The Best Universities in the World



1 California Institute of Technology
2 Harvard University
3 University of Cambridge
4 Stanford University
5 Princeton University
6 Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)
7 University of California at Berkeley
8 Swiss Federal Institute of Technology – Zurich
9 Yale University
10 University of California at San Francisco
11 University of California at San Diego
12 University of Oxford
13 Columbia University
14 University of Toronto
15 University of Chicago
16 London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine
17 International School for Advanced Studies – Trieste
18 Swiss Federal Institute of Technology – Lausanne
19 Washington University – St. Louis
20 Duke University
21 Imperial College London
22 Cornell University
23 University of Pennsylvania
24 Scuola Normale Superiore di Pisa
25 Rockefeller University

This ranking is based on a reanalysis of the data in Academic Ranking of World Universities by Shanghai Jiao Tong University. Since this ranking is based on the number of Nobel Prizes per university, number of highly cited researchers per university, number of papers published in Nature and Science etc. per university, it is biased in favor of large universities. However, the ranking includes an indicator, Score on Size, which is the score divided by the number of full-time equivalent academic staff. If we sort the ranking on this indicator, we get a ranking that is irrespective of size and include smaller, high quality institutions. We will modestly call this list The Best Universities in the World.

Universities in bold would not have been included in the Top 25 if the size of the institutions was not taken into consideration.

Note, for example, the inclusion of two institutions in Italy, the International School for Advanced Study in Trieste (SISSA), and the Scoula Normale Superiore di Pisa on this list. The Scoula Normale Superiore de Pisa was founded by Napoleon, like the more famous Ecole Normale Supérieure de Paris. It is very small and very good.

The Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) is on the list, that is no surprise. But for a small country like Switzerland to have two universities on the list is remarkable. Washington University in St. Louis is ranked as number 19, just above Duke. The London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine also does well on this list.

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53 thoughts on “The Best Universities in the World

  1. Micky,

    Yes, the list is somewhat surprising. What it means is that those UC campuses have excellent researchers. The list doesn’t try to estimate the quality of the student body, the quality of education, or the reputation of the institution. It measures research outcomes per faculty member. It is based on objective, measurable criteria.

  2. I feel you arent being fair to the African Unversities such as the University or Pretoria South Africa, The University of Ibadan Nigeria and the Cairo University Egypt.
    I have interacted with numerous students from these universities and believe me these guys are worth their salt. Also these universities have bigger campuses as well as technically sound staff.
    FAbrini J

  3. John,

    The ranking is based on research outcomes. It says nothing about the quality of the teaching, or the quality of the students. I myself have also had excellent students from Ibadan. I believe Ibadan has had problems with researchers having to take other jobs at the side in order to survive, and there has been problems with students bribing their way into the university. I don’t know to which extent these problems have been solved.

  4. I think it is unfair to base ranking of universities majorly on research outcomes. The quality of graduates produced and their performances in industries particularly international ones should be considered as well. I am a PhD student in the University of Manchester. I had my first degree in the University of Lagos, Nigeria. I have many mates from University of Lagos all over the globe doing extremely well in their fields. Some have become top researchers in their field, in top universities in the world. These universities cannot totally lay claim to the fact that they made these students. Their background is essential as well. The state of research in African universities is basically due to instability in politics and leaders without vision for the academic sector.

  5. I very much agree with John. Cairo University has numerous research institutes and a number of student exchange programs. University of Pretoria and Cape Town are also very beautiful Universities. University of Ibadan used to be great but is currently declining because of corrupt practices in the admission system whereby students are given admission based on their state of Origin and other funny aspects. The school authority is even indifferent about it.

  6. I share the same view with Aloku on the fact that ranking universities on research outcomes alone is wrong.I really think universities should be jugded on a whole lot of thing including research, number of exchange programs, number of international student’s present and achievement in all areas of education etc. I really believe the figures and ranking we see is not a reflection of the state of universities in the world. It will be very parochial for universities to lay claim to the fact that they made alot of student’s what they are today in their different areas of research without not given some kudos to the school’s in which this student started their primary education from.
    Their background is very essential and i am proud to say that i know alot of our African student’s who have done very well more than their european counterparts at master’s degree level in many univeristies in the UK and university of Manchester as well. So we can see that it is very difficult to judge universities on research alone without looking at different factors. African universities although may be facing alot of critisim for now mainly based on political instability and alot of untrue stories published and reported by foreign medias but many of their products have never failed to excel when they compete with their other european counterparts in abroad. I am really cut in between since i have a degree from University of Lagos in Nigeria and a master degree from University of Manchester and i have seen it all.
    Please let us give some universities in Africa kudos for making these graduates what they are today.

  7. Excluding African universities from the list of top universities of the world is not fair on the continent at all. If one of the yard sticks used in grading these universities is number of nobel prize winners, how many noble laureates came out of Africa talkless of its universities. I graduated from the university of Ibadan where I also obtained both Diploma and Master of Arts degree in theatre Arts, I had the oppotunity of relating with some graduates from US & UK universities, believe me in my area of studies university of Ibadan graduates can raise there heads high. Admissions into the university is strict and those students who secure admissions with fake credentials are always sent away and allowed to graduate from the school. Admissions on the bases of state of origin doesn’t apply to university of Ibadan. Many of my colleagues are doing well in many UK & US universities where they are either teaching currently or pursuing their research degrees through scholarships. If African universities can not be put on the rating how come products from these institutions are teaching in those world best universities? In the areas of research University of Ibadan, University of Cairo, University of Stellenbosch, Cape Town University, University of Lagos, University of Ife and University of Agriculture Abeokuta are not doing badly at all. Give us little time we shall make our presence noted in as many reputable international journals as possible, since you want to see our universities there before grading. Please grade some of these universities in Africa because products from them are making positive impact in the wider world.

  8. i think its a travesty that african universities are not included on this list,and also that the conclusion is only based on the amount of cited researchers and nobel prize winners.this ranking should be based on the overall performance of the educational standard of the universities.i strongly disagree with david on university of ibadan enrolling students based on “state of origin and other funny practices”. students who try to forcify thier entry in to the university are delt with by the law if caught and also the university admits based on students academic performance and not on state of origin.its impossible to graduate from U.I with forged certificates.i also think this list is subjective rather than objective.there should be a deeper research when it comes to the best universities in the world, not only on the basis of nobels .students from alot of african schools have achieved alot in the world.

  9. they are being biased kind of.most of the universities coming from UK and USA.so so bad.NONE FROM AFRICA AND LESS FROM ASIA.ENOUGH UNIVERSITIES BETTER OF THAN THESE ONES LISTED.BUT AINT RECOGNISED.THERE OUGHT TO BE A REVIEW.

  10. African universities should also be considered.i appreciate that sentence da says d ranking is based on researches or so, but i believe it will make much sense to consider the quality of the students,lecturers and products of each univer. because da will show the true colour of the universities and i believe African universities will be on the list. THERE OUGHT TO BE A REVIEW like MAYOWA said.

  11. This is cheating!!!!!!!!!!! what about the university of Ibadan and Olabisi Onabanjo University Ago Iwoye and Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile Ife Nigeria. whay are they not included Get out with fake info!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  12. WE HEREBY NEED ONE THING IN ORDER TO GO FOR WARD IN EDUCATION. WE SHOULD INSIST ON EDUCATION RATHER THAN ANYTHING ELSE. WE SHOULD HELP THE BUDGETS OF OUR UNIVERSITIES AND INSIST ON GOOD CIRRICULUM BASED ON OUR ENVIRONMENT. BY DOING THAT SOME OF THE UNIVERSITIES IN AFRICA WILL DO WELL. TAKE AN EXAMPLE OF MZUMBE UNIVERSOTI IN TANZANIA. IF IT IS GIVEN MUCH MONEY BY THE STATE IT IS LIKELY TO DO WELL.

    • We can only be in list by changing our education philosophy from certification to education for practice. education is not having many first classes, but the value of it in changing the society positively. will much funds change philosophy of educators and learners ?

      • yes I think. without funds no research. research is aan expensive process requiring alot of money. fund is also required for paying good and attractive packages. no handsome pay no beautiful lecturers and in turn no cleative and self initiative graduates. on the other a good product is also clothed in other external environment as others have analysed. the problem with our contries is to use alot of money in untold occassions, while research and other academic appropriations left in shubby situations. no student can think properly when they have not been funded their dues as per self country rules. likewise can the lecturer deliver properly when he is not paid the salary attractively and at the right time. for science subjects, I hope Ryoba will agree with me that it will be difficult for a university to do better if no lecturing materials including chemicals and other facilities.

  13. WE HEREBY NEED ONE THING IN ORDER TO GO FOR WARD IN EDUCATION. WE SHOULD INSIST ON EDUCATION RATHER THAN ANYTHING ELSE. WE SHOULD HELP THE BUDGETS OF OUR UNIVERSITIES AND INSIST ON GOOD CIRRICULUM BASED ON OUR ENVIRONMENT. BY DOING THAT SOME OF THE UNIVERSITIES IN AFRICA WILL DO WELL. TAKE AN EXAMPLE OF MZUMBE UNIVERSITY IN TANZANIA. IF IT IS GIVEN MUCH MONEY BY THE STATE IT IS LIKELY TO DO WELL.

  14. best university is depends on the graduated,not income.
    I don’t have any idea about it.What about Al-Azhar university in Egypt?That’s the oldest and the one unbreakable,right?

  15. when you talk about universities…pls dont mention olabisi onabanjo. thats a secondary school man. its facilities are terrible

  16. i appreciate the ranking,but i also think african universities should also be well considered

  17. Hello,

    are there any rankings on best graduate programs in environmental management and related master`s?

  18. This is not fair. African University should be included, South Africa has the best Universties in Africa. As well Dar es Salaam University is the best University in East Africa. I think you should group Universities in Regional level ie Ameca, Europe ,Asia and Africa. There lots Universities which have long history compare to what some of the universities you rank worldwide.
    Hope my ideas will be taken into consideration. Thank you.

  19. I want to, unequivocally, state here that this unholy allegation about admission racketeering in the University of Ibadan is far from the truth as the heaven is to the universe. It is either the person making the allegation is being economical with the truth or just trying to “make a mountain out of a mole hill”. I am not just speaking for myself as a proud product of this premier citadel in Nigeria, but for numerous in this category who I believe will never sacrifice their integrity for anything at all.
    I was a protegee in University of Ibadan for about a decade, and I believe in equality and integrity. I can vouch for this great U.I as a Varsity that has never compromised excellence at any point in time. Unlike in many institutions, U. I. does not wait until the “eleventh” hour” before “ejecting” unwanted visitors from among its teeming students.
    As an Institution that operates on the doctrine of meritocracy, University of Ibadan has never been involved or implicated in such vices, and it stands out as one of the few institutions that never compromised standard even in the face of economic challenges that has subjected many universities into involvement in proliferation of outreach campumses.
    As much as I believe in the rating of institutions’ standard, I will advise the relevant authorities to always apply successes based on merit and integrity of institutions concerned. Be that as it may, No condemnation, no matter how repulsive, will deter my ALMA MATTER from keepin its head above board.

  20. On the issue of “State of Origin” – It is very appalling to say such about the University of Ibadan. For those who care to know, U.I does not admit based on ethnic cleavages or other sentiment, but rather, on merit. It must be remembered that this is not just a federal university, but a premier university in the largest configuration of black race in the world! An inward look into the School will reveal that the Institution does not even consider where you are from – you may not remember that the School is located in the South-West part of the country. Tribal issue is inconsequential to the authorities. Definitely, not in their culture! I stand to challenged or corrected.
    I know what I am saying. From Arts to Education, to Social Scieneces, Science, Technology, Engineering, down to Colleges of Medicine, Pharmacy, PG School, etc, U.I stands out in its admission procedure even before the recent introduction of “Post-Jamb Examination” by varsities. I make bold to say this because I am one of the many products of U.I, who came through a thorough internal examination in the Faculty of Education in the 1993 Academic Session (via Diploma programme in the Faculty). I can vividly recall that out of the many candidates that enrolled for that entry exams, only a fraction of us that performed excellently well were considered for admission – the record is there for anybody to verify.
    No department can successfully indulge in admission malpractice or certificate forgery in U.I without being exposed. The control mechanism are too effective to condone that. Even though U.I may not be better than the almighty Harvard, but it can nevertheless, be a push-over.

  21. Pls am jst processing my DE to this mst prestigious institution.pls does anybody has any information on it because we are yet to hear from the school.

  22. University of Ibadan is one of the best University that produce Professor in Nigeria also in African, also the university go deep into research and it produce capable and soundable graduate.why not be among the best university in the World something is wrong. Why not Olabisi Onabanjo University be among the best university in the World.

  23. Hey, all of you talking about african universities beong put in. Now i am from Nigeria myself and i will say that no university should be put in from Nigeria in particular. Yes they have good students, but the corruption is too much. We are talking about places where you will have to buy handouts in order to pass or places where you can actually pay for god grades. The infrastructure cannot be compared to any of the universities listed here, neither is the standard of learning. I think we should really work on our universties and most of all wipe out corruption from our system and then we will have a chance. I personally attended 2 universities in Nigeria and now i am studying at Yale, and the difference is very CLEAR!!!

  24. Hey everyone,why argue about dis stuff?its clear dat d ranking was partial if i may say cos i believe here in 9ja n Africa as a whole we ve not just gud universities but standard ones considering d life span of dis universities.were is d likes of OAU,UI,Unilag amongst others?pls let africa universities b considered cos dey re worth it n not doin d ranking based on sentiments or affluence.

  25. hurray for two top Italian Universities. But they are the small ones, therefore the lesson seems to be that “small is beautiful”, or if you employ too many academics, the vast majority of bad ones will recruit at higher speed than the good ones. So watch out for the selction process!! – this applies to all those African institutions too, I think!

  26. A tiger does not need to show forth its tigritude.
    Nigerian and African Universities can not be relegated in ranking.I believe SO MUCH in African graduates because our impacts can be found through out the world.

  27. I believe Obafemi Awolowo University,Ile-Ife, Nigeria. Should be included based on the school status and the quality of its’ graduates.

  28. nipoa kama wazungu wako mbele bwana wapi tutabisha nafikri wanaongoza hata kwa ujinga. kweli marekani inatisha si tu kwa vita na misaada hata kiakademiki uongo? mara nyingine muikumbuke na SAUT.

  29. Where are the Nigerian Universities? Nigerian Government and NUC Should answer this question, the senators and house of representative members are not left behind. shame on them all

  30. Where is Unilag… the nation’s pride. Nigerian government should stop award of degrees in nigerian universities, convert them to colleges of education and sponsor all nigerian students on quality university education abroad with her resources that the senators and others are looting before the axe of God comes on them.

  31. NO UNIVERSITY FROM TANZANIA HAS BEEN INCLUDED,I DON’T WHAT IS TAKEN INTO ACCOUNT BEFORE INCLUDING AN UNIVERSITY,BUT I THINK THE UNIVERSITIES OF TANZANIA ARE DOING VERY WELL IN TERMS OF RESEARCH,ACADEMICS,QUALITY OF ITS GRADUATES ETC,AN EXAMPLE IS THE UNIVERSITY OF DODOMA,ITS LOCATED IN THE CENTRAL PART OF TANZANIA IN THE CAPITAL OF TANZANIA, DODOMA,UPON ITS COMPLETION IT WILL BE THE BIGGEST UNIVERSITY IN AFRICA,IT IS OFFERING THE BEST THAT THE COUNTRY NEEDS AND THE WORLD AT LARGE.

  32. Scuola normale superiore di Pisa? Are u kidding..There is nothing such in Pisa..Maybe u mean
    Pisa normal high school?

  33. The issue of University ranking in Africa will generate an emotional debate but the truth of the matter is that the benchmarks are scientific and the index are there for African Universities to see. What is important is that African Goverments should invest more in education and grant more autonomy to universities to raise funds for research and teaching.What is more, we need to attract the best brains into our universities and improvement in the reward system will address some of the problem confronting us in Africa. It is my desire that Africa will make the list in the nearest future.

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