THE TOP UNIVERSITIES IN THE WORLD: A GLOBAL LIST FOR CURIOUS STUDENTS
Have you ever wondered what the top universities in the world are, or been curious about where your own university stands among the best of the best?
The academic world is full of amazing institutions where you can get a prestigious and competitive education that will take you far in your career. However, some schools tend to rise to the top the more they develop a reputation for excellence in faculty members, student life, accomplished alumni, and many other areas.
Some schools just instantly make an impression, whether you see them on a resume or in popular culture to showcase someone’s elite status.
So, which schools are sitting at the top? We’ve done extensive research and put together this list of the 25 top universities in the world. Whether you’re looking for travel inspiration, setting your academic goals high, or genuinely just curious, get all the answers right here.
HOW WE MADE THIS LIST
Before we share the list of the top universities in the world, it’s important for you to know how we came to these conclusions and how we put this list together.
Sure, everyone knows about the Ivy League schools in the United States, or the oldest institutions like Oxford and Cambridge. But what else does it take to be considered a top school on a global scale? To list these schools, we pooled a diverse range of rankings, with indicators such as student satisfaction, teaching faculty, overall school reputation, alumni accomplishments, and much more.
Please note that the order of this list is not necessarily in order from best to worst, but more of a general collection of the 25 top universities in the world. If you’re thinking about applying to any of these schools, you should start getting an amazing admissions essay together because it’s going to be tough!
1. UNIVERSITY OF OXFORD: OXFORD, ENGLAND, UNITED KINGDOM
It’s no surprise that the University of Oxford would be among the top universities in the world because it’s the oldest university in the English-speaking world. The school was founded in 1096. Oxford is the second oldest university worldwide in continuous operation (meaning it has been operating as a university since its existence and still does today), behind the University of Bologna, which opened around 1088. It also operates the world’s oldest university press, university library, and university museum.
Oxford is known as one of the most prestigious universities in the world. It has an acceptance rate of 17.5%.
Given its longstanding history and centuries-long prestige, Oxford has produced a powerful list of prominent alumni (whom they refer to as Oxonians), including 28 British Prime Ministers, 30 international leaders, over 100 members of British government positions, and 69 Nobel Prize winners. Notable Oxonians include Stephen Hawking, Oscar Wilde, Sir Walter Raleigh, Jonathan Swift, Adam Smith, William Penn, John Locke, Thomas Hobbes, Cecil Rhodes, Lewis Carroll, J.R.R. Tolkien, Margaret Thatcher, C.S. Lewis, Aldous Huxley, William Golding, T.S. Eliot, William Gladstone, and Sir Tim Berners-Lee (who invented the World Wide Web).
2. CALIFORNIA INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY (CALTECH): PASADENA, CALIFORNIA, UNITED STATES
The California Institute of Technology, commonly called Caltech, might sound familiar to you if you’ve ever watched The Big Bang Theory (it’s where Leonard, Sheldon, Raj, and Howard work). You may also recognize its setting in various movies and television shows.
Caltech has a reputation and prestige as one of the top schools for science and engineering in the world. A number of former students and faculty members are Nobel Laureates who have gone on to work with NASA and the United States Air Force, and the school manages NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. It has been attracting scientific minds from around the world since its first day in 1891.
Top scientists that have been associated with Caltech include Richard Feynman and Albert Einstein, and some of the school’s most successful alumni include Gordon Moore (co-founder of Intel), William Shockley (known as the father of Silicon Valley), and Charles Gordon Fullerton (pilot of the third space shuttle mission).
The acceptance rate at Caltech is 8.1%.
3. STANFORD UNIVERSITY: STANFORD, CALIFORNIA, UNITED STATES
Nestled in Silicon Valley, Stanford University is one of the world’s leading institutions for teaching and research. Not only is it one of the top universities in the world, but it’s also one of the top fundraising schools in the United States. In 2013, Stanford became the first college to raise $1 billion in fundraising in one year. It’s known for its excellence in engineering, IT programs, and social sciences, but there are over 65 majors students could choose from.
One of Stanford’s unique selling points is that the school offers a range of interdisciplinary programs, so students are able to combine different focuses and make a more diverse degree. Did you also know that student housing is guaranteed for all four years of undergraduate study? No woner Stanford ranks high every year!
Getting into Stanford is no easy task; it has the second lowest acceptance rate in the United States, sitting at 4.8% as of 2020. The school raises a significant amount of money annually for startups, and many of its graduates have gone on to become billionaires, business owners, astronauts, and one United States President (Herbert Hoover).
Notable Stanford University alumni include Sigourney Weaver, David Packard, Larry Page, Tiger Woods, Sandra Day O’Connor, Cory Booker, Sally Ride (the first woman in space), Rachel Maddow, Peter Thiel, Chelsea Clinton, and Eileen Collins (the first female pilot of a space shuttle).