Studying abroad: world’s top universities

university rankings

Getting ready to study abroad? You probably noticed choosing the right university can be challenging. Every year, various world university rankings are published. Picking a higher education institution abroad isn’t only about checking the list of world’s top universities. Nevertheless, rankings do help you find out how well renowned a university is. According to most rankings, the best universities in the world are in the United States or in the United Kingdom. Spotlight on international rankings and their criteria. 

3 major world universities rankings

There are three famous world university rankings, which are published annually:

  • the QS World University Rankings, which ranks 800 universities,
  • the Times Higher Education World University Rankings, which compares 400 institutions,
  • the Shanghai Academic Ranking of World Universities (ARWU), which compares the performances of 500 universities.

Methodologies vary and there sometimes are major differences from one ranking to another.

The world’s top 15 universities

Though the rankings are different, the same higher education institutions often appear in the world’s top 15 universities. And the winners are… the American universities!

QS World University Rankings

Rank

University

Country

1

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)

USA

2

Harvard University

USA

3

University of Cambridge

UK

3 bis

Stanford University

USA

5

California Institute of Technology

USA

6

University of Oxford

UK

7

UCL (University College London)

UK

8

Imperial College London

UK

9

ETH Zurich (Swiss Federal Institute of Technology)

Switzerland

10

University of Chicago

USA

11

Princeton University

USA

12

National University of Singapore (NUS)

Singapore

13

Nanyan Technological University (NTU)

Singapore

14

EPFL (Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne)

Switzerland

15

Yale University

USA

Times Higher Education World University Rankings

Rank

University

Country

1

California Institute of Technology (Caltech)

USA

2

Harvard University

USA

3

University of Oxford

UK

4

Stanford University

USA

5

University of Cambridge

UK

6

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)

USA

7

Princeton University

USA

8

University of California, Berkeley

USA

9

Imperial College London

UK

9 bis

Yale University

USA

11

University of Chicago

USA

12

University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA)

USA

13

ETH Zurich (Swiss Federal Institute of Technology)

Switzerland

14

Columbia University

USA

15

John Hopkins University

USA

 

Shanghai Academic Ranking of World Universities

Rank

University

Country

1

Harvard University

USA

2

Stanford University

USA

3

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)

USA

4

University of California, Berkeley

USA

5

University of Cambridge

UK

6

Princeton University

USA

7

California Institute of Technology

USA

8

Columbia University

USA

9

University of Chicago

USA

10

Oxford University

UK

11

Yale University

USA

12

University of California, Los Angeles

USA

13

Cornell University

USA

14

University of California, San Diego

USA

15

University of Washington

USA

 

University ranking criteria

Can one really compare institutions from all over the world when university systems vary widely from one country to another? International university rankings are sometimes criticized because of their possible lack of objectivity and completeness. To get ready to study abroad, use these rankings wisely! What are the criteria for comparing universities?

QS ranking criteria

Times Higher Education ranking criteria

ARWU ranking criteria

Academic reputation

Teaching: learning environment

Quality of education

Employer reputation

Research: volume, income & reputation

Quality of faculty

Raculty/student ratio

Citations: research influence

Research output

Citations per faculty

Industry income: innovation

Per capita performance

International staff radio

International outlook : staff, students & research

 

International student radio

 

 

To find out more about the world’s best universities:

Take a look at the full rankings: QS rankings, Times Higher Education rankings, ARWU.

Date of publication Sep 28 2015

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