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The top 30 Universities in the USA



There are more than 5,300 colleges and universities in the USA, ranging from hair dressing schools to agricultural universities, religious institutions and the so-called Ivy League colleges. Many are heavily subsidised, receiving hundreds of billions of dollars in direct funding, and indirect tax breaks as non-profit organisations.

Deciding on the best is difficult, because university rankings can focus on many different factors, including the attractiveness of campus, satisfaction of students and alumni, extra-curricular benefits, and the affordability of tuition.

However, when it comes to academic prestige, scholarly excellence and the quality of the graduates they produce, there are some universities that invariably will feature in any list detailing the best learning institutions in the USA. The rankings may vary depending on what criteria are used to judge them, with proponents of the competing universities arguing fiercely for the merits of their particular institution, but all of the following can be regarded as among the academic elite.

1. Harvard University 

Harvard University is a private Ivy League research university in Cambridge, Massachusetts, established in 1636. Harvard is the United States’ oldest institution of higher learning. Its alumni include  eight U.S. presidents, several foreign heads of state, 62 living billionaires, 359 Rhodes Scholars, and 242 Marshall Scholars.

2. Stanford University 

Stanford University is a private research university in Stanford, California. Stanford is known for its academic strength, wealth, and proximity to Silicon Valley. As of March 2018, 81 Nobel laureates, 27 Turing Award laureates, and 7 Fields Medallists have been affiliated with Stanford as students, alumni, faculty or staff. In addition, Stanford University is particularly noted for its entrepreneurship and is one of the most successful universities in attracting funding for start-ups.

3. Massachusetts Institute of Technology 

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) is a private research university in Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States. The Institute is traditionally known for its research and education in the physical sciences and engineering, but more recently in biology, economics, linguistics and management as well. As of March 2018, 91 Nobel laureates, 25 Turing Award winners, and 6 Fields Medallists have been affiliated with MIT as alumni, faculty members or researchers. In addition, 52 National Medal of Science recipients, 65 Marshall Scholars, 45 Rhodes Scholars, 38 MacArthur Fellows, 34 astronauts and 16 Chief Scientists of the U.S. Air Force have been affiliated with MIT.

4. Yale University 

Yale University is an American private Ivy League research university in New Haven, Connecticut. Founded in 1701, it is the third-oldest institution of higher education in the United States. As of 2017, 60 Nobel laureates, 5 Fields Medallists and 3 Turing award winners have been affiliated with Yale University. In addition, Yale has graduated many notable alumni, including five U.S. Presidents, 19 U.S. Supreme Court Justices, 20 living billionaires and many heads of state.

Sterling Memorial Library in Yale University Campus

5. Princeton University 

Princeton is a private Ivy League research university in Princeton, New Jersey, founded in 1746. As of 2017, 63 Nobel laureates, 14 Fields Medallists and 10 Turing Award laureates have been affiliated with Princeton University as alumni, faculty members or researchers. Two U.S. Presidents, 12 U.S. Supreme Court Justices (three of whom currently serve on the court) and numerous living billionaires and foreign heads of state are all counted among Princeton’s alumni body.

6. California Institute of Technology 

The California Institute of Technology is a private doctorate-granting university located in Pasadena, California, United States. As of March 2018, Caltech alumni, faculty and researchers include 72 Nobel Laureates (Linus Pauling being the only individual in history to win two unshared prizes), 4 Fields Medallist, and 6 Turing Award winners. In addition, there are 53 non-emeritus faculty members (as well as many emeritus faculty members) who have been elected to one of the United States National Academies, 4 Chief Scientists of the U.S. Air Force and 71 have won the United States National Medal of Science or Technology. Numerous faculty members are associated with the Howard Hughes Medical Institute as well as NASA. According to a 2015 Pomona College study, Caltech ranked number one in the U.S. for the percentage of its graduates who go on to earn a PhD.

7. Cornell University, New York 

Cornell University is a private and statutory Ivy League research university located in Ithaca, New York, founded in 1865. As of 2017, 56 Nobel laureates, 4 Turing Award winners and 1 Fields Medallist have been affiliated with Cornell University, and former and present faculty and alumni include 34 Marshall Scholars, 30 Rhodes Scholars, 29 Truman Scholars, 7 Gates Scholars, and 14 living billionaires.

8. Johns Hopkins University 

Johns Hopkins University is an American private research university in Baltimore, Maryland, founded in 1876. Over the course of more than 140 years, 37 Nobel laureates and have been affiliated with Johns Hopkins.

9. Columbia University

Columbia University, established in 1754, is a private Ivy League research university in Upper Manhattan, New York City. As of 2017, alumni and affiliates include 5 Founding Fathers of the United States – among these an author of the Declaration of Independence and an author of the United States Constitution; 10 Justices of the United States Supreme Court; 95 Nobel laureates; 20 living billionaires; 125 Pulitzer Prize winners; 39 Oscar winners;3 United States Presidents; 29 heads of state; 101 National Academy members; 77 National Medal of Science winners; and 23 National Humanities Medal recipients.

10. The University of Chicago 

The University of Chicago is a private research university in Chicago, Illinois.  97 Nobel laureates have been affiliated with the university as professors, students, faculty, or staff, making it the fourth most of any institution in the world. In addition, Chicago’s alumni and faculty include 53 Rhodes Scholars, 25 Marshall Scholars,9 Fields Medallists, 4 Turing Award Winners, 24 Pulitzer Prize winners, 20 National Humanities Medallists, 16 billionaire graduates and a plethora of members of the United States Congress and heads of state of countries all over the world.

11. The University of Michigan 

The University of Michigan is a public research university located in Ann Arbor Michigan.  As of 2017, 24 Nobel Prize winners, 6 Turing Award winners and 1 Fields Medallist have been affiliated with University of Michigan. Its’s body of living alumni comprises more than 540,000 people, one of the largest alumni bases of any university in the world.

12. University of Philidelphia 

The University of Pennsylvania is a private Ivy League research university located in the University City section of Philadelphia. Over its history, the university has also produced many distinguished alumni. These include 14 heads of state (including two U.S. Presidents); 25 billionaires – the most of any university in the world at the undergraduate level; three United States Supreme Court justices; over 33 United States Senators, 42 United States Governors and 158 members of the U.S. House of Representatives; 8 signers of the United States Declaration of Independence; and 12 signers of the United States Constitution. In addition, some 30 Nobel laureates, 169 Guggenheim Fellows and 80 members of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences have been affiliated with Penn.

13. New York University 

New York University (NYU) is a private non-profit research university based in New York City, founded in 1831. As of 2017, 36 Nobel Laureates, 7 Turing Award winners and 4 Fields Medallists have been affiliated with New York University. In addition, among its faculty and alumni are over 30 Pulitzer Prize winners, over 30 Academy Award winners, and hundreds of members of the National Academies of Sciences. Alumni include heads of state, royalty, eminent mathematicians, inventors, media figures, Olympic medallists, CEOs of Fortune 500 companies, and astronauts.

14. Rockefeller University 

The Rockefeller University is a centre for scientific research, primarily in the biological and medical sciences, that provides doctoral and postdoctoral education. In all, 36 Nobel Prize recipients have been associated with the University.

15. Northwestern University 

Northwestern University (NU) is a private research university based in Evanston, Illinois, United States, with other campuses located in Chicago and Doha, Qatar, and academic programs and facilities in Miami, Florida, Washington, D.C., and San Francisco, California. The University’s former and present faculty and alumni include 16 Nobel Prize laureates, 38 Pulitzer Prize winners, 6 MacArthur Genius Fellows, 16 Rhodes Scholars, 65 members of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and two Supreme Court Justices.

Northwestern University Chicago

16. University of Illinois 

The University of Illinois is a public research university in the U.S. state of Illinois. Founded in 1867. The campus library system possesses the second-largest university library in the United States after Harvard University.

17. Duke University 

Duke University is a private research university located in Durham, North Carolina. Founded by Methodists and Quakers in the present-day town of Trinity in 1838, the school moved to Durham in 1892. As of 2017, 11 Nobel laureates and 3 Turing Award winners have been affiliated with the university. Duke also ranks fifth among national universities to have produced Rhodes, Marshall, Truman, Goldwater, and Udall Scholars.

18. The University of Washington 

The University of Washington is a public research university in Seattle, Washington. Founded in 1861. it is known for its research in medicine, science, as well as its highly-competitive computer science and engineering programs, and benefits from its deep historical ties and major collaborations with numerous technology giants in the region, such as Amazon, Boeing, Nintendo, and particularly Microsoft. The University has been affiliated with many notable alumni and faculty, including numerous Nobel Prize laureates, Pulitzer Prize winners, Fulbright Scholars, Rhodes Scholars, Marshall Scholars, as well as members of distinguished institutions.

19. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill 

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill is a public research university located in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, United States. The university offers degrees in over 70 courses of study through fourteen colleges and the College of Arts and Sciences. The student-run newspaper The Daily Tar Heel has won national awards for collegiate media, while the student radio station WXYC provided the world’s first internet radio broadcast.

20. The University of California, Berkeley

The University of California, Berkeley  is a public research university in Berkeley, California. Founded in 1868, Berkeley is the flagship institution of the ten research universities affiliated with the University of California system. As of March 2018, Berkeley alumni, faculty members and researchers include 104 Nobel laureates, 25 Turing Awards winners , and 13 Fields Medallists. They have also won 9 Wolf Prizes, 45 MacArthur Fellowships, 20 Academy Awards, 14 Pulitzer Prizes and 207 Olympic medals. During the 1940s, Berkeley physicist J. R. Oppenheimer, the “Father of the Atomic Bomb”, led the Manhattan project to create the first atomic bomb. In the 1960s, Berkeley was particularly noted for the Free Speech Movement as well as the Anti-Vietnam War Movement led by its students. In the 21st century, Berkeley has become one of the leading universities in producing entrepreneurs and its alumni have founded a large number of companies worldwide.

21. University of Wisconsin, Madison 

The University of Wisconsin–Madison is a public research university in Madison, Wisconsin, United States. Founded when Wisconsin achieved statehood in 1848, The University comprises of more than 40,000 students and employs over 21,600 faculty and staff.. Its comprehensive academic program offers 136 undergraduate majors, along with 148 masters’ degree programs and 120 doctoral programs.

22. Rutgers University 

Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey  is an American public research university and is the largest institution of higher education in New Jersey. Rutgers was originally chartered as Queen’s College on November 10, 1766. It is the eighth-oldest college in the United States and one of the nine colonial colleges chartered before the American Revolution. Instruction is offered by 9,000 faculty members in 175 academic departments to over 45,000 undergraduate students and more than 20,000 graduate and professional students.

23. Purdue University 

Purdue University is a public research university in West Lafayette, Indiana and was founded in 1869. The main campus in West Lafayette offers more than 200 majors for undergraduates, over 69 masters and doctoral programs, and professional degrees in pharmacy and veterinary medicine. In addition, Purdue has 18 intercollegiate sports teams and more than 900 student organisations. It has the fourth largest international student population of any university in the United States.

24. University of Maryland 

The University of Maryland, College Park is a public research university located in the city of College Park in Prince George’s County, Maryland approximately 4 miles from Washington D.C.  The University of Maryland’s proximity to the nation’s capital has resulted in many research partnerships with the Federal government. Members of the faculty receive research funding and institutional support from agencies such as the National Institutes of Health, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the National Institute of Standards and Technology, the Food and Drug Administration, and the Department of Homeland Security.

25. University of Texas 

The University of Texas at Austin is a public research university and the flagship institution of the University of Texas System, founded in 1881. A Public Ivy, it is a major centre for academic research, and hosts seven museums and seventeen libraries. Among university faculty are recipients of the Nobel Prize, Pulitzer Prize, the Wolf Prize, the Emmy Award, the Turing Award, and the National Medal of Science, as well as many other awards.

26. University of Minnesota 

The University of Minnesota is a public research university in Minneapolis and Saint Paul, Minnesota. The University of Minnesota faculty, alumni, and researchers have won 29 Nobel Prizes and three Pulitzer Prizes. Notable University of Minnesota alumni include two Vice Presidents of the United States, Hubert Humphrey and Walter Mondale, and Bob Dylan, who received the 2016 Nobel Prize in Literature.

27. Carnegie Mellon University 

Carnegie Mellon University is a private research university in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania which was founded in 1900. Past and present faculty and alumni include 20 Nobel Prize Laureates,12 Turing Award winners, 22 Members of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences, 19 Fellows of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, 72 Members of the National Academies, 114 Emmy Award winners, 44 Tony Award laureates, and 7 Academy Award winners.

28. University of Colorado

University of Colorado Boulder is a public research university located in Boulder, Colorado, United States. It is the flagship university of the University of Colorado system and was founded five months before Colorado was admitted to the Union in 1876. Twelve Nobel Laureates, nine MacArthur Fellows, and 20 astronauts have been affiliated with CU Boulder as students, researchers, or faculty members in its history.

29. Boston University 

Boston University is a private research university in Boston, Massachusetts. Among its alumni and current or past faculty, the university counts eight Nobel Laureates, 23 Pulitzer Prize winners, 10 Rhodes Scholars, six Marshall Scholars, 48 Sloan Fellows, nine Academy Award winners, and several Emmy and Tony Award winners. BU also has MacArthur, Fulbright, Truman and Guggenheim Fellowship holders as well as American Academy of Arts and Sciences and National Academy of Sciences members among its past and present graduates and faculty. In 1876, BU professor Alexander Graham Bell invented the telephone in a BU lab.

30. University of Southern California 

The University of Southern California is a private research university in Los Angeles, California, founded in 1880. The university has a strong tradition of innovation and entrepreneurship, with alumni having founded companies such as Lucasfilm, Salesforce, Intuit, Qualcomm, Box, Tinder and Riot Games. As of 2017, the university has produced the fourth largest number of billionaire alumni out of all undergraduate institutions in the world.