Learn about some of the best schools in the world, complete with several in-depth previews of a few of the greatest and a list of other top contenders to help you decide where to enroll.
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 we'll discuss 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.
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 300,000 alumni worldwide. Its notable alumni include 32 heads of state, 47 Pulitzer Prize winners and 49 Nobel Laureates. The school has a long-standing reputation as one of the best universities in the world - it has been ranked #1 for 14 straight years on Academic Ranking of World Universities (ARWU) from 2003-2016, and many of Harvard's programs and graduate schools have been ranked #1 by U.S. News and World Report, including its medical school and its economics and biological sciences graduate programs, for 2017. Its degree programs are offered through 11 academic schools and the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study.
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. Oxford was ranked first in the world by the Times Higher Education's World University Rankings for 2016 and was placed in the seventh spot on the Academic Ranking of World Universities list the same year. Oxford students represent more than 140 nationalities, and 95% of students secure a job or enroll in further study within six months of graduating.
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. Globally known facilities on this campus include the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Seismological Lab and International Observatory Network. In 2016, the school was ranked #2 by the Times Higher Education list of world universities and was #8 on the Academic Ranking of World Universities list.
Columbia University, established in 1754, is one of New York - and the world's - oldest learning institutions. As the 9th best college on the 2016 Academic Ranking of World Universities, it's known around the world as one of the top schools. It's organized into twenty different schools of learning and features research outposts globally. Times Higher Education also ranks Columbia 16th on their list of world universities in 2016.
Find schools that offer these popular programs
- Biological and Biomedical Sciences
- Communications and Journalism
- Computer Sciences
- Culinary Arts and Personal Services
- Liberal Arts and Humanities
- Mechanic and Repair Technologies
- Medical and Health Professions
- Physical Sciences
- Transportation and Distribution
- Visual and Performing Arts
Top Universities and Colleges in the World
There are several more universities around the globe that can be classified as some of the world's best. For example:
|Cornell University||Produced 46 Nobel laureates as faculty members or alumni and has more than 100 interdisciplinary research organizations||United States|
|ETH Zurich||Ranked 9th on the Times Higher Education list of world universities in 2016||Switzerland|
|Imperial College London||A science-based institution ranked #8 in the world by Times Higher Education World University Rankings in 2016||United Kingdom|
|Princeton University||Has 10 libraries and more than 14 million in holdings||United States|
|Massachusetts Institute of Technology||MIT community holds 87 Nobel Laureates||United States|
|Stanford University||Has a $1.2 billion research budget and more than 5,500 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||13,189 international students from 155 countries||Canada|
|University of California, Berkeley||Ranked #3 by the Academic Ranking of World Universities in 2016||United States|
|University of California, Los Angeles||Has 40 doctoral programs nationally ranked as some of the best in the U.S.||United States|
|University of Cambridge||The Times Higher Education's 206 student experience survey rated the school #9 for well-structured courses||United Kingdom|
|University of Chicago||Launched UChicago Urban Labs to test urban polices and programs in areas such as crime, education, energy and environment, health, and poverty||United States|
|University of Pennsylvania||Home of the 3rd ranking Wharton School of Business, according to U.S. News & World Report||United States|
|University of Tokyo||Chemistry department has maintained a reputation of excellence for 150 years||Japan|
|University of Toronto||Offers more than 700 undergraduate and 200 graduate programs||Canada|
|Yale University||95% of students graduate within five years||United States|
There are many exceptional universities in the world, each with their own unique advantages and benefits for their students. These 20 schools are consistently ranked as some of the best in the world by many high profile and reputable organizations.