Best universities: 2020 ranking

Which are the best universities of 2020?

Best universities of 2020 (1 - 5)
university comparison
Comparison winner
university comparison
Comparison winner
Harvard University
Comparison winner
University of Cambridge
Comparison winner
Stanford University
Comparison winner
The National University of Colombia
Comparison winner
University of Goettingen
Comparison winner
Kyoto University
Comparison winner
Yale University
Comparison winner
University of the Philippines, Diliman
Comparison winner
University of the Philippines, Visayas
Comparison winner
Aarhus University
Image
Harvard University
100points
University of Cambridge
93points
Stanford University
90points
The National University of Colombia
85points
University of Goettingen
83points
Kyoto University
82points
Yale University
82points
University of the Philippines, Diliman
81points
University of the Philippines, Visayas
81points
Aarhus University
80points
Summary
Summary
  • General info (84)
  • Admissions (61)
  • Facilities (88)
  • Rankings (100)
  • Honors (100)
  • Tuition & Aid (28)
  • General info (66)
  • Admissions (67)
  • Facilities (95)
  • Rankings (100)
  • Honors (59)
  • Tuition & Aid (57)
  • General info (86)
  • Admissions (59)
  • Facilities (82)
  • Rankings (100)
  • Honors (55)
  • Tuition & Aid (26)
  • General info (34)
  • Admissions (94)
  • Facilities (80)
  • Rankings (0)
  • Honors (0)
  • Tuition & Aid (98)
  • General info (47)
  • Admissions (57)
  • Facilities (84)
  • Rankings (76)
  • Honors (25)
  • Tuition & Aid (98)
  • General info (55)
  • Admissions (60)
  • Facilities (43)
  • Rankings (92)
  • Honors (8)
  • Tuition & Aid (69)
  • General info (76)
  • Admissions (59)
  • Facilities (82)
  • Rankings (99)
  • Honors (66)
  • Tuition & Aid (26)
  • General info (36)
  • Admissions (59)
  • Facilities (85)
  • Rankings (0)
  • Honors (0)
  • Tuition & Aid (99)
  • General info (24)
  • Admissions (45)
  • Facilities (86)
  • Rankings (0)
  • Honors (0)
  • Tuition & Aid (99)
  • General info (44)
  • Admissions (83)
  • Facilities (86)
  • Rankings (78)
  • Honors (1)
  • Tuition & Aid (55)
Pros
Pros
  • Bigger library collection
  • More highly cited researchers
  • More Nobel prize laureates academically affiliated with the university as lecturers
  • Bigger average financial aid for students
  • Higher position in ARWU universities ranking
  • Bigger alumni network
  • Bigger library collection
  • Higher position in U.S. News World's Best Universities ranking
  • More highly cited researchers
  • Lower cost of room and board
  • More Nobel prize laureats
  • More medical facilities
  • Lower student to staff ratio
  • Higher position on Times Higher Education ranking
  • Bigger library collection
  • More highly cited researchers
  • Lower cost of room and board
  • More extracurricular activities offered
  • Lower cost of room and board
  • More academic staff
  • Lower cost of room and board
  • More Nobel prize laureats
  • Bigger library collection
  • Lower cost of room and board
  • Bigger library collection
  • Lower cost of room and board
  • More academic staff
  • Bigger amount of funding available per student for one academic year
  • Lower tuition growth rate
  • Lower cost of room and board
  • Lower cost of room and board
  • Lower tuition required
  • Lower cost of room and board
  • More academic staff
  • Lower tuition growth rate
Cons
Cons
  • Admission rate
  • Sports facilities
  • Academic staff
  • Forbes rank
  • Student to staff ratio
  • Tuition fees per year
  • Admission rate
  • Academic staff
  • ARWU rank
  • Sports facilities
  • Tuition fees per year for international students
  • Tuition fees per year
  • Admission rate
  • Tuition fees per year
  • Enrolled international students
  • Rhodes scholars
  • Academic staff
  • U.S. News rank
  • Tuition fees per year
  • Tuition fees per year for international students
  • Admission rate
  • Nobel laureats alumni
  • University dormitories
  • Enrolled international students
  • Academic staff
  • Sports facilities
  • Tuition fees per year
  • Tuition fees per year for international students
  • Alumni network
  • Enrolled international students
  • Tuition fees per year for international students
  • Tuition fees per year
  • Grants per year per student
  • Nobel laureats staff
  • Medical facilities
  • U.S. News rank
  • ARWU rank
  • Alumni network
  • Enrolled international students
  • Tuition fees per year
  • Admission rate
  • Academic staff
  • Academic staff
  • University dormitories
  • ARWU rank
  • Enrolled international students
  • Nobel laureats staff
  • Tuition fees per year for international students
  • U.S. News rank
  • Medical facilities
General info
Academic staffNumber of academic staff. Data is obtained from national agencies such as National Ministry of Education, National Bureau of Statistics, National Association of Universities and Colleges, National Rector's Conference.
Academic staffNumber of academic staff. Data is obtained from national agencies such as National Ministry of Education, National Bureau of Statistics, National Association of Universities and Colleges, National Rector's Conference.210715961995297428002864414015263744373
Alumni networkAn alumni association is an association of graduates or, more broadly, of former students (alumni). In the United Kingdom and the United States, alumni of universities, colleges, schools (especially independent schools), fraternities, and sororities often form groups with alumni from the same organization. Source: university's official website, 2020.
Alumni networkAn alumni association is an association of graduates or, more broadly, of former students (alumni). In the United Kingdom and the United States, alumni of universities, colleges, schools (especially independent schools), fraternities, and sororities often form groups with alumni from the same organization. Source: university's official website, 2020.323000N.A.175384N.A.4000N.A.168987250000250000N.A.
Highly cited researchersCompiled yearly by Clarivate Analytics, the number indicates how many researchers affiliated with a university are among the top 1% most cited scholars in their fields. Source: Clarivate Analytics, 2020.
Highly cited researchersCompiled yearly by Clarivate Analytics, the number indicates how many researchers affiliated with a university are among the top 1% most cited scholars in their fields. Source: Clarivate Analytics, 2020.8345103N.A.42637N.A.N.A.1
Student to staff ratioA measure of the average staffing level in the university. Shows how many students fall for one staff member. Source: university's official statistics, 2020.
Student to staff ratioA measure of the average staffing level in the university. Shows how many students fall for one staff member. Source: university's official statistics, 2020.7:1N.A.5:1N.A.N.A.N.A.6:1N.A.N.A.N.A.
Extracurricular activitiesA wide range of extracurricular activities, like sports, drama, choir classes, research trips, ect. shows that university supports not only academical interests of students but also their hobbies. Source: university's official website, 2020.
Extracurricular activitiesA wide range of extracurricular activities, like sports, drama, choir classes, research trips, ect. shows that university supports not only academical interests of students but also their hobbies. Source: university's official website, 2020.440353687N.A.N.A.N.A.438N.A.N.A.N.A.
Total score for "General info"
Total score for "General info"
Admissions
Admission rateAn admission rate shows the percentage of applicants that was accepted by university. Low acceptance rate makes it difficult to get a place, but also can indicate the prestige and high education level. Source: university's official statistics, 2020.
Admission rateAn admission rate shows the percentage of applicants that was accepted by university. Low acceptance rate makes it difficult to get a place, but also can indicate the prestige and high education level. Source: university's official statistics, 2020.6%21.5%6.6%13.6%N.A.26%7.1%N.A.N.A.3.3%
Average admission SAT scoreThe SAT is a standardized test for college admissions in the United States. SAT scores indicate how hard it is to get in to a university and can also indicate the level of educational requirements. Source: university's official statistics, 2020.
Average admission SAT scoreThe SAT is a standardized test for college admissions in the United States. SAT scores indicate how hard it is to get in to a university and can also indicate the level of educational requirements. Source: university's official statistics, 2020.1500N.A.1475N.A.N.A.N.A.1495N.A.N.A.N.A.
Average SAT score in critical readingThe SAT is a standardized test for college admissions in the United States. SAT scores indicate how hard it is to get in to a university and can also indicate the level of educational requirements. Source: university's official statistics, 2020.
Average SAT score in critical readingThe SAT is a standardized test for college admissions in the United States. SAT scores indicate how hard it is to get in to a university and can also indicate the level of educational requirements. Source: university's official statistics, 2020.750N.A.730N.A.N.A.N.A.745N.A.N.A.N.A.
Enrolled international studentsThe percentage of international students among all students show if the university is attractive abroad and the level of diversity. Source: university's official statistics, 2020.
Enrolled international studentsThe percentage of international students among all students show if the university is attractive abroad and the level of diversity. Source: university's official statistics, 2020.20%19%7.4%N.A.12%7.5%18%N.A.N.A.12%
Students from international exchange programsA student exchange program is a program where students from a secondary school or university study abroad at one of their institution's partner institutions. Source: university's official statistics, 2020.
Students from international exchange programsA student exchange program is a program where students from a secondary school or university study abroad at one of their institution's partner institutions. Source: university's official statistics, 2020.N.A.N.A.N.A.N.A.N.A.N.A.N.A.N.A.N.A.1000
Total score for "Admissions"
Total score for "Admissions"
Facilities
Library collectionWith a bigger library collection, the university can offer more books, magazines, online resources, etc. to its students. Source: university's official website, 2020.
Library collectionWith a bigger library collection, the university can offer more books, magazines, online resources, etc. to its students. Source: university's official website, 2020.17000000830060018075000N.A.4000000668248825850000N.A.N.A.N.A.
Medical facilitiesSource: university's official website, 2020.
Medical facilitiesSource: university's official website, 2020.172012N.A.N.A.19N.A.N.A.15
Cost of room and boardThe approximate cost of room and board per academic year. Source: university's official statistics, 2020.
Cost of room and boardThe approximate cost of room and board per academic year. Source: university's official statistics, 2020.13 630.00$9 162.00$12 721.00$1 170.00$2 640.00$3 280.00$13 000.00$1 236.00$1 236.00$4 644.00$
Sports facilitiesSource: university's official website, 2020.
Sports facilitiesSource: university's official website, 2020.19718N.A.5227N.A.N.A.N.A.
University dormitoriesThe university has its own halls of residence available for students. These can provide an exciting social life, and sometimes work out cheaper than private accommodation.
University dormitoriesThe university has its own halls of residence available for students. These can provide an exciting social life, and sometimes work out cheaper than private accommodation.
Total score for "Facilities"
Total score for "Facilities"
Rankings
ARWU rankThe Academic Ranking of World Universities (ARWU) uses six objective indicators to rank world universities. These indicators include the number of alumni and staff winning Nobel Prizes and Fields Medals, number of highly cited researchers selected by Thomson Scientific, number of articles published in journals of Nature and Science, number of articles indexed in Science Citation Index Expanded and Social Sciences Citation Index, and per capita performance with respect to the size of an institution. Source: ARWU, 2020.
ARWU rankThe Academic Ranking of World Universities (ARWU) uses six objective indicators to rank world universities. These indicators include the number of alumni and staff winning Nobel Prizes and Fields Medals, number of highly cited researchers selected by Thomson Scientific, number of articles published in journals of Nature and Science, number of articles indexed in Science Citation Index Expanded and Social Sciences Citation Index, and per capita performance with respect to the size of an institution. Source: ARWU, 2020.152N.A.1352611N.A.N.A.81
Forbes rankAccording to the Forbes' annual list of America’s 650 Top Colleges. The rankings focus on the things that matter the most to students: quality of teaching, great career prospects, high graduation rates and low-levels of debt. Source: Forbes, 2020.
Forbes rankAccording to the Forbes' annual list of America’s 650 Top Colleges. The rankings focus on the things that matter the most to students: quality of teaching, great career prospects, high graduation rates and low-levels of debt. Source: Forbes, 2020.8N.A.1N.A.N.A.N.A.4N.A.N.A.N.A.
Position on Times Higher Education rankingThe Times Higher Education World University Rankings is an annual ranking published by the British magazine “Times Higher Education”. Information is supplied by Thomson Reuters and provides performance based data. Main ranking indicators are based on the universities' core missions- teaching, research, knowledge transfer and international outlook.
Position on Times Higher Education rankingThe Times Higher Education World University Rankings is an annual ranking published by the British magazine “Times Higher Education”. Information is supplied by Thomson Reuters and provides performance based data. Main ranking indicators are based on the universities' core missions- teaching, research, knowledge transfer and international outlook.472N.A.705411N.A.N.A.116
U.S. News rankThe U.S. News World's Best Universities rankings, based on the QS World University Rankings, evaluated schools in countries such as the United Kingdom, Australia, China, and more, and identified these to be the world's top universities. Source: U.S. News, 2020.
U.S. News rankThe U.S. News World's Best Universities rankings, based on the QS World University Rankings, evaluated schools in countries such as the United Kingdom, Australia, China, and more, and identified these to be the world's top universities. Source: U.S. News, 2020.3215N.A.119357N.A.N.A.89
Total score for "Rankings"
Total score for "Rankings"
Honors
Nobel laureats alumniThe total number of the alumni of an institution winning Nobel Prizes and Fields Medals. Alumni are defined as those who obtain bachelor, Master's or doctoral degrees from the institution. Source: Nobel Prize's website, 2020.
Nobel laureats alumniThe total number of the alumni of an institution winning Nobel Prizes and Fields Medals. Alumni are defined as those who obtain bachelor, Master's or doctoral degrees from the institution. Source: Nobel Prize's website, 2020.677819123N.A.16N.A.N.A.1
Nobel laureats staffSource: Nobel Prize's website, 2020.
Nobel laureats staffSource: Nobel Prize's website, 2020.665936N.A.2289N.A.N.A.2
Pulitzer Prize winnersThe Pulitzer Prize is a U.S. award for achievements in newspaper and online journalism, literature, and musical composition. Source: http://www.pulitzer.org/, 2020.
Pulitzer Prize winnersThe Pulitzer Prize is a U.S. award for achievements in newspaper and online journalism, literature, and musical composition. Source: http://www.pulitzer.org/, 2020.47107N.A.N.A.N.A.56N.A.N.A.N.A.
Rhodes scholarsThe Rhodes Scholarship, named after Cecil John Rhodes, is an international postgraduate award for selected foreign students to study at the University of Oxford.[1] It was the first large-scale programme of international scholarships, and is widely considered the world's most prestigious scholarship. Source: university's official website, 2020.
Rhodes scholarsThe Rhodes Scholarship, named after Cecil John Rhodes, is an international postgraduate award for selected foreign students to study at the University of Oxford.[1] It was the first large-scale programme of international scholarships, and is widely considered the world's most prestigious scholarship. Source: university's official website, 2020.332N.A.109N.A.N.A.N.A.230N.A.N.A.N.A.
Turing Award winnersThe ACM A.M. Turing Award is an annual prize given by the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) to an individual selected for contributions of a technical nature made to the computing community. The Turing Award is recognized as the highest distinction in Computer science and Nobel Prize of computing. Source: ACM A.M. Turing's website, 2020.
Turing Award winnersThe ACM A.M. Turing Award is an annual prize given by the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) to an individual selected for contributions of a technical nature made to the computing community. The Turing Award is recognized as the highest distinction in Computer science and Nobel Prize of computing. Source: ACM A.M. Turing's website, 2020.11428N.A.N.A.N.A.1N.A.N.A.N.A.
Total score for "Honors"
Total score for "Honors"
Tuition & Aid
Average financial aidA general amount of financial aid for students in millions of dollars. Source: university's official statistics, 2020.
Average financial aidA general amount of financial aid for students in millions of dollars. Source: university's official statistics, 2020.182$ millionN.A.180$ millionN.A.N.A.N.A.120$ millionN.A.N.A.N.A.
Grants per year per studentThe average amount of funding that is available for a student per academic year (grants, scholarships and/or financial aid given to eligible students). Source: university's official statistics, 2020.
Grants per year per studentThe average amount of funding that is available for a student per academic year (grants, scholarships and/or financial aid given to eligible students). Source: university's official statistics, 2020.40 000.00$32 653.00$34 497.00$N.A.N.A.16 776.00$38 170.00$N.A.N.A.12 142.00$
Tuition fee growth rateA lower growth rate for tuition fees indicates that the cost of studying at the university is not increasing too quickly year on year. Source: university's official statistics, 2020.
Tuition fee growth rateA lower growth rate for tuition fees indicates that the cost of studying at the university is not increasing too quickly year on year. Source: university's official statistics, 2020.3.5%N.A.3.5%N.A.N.A.N.A.3.13%N.A.N.A.0%
Tuition fees per yearTuition payments, known primarily as tuition, refer to the annual fee charged for educational instruction during higher education. Source: university's official statistics, 2020.
Tuition fees per yearTuition payments, known primarily as tuition, refer to the annual fee charged for educational instruction during higher education. Source: university's official statistics, 2020.39 966.00$13 662.00$41 250.00$1 093.00$1 327.00$5 459.00$42 300.00$292$292$0$
Tuition fees per year for international studentsTuition payments, known primarily as tuition, refer to a fee charged for educational instruction during higher education. Source: university's official statistics, 2020.
Tuition fees per year for international studentsTuition payments, known primarily as tuition, refer to a fee charged for educational instruction during higher education. Source: university's official statistics, 2020.39 966.00$27 802.00$41 250.00$1 093.00$1 327.00$5 459.00$42 300.00$292$292$12 142.00$
Total score for "Tuition & Aid"
Total score for "Tuition & Aid"

How to choose the best university

The first question to ask yourself when thinking about studying is: What do I want to study? Which is then followed by the question: Where?

It is quite challenging to get an overview of all the bachelor's and master's degrees out there. If you don't know precisely what you want to study, it can be helpful to check out the majors and degrees offered by some universities offer, as well as the areas of research in which they invest. Some universities provide interdisciplinary studies, which can be exciting when you are interested in many fields.

Knowing what you want to study is already a significant step and narrows down choices for your future university. Besides the chosen major, other critical factors must be taken into account when choosing the right university for you, such as tuition and finances, ranking, and student life. We have compiled a list of further criteria to help you choose where you will spend the most exciting years of your life.

1. Academics

The number of majors and degrees the university offers, the areas of research, as well as the possibility to choose interdisciplinary studies, are essential things to consider. Characteristics such as majors offered indicate fields on which the university focuses. Universities that offer the most undergraduate majors are, for instance, the University of Washington's Seattle campus and the Brigham Young University-Provo, with 227 and 169 undergraduate majors, respectively.

An undergraduate degree is your first university degree and includes studies done between your high school and your bachelor's degree, whereas a graduate degree means any degree beyond your bachelor's, such as a Ph.D. or a master's degree.

Interdisciplinary studies combine different fields, allowing you to create your academic degree program according to your interests. This is mainly offered in the USA. When choosing a university for your bachelor's degree, especially in interdisciplinary fields, it is crucial to take a look at the topics and credits, in case you are planning to attend another university for a master's degree. This is quite important since master's studies may have requirements not necessarily fulfilled by your bachelor's degree. So, to make sure you have all the necessary credits to be able to do your master somewhere else, check out some master requirements and the topics you will have in your chosen university.

A university's research areas indicate how forward-thinking and research-led a university is. If you could imagine working in research in your field, this factor might be a critical one for you. For more info on these criteria, check out the top-ranking research universities, where factors like citations per paper, research papers per faculty, and prolific academic experts are taken into account.

If you already know what you want to study, the choice of possible universities can be narrowed down pretty much. Of course, this depends on what you decided on. Major subjects like law, psychology, languages, and mechanical engineering are offered by more universities than subjects like veterinary science. If you have a wide range of universities to pick from, the following criteria can help you decide which university could be the perfect match for you.

2. Rankings

A good indicator of the quality of your studies and the prospects for your future is the ranking of a university. Some of the most famous universities are mostly in the United States of America and in England, and it can be very hard to get a place in those institutions. The ARWU (Academic Ranking of World Universities) uses six objective indicators to rank universities: the number of highly cited researchers, the number of Nobel Prizes and Fields Medals won by the university's students and staff, the number of articles published in journals of Nature and Science, and other criteria.

According to the ARWU rank, the world's best university in 2016 is Harvard University, followed by Stanford University and UC Berkeley. Harvard is also the best university in the fields of social sciences, medicine and pharmacy, economics, and life and agricultural sciences. According to the Forbes rank, the best university in the world is Oxford University, followed by the California Institute of Technology. Other outstanding universities are the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zürich, the University of Tokyo, and the University of Toronto.

The oldest universities in the world are located in Europe and North Africa; the oldest of all is the University of Bologna, dating back to 1088.

3. Tuition and finances

Finances are a key aspect when picking a university, with yearly tuition and available financial aids playing a crucial role. If you want to study abroad, the university’s yearly fee for international students would be relevant for you. Some of the best universities are the most expensive ones, such as New York City's Columbia University, with a yearly tuition fee of US$55,056. The good news is that there are great and affordable universities around the world, beyond Harvard and other Ivy League universities in the USA. One example is the Lomonosov Moscow State University, which is ranked on place 161 by the Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2015-16 and has an average annual cost of US$5.744,50.

According to the FAIRFX ranking, cheap countries to study in with excellent universities are, for example, India, with an average annual cost of US$4.514; Germany with US$7.026; and Denmark, with US$7.290, considering tuition fees and the cost of living. Considering the cost of living and the tuition fee, as well as the university’s quality, Australia is the most expensive country to study in, followed by Singapore, the USA, and the United Kingdom. Germany, France, Nordic countries and Austria are especially interesting for international students since they provide education either for free or for low tuition fees. Here you can find out more about the cheapest places to study abroad.

Financial aid plays a significant role for students, especially in the USA, where college education is not free. If you depend on financial aid and you plan to study in the USA, institutions like the University of Texas, the California State University and the University of North Texas might be attractive for you, since they provide the highest amount of financial aid. If you want more information, check out the universities with the highest financial aid in the USA.

It is essential to know that taking a student loan is a big decision that has to be thought through carefully. Here are ten questions to ask before signing off on a student loan to make sure you are prepared.

A good indicator of a university's quality is the endowment and the budget spent on research. This is, especially in the USA, a critical factor and indicator of a university's health. Better endowment leads to, for example, more space to build university facilities, more financial aid for students, and better lab equipment.

The university with the most significant endowment is Harvard, with 37 billion USD per year. Of course, the budget spent on research highly depends on how wealthy a university is. The university that spends the most on research is the Johns Hopkins University.

4. Student life

If you are interested in a very international student life, universities like the Qatar University, the University of Luxembourg and the University of Hong Kong might be attractive for you, since more than 99% of their students are international. Check out the most international universities and get an insider view of how international universities around the world are. Of course, the more majors a university offers, the more significant is the diversity of students with different study backgrounds, which makes meeting new people very interesting.

Networking is one of the meaningful activities for students, and extracurricular activities are highly desirable – such as literature clubs, competitions in science and sport, as well as art and language lessons. Furthermore, the universities with the best alumni networks are Stanford University, followed by Harvard and Columbia University. If networking is essential for you, make sure to check out the universities with the best alumni networks in the USA.

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