Lafayette, Indiana, U.S.
Purdue University, a public research university, enrolls nearly 45,000 students in a full array of nearly 300 programs. Established in 1869, the university’s first enrollment consisted of only 39 students, and its curriculum focused on sciences and agriculture. Today, the university is a member of the Association of American Universities (AAU) and is recognized as an R1 research institution by the Carnegie Classifications of Institutions of Higher Education. It is well known for its College of Engineering, College of Pharmacy, and School of Management. Notably, Purdue claims 25 astronauts among its alumni as well as affiliation with 13 Nobel Prize recipients. The university’s athletic teams are active in NCAA Division I competition.
66. Boston University
Boston, Massachusetts, U.S.
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 Boston College, Brandeis, Harvard, MIT, Northeastern, and Tufts (to name only the best-known schools), which form the highest concentration of academic institutions in the US. 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 pupils, almost half of whom are graduate students, with 324 academic buildings, 23 libraries, and a staggering 2,285 laboratories in both its Charles River Campus and its Medical Campus. It attracts students from all 50 states and over 130 nations. It boasts an impressive 12.6:1 student/faculty ratio, and holds close to $5 billion in assets. Its faculty include eight Nobel laureates, 23 Pulitzer Prize winners, and 10 Rhodes Scholars. The school has also produced famous alumni such as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
67. Michigan State University
East Lansing, Michigan, U.S.
Michigan State University was established in 1855. It became the first university in the US to teach the science of agriculture, and for many years specialized in this branch of applied science. To this day, the school still maintains 19,600 acres for agricultural and resource-based research. However, it now supports a student body of over 39,000 and an academic staff of more than 5,500. It received over $589 million in research funding from external sources during the 2015 — 2016 academic year. The university was chosen by the US Department of Energy to design and build a Facility for Rare Isotope Beams to further our understanding of cosmology. Michigan State is where scientists discovered how to homogenize milk and where the anticancer drug cisplatin was developed. The school also runs AgBioReserach, which advances our knowledge of food, energy, and the environment, and employs over 300 scientists. Michigan State University, which is in East Lansing, a suburb of the state capital of Lansing, operates with a more than $3 billion endowment.
68. Friedrich Schiller University Jena
Friedrich Schiller University Jena, located in Thuringia, Germany, is one of the ten oldest universities in Germany. It was established in 1558 and was renamed in 1934 after the poet and philosopher Friedrich Schiller, who taught philosophy at Jena at the turn of the 19th century. Other renowned professors of the time include G. W. F. Hegel and Karl Leonhard Reinhold, putting the university at the center of German idealism and early romanticism. Today, the university is affiliated with six Nobel Prize winners. Friedrich Schiller University Jena is a research hub that connects non-university research centers, research-driven companies, and regional and national cultural institutions. The university is associated with the Martin Luther University of Halle-Wittenberg and the University of Leipzig. This allows students the chance to take advantage of academic or athletic opportunities at the partner schools.
69. Hebrew University of Jerusalem
Jerusalem and Rehovot, Israel
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. It has since then quickly become one of the world’s premier research universities. The school serves 23,000 students from 70 countries. It has produced eight Nobel Prizes, a Fields Medal, and over 40 percent of the more than 700 Israel Prize winners. The university dominates higher education in Israel: most the nation’s Ph.D. holders earned their degree here, and a third of Israel’s research grants go to affiliated scholars. The school has also developed an international presence, with dozens of exchange programs and partnerships with over 150 other universities. 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 a leading center for the integration of biology and engineering.
70. Vanderbilt University
Nashville, Tennessee, U.S.
Vanderbilt University, located in Nashville, Tennessee, is one of the major academic institutions in the southern US. Its 12,500 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/faculty ratio, is a member of the Association of American Universities, and has produced six Nobel Prizes. Vanderbilt has a $4.1 billion endowment, which is why it can spend such substantial resources on its projects. In 2013 it invested $573.1 million into research, while its hospital spent $843.6 million. It 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 top-tier resources, scholars here enjoy a research library with more than eight million items and 4.4 million volumes.
71. University of Utah
Salt Lake City, Utah, U.S.
The University of Utah is in Salt Lake City, just beyond the breath-taking Wasatch Mountains. Over 24,000 undergrads and 8,000 post-graduates study 72 majors and 90 graduate fields. Its endowment is over $1 billion. The school hosted the 2002 Winter Olympics Village, as well as the opening and closing ceremonies. Utah is known for its contribution to biology and medicine. Its medical school performed the first permanent artificial heart implant in 1982. It has also contributed to genetics through multi-generational studies done in conjunction with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology has done ground-breaking research in epilepsy treatment via their anticonvulsant drug development program. The university’s contribution was also fundamental to building the first packet-switching computer network, which laid the groundwork for the Internet. The University of Utah’s law school has dominated state politics for decades; in fact, until 1970 it was the only law school in the state.
72. Dartmouth College
Hanover, New Hampshire, U.S.
Dartmouth College is one of the nine colonial colleges built in America before the Revolution and one of the eight Ivy League schools. Since its founding in 1769 in the small town of Hanover, New Hampshire, Dartmouth has grown into a major research university with a $5 billion endowment and 8,600 students drawn from 43 states and 48 countries. Four hundred full-time faculty teach here. Dartmouth has 13 Pulitzer Prizes to its name and three Nobel Prizes. Famous people associated with the school include the forty-first Vice President of the US, Nelson Rockefeller; Secretaries of the Treasury Henry Paulson and Timothy Geithner; Supreme Court Chief Justice Salmon P. Chase; famed orator, Senator, and Secretary of State Daniel Webster; distinguished poet Robert Frost; and beloved children’s writer Theodor S. Geisel (“Dr. Seuss”). Dartmouth College is considered by both the Carnegie Foundation and U.S. News & World Report as “Most Selective.” The school houses three professional schools: the Thayer School of Engineering; the Geisel School of Medicine; and the Tuck School of Business.
73. University of Missouri
Columbia, Missouri, U.S.
Often called Mizzou, the University of Missouri is a public land-grant research university that was Founded in 1839. It was the first public institution of higher education west of the Mississippi River. Its athletics teams compete in Division I of the NCAA. The historical campus is on Francis Quadrangle, which is a historic district listed on the National Register of Historic Places; this campus is now a botanical garden. The University of Missouri Research Reactor Center is the world’s most powerful university research reactor. Mizzou puts a strong focus on research and is designated as a Doctoral/Research Extensive university. The university offers 97 undergraduate degrees, a full complement of graduate degrees, and continuing education for professionals. For students who prefer distance learning, Mizzou offers 125 online degree and certificate options and over 1,000 online courses at both undergraduate and graduate levels.
74. Carnegie Mellon University
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, U.S.
Carnegie Mellon University is a private research university created in 1967 when the already-existing Carnegie Institute of Technology merged with the Mellon Institute of Industrial Research. The university has seven colleges and independent schools that offer interdisciplinary programs. CMU focuses on research in the arts and humanities, science and technology, business and policy, and education and communications. Researchers are encouraged to work across disciplines to take advantage of strengths from every field. CMU has also worked to attract corporate research partners to its Pittsburg campus. Companies that include Apple, Intel, Google, Uber, Disney, Boeing, and IBM have locations on or near the campus. CMU places a strong focus on interdisciplinary work and encourages its students to work with scholars outside of their schools and college. In 2001, CMU established the unique Student College. There, students can create and teach classes on any topic of their choice if the course is not offered through the university regularly.
75. University of Tübingen
The University of Tübingen is a German Excellence University, and one of the preeminent places of higher learning in Europe. Many of the schools on this list have produced advances in science and technology, built world-renowned centers for the study of the humanities, and filled their faculty with winners of many prestigious awards. As a school with a history dating back to 1477, 11 Nobel laureates, and alumni that include presidents and prime ministers, the University of Tübingen has proven itself a more-than-capable science and humanities research center of the same type. But in addition to all that, the University of Tübingen has been at the forefront of theology — perhaps more so than any other university in the last century. Both the conservative-minded Joseph Ratzinger (the future Pope Benedict XVI) and the progressive Catholic theologian Hans Küng taught here. Consequently, some of the most significant developments in both traditional orthodox theology and its borderline-heterodox alternatives within the world’s largest religion stem from here. In many ways, the history of theology in the twenty-first century may be the story of reconciling the intellectual differences represented at Tübingen.
76. Uppsala University
Uppsala University was founded in 1477. It is the oldest university not only in Sweden but in all the Nordic countries that exist today. Since it was attended by Carl Linnaeus, it is not surprising that the university has focused on the natural sciences. Today, Uppsala is made up of three disciplinary domains: humanities and social sciences, medicine and pharmacy, and science and technology. Uppsala University also offers public lectures by Nobel Prize laureates, writers, and world leaders. These lectures are accessible to the students and the public. Sports are a smaller part of university life than at most British and U.S. universities, but the institution does have a long history of musical and choral traditions. The university offers 71 bachelor’s degrees and 73 master’s degrees as well as doctoral programs.
77. University of Zürich
The University of Zürich is the largest university in Switzerland. It has the distinction of being the first European university established by a democratic state to be free from ecclesiastical or royal patronage. It offers the largest selection of subjects and courses of any Swiss higher education institution. Notably, the bachelor’s degree courses are largely taught in Swiss Standard German (except for the field of English language and literature), but many faculties are increasing their offering of courses in English. Master’s courses in science are held in English as well as most master’s courses in economics and finance. The University of Zürich collaborates closely with the Federal Institute for Technology in the fields of bioscience and finance, where they undertake research on topics such as healthy aging, evolution in action, financial market regulation, and global change and biodiversity.
78. Nanyang Technological University
Nanyang Technological University is one of the oldest and largest research universities in Singapore. The university is often listed as one of the most beautiful campuses in the world. With its eco-campus initiative, NTU is committed to becoming the most eco-friendly campus in the world. The 26,000 undergraduate and postgraduate students can enjoy the contemporary architecture that blends with and compliments the natural landscape. Students can choose from five colleges: Engineering, Business, Science, Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences, and the globally renowned Lee Kong Chian School of Medicine. The latter was established jointly with Imperial College London. When it’s time to unwind, students can visit one of four “cat cafes” to help feed and care for the campus cats through the NTU Cat Management Network.
79. University of Rochester
Rochester, New York, U.S.
The University of Rochester is an elite private school in the city of Rochester on Lake Ontario in upstate New York. It was founded in 1929 as America’s first school specializing in optics. Since then, it has grown in size and scope. Its campus now houses 158 buildings for its 11,000 students, giving the school an impressive 10:1 student/teacher ratio. The school has a $1.81 billion endowment, and students can study over 200 majors. Rochester built a $7.5 million HIV/AIDS research center with support from the National Institutes of Health in 2013. Rochester faculty 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. Twelve Pulitzer Prizes, nine Nobel Prizes, one MacArthur Fellowship, and 20 Guggenheim Fellowships are affiliated with the school, which houses over 3.5 million volumes and many musical scores in its four libraries. The school also has a memorial 50-bell carillon.
80. Arizona State University – Tempe
Tempe, Arizona, U.S.
Over eighty thousand students from all 50 states and 160 nations are enrolled at Arizona State University (often abbreviated ASU). Since 2003, ASU has made a concerted effort to pursue leading faculty: It has added 156 award recipients, as well as fellows and members of the various national academies. This prestigious group now includes four Nobel laureates, six Pulitzer Prize winners, 25 Guggenheim Fellows, 114 Fulbright American Scholars, 11 members of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and 65 fellows of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). Students can choose from 250 majors and 100 graduate programs. The school has tripled its research expenditures since 2002 to $552.8 million. 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 university’s Flexible Display Center in 2009. ASU is currently the only US university to produce 20 megawatts of electricity via solar arrays. In addition, the school generates power through wind turbines.
81. University of Halle-Wittenberg
The University of Halle-Wittenberg formed in 1816 during the merging of universities in Halle and Wittenberg. The former is known for being the first modern university and pioneered the academic model familiar to today’s students. The University of Halle-Wittenberg is now known for being a public research university, located one hour from Berlin by train. The university has nine faculties including theology, law and economics, medicine, philosophy, and natural sciences. Students can count Shakespeare’s fictional Hamlet and Christopher Marlowe’s Doctor Faustus among their fictional classmates.
82. Emory University
Atlanta, Georgia, U.S.
Emory University is now considered a “hidden Ivy,” on par with larger, better known elite universities. Emory University is a private research college that is the second oldest private institution in Georgia and one of the oldest in the United States. The school has nearly 15,000 students who can choose from Emory’s highly ranked programs; these include one of the top writing programs in the United States. The school generates the most research funds in the state of Georgia and operates its own health care system and has nine academic divisions.
83. Rice University
Houston, Texas, U.S.
Some research universities take a scattershot approach: They take as many students as they can in order by sheer weight of numbers to have the resources to attack large-scale research projects. Rice University, located in the boom town of Houston, has taken the opposite approach: It only has 665 full-time, 136 part-time, and 147 adjunct faculty members. This small faculty teaches a modest 3,879 undergraduate and 2,861 graduate students in just eight schools. But despite being one of the smaller schools on the Top 100 list, 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/faculty ratio, and an average class size of just 14. Furthermore, only one out of every 16 applicants is accepted. Those who do find a place at Rice enjoy an endowment of $789,911 per full-time student. The university spends $94 million each year on research and, unlike many other schools, Rice opens research opportunities to undergraduates. Sixty-seven percent of its undergraduates participate in research before graduating.
84. Charles University in Prague
Prague, Czech Republic
Charles University in Prague, founded in 1348, is the oldest university in the Czech Republic and Central Europe; it has continuously operated for 700 years. Like other universities in the area, Charles saw its fair share of turmoil in the early- and mid-20th century, especially after the 1948 communist coup and the resulting political dissident purges. Presently, the university has strong relationships with international universities that include joint publications with Imperial College London, University of Washington, University of Amsterdam, and Lomonosov Moscow State University. The public university has a student body of 49,000, which includes 7,400 international students. Charles operates 17 faculties that include theology, law, medicine, pharmacy, arts, science, physical education and humanities.
85. Case Western Reserve University
Cleveland, Ohio, U.S.
Established in 1826, Case Western Reserve University is Cleveland’s leading research university. This private school boasts an impressive endowment of $1.66 billion, which it uses to support its more than 11,300-member student body and 3,300-member, full-time academic staff. Case Western is in a neighborhood called University Circle because of all the academic and cultural centers located there. This gives students, faculty, and the university opportunities to partner with institutions such as the Cleveland Clinic, the University Hospitals of Cleveland, the Cleveland Institute of Music, the Cleveland Hearing and Speech Center, the Cleveland Orchestra, the Cleveland Institute of Art, and many more. No fewer than 17 Nobel laureates are affiliated with the school, including Albert A. Michelson, the first American to win two Nobel Prizes, and one of the researchers (along with Edward W. Morley) who disproved the existence of a luminiferous ether in experiments held on campus in 1886. Other famous Case Western Reserve affiliates include Paul T. Buchheit, lead developer of Gmail, and Dr. Peter S. Tippett, who developed the anti — computer virus software “Corporate Vaccine,” which was later developed into “Norton AntiVirus.”
86. University of Leeds
Leeds, England, U.K.
In 1904 a royal charter created the University of Leeds from previous schools in Yorkshire. Since then Leeds has become one of the dominant research universities in the United Kingdom. It is a member of several prestigious organizations such as the Russell Group, the N8 Group, the Worldwide Universities Network, the Association of Commonwealth Universities, the White Rose University Consortium, and the European University Association. Leeds’s student body numbers more than 32,000. Its alumni network includes six Nobel laureates. The university also runs cutting-edge research through a variety of mediums, such as the Airbus 320 Flight Simulator, its close connection with St. James University Hospital, and the Institute for Transportation Studies. Leeds was named “university of the year” by the Times and the Sunday Times Good University Guide. Leeds staff members have been awarded more National Teaching Fellowships than those of any other university in the U.K.; the school also won the Queen’s anniversary prize in 2009 and 2011.
87. Peking University
Peking University, established in 1898, sits on the previous grounds of the Qing Dynasty imperial gardens. Today, traditional Chinese architecture meets modernity at a premier research institution that is home to over 42,000 students. Peking University boasts the distinction of being part of the elite C9 level of universities in China. International cooperation is a cornerstone of the university’s mission. In addition to its 2050 international students on the Beijing Campus and in the business school, Peking University also established the Asia-Pacific Studies major in partnership with Cornell University. As part of the program, students from Cornell are required to spend one year studying and interning at Peking University. The Peking University’s library is one of the largest libraries in the world, with over 8 million items in its catalog.
88. Georgetown University
Washington D.C., U.S.
Georgetown University is one of the most selective private universities in the United States. The competitive application process accounts for the prestige of university alumnae, with two former U.S. presidents included in their ranks. The private, non-profit university has 19,000 students. Set in the Georgetown neighborhood of Washington D.C., many graduates go one to work in the federal government, including U.S. intelligence agencies. Outside public service, graduates also go into high profile private careers in finance and investment banking. While at Georgetown, students can join the oldest theater troupe and oldest debate team in the country. If public speaking and performance isn’t their passion, they can work for the largest student-run business or financial institution. The former, the Corp, is a charitable organization which earns its funding by running three campus coffee shops and a convenience store. The latter, the Georgetown University and Student Federal Credit Union, is run by students and has over 10,000 members.
89. Georgia Institute of Technology
Atlanta, Georgia, U.S.
Georgia Institute of Technology is a leading public research institution located in Atlanta, Georgia. Founded in 1885 as part of reconstruction efforts, it originally offered a single degree in mechanical engineering. The university now enrolls nearly 30,000 students across six colleges, but is still best known for its award-winning engineering programs. In addition to being one of the best public universities in the U.S., Georgia Tech is home to several champion NCAA Division I teams, including its Yellow Jackets football team.
90. University of Amsterdam
Established in 1632, the University of Amsterdam is the third-oldest university in the Netherlands. In 1961 it became a national university and acquired its current name. It educates 33,000 students and spends €100 million per year on research across 28 research institutes. In 2016 Amsterdam produced 8,427 scientific publications. The Amsterdam University Press publishes over 1,400 texts in both English and Dutch. Their Allard Pearson Museum displays many artifacts from antiquity. The school has produced six Nobel Prize winners and seven Spinoza Prize winners. The school is a part of the European University Association, the League of European Research Universities, Universitas 21, and the Institutional Network of the Universities from the Capitals of Europe. It is widely considered the leading university in the Netherlands. In 2008 the school partnered with the Free University of Amsterdam to offer a joint three-year honors bachelor’s degree in the liberal arts and sciences.
91. University of Oslo
The University of Oslo is the oldest school in Norway. It has 28,000 students, 7,000 employees, and 3,000 Ph.D. students studying under eight faculties. It houses the Viking Ship Museum and a library with 3.6 million holdings. Oslo is also home to eight National Centers of Excellence, as well as Centers 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 the University of Oslo is more than just a Norwegian gem. It also offers over 800 courses in English, received seven individual grants from European Union research projects, and has contributed four Nobel Prize winners. The school is 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 ever to host a Nobel Prize ceremony. Johan Galtung became the world’s first chair of peace and conflict studies at Oslo, and the famous Arctic explorer, humanitarian, and Nobel Peace Prize winner Fridtjof Nansen taught here, as well. Oslo also awards the prestigious Abel Prize in mathematics.
92. University of Bristol
The University of Bristol attracts students from over 100 nations to the beautiful city that shares its name. The school boasts 13 Nobel laureates, 21 Fellows of the Academy of Medical Science, 13 Fellows of the British Academy, 13 Fellows of the Royal Academy of Engineering, and 44 Fellows of the Royal Society. Moreover, Bristol is affiliated with multiple prestigious university groups such as the Russell Group, the Coimbra Group, and the Worldwide Universities Network. The school also sends students to over 500 other European Universities through its Erasmus Charter. The University of Bristol is powered by a healthy £620 million operating budget — and, unlike far too many financial institutions in these troubled times, it cycles through £100.6 million of capital investment, resulting in a stable £12.5 million surplus and leaving students confident that the research activities of the school are secure. Research here 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 quantum computer, which makes use of the principle of qubits (quantum information bits).
93. University of Alberta
Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
The University of Alberta, established in 1908, is a public research university with around 39,000 students. With nearly 400 programs, the university is in high-demand, counting students from 150 countries among its ranks. Today the university features 18 faculties in areas that include agriculture, arts, engineering, medicine, and public health. The university is as well known for its research as its academics and is a member of the U15 universities and the Worldwide Universities Network.
94. Florida State University
Tallahassee, Florida, U.S.
Florida State University (FSU) is the leading research university in Florida’s educational system. The school, whose flagship campus is in the state capital of Tallahassee, U.S.es a budget of $1.7 billion and has an annual impact of roughly $10 billion. Its more than 2,350-member academic staff serves 42,000 students. The university received $724 million in research awards in 2016. It operates many cutting-edge laboratories, including the National High Magnetic Field Laboratory, or MagLab. The only laboratory of its kind in the US and one of only nine in the world, MagLab is used to run various tests requiring the presence of an intense magnetic field. FSU also operates the High-Performance Materials Institute, which partners with the National Science Foundation (NSF) in order to develop practical applications for exotic, experimental materials. In addition, the school partners with the US Navy through the Center for Advanced Power Systems. Florida State University’s staff includes three members of the National Academy of Sciences, two National Academy of Engineering members, two members of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, 11 Guggenheim Fellowship recipients, 30 Fulbright Scholars, two Pulitzer Prize winners, and a Nobel laureate.
95. University of Freiburg
The University of Freiburg is a public research university in Freiburg, Germany. The international student cohort makes up about 18% of the 25,000 students enrolled, and represents 120 countries. Founded by the Habsburg dynasty in 1457, the university is the fifth-oldest university in Germany. Considered one of the top universities in Europe, the University of Freiburg boasts an impressive alumni and emeritus faculty list of some of the most significant thinkers in the 20th century, including Martin Heidegger, Hannah Arendt, Edmund Husserl, and Max Weber. It lays claims 21 Nobel Laureates and 15 recipients of the Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz Prize. Currently the university consists of 11 faculties.
96. University of Kansas
Lawrence, Kansas, U.S.
The University of Kansas is a public research university with over 27,000 students. Established in 1865, the University of Kansas is a member of the Association of American Universities (AAU), and is recognized as an R1 research institution by the Carnegie Classifications of Institutions of Higher Education. The university has five campuses to its name and is home to the prestigious University of Kansas Medical Center. Beyond its academics, the University of Kansas is well known for its NCAA Division I athletic teams, including the 2008 national champion men’s basketball team.
97. McGill University
Montreal, Québec, Canada
McGill University is in the bilingual, French-and-English-speaking city of Montreal, the second-largest city in Canada, and is one of that country’s leading institutions of higher learning. Its nearly 41,000 students study in 300 buildings, while its quarter million alumni are spread across 180 countries. McGill produces more Rhodes Scholars than any other Canadian school. It also has the highest percentage of doctoral students of any Canadian University, and 20 percent of its student body is international, hailing from 150 nations. The school invests roughly C$500 million each year. Much of this funding comes from McGill’s active partnering with entrepreneur-backed collaborations that utilize its 1,600 researchers, its 8,000 graduate and postdoctoral students, and its 46 research centers. These partnerships run from minor support for pre-existing projects to licensing very specific research initiatives. This has led the school to make significant contributions to science, including Ernest Rutherford’s early work on splitting the atom and Wilder Penfield’s mapping of the brain’s motor cortex. McGill’s faculty and alumni account for 12 Nobel Prizes.
98. University of Oregon
Eugene, Oregon, U.S.
The University of Oregon is a public university with around 22,000 students in over 300 academic programs. The university consists of five colleges and seven schools, including well-regarded schools of education, law, and business. The university is recognized as an R1 research institution by the Carnegie Classifications of Institutions of Higher Education, and features 18 research centers on campus. Outside of academics and research, the University of Oregon is known for its Ducks athletic teams, which participate in NCAA Division I athletics.
99. National University of Singapore
The National University of Singapore is the oldest university in Singapore and was established in 1905. The public research university is home to around 36,000 students, with representation from 100 countries. Created from the need for a medical school in the country, the National University of Singapore now covers a full array of subjects and blends aspects of the American and British educational systems with its structure and pedagogy. The university often ranks among the best in Asia according to the QS World University Rankings. NUS also collaborates with Duke University to run the Duke-NUS Medical School and with Yale University to run the Yale-NUS College.
100. York University
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
York University is Canada’s third-largest university. Since its establishment in 1959, the university has exponentially grown from its first class of 76 students. The large university presently hosts roughly 52,000 students who can select from York’s highly ranked programs. York University boasts the oldest and best-regarded film school in Canada as well as the largest environmental studies faculty; York also operates well-known business and law schools. However, York is also known for a recent history of labor strikes among its faculty.
The Apparent Gaming of College Rankings
When we first did this ranking in late 2014, we looked to the Center for World-Class Universities operated by Shanghai Jiao Tong University, which ranks universities around the world by academic performance. Accordingly, we took the 100 best universities in the 2014 Shanghai Ranking, and then expanded on each university in the list, explaining its most important characteristics and justifying its inclusion and place in the ranking.
Unfortunately, in subsequent years, the Shanghai Rankings lost credibility. The Shanghai Rankings have always been based on two types of criteria, awards for achievement (such as the Nobel Prize) and strength of research (as measured by publications in high-profile journals). Starting in 2015, however, the Shanghai Rankings finagled their use of these criteria, so that schools and programs previously unranked emerged from nowhere and suddenly featured prominently in the rankings.
Such concerns became especially evident in Shanghai’s subject area rankings, such as mathematics. For instance, two Saudi Arabian universities that had no history or tradition for excellence in mathematics and that had never appeared in a ranking of top mathematics programs worldwide suddenly appeared in the #6 and #23 positions.
An article in Science suggested an answer to this meteoric rise in Saudi mathematics: these universities offer lucrative part-time professorships to top mathematicians and scientists, in which they are required to spend just a few weeks every year on campus, but then are obligated to list the university as a secondary affiliation. These “very loose” affiliations are boosting the ranking of such schools and programs, even though the research that is ultimately responsible for the boost is conducted outside Saudi Arabia.
Simply put, rankings of institutions and programs increasingly appear in the Shanghai Rankings because schools are “gaming” the rankings. To be sure, the gaming of academic rankings is not confined to the Shanghai Rankings; it infects all the highly influential and prestigious rankings, even the revered U.S. News Rankings. However, the problem is that once the criteria for calculating a school’s position in a ranking are laid out, it becomes possible for schools to adapt to those criteria and rise in the rankings, even if doing so does nothing to improve the quality of research and instruction at the school.
View the previous 2017 Ranking for the 100 Best Online Universities
- Harvard University
(Cambridge, MA, U.S.A)
- Stanford University
(Stanford, CA, U.S.A)
- Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)
(Cambridge, MA, U.S.A)
- University of California at Berkeley
(Berkeley, CA, U.S.A)
- University of Cambridge
- Princeton University
(Princeton, NJ, U.S.A)
- California Institute of Technology (Caltech)
(Pasadena, CA, U.S.A)
- Columbia University
(New York, NY, U.S.A)
- University of Chicago
(Chicago, IL, U.S.A)
- Oxford University
- Yale University
(New Haven, CT, U.S.A)
- University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA)
(Los Angeles, CA, U.S.A)
- Cornell University
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