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Top Universities in the US by State 2014/15

Top Universities in the US by State 2014/15 main image

**Click here to read about the top universities in the US by state in 2016/17.

A total of 144 top universities in the US are featured in the QS World University Rankings® 2014/15, more than any other country in the world. Of this number, 28 are ranked within the top 100 universities worldwide, and six are placed within the top 10.

Over the last academic year (2013-14) 28.3 million students were enrolled at universities across the US, of which approximately 24.5 million were undergraduates and 3.8 million graduate students. While the US has long been a dream study destination for prospective international students across the globe, over the previous academic year (2012-13), US universities saw an increase of 7.2% in the numbers of international students enrolled. This shows that, even more than ever, the US is a vast and popular international study choice.

Below is the full list of the top universities in the US featured in this year’s QS World University Rankings, grouped by their respective states. Adjacent to each school in brackets you’ll find the institution’s overall world rank, as well as their national rank within the US. Ranks with ‘=’ beside them indicate that the position is shared by another university.

Top universities in Alabama

Bordered by Mississippi in the west and Georgia in the east, Alabama is home to two internationally ranked US universities, both located within an hour’s drive of state capital Montgomery, as well as Birmingham, the largest city.

To find out more about studying in Alabama, visit our state guide >

Top universities in Arizona

Hunkered down in the south-west region, adjacent to California in the west and Mexico in the south, Arizona hosts two of the top universities in the US. Arizona State University is located in downtown Phoenix, the capital and largest city, while the University of Arizona can be found just over 100 miles to the south.

To find out more about studying in Arizona, visit our state guide >

Top universities in Arkansas

Situated between Oklahoma and Mississippi in the south, Arkansas is known as the birthplace of former president Bill Clinton as well as for its mountains, forests and natural diversity. The capital and largest city in Arkansas is Little Rock.

To find out more about studying in Arkansas, visit our state guide >

Top universities in California

One of the top five US states for international students, California is the most populous state in the nation, due in large part to its attractive west coast location and leading industries within technology (Silicon Valley), agriculture (grapes) and education (see below)! Of the top US universities in California, Caltech is the ranking’s highest-placed ‘small’ university, while the University of California, Santa Cruz climbed the highest number of ranks this year, from 307= in the world to 265=. The state capital is Sacramento and its largest city is Los Angeles.

To find out more about studying in California, visit our state guide >

Top universities in Colorado

Colorado, known as one of the Mountain States, is home to large parts of the Southern Rocky Mountains and, in its central location, is bordered by a total of seven other states, including New Mexico in the south. The capital and most populous city is Denver.

To find out more about studying in Colorado, visit our state guide >

Top universities in Connecticut

Located in the New England region, to the north-east of New York State, Connecticut is one of the three smallest states and also one of the most densely populated. The capital city is Hartford and the largest city is Bridgeport.

To find out more about studying in Connecticut, visit our state guide >

Top universities in Delaware

Located on the exotic-sounding Delmarva Peninsula on the east coast, Delaware is the second smallest state in the US, with Dover as its capital city. This year the state’s sole representative in the QS ranking climbed two classes, from 451-460 to 431-440 – good going!

To find out more about studying in Delaware, visit our state guide >

Top universities in Florida

Florida, home of oranges, leisure parks and the Kennedy Space Center, is relatively isolated on its south-eastern peninsula, stretching out almost halfway to Cuba via the Straits of Florida. Tallahassee is the capital city, but Miami remains Florida’s largest metropolis.

To find out more about studying in Florida, visit our state guide >

Top universities in Georgia

To the north of Florida is the US state of Georgia. With a southeastern subtropical climate, Georgia, known as The Peach State, has the city of Atlanta as its capital and most populous city.

To find out more about studying in Georgia, visit our state guide >

Top universities in Hawaii

An island state known for its beautiful weather and strong North American and Asian cultural influences, Hawaii boasts much natural scenery, an abundance of beaches and awesome sunsets. The state’s sole representative in the global ranking moved up three places this year. The state capital is Honolulu.

To find out more about studying in Hawaii, visit our state guide >

Top universities in Illinois

The resting place of Abraham Lincoln, Illinois has a strong history of being central to social, cultural and political change. With three universities ranked within the global top 100, it’s also one of the five leading US states for numbers of international students. The capital of Illinois is Springfield and the largest city is Chicago.

To find out more about studying in Illinois, visit our state guide >

Top universities in Indiana

Indiana, meaning ‘Land of the Indians’ is a Midwestern state in the Great Lakes region, which was home to large settlements of Native Americans for thousands of years. Indianapolis is its capital and largest city, and both Purdue University and Indiana University Bloomington have campuses located close to here. The University of Notre Dame can be found less than 150 miles north, with a view of Lake Michigan.

To find out more about studying in Indiana, visit our state guide >

Top universities in Iowa

Bordered by both the Mississippi and Missouri rivers, Iowa is another Midwestern state, which was once part of a French colony. Boasting a diverse economy rooted in agriculture, Iowa has been listed as one of the safest states to live in. Its capital and largest city is Des Moines, where the University of Iowa is located. Iowa State University is based in Ames, about 30 miles north of Des Moines.

To find out more about studying in Iowa, visit our state guide >

Top universities in Kansas

Bordered by Missouri in the east and Oklahoma in the south, the US state of Kansas offers a rich, sometimes bloody, history and a high yield of sunflowers, wheat and corn. The largest city in Kansas is Wichita, but the capital city is Topeka; both of the state’s internationally ranked universities are located within an hour of the latter.

To find out more about studying in Kansas, visit our state guide >

Top universities in Kentucky

Home to the largest system of caves in the US, Kentucky also hosts the largest numbers of deer and turkey. Found in the eastern south-central region, the state is also favorably reputed for its Bourbon distilleries and Bluegrass music.

To find out more about studying in Kentucky, visit our state guide >

Top universities in Louisiana

Located at the base of the Mississippi River in the south, Louisiana holds large areas of marsh and swamp lands, giving the state a thriving natural world bursting with birds, tree frogs and fish. Its capital city is Baton Rouge, where Louisiana State University is located, while its largest city New Orleans is home to Tulane University.

To find out more about studying in Louisiana, visit our state guide >

Top universities in Maryland

A small and densely populated state, largely located on the Delmarva Peninsula to the west of Delaware, Maryland boasts the US’s highest average household income levels, making it (on this measure) the wealthiest state. Its capital is Annapolis, but its largest city is Baltimore.

To find out more about studying in Maryland, visit our state guide >

Top universities in Massachusetts

Another of the most popular US states for international students, Massachusetts hogs 11 of the top universities in the US, three of which are ranked within the world’s top 100. Located in the northeastern region of New England, known for its stunning autumnal (fall) colors, Massachusetts is the third most densely populated state. Two thirds of the population lives in the metropolitan area of Greater Boston – Boston being the capital and largest city.

To find out more about studying in Massachusetts, visit our state guide >

Top universities in Michigan

Located in the Great Lakes region and sited on two peninsulas, Michigan is known as a state in which you are never more than six miles from a natural water source. Its capital is Lansing and its largest city is Detroit. The University of Michigan is the highest ranked public university in the US.

To find out more about studying in Michigan, visit our state guide >

Top universities in Minnesota

Minnesota, the ‘Land of 10,000 Lakes’, is known as one of the healthiest US states, as well as the most literate. Many of the residents are of Scandinavian and German descent, with over 60% of the population living in the Minneapolis-Saint Paul area, which is home to an internationally recognized arts community. The University of Minnesota is located in Minnesota’s largest city, Minneapolis.

To find out more about studying in Minnesota, visit our state guide >

Top universities in Mississippi

Named after the river that winds along the entirety of its western border, Mississippi is a southern state known for catfish farming. Its capital and largest city is Jackson, but the University of Mississippi is found in Oxford, to the north and close to a national forest.

To find out more about studying in Mississippi, visit our state guide >

Top universities in Missouri

Largely made up of plains, mountain ranges and rivers, Missouri is the state where both the Missouri and Mississippi rivers merge (near the city of St. Louis). As well as an official state dinosaur named the Hypsibema missouriensis, Missouri is home to three of the top US universities. Its capital city is Jefferson and its largest is Kansas City.

To find out more about studying in Missouri, visit our state guide >

Top universities in Nebraska

Found within the Great Plains region of the Midwest, Nebraska is characterized by often unpredictable weather, and the treeless prairies which are used for farming. The capital city is Lincoln and the largest city is Omaha.

To find out more about studying in Nebraska, visit our state guide >

Top universities in New Hampshire

Located in New England and offering a number of the largest ski mountains on the east coast, New Hampshire is a major destination for fans of winter sports and mountaineering. The state is also home to the White Mountain National Forest Lake and the road which takes drivers up 6,288 feet to the top of Mount Washington. Its capital city is Concord and its largest city is Manchester.

To find out more about studying in New Hampshire, visit our state guide >

Top universities in New Jersey

Located just south of New York, New Jersey is the most densely populated state in the US and the second wealthiest in terms of median household income. A leading employer of scientists and engineers, New Jersey is home to the only Ivy League university to climb in the world rankings this year (Princeton University, which climbed from joint 10th to 9th). Trenton is the capital city, but Newark is the largest.

To find out more about studying in New Jersey, visit our state guide >

Top universities in New Mexico

With a unique culture characterized by strong Hispanic and Native American influences, New Mexico is the fifth largest US state by area. A mountain state located in the south, New Mexico’s largest city is Albuquerque and its capital is Santa Fe. This year, the University of New Mexico shot up 33 places in the rankings!

To find out more about studying in New Mexico, visit our state guide >

Top universities in New York

New York State is located just above New Jersey in the north-east, sharing borders with Canada. The state capital is Albany, but its most populous is the world-famous “New York, New York”, home to 8.3 million people and huge numbers of international students. Top US universities in New York include Columbia and Cornell, making it the only state to hold more than one Ivy League member.

To find out more about studying in New York, visit our state guide >

Top universities in North Carolina

Bordering Tennessee to the west and the Atlantic Ocean to the east, North Carolina is a southeastern state which offers a highly diverse economy with influence in the engineering, finance, energy and biotechnology sectors. Offering both coast and mountains, North Carolina’s capital city is Raleigh and its largest city is Charlotte.

To find out more about studying in North Carolina, visit our state guide >

Top universities in Ohio

Located in the Midwest with Indiana to the west and Pennsylvania in the east, Ohio is the seventh most populous state in the US. Ohio’s capital and largest city is Columbus, where Ohio State University is located. Other top universities in Ohio can be found in Cincinnati and Cleveland.

To find out more about studying in Ohio, visit our state guide >

Top universities in Oklahoma

A southern state, Oklahoma is rich in Native American ancestry, with over 25 Native American languages are spoken – a number second only to California. Comprised of small mountain ranges, prairies, mesas and forests, and inclined to unpredictable weather, Oklahoma’s capital and largest city is Oklahoma City.

To find out more about studying in Oklahoma, visit our state guide >

Top universities in Oregon

Situated on the Pacific Coast in the north west of the US, Oregon provides a diverse landscape of coastline, volcanic mountain ranges, waterfalls and a large number of national forests. Salem is the capital city and Portland is the largest.

To find out more about studying in Oregon, visit our state guide >

Top universities in Pennsylvania

With the Appalachian Mountains running straight through its center and surrounded by many ‘Great Lakes’, Pennsylvania is a beautiful and diverse study destination. Located in the northeast to the south of New York State, Pennsylvania’s capital is Harrisburg and its largest city is Philadelphia.

To find out more about studying in Pennsylvania, visit our state guide >

Top universities in Rhode Island

Another in the New England region, Rhode Island claims the title of the smallest US state and is the second most densely populated. Rhode Island’s capital and largest city is Providence, where Ivy League member Brown University is located.

To find out more about studying in Rhode Island, visit our state guide >

Top universities in South Carolina

Boasting a myriad of lakes and rivers which pave their way through the state down to the Atlantic coast, South Carolina is popular among nature lovers and extreme water sports fans. The Chattooga River on the western border is particularly good for white-water rafting. The state’s largest city is Columbia.

To find out more about studying in South Carolina, visit our state guide >

Top universities in Tennessee

Within reach of the Appalachian Mountains and the Mississippi River, Tennessee has a diverse natural landscape as well as a rich cultural setting, perhaps most notable for its huge influence on American popular music including blues, rock and roll and country genres. The capital city of Tennessee is Nashville and the largest city is Memphis.

To find out more about studying in Tennessee, visit our state guide >

Top universities in Texas

Texas, the “super-sized state”, is the second most populous and second largest state in the US, sharing an international border with four Mexican states. Industry within energy, technology, biomedical science and aerospace continues to thrive here, and, with seven top US universities, Texas boasts one of the highest communities of international students. Austin is the capital and Houston is the largest city.

To find out more about studying in Texas, visit our state guide >

Top universities in Utah

Located towards the western part of the US, Utah is famously home to large Mormon communities. Although this is one of the vaster US states, the majority of the population (some 80%) is clustered along the Wasatch Front – a chain of cities and towns along the Wasatch Range of mountains. In 2012 Utah was voted the best state to live in based on health, lifestyle and economy.

To find out more about studying in Utah, visit our state guide >

Top universities in Vermont

Small and sparsely populated compared to many other US states, Vermont is situated in New England and is the leading producer of maple syrup in the US. The capital of Vermont is Montpelier and its largest city is Burlington, where its one internationally ranked university is located.

To find out more about studying in Vermont, visit our state guide >

Top universities in Virginia

Nicknamed the ‘Mother of Presidents’ and located in the South Atlantic region, Virginia has a diverse landscape shaped by the Blue Ridge Mountains and Chesapeake Bay, as well as big industry in technology and media. The capital city is Richmond, and Virginia Beach is its largest.

To find out more about studying in Virginia, visit our state guide >

Top universities in Washington

Founded in the northwest upon the pacific coast and bordering the Canadian province of British Columbia, is the US state of Washington. Nicknamed ‘The Evergreen State’, Washington is home to the Olympic Mountains, an area covered in temperate rainforest. Washington’s biggest city is Seattle and its capital is Olympia.

To find out more about studying in Washington, visit our state guide >

Top universities in Washington DC

Not actually a state, Washington DC is the capital district of the United States (DC = ‘District of Columbia’), located in the east below the state of Maryland. All thirteen branches of the federal government are located in Washington DC, as well as 176 foreign embassies and most famously the White House. Many students within the district are politically active.

To find out more about studying in Washington DC, visit our state guide >

Top universities in Wisconsin

Bordered by Lake Michigan to the east and Lake Superior to the south, Wisconsin is a Great Lakes state in the Midwest. Nicknamed ‘America’s Dairyland’, Wisconsin also has major economies in tourism and manufacturing. Its capital is Madison and its largest city is Milwaukee.

To find out more about studying in Wisconsin, visit our state guide >

Laura Tucker's profile image
Written by Laura Tucker

Laura is a staff writer for TopUniversities.com, providing advice and guidance for students on a range of topics helping them to choose where to study, get admitted and find funding and scholarships. A graduate of Queen Mary University of London, Laura also blogs about student life. View her past articles and blog posts here.

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