Rankings of the best universities in the world
The prestige of a university is a key factor when deciding where to study, and the rankings of the best universities are a good reference for making this decision. ARWU, CWUR and QS are the three main world university rankings and on which the selection of universities in this article is based.
The general indicators to determine the academic quality of a university include the level of internationalization of the institution, the academic reputation of the university and its workers, the quality of teaching and the ratio of students per professor.
The best universities in the world
1. Harvard University
This prestigious private university, located on the east coast of the United States, specifically in the state of Massachusetts, appears in first place in the CWUR and ARWU lists, and is included in the top 3 of the QS ranking.
This position is due to its excellence in teaching and research. The institution has 12 colleges and university schools, in addition to the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study.
Several notable personalities studied at Harvard, including 161 Nobel laureates, 48 Pulitzer laureates, 30 foreign heads of state, and 8 American presidents, including Franklin Roosevelt and Barack Obama.
2. Stanford University
The ARWU and QS rankings coincide in giving second position to Stanford, and the CWUR places it in third place. It is located in the city of Palo Alto, California, the business epicenter where some of the most important international companies in the world emerged, such as Google, Hewlett Packard and Xerox.
This private institution stands out for its educational quality and the importance of the synthesis between teaching and research. It has 40 undergraduate and postgraduate academic departments distributed in 3 traditional university schools, and 4 professional schools for degrees in Law, Medicine, Education and Business.
The institution's faculty includes 22 Nobel Prize winners, 5 Pulitzer Prize winners, and 20 US National Medal of Science winners.
3. Massachusetts Institute of Technology
MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) is in the top 3 of the CWUR and QS listings. In fact, the QS ranking positions it as the best university center in the world in 2019-2020.
The reputation of this private institution is due to the quality of its teaching and research in different scientific areas, Engineering and Economics .
78 Nobel laureates and prominent personalities such as astronaut Buzz Aldrin , one of the first humans to set foot on the Moon, were trained at MIT.
4 . University of Cambridge
The QS ranking places the University of Cambridge in seventh place, the CWUR in fourth, and the ARWU in third. It is the best university in the world outside of the United States.
This public university has more than 100 academic departments organized in 6 schools : Arts and Humanities; Biological Sciences; Clinical Medicine; Social Sciences; Physical Sciences, and Technology .
Without a doubt, the name of the most prominent alumnus of this institution is that of Stephen Hawking , who developed and directed the Center for Theoretical Cosmology of this university. According to QS ratings, Cambridge also ranks first for the quality of Anatomy and Physiology studies .
5. Oxford University
The University of Oxford ranks fourth in the QS ranking, fifth in the CWUR and seventh in the ARWU. Located in Oxford, this prestigious institution is the oldest in the world among the English-speaking centers.
It stands out for the quality of its teaching , for its internship programs and for its contribution to research .
It often competes with the University of Cambridge in the rankings. He ranks first in subjects such as Anthropology, Archaeology, English Language and Literature, and Geography . The writer Oscar Wilde is among his illustrious former students.
6. Princeton University
Princeton University, located in New Jersey, appears in the top 10 of all three international rankings. Her highest position is on the ARWU list, which ranks her at number 6 .
The main areas in which this university stands out are: Social Sciences, Engineering, Biology and Biomedicine, and Information Sciences.
Former US President Woodrow Wilson was an alumnus of this university, as were Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos and former First Lady Michelle Obama.
7. Columbia University
The CWUR listing places it in seventh place, and the ARWU in eighth. Since its origins, this institution has been included among the best academic and research institutions in the world.
It stands out mainly in the areas of Medicine, Sciences and Art . In addition, Columbia University is in charge of awarding the prestigious Pulitzer Prizes, which each year honor the best works of written press, literature and musical compositions.
This university is part of the Ivy League , a sports conference of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) made up of 8 private US universities. Former presidents Franklin D. Roosevelt and Barack Obama were also alumni of this university.
8. University of Chicago
This institution is included annually within the 10 best universities in the world in the three rankings consulted.
The institution is known for its interdisciplinary education , through curricula focused especially on learning Foreign Languages and International Studies .
In addition, this university stands out for having more than 400 student organizations on its campus. Among his former students are 91 Nobel Prize winners.
9. University of California, Berkeley
This public university is internationally recognized for its academic excellence, and its faculty includes seven Nobel Prize winners and 140 members of the United States National Academy of Sciences.
It also stands out for the quality of its research laboratories and the scope of its interdisciplinary research and publications.
One of his most famous former students is Steve Wozniak , who, along with Steve Jobs, co-founded the Apple company. In addition, numerous world laureates, 37 Nobel laureates, 5 Turing laureates and 5 winners of the International Medal for Outstanding Discoveries in Mathematics (Fields) studied at this university.
10. California Institute of Technology
This private university is regularly included in the top 10 universities in the QS, ARWU and CWUR rankings, ranking 10th this year . It stands out for the quality of its studies in Natural Sciences and Engineering .
The California Institute of Technology, colloquially nicknamed Caltech, counts among its alumni renowned researchers, 35 Nobel Laureates, 6 Turing Awards, 71 US National Medal of Science or Technology recipients, and 1 Fields Medal.
The best universities in Ibero-America
In addition to the great world universities, it is worth noting the importance of various Ibero-American universities that are widely recognized for their academic quality.
1. University of Sao Paulo
This Brazilian university appears in first place in the CWUR and ARWU lists, and in third place in the QS ranking. It is a public institution and has more than 97,000 students, which makes it one of the largest universities in Latin America.
The scientific production of the institution includes more than 20,000 articles, and has had the collaboration of renowned professors and researchers, such as the anthropologist Claude Lévi-Strauss or the physicist David Bohm.
2. University of Barcelona
It is in second place in the CWUR and ARWU rankings, and in sixth place in the QS ranking.
Founded in 1450, it stands as one of the oldest universities in Spain, and has several campuses that are divided throughout the city of Barcelona; while the Humanities students attend classes in the historic center, the Health Sciences campus is attached to the Bellvitge Hospital.
Its library is the second largest in the country. Among the illustrious former students of his are the editor Carlos Barral or the former Spanish Minister of Defense Carme Chacón .
3. University of Buenos Aires
This Argentine public university ranks first in the list of the best Ibero-American universities drawn up by QS, and is included in the top 10 of the CWUR and ARWU rankings.
In its classrooms, the five Argentine Nobel Prize winners and 16 of the nation's presidents studied and taught. In addition, it stands out for its reception of international students : according to a study by the UBA itself, the institution welcomes a quarter of the more than 80,000 international students who go to study in Buenos Aires.
4. Autonomous University of Barcelona
The Autonomous University of Barcelona appears in third place in the CWUR list of Ibero-American universities, fourth in ARWU and seventh in QS.
Among its illustrious students and professors, the Nobel Prize for Literature Mario Vargas Llosa and several members of the Royal Spanish Academy stand out. Likewise, the university carries out important scientific and technological research , such as the construction of the ALBA synchrotron.
In addition to its numerous awards, it stands out for its natural environment or green campus, with more than 260 hectares.
5. National Autonomous University of Mexico
This university ranks second in the QS ranking of Ibero-American universities, and is included in the top 10 of the CWUR and ARWU lists.
With one of the largest campuses in the world, its University City was designed by important Mexican artists and architects and named a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. It is estimated that 50% of scientific research in Mexico comes from UNAM.
6. Complutense University of Madrid
This Spanish university ranks fourth in the CWUR rankings, fifth in the ARWU and tenth in the QS.
Its prominent alumni include world-renowned writers, such as Federico García Lorca , as well as seven of the eight Spanish Nobel Prize winners.
It has the largest university library in Spain, with almost three million volumes.
7. Autonomous University of Madrid
The UAM appears in the top 10 of the three rankings of the best universities in Ibero-America.
Among the initiatives related to research promoted by the UAM, the Severo Ochoa Center for Molecular Biology stands out , built under the initiative of this Nobel Prize winner in Medicine, and the Center for Entrepreneurial Initiatives (CIADE), which has supported the creation of more than 170 Business.
This institution is positioned as the best university to study Law, Physics and Medicine .
8. University of Valencia
Founded in 1499, the University of Valencia is one of the oldest and appears in the top 10 of the CWUR and ARWU rankings of the best universities in Ibero-America.
The institution stands out for its commitment to scientific research and has 18 university research institutes. For this reason, it is ranked in the QS ranking as the fifth best university in Spain in Natural Sciences and in Life Sciences and Medicine .
9. University of Granada
The University of Granada appears in the top 10 of the CWUR and ARWU rankings. Its level of internationalization is of special relevance. It is the European leader in the Erasmus+ mobility programme : approximately 10% of undergraduate students and 20% of postgraduate students are international.
Its wide range of options includes more than 80 undergraduate degrees, a hundred official master's degrees, as well as its own degrees, and 28 doctoral programs.
One of the great claims of the university is that its campus merges with the city itself, which offers the student community one of the great historical and architectural riches of the country.
10. Pontifical Catholic University of Chile
The Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile appears in fourth place in the QS list and in 14th place in the CWUR ranking. He stands out especially for his investigative work . In terms of areas of study, it stands out in the quality of the teaching of Law and Education.
The current president of Chile, Sebastián Piñera , and former president Eduardo Frei Montalva, are two of the recognized alumni of this institution, along with the director of the Chilean Academy of Language Alfredo Matus Olivier.
If you are deciding your study plan, these rankings will surely be very useful to you. For more detailed information on the universities by country, go to the Where to study section of the Universia portal .