List of the 20 Best Universities and Colleges in the World

Jun 09, 2011

Top universities and colleges can be recognized by their world-class faculty, range of academic activities and cutting edge research facilities. Here's a list of some of the best universities and colleges in the world.

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School Overviews

While many of the top universities and colleges in the world are in the United States, students looking for an international school have many highly-ranked options to consider. All of the schools on this list have been included on lists of top international universities, such as the Shanghai Jiao Tong University's Academic Ranking of World Universities and the Times Higher Education's World University Rankings list. All of these schools offer both undergraduate and graduate degree programs and are known for their strong research programs and attracting talented students and faculty.

Top Universities and Colleges in the World

1. Harvard University

Located in Cambridge, Massachusetts, in the United States, Harvard University was founded in 1636, making it the oldest university in the United States, and has more than 360,000 alumni worldwide. Its notable alumni include 32 heads of state, 48 Pulitzer Prize winners and 47 Nobel Laureates. The school has a long-standing reputation as one of the best universities in the world - it has been ranked #1 on Academic Ranking of World Universities (ARWU) from 2003-2013. Its degree programs are offered through 12 academic schools and the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study. Many of its programs and graduate schools have been ranked #1 by U.S. News and World Report, including its business and medical schools, and its economics, political science and biological sciences graduate programs.

2. University of Oxford

The University of Oxford in Oxford, England, is the oldest university in the English-speaking world and has been listed among the top universities in the world for more than nine centuries. University of Oxford students represent more than 140 nationalities, and 94% of students secure a job or enroll in further study within six months of graduating. Oxford was ranked the top school in the United Kingdom and joint second in the world in the Times Higher Education's World University Rankings for 2013.

3. California Institute of Technology

More commonly known as Caltech, the U.S.'s California Institute of Technology is a world-renowned research university with a reputation for intense academics. In 2013, the school was ranked #1 by the Times Higher Education list of world universities and was #6 on the Academic Ranking of World Universities list. Globally known facilities on this campus include the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Seismological Lab and International Observatory Network.

List of 20 Top Universities and Colleges in the World

School Name Distinction Location
California Institute of Technology World-renowned research university with a 3:1 student-to-faculty ratio United States
Columbia University Has cutting-edge research facilities and a reputation for being one of the world's most important research centers United States
Cornell University Produced 43 Nobel laureates as faculty members or alumni and has more than 100 interdisciplinary research organizations United States
ETH Zurich An internationally oriented science and technology university that is consistently ranked among the top universities in the world Switzerland
Harvard University Ranked #1 among worldwide universities for 10 consecutive years United States
Imperial College London A science-based institution ranked #10 in the world by Times Higher Education World University Rankings for 2013-2014 United Kingdom
Massachusetts Institute of Technology Leading U.S. professors teach at MIT and include enough Nobel laureates to fill a small classroom United States
Princeton University Distinctive among research universities in its commitment to undergraduate teaching United States
Stanford University Has a $1.35 billion research budget and more than 5,000 externally sponsored research projects United States
University College London Has the lowest student-to-faculty ratio among U.K. schools United Kingdom
University of British Columbia UBC's campus is one of the most spectacular in the world and was the first Canadian university to sign the International Sustainable Campus Network Charter Canada
University of California, Berkeley Ranked #3 by ARWU in 2013, and its academic programs are internationally recognized United States
University of California, Los Angeles Has 40 doctoral programs nationally ranked in the top 10 in their field United States
University of Cambridge The Times Higher Education's 2013 student experience survey rated the school #1 for well-structured courses and tuition United Kingdom
University of Chicago Professors at UC are among the best in the world and students frequently go on to become leaders in their fields United States
University of Oxford Has more world-leading academics and highest research income than any other school in the U.K. United Kingdom
University of Pennsylvania Home of the award-winning Wharton School of Business United States
University of Tokyo Has maintained a reputation for excellence for nearly 150 years and is well known for its rich and varied academic environment Japan
University of Toronto Offers more than 700 undergraduate and 275 graduate programs across three campuses Canada
Yale University 96% of students graduate within five years United States
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