The Best Universities in the World
They say college is the best time of your life, so it must be even better when you attend one of the best universities in the world.
When it came to determining these rankings, U.S. News & World Report used a variety of factors for its sixth annual list of more than 1,500 global universities in 81 countries. Criteria was heavy on academic results and reputations — for example, to be considered for the rankings, each university had to publish at least 1,500 academic papers from 2013 to 2017.
Whether or not you attended one of these schools, are hoping your kid does or simply want to know what the best of the best in higher education looks like, these are the institutions that change people’s lives the most and produce important research that leads to all kinds of breakthroughs.
59. University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (tie)
Location: Champaign, Illinois
International students: 11,198
Tuition and fees: $16,210 (in state), $33,352 (out of state)
*Tuition prices listed are for a full year of education unless otherwise noted.
Let's start off the list with a three-way tie between this all-American school, Peking University and Monash University for the 59th spot. Founded in 1867, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign is situated in your quintessential college setting. Pretty much everything in the Urbana-Champaign metro area revolves around the university, which makes for fun, engaging student life. In fact, there are more than 1,600 student organizations on the 1,783-acre campus, and the university has one of the largest Greek systems in the U.S.
While the campus comprises 15 colleges and schools, its School of Information Sciences, College of Engineering and Department of Psychology are known for being some of the best in the country.
59. Peking University (tie)
International students: 6,011
Tuition and fees: $4,224
Located in the western suburbs of Beijing, Peking University has been serving its student population since 1898. Its academic departments focus mainly on humanities, social sciences and science disciplines.
In 2000, the university incorporated Beijing Medical University and renamed it the Peking University Health Science Center, which offers several highly regarded medical programs.
59. Monash University (tie)
Location: Melbourne, Australia
International students: 20,576
Tuition and fees: $27,000
Named after Sir John Monash, an Australian military leader and engineer, this university was first established in 1958 and has five campuses throughout the Australian state of Victoria.
This school is particularly popular among the international community, with students from more than 100 countries. It also offers student-exchange programs available through 100 partner universities in more than 25 countries.
58. University of Zurich
Location: Zurich, Switzerland
International students: 4,836
Tuition and fees: $1,498 (domestic); $2,538 (international)
The University of Zurich is the third-best university in Switzerland. It, like the other Swiss universities on this list, has incredibly low tuition fees that we can certainly get behind (even for international students).
Plus, you can get a quality education with beautiful views of the Alps mountain range in the backdrop, offering an abundance of outdoor activities between classes. What's not to love?
56. Heidelberg University (tie)
Location: Heidelberg, Germany
International students: 3,804
Tuition and fees: $386
Founded in 1386, Germany's oldest university also happens to be one of its best, tying with the Catholic University of Leuven for the 56th spot. Spread across three campuses, this public university has no tuition fees (like most in the country). Students merely have to pay semester fees that average less than $500.
It's known for its research activities, partnering with other organizations on cancer and molecular biology research as well as theoretical studies. But most notably, it's known for the invention of the Bunsen burner.
56. Catholic University of Leuven (tie)
Location: Leuven, Belgium
International students: 6,876
Tuition and fees: $1,055 (domestic), $3,936 (international)
Katholieke Universiteit te Leuven (KU Leuven) is Catholic in heritage, but it operates independently from the church and is certainly open to students of different faiths.
Belgium's largest university is also highly research-focused, with its researchers having filed more patents than any other European university.
55. Utrecht University
Location: Utrecht, Netherlands
International students: 2,841
Tuition and fees: $4,915 (domestic), $14,053 (international)
Another university with a lot of historic clout, Utrecht University was founded in 1636 and is now spread across four locations. It consists of seven academic divisions and two university colleges — University College Roosevelt and University College Utrecht — which offer studies in liberal arts as well as teaching and learning.
Most of the research conducted at the university relates to four themes: dynamics of youth, institutions for open societies, life sciences and sustainability.
51. University of Maryland, College Park (tie)
Location: College Park, Maryland
International students: 3,551
Tuition and fees: $10,778 (in state), $36,890 (out of state)
The University of Maryland, College Park is one of four universities tied for the 51st spot. Located conveniently between Washington, D.C., and Baltimore, this university offers the best of both worlds — a college setting with nearby big-city amenities. Its known for pushing the envelope in regard to sustainable and clean energy initiatives and has plans in place to become carbon neutral by 2050.
Fun fact: "The Muppet Show" creator Jim Henson is a University of Maryland alum.
51. King Abdulaziz University (tie)
Location: Jeddah, Saudi Arabia
International students: 7,007
One of the newer schools on this list, King Abdulaziz University was established in 1967 as a private university but then became public in 1974.
Considered one of the best universities in the Arab world, it is especially known for its 13 research centers, primarily in the fields of medicine, environment and energy, climate change and desalination.
51. Karolinska Institute (tie)
International students: 1,588
Tuition and fees: No fee (domestic), $19,427 (international)
Oh to be European! We can't deny the jealousy we feel about the university's no tuition fees for all students who happen to be from the European Union. This is especially helpful for those who want to study medical and health sciences, as these are the main degrees the Karolinska Institute offers. In fact, about 40 percent of the country's academic medical research happens here.
The primary language used at the school is Swedish, but several programs are also offered in English.
51. Boston University (tie)
International students: 7,041
Tuition and fees: $55,892
Founded in 1839, this private university is one of the largest independent, nonprofit universities in the U.S. It's known for having more than 90 international programs and was one of the first universities to implement opportunities to study abroad. It was also the country's first university to have a combined cancer research and teaching laboratory and the first to open all divisions to female students in 1872.
One of its most famous alums is Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
50. University of Colorado Boulder
Location: Boulder, Colorado
International students: 3,767
Tuition and fees: $12,500 (in state), $38,318 (out of state)
A public institution founded in 1876, Boulder is known for its sprawling and beautiful 600-acre campus nestled among the Rocky Mountains. Popular and highly regarded programs include geosciences and environment and ecology.
Sports teams, called the Colorado Buffaloes, compete at the NCAA Division I level in the Pac 12 Conference. Another highlight is the city of Boulder itself. It’s extremely bike-friendly and provides great access to hiking trails and winter sports.
49. McGill University
Location: Montreal, Quebec, Canada
International students: 9,227
Tuition and fees: $22,271-$48,747 (international), $5,181-$7,130 (Quebec), $10,557-$12,526 (other parts of Canada)
McGill, founded in 1821, is one of the top institutions in Canada and has a large number of international students. Known for its healthcare programs, McGill’s medical school is the oldest in the country, and the university is connected to several teaching hospitals.
One of McGill’s most notable research achievements was creating the first artificial blood cell in 1957.
47. University of Pittsburgh (tie)
International students: 2,898
Tuition and fees: $19,718 (in state), $33,746 (out of state)
Founded in 1787, Pitt is most known for its medical school and renowned University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, which is one of the most well-funded institutions under the National Institutes of Health. The university’s education and engineering schools are also highly ranked.
Pitt is one of the greenest schools in the U.S., and its Panthers sports teams are part of the NCAA Division I Atlantic Coast Conference.
47. University of Minnesota-Twin Cities (tie)
International students: 5,801
Tuition and fees: $15,027 (in state), $33,325 (out of state)
Tied with Pitt, UM has campuses in both St. Paul and Minneapolis, truly representing the Twin Cities since its founding in 1851. Freshman have multiple housing options, unlike most schools, including Living Learning communities such as Healthy Foods, Healthy Lives House and La Casa De Español.
Golden Gophers sports teams compete in the NCAA Division I Big Ten Conference, and the university’s management, education and law schools are well regarded.
45. École Polytechnique Federale of Lausanne (tie)
Location: Lausanne, Switzerland
International students: 6,155
Tuition and fees: $1,290
Switzerland’s second-best university, founded in 1853, is set on picturesque Lake Geneva with a backdrop of the Swiss Alps. Its student body and faculty are quite diverse, and the university claims to be “Europe’s most cosmopolitan technical university.”
It’s known for its high-quality science programs, particularly engineering and technology and natural sciences. And although tuition and fees are very low, the cost of living in Switzerland is among the highest in the world.
45. Ohio State University (tie)
Location: Columbus, Ohio
International students: 6,966
Tuition and fees: $11,084 (in state), $32,061 (out of state)
Tied with École Polytechnique Federale of Lausanne, OSU is well known for its powerhouse NCAA Division 1 sports programs, most notably its Buckeyes football team that sends many players to the NFL.
The university was founded in 1870 and has a large enrollment but a 19-to-1 student-faculty ratio. OSU also offers students the opportunity to study abroad in more than 40 countries.
43. Nanyang Technological University (tie)
International students: 6,719
Tuition and fees: $5,728 (Singapore citizens), $8,033 (Singapore permanent residents), $12,259 (international)
Nanyang students are treated to a garden-like campus setting that’s among the most beautiful in the world and also the greenest, with 95 percent of buildings achieving the equivalent of LEED Platinum certification in the U.S.
NTU was founded in 1991 and bills itself as a “smart campus” testing ground for sustainable and energy-efficient technologies. All Singapore teachers train at the world-renowned National Institute of Education.
43. University of Munich (tie)
Location: Munich, Germany
International students: 5,825
Tuition and fees: $0
LMU is considered Germany’s best university, and students do not pay tuition and fees unless they take the few English-taught degree programs such as economics, neuro-cognitive psychology and software engineering.
The university has been around since 1472, and most students live in the city of Munich or elsewhere off campus. Among universities worldwide, it has the 16th-most Nobel Laureates.
42. University of Queensland Australia
Location: Brisbane, Queensland, Australia
International students: 13,436
Tuition and fees: $5,124 (domestic), $19,293 (international)
Founded in 1909, the university boasts three campuses and several research sites and teaching hospitals across Brisbane, the capital of Queensland. St. Lucia campus has the most students while Gatton is the hub for agriculture and veterinary science studies.
The Herston campus contains clinical health facilities. Students can choose among six main academic study areas that cover law, business, healthcare and sciences.
41. University of California, Santa Barbara
Location: Santa Barbara, California
International students: 3,858
Tuition and fees: $14,391 (in state), $43,383 (out of state)
UC Santa Barbara is located along the Pacific Ocean and was founded in 1909. The Gauchos play in the NCAA Division I Big West Conference, and their most successful teams are women’s basketball and men’s soccer.
The university is known for the quality of its research centers, with more than 50 percent of undergraduate students conducting research as part of their studies and earning course credits. Most international students hail from China, India or South Korea.
40. University of Amsterdam
International students: 7,000
Tuition and fees: $2,366 to $4,732
Holland’s top-ranked university was founded in 1632 and offers 20 English-language undergraduate programs, which places it high among European institutions offering such instruction where English is not the primary language.
It also ranks high in research output among European universities and is a member of the League of European Research Universities.
37. University of Wisconsin – Madison (tie)
Location: Madison, Wisconsin
International students: 4,934
Tuition and fees: $10,725 (in state), $37,785 (out of state)
This university was founded in 1848 on the principle of public service and the “Wisconsin Idea” that education extends far beyond the classroom and touches and influences people’s lives years after their studies end.
Badgers sports teams play in the NCAA Division I Big Ten Conference. Madison is most known for its graduate schools, particularly in education, public affairs, engineering, business, medicine and law.
37. Sorbonne Universite (tie)
International students: 8,391
Tuition and fees: up to $1,000 for all students
France’s top university, founded in 1257, tied with the University of Wisconsin – Madison (UW). It is a science and mathematics powerhouse with 32 Nobel Prize and Fields Medal winners.
While the institution traces its origins to 1257, the current name came about with the 2018 merger of Paris-Sorbonne University and Pierre and Marie Curie University. The impressive Serpente Library contains more than 50,000 works and about 300 French and international periodicals, and the university has several prestigious scientific collections across its properties.
37. King’s College London (tie)
International students: 11,145
Tuition and fees: $10,976 (domestic), $22,074 (international)
Tied with both UW and Sorbonne, King’s scores high marks for the quality of education it offers to students, along with the important research and breakthroughs made by professors and alumni. Its top programs include humanities, law, psychiatry, medicine, nursing, dentistry and international affairs.
Many of the most important advances in modern history were made at King’s or involved the university in some way. Those include mapping the structure of human DNA and discovering the technology that makes radio, television, mobile phones and radars work.
36. Tsinghua University
International students: 4,108
Tuition and fees: $3,470-$34,400
This public university was established in 1911 on the site of the former royal garden of the Qing Dynasty and offers instruction in both English and Mandarin. The student body is quite diverse, hailing from more than 100 countries, with a high percentage of international undergraduates.
As one of China’s top universities, the institution conducts important research with global teams and initiatives.
34. National University of Singapore (tie)
International students: 8,717
Tuition and fees: $26,690
Singapore’s oldest university was founded in 1905, enrolls students from more than 100 countries and boasts excellent programs in the sciences, medicine and dentistry as well as design and environment, law, arts and social sciences, engineering, business, computing and music.
NUS’s research efforts are focused on energy, environmental and urban sustainability; treatment and prevention of diseases common among Asians; and risk management and resilience of financial systems.
34. University of Texas at Austin (tie)
Location: Austin, Texas
International students: 5,244
Tuition and fees: $10,818 (in state), $38,228 (out of state)
Founded in 1883, UT Austin is one of the largest universities in the U.S. by enrollment, and it tied in the 34th spot with the National University of Singapore.
Strengths include high-quality graduate programs at the McCombs School of Business, Cockrell School of Engineering and School of Nursing, and excellent men’s and women’s sports teams that compete in the NCAA Division I Big 12 Conference.
33. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Location: Chapel Hill, North Carolina
International students: 2,960
Tuition and fees: $9,043 (in state), $36,222 (out of state)
UNC was founded in 1789 and is located in Chapel Hill, which is regarded as one of the best college towns in America. The men’s basketball program is legendary, and the university’s teams compete in the NCAA Division I Atlantic Coast Conference.
Its largest and most well-regarded school is the College of Arts and Sciences. UNC also has excellent graduate schools in law, medicine, business, social work and government.
32. University of Copenhagen
Location: Copenhagen, Denmark
International students: 1,700
Tuition and fees: $11,029-$18,750
Students must know Danish to attend this university, which was founded in 1479, as instruction is predominantly offered in the language.
The university is known for its research papers and is a member of the ultra-prestigious International Alliance of Research Universities. Copenhagen counts 39 Nobel Laureates and one Turing Award winner among its faculty.
31. Washington University in St. Louis
Location: St. Louis
International students: 2,717
Tuition and fees: $56,300
Wash U was founded in 1853 and is most known for its acclaimed social work graduate programs. It’s schools of law, medicine, design and visual arts, business and engineering are also well regarded.
The campus has an art museum that’s considered to have one of the most distinguished collections in the U.S. The university’s sizable international student body hails from more than 80 countries.
30. University of British Columbia
Location: Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
International students: 16,626
Tuition and fees: up to $6,863 (domestic), up to $18,311 (international)
Serving students since 1915, UBC is British Columbia’s oldest university and Canada’s second-best higher education institution. The university has a massive research budget in the hundreds of millions of dollars and funds thousands of projects a year.
It boasts a diverse enrollment with a high percentage of international students, who can defer their first year of education to 11 months instead of eight so they have more time to learn English if need be.
28. University of Edinburgh (tie)
Location: Edinburgh, Scotland
International students: 11,305
Tuition and fees: $2,212 (domestic), $11,244 (out of state), $27,959 (international)
Scotland’s top-ranked university was established in 1583 and is spread across five campuses in the capital of Edinburgh. Although instruction is taught in English, students can take a free six-week course in Gaelic, the native language of Scotland.
The university’s most notable scientific achievement was cloning the world’s first animal, a sheep named Dolly, in 1996.
28. New York University (tie)
Location: New York
International students: 14,647
Tuition and fees: $53,308
Tied with the University of Edinburgh, this private university was founded in 1831. Located in New York’s Greenwich Village, it has no distinct campus, but undergraduates are guaranteed housing for all four years.
WNYU-FM is one of the most famous and highly regarded college radio stations in the U.S. NYU also offers world-renowned drama and film programs for undergraduate and graduate students at the Tisch School of the Arts.
27. University of Sydney
International students: 19,770
Tuition and fees: $5,464 (domestic), $39,000-$46,500 (international)
Australia’s oldest university was founded in 1850, and among its dozens of research facilities is one at the Great Barrier Reef that conducts studies of climate change and geology. International students make up a high percentage of overall enrollment, and the university has exchange agreements with hundreds of other universities all around the world.
Sydney’s academic strengths lie in agriculture and the environment, arts and social sciences, business, engineering and information technologies, and medicine.
26. University of Melbourne
Location: Parkville, Victoria, Australia
International students: 21,840
Tuition and fees: $5,464 (domestic), $23,650 (international)
This public university was founded in 1853 and has high-quality degree programs in dentistry, veterinary science and medicine. Melbourne offers indigenous students extended bachelor of arts and bachelor of science programs.
The university only has five research institutes, but in the 1970s, it developed the cochlear implant, an electronic sound-restoring device for people with severe hearing loss.
25. Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich
Location: Zurich, Switzerland
International students: 7,288
Tuition and fees: $1,286
ETH Zurich was founded in 1855 and is one of the top science and technology research institutions in the world, focusing on engineering, architecture, chemistry and physics. Alumni have amassed many prestigious awards, including 21 Nobels, two Fields Medals, two Pritzkers and one Turing.
The workload on students is incredibly demanding, but they also have access to some of the brightest minds in science.
24. Northwestern University
Location: Evanston, Illinois
International students: 3,558
Tuition and fees: $56,691
Founded in 1851 on what was then swampland, Northwestern has grown into one of the world’s finest universities. Its undergrad programs are excellent, but where the institution really shines is graduate schools. Most renowned among them is the Medill School of Journalism.
Northwestern’s sports teams compete in the Division I Big Ten Conference, and the women's lacrosse team is a multiple NCAA champion.
23. Cornell University
Location: Ithaca, New York
International students: 5,623
Tuition and fees: $57,222
Founded in 1865, Cornell is part of the elite Ivy League universities on the East Coast. It’s highly regarded graduate schools include law, medicine, veterinary medicine and hotel administration.
The men’s wrestling and lacrosse teams are exceptional and compete at the Division I level, while the hockey program is well respected. The university also has a peculiar pastime called Dragon Day that sees a dragon built by freshman architecture students paraded around campus.
22. Duke University
Location: Durham, North Carolina
International students: 3,369
Tuition and fees: $58,198
Serving students since 1838, Duke’s Blue Devils basketball program is one of the most storied in the country and sends many players to the NBA. Fraternities and sororities are popular among undergraduates, and students are required to live on campus during their first three years.
Several Duke graduate schools — business, law, engineering, nursing, medicine and public policy — are among the best in the nation.
21. University College London
International students: 18,000
Tuition and fees: $11,458 (domestic), $21,938 (international)
When UCL was founded in 1826 as a public university, it was only the third higher education institution in England following the prestigious Oxford and Cambridge universities. The large international student body comes from some 150 countries.
UCL has several research facilities and teaching hospitals, with a focus on neuroscience, personalized medicine, populations and lifelong health, and the environment. In 1904, a UCL professor discovered noble gases.
20. Imperial College London
International students: 9,210
Tuition and fees: $11,458 (domestic), $33,465 (international)
Founded in 1907, Imperial was the site in 1945 of one of the most important medical discoveries in history: penicillin.
Alexander Fleming was working at the university as a researcher in 1945 when he made the discovery. Imperial’s main academic focus areas are in the sciences, and it also has a highly regarded business school.
19. University of California, San Diego
Location: La Jolla, California
International students: 7,726
Tuition and fees: $14,170 (in state), $43,162 (out of state)
Located along the Pacific Ocean north of San Diego, UCSD boasts its own aquarium and a facility that shakes violently to test structures’ ability to withstand different magnitude earthquakes. The university was founded in 1960.
UCSD is known for its high-quality research centers, including the Center for Energy Research, the Kavli Institute for Brain and Mind, and the San Diego Supercomputer Center.
18. University of Toronto
International students: 15,067
Tuition and fees: $4,706 (domestic), $32,629 (international)
This massive university was founded in 1827 and predominantly serves undergraduates. The large international student body hails from 160 countries. The most popular areas of study are in management, public health, and applied science and engineering.
One of the institution’s top features is its extensive literary collection, with 44 libraries housing more than 19 million texts. Researchers at the university also discovered insulin in the 1920s and won a Nobel Prize for the work.
17. University of Michigan
Location: Ann Arbor, Michigan
International students: 7,414
Tuition and fees: $15,558 (in state), $51,200 (out of state)
The University of Michigan has a massive student body, including many foreigners from more than 110 countries. Founded in 1817, it teaches more than 65 languages as well. Popular majors include business, psychology and economics. The university’s most-revered grad schools are the colleges of engineering, law and business.
Of the more than $1 billion in overall research funding, the most goes to medical sciences.
16. University of Pennsylvania
International students: 4,285
Tuition and fees: $57,770
Penn was founded in 1740 and is among the elite East Coast Ivy League universities. Some 40 percent of international students come from Asian countries. The most popular areas of study are in arts and sciences, business, communications, dentistry, design, education, nursing and veterinary medicine.
Penn spends nearly $1 billion on research, including for its Center for Cognitive Neuroscience, Leonard Davis Institute of Health Economics and Penn Institute for Urban Research.
15. University of California, San Francisco
Location: San Francisco
International students: Not accepted
Tuition and fees: $12,570-$35,649 (in state), $24,815-$47,894 (out of state)
Founded in 1864, UCSF offers only graduate programs in health sciences. It’s two most popular schools are in medicine and nursing, and it also has dentistry and pharmacy programs.
The UCSF Medical Center is one of the school’s teaching hospitals and one of the top institutes in the nation. At the onset of the AIDS crisis in the 1980s, UCSF created the nation’s first outpatient AIDS clinic and inpatient ward.
14. University of California, Los Angeles
Location: Los Angeles
International students: 7,018
Tuition and fees: $13,226 (in state), $42,218 (out of state)
UCLA was founded in 1919 and is one of the most desirable universities in the nation. Located in the world’s entertainment hub, theater, film and television studies are popular at the university, along with political science, business economics and biology. On the graduate level, UCLA is world famous for its business management and medical schools.
The university amasses around $1 billion a year for research efforts, and it runs more than 350 labs, centers and institutes, with the vast majority dedicated to medical research.
13. University of Chicago
International students: 4,043
Tuition and fees: $59,298
This private institution was founded in 1890 and boasts well-regarded graduate schools for business, law and medicine, including the top-ranked University of Chicago Medical Center teaching hospital.
The university also manages two U.S. Department of Energy labs. One is for energy, environmental and national security-related research, while the other focuses on particle physics. It also operates a marine biology lab in Massachusetts.
12. Yale University
Location: New Haven, Connecticut
International students: 2,469
Tuition and fees: $55,500
Founded in 1701, Yale is one of the oldest and most prestigious universities in the country. The most popular majors for undergraduates are economics, political science and history, and its two most revered graduate schools are for law, management and medicine.
Among the university’s many achievements and discoveries was the development of chemotherapy treatment for cancer patients in the early 1940s.
11. Johns Hopkins University
International students: 4,205
Tuition and fees: $55,350
Johns Hopkins, founded in 1876, has such a small enrollment for a national research institution of its caliber that undergraduate students have incredible access to equipment, resources, esteemed faculty, and internship and research positions.
Among the most popular majors are public health studies, international studies and biomedical engineering. The university’s teaching hospital is considered one the best in the world.
10. University of Washington
International students: 7,382
Tuition and fees: $11,465 (in state), $38,796 (out of state)
This university that has been around since 1861 largely enrolls undergraduates, but its schools for medicine, nursing and education are among the best in the nation. Medical students are sent out to rural areas of nearby states as part of their education, and one goal of the program is to increase the number of physicians in such regions.
The university operates more than 280 research centers, and annual grants to UW regularly top $1 billion.
9. University of Cambridge
Location: Cambridge, England
International students: 7,050
Tuition and fees: $11,521 (domestic), $27,067 (international)
One of the two oldest universities in the English-speaking world, Cambridge has been serving students since 1209 and was granted royal charter 22 years later by King Henry III. Cambridge actually came about after a group of scholars from Oxford, the oldest English-language university in the world, had a dispute with the townsfolk and left to start their own institution.
The university has no central campus and instead boasts 31 self-governing colleges that fall under the Cambridge name. At 89 to date, no university in the world has produced more Nobel winners.
8. Princeton University
Location: Princeton, New Jersey
International students: 1,972
Tuition and fees: $51,870
Princeton is one of the oldest universities in the U.S., having been founded in 1746, and is one of the country’s most prestigious as a member of the Ivy League. The institution’s two most well-respected colleges are the School of Engineering and Applied Science and the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs.
Known for its community service, Princeton’s motto is that it stands in the nation’s service and the service of humanity.
7. Columbia University
Location: New York
International students: 10,565
Tuition and fees: $61,850
Originally founded in 1754 as King’s College, the university changed its name in 1896. Columbia is part of the Ivy League and has played a major role in numerous scientific breakthroughs, including the beginning stages of the Manhattan Project during World War II to build the first atomic bombs.
University researchers also discovered the brain-computer interface, plate tectonics and continental drift, nuclear magnetic resonance and the laser. Columbia’s physics school alone has been affiliated with 33 Nobel winners.
6. California Institute of Technology
Location: Pasadena, California
International students: 668
Tuition and fees: $54,600
This highly specialized science and engineering institution offers students one of the most intimate and hands-on educational experiences anywhere, with a student to faculty ratio of 3 to 1, but it’s also rigorous.
Research opportunities are available to all undergraduates and around 80 percent take advantage. CIT also runs NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.
5. University of Oxford
Location: Oxford, England
International students: 6,772
Tuition and fees: $11,521
This ancient university dates to at least 1096 and is the second oldest in the world. Early in its history, it experienced an enrollment boost when King Henry II banned English students from attending university in France.
Like Cambridge University, Oxford’s 39 colleges are self-governing and there is no central campus. Oxford has the world's oldest university museum and largest university press, along with an academic library system that’s among the world’s most vast.
4. University of California, Berkeley
Location: Berkeley, California
International students: 7,000
Tuition and fees: $14,184 (in state), $43,176 (out of state)
The world’s best public university was founded in 1868 as simply the University of California and retained the name Cal even as the system grew to many different campuses across the state. Cal offers some 350 degree programs, and the most popular are electrical engineering and computer science, economics, political science, business administration and psychology.
Every year, Cal hosts thousands of international scholars for teaching and research positions. Several periodic table elements were discovered at Berkeley and, naturally, are called californium and berkelium.
3. Stanford University
Location: Stanford, California
International students: 3,665
Tuition and fees: $53,529
The Ivy League university of the West was founded in 1885 and is one of the wealthiest and most exclusive institutions in the world. It was the first university ever to raise $1 billion in donations in a single year.
It’s best known for its numerous academic achievements and close proximity to the tech world of Silicon Valley. Throughout its history, Stanford has been affiliated with 83 Nobel Laureates, 28 Turing Award winners and eight Fields Medalists.
2. Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Location: Cambridge, Massachusetts
International students: 3,792
Tuition and fees: $53,790
The world’s most innovative research institution, founded in 1861, has been instrumental in many of the most significant achievements in modern science, engineering, mathematics and technology. MIT has been affiliated with 96 Nobel Laureates, 26 Turing Award winners and eight Fields Medalists.
If the university were a country, it would have the world’s 10th-largest economy as the combined annual revenue of companies founded by MIT grads is nearly $2 trillion.
1. Harvard University
Location: Cambridge, Massachusetts
International students: 4,946
Tuition and fees: $51,925
The world’s top university is also the oldest in the U.S., having been founded in 1636, and is a member of the Ivy League. Its influence on science and medicine, culture, business and politics, along with its overall academic prowess, cannot be overstated. Harvard has the largest endowment of any university at $40.9 billion, and its 79-location library system contains more than 20 million volumes.
Alumni include eight U.S. presidents and dozens of foreign heads of state, along with 188 living billionaires, 369 Rhodes Scholars and 252 Marshall Scholars. Harvard has been affiliated with 160 Nobel Laureates, 18 Fields Medalists and 14 Turing Award winners. Students and alumni have received 10 Academy Awards, 48 Pulitzer Prizes and 108 Olympic medals, along with founding some of the world’s most influential companies.