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.
To counteract the apparent gaming of university rankings, TheBestSchools.org contracted with InfluenceRankings.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 in this day and age, 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). So our new ranking, minimally, passes a sanity check.
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 particularly 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 UK, 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 — 2018
1. Harvard University
Cambridge, Massachusetts, US
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 California – Berkeley
Berkeley, California, US
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).
3. University of Chicago
Chicago, Illinois, US
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.
4. University of Michigan
Ann Arbor, Michigan, US
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
5. Columbia University
New York City, New York, US
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 UK). It has also produced 29 heads of state, including three US Presidents. Columbia also administers the Pulitzer Prize.
6. Yale University
New Haven, Connecticut, US
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.
7. Princeton University
Princeton, New Jersey, US
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.
8. Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)
Cambridge, Massachusetts, US
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.
9. University of Cambridge
Cambridge, England, UK
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 UK 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.
10. Stanford University
Stanford, California, US
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 first hand. 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.
11. Oxford University
Oxford, England, UK
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 UK. 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.
12. Cornell University
Ithaca, New York, US
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.
13. University of California–Los Angeles
Los Angeles, California, US
With over 72,000 applications for the fall of 2012 alone, UCLA receives more applications than any other school in America. This is all the more impressive when one considers 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.
14. University of Wisconsin–Madison
Madison, Wisconsin, US
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.
15. 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.
16. University of Manchester
Manchester, England, UK
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.
17. Duke University
Durham, North Carolina, US
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 of 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.
18. New York University
New York City, New York, US
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.
19. Johns Hopkins University
Baltimore, Maryland, US
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 Pennsylvania
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, US
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.
21. University of Minnesota Twin Cities
Minneapolis/St. Paul, Minnesota, US
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.
22. University of California – San Diego
San Diego, California, US
With roughly $4.3 billion dollars in revenue and $1.16 billion in sponsored research in 2017, the University of California at San Diego is a leading research center. Given this and its student body of 36,400, no one would ever expect that the university is younger than many of its faculty. The school is one of the 10 largest centers for scientific research in American despite only being founded in 1960, which is why its faculty and alumni have induced 20 Nobel laureates to teach there over the past 50 years. More than 650 companies were launched or utilize technology developed at UC-San Diego, and as of 2013 the university’s Technology Office managed over 400 license agreements. This tireless innovation has been especially productive in the increasingly lucrative field of biotechnology. Many have noted the school’s success: Besides being ranked twenty-second in the world by Influence Networks, it is ranked fifteenth for scientific impact (according to the Center for Science and Technology Studies), sixth for happiest freshmen in America (CBS News), and first for positive impact in the world (Washington Monthly).
23. 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 back 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: Paris-Sud University (science and medicine); Panthéon-Sorbonne, Paris-Descartes, and Paris-Diderot Universities (all interdisciplinary); 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.
24. Northwestern University
Evanston, Illinois, US
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 located 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 hold 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.
25. McGill University
Montreal, Québec, Canada
McGill University is located 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.
26. 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: the majority of the nation’s PhD 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.
27. University of Washington
Seattle, Washington, US
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.
28. The University of Texas at Austin
Austin, Texas, US
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.
29. 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.
30. King’s College London
London, England, UK
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.
31. University of Bristol
Briston, England, UK
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).
32. Rutgers University
New Brunswick, New Jersey, US
Originally founded as Queens College in 1766, Rutgers University is one of the nine colonial colleges built before the revolution. The school, which functions as the state university system for New Jersey, is centrally located in between New York City and Philadelphia, and consequently well positioned to tap into either city’s substantial economic and cultural opportunities. The small city of New Brunswick has evolved into a college town whose identity is saturated by the university’s school spirit. The flagship New Brunswick campus also benefits from a close working relationship with sister campuses in Rutgers Camden and Rutgers Newark, as well as from a partnership with New Jersey’s premier medical and dentistry school, UMDNJ. 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 Fellows, Guggenheim Fellows, and Pulitzer Prize winners, as well as members of various national academies. The university is a member of the Association of American Universities and the international Committee on Institutional Cooperation. It has a $4.4 billion budget and a $1.2 billion endowment.
33. London School of Economics
London, England, UK
The London School of Economics and Political Science (to give its full name) is the UK’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.
34. University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Champaign, Illinois, US
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.
35. University of Southern California
Los Angeles, California, US
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.
36. 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.
37. Brown University
Providence, Rhode Island, US
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.
38. California Institute of Technology
Pasadena, California, US
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.
39. University of 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.
40. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Chapel Hill, North Carolina, US
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.
41. Moscow State University
Established in 1755, Moscow State University (MSU) is located 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.
42. University College London
London, England, UK
With almost 39,000 students from over 150 countries, University College London (UCL) is the third-largest school in the UK, 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 UK 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.
43. 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.
44. University of Maryland
College Park, Maryland, US
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 of 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.
45. University of Pittsburgh
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, US
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 in close proximity to 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. Pennsylvania State University
State College, Pennsylvania, US
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.
47. University of California–Irvine
Irvine, California, US