List of the 20 Best Universities and Colleges in the World

Jan 10, 2020

Top universities and colleges can be recognized by their world-class faculty, range of academic activities and cutting edge research facilities. Find out more about the best universities and colleges in the world.

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  • 0:00 School Overviews
  • 0:49 Harvard University in…
  • 1:43 University of Oxford…
  • 2:16 California Institute…
  • 2:46 Columbia University in…
  • 3:15 Top Universities in the World

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School Overviews

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.

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 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 17 straight years on Academic Ranking of World Universities (ARWU) from 2003-2019, 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 neuroscience graduate programs, between the years of 2017 and 2019. 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 2020. 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 2020, the school was ranked #2 by the Times Higher Education list of world universities.

Columbia University

Columbia University, established in 1754, is one of New York - and the world's - oldest learning institutions. 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 2020.

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:

School Name Distinction Location
Cornell University Produced 46 Nobel laureates as faculty members or alumni and has more than 100 interdisciplinary research organizations United States
ETH Zurich Ranked 13th on the Times Higher Education list of world universities in 2020 Switzerland
Imperial College London A science-based institution ranked #10 in the world by Times Higher Education World University Rankings in 2020 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 #13 by Times Higher Education World University Rankings in 2020 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 1st ranking Wharton School of Business, according to U.S. News & World Report in 2020 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.

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