The 10 Best Universities in USA for 2020

“What are the best universities in the United States?”

This is a question QS Top Universities seeks to answer every year in its annual World University Rankings. While some US universities took a dip in this year’s rankings, the country continues to be a higher education powerhouse. Over a quarter of the Top 100 universities in the world and half of the Top 10 are American. But which ones are the best of the best?

Below, we’ve highlighted the 10 best universities in USA for 2020. For more on the World University Rankings, check out our list of the 10 best universities in Canada for 2020.

10. Columbia University

Global Rank: 18

Columbia University

Cracking the Top 10 is Columbia, New York City’s Ivy League University. Tied for 18th in the world with Switzerland’s EPFL, Columbia scores a perfect 100 with QS for its ratio of students to faculty members. This might have something to do with the fact Columbia is one of the most exclusive universities in the United States, with an undergraduate acceptance rate of just 5.8 percent.

9. Yale University

Global Rank: 17

Yale University

Although it fell one spot to the University of Pennsylvania in this year’s rankings, Yale is consistently ranked in the Top 10 US universities. One of the most popular universities in the world, Yale scores especially high in student to faculty ratio, academic reputation, and employer reputation. In fact, Yale is ranked 14th in the world for graduate employability reputation!

8. University of Pennsylvania

Global Rank: 15

University of Pennsylvania

The University of Pennsylvania pulled ahead of both Columbia and Yale in this year’s rankings thanks in large part to its research output and percentage of international faculty members. Located in the city of Philadelphia, Penn is unique among Ivy League universities for diversity. 46 percent of students are visible minorities, while over half (54 percent) of all students are women.

7. Cornell University

Global Rank: 14

Cornell University

Ranked 14th in the world for the third year in a row, Cornell University scores highly for academic reputation, research output, and international faculty. Although Cornell has a larger student to faculty ratio than other Ivy League institutions, its wide range of programs help make it one of the best universities in the United States.

6. Princeton University

Global Rank: 13

Princeton University

Despite being one of the oldest universities in the US (founded in 1746), Princeton continues to rank high at the national and international level. The university’s research output is some of the highest in the world, earning a perfect 100 in the citations per faculty ranking. Although Princeton has a poor faculty to student ratio, its student population diversity is impressive; international students make up 12 percent of Princeton’s 8,000+ students.

5. University of Chicago

Global Rank: 10

University of Chicago
The first US university to crack the global Top 10 for 2020, the University of Chicago is one of the best non-Ivy League institutions in the country. Chicago’s main strength is in academics. The university’s professional schools, including the Harris School of Public Policy Studies and the Pritzker School of Medicine, have high reputations and attract students from around the world. In fact, a quarter of Chicago’s students are from overseas!

4. California Institute of Technology

Global Rank: 5

California Institute of Technology

One of the best universities on the west coast, the California Institute of Technology (or Caltech) is, unsurprisingly, a leading tech school. It also happens to be the smallest university in the US Top 10. Ranked as the 5th best university in the world for 2020, Caltech is world-renowned for its research output and cutting edge tech facilities.

Caltech is home to the NASA-owned Jet Propulsion Laboratory and International Observatory Network, and has been a major hub of scientific research since the early 20th century.

3. Harvard University

Global Rank: 3

Harvard University

Arguably the most famous university in the world next to OxfordHarvard actually remains one spot ahead of the British university in the global rankings this year. In terms of performance, Harvard ranks number one in the world for academic and employer reputation. So why didn’t Harvard grab the overall top spot?

Well, Harvard continues to lag behind the competition when it comes to its international student population. In fact, 220 universities achieved a higher score in this category. While this is disappointing, in nearly every other metric, Harvard is still one of the best universities in the world.

2. Stanford University

Global Rank: 2

Stanford University

Like Harvard, Stanford earns perfect ratings in two categories: academic reputation and faculty to student ratio. Unfortunately, like Harvard, Stanford could also stand to do better in international student recruitment (ranked 196th in the world in this metric).

Despite this drawback, Stanford continues to be one of the best universities in USA. Located in the heart of Silicon Valley, Stanford continues to be a “billionaire factory”, as its graduates are some of the most successful in the world.

1. MIT

Global Rank: 1


Massachusetts Institute of Technology or MIT remains the university to beat in 2020. In fact, MIT has now been ranked as the best university in the world for eight consecutive years. MIT scored perfect ratings in four of six ranking criteria – academic reputation, employer reputation, faculty to student ratio, and international faculty. It also scored very high in research citations and international students.

Simply put, MIT is not only among the best universities in USA but the entire world.

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