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Top Universities in the US 2016/17

Top Universities in the US 2016-2017 main image

The world’s leading international study destination, the US consistently dominates the global rankings tables – and this remains the case in the QS World University Rankings® 2016-2017. Top US universities account for almost a third (32) of the top 100 positions in the ranking, with a further 30 US universities in the global top 300. Read on to discover this year’s top 10, as well as how the other 144 top US universities featured in the ranking.

1. Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)



The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) tops the QS World University Rankings 2016-2017, placing 1st for the fifth year running. Located in Cambridge, Massachusetts, MIT is of course known for its physical sciences and engineering, but is also increasingly well-respected for other subject areas in the social sciences, arts and humanities.

2. Stanford University

Stanford University

Climbing one place this year to overtake Harvard, Stanford University ranks second in the world in the 2016-2017 tables. Located in the heart of the famous Silicon Valley, Stanford University and is particularly well-known for its business courses – with an alumni community full of successful entrepreneurs.

3. Harvard University

Harvard University

Harvard University concludes the uninterrupted trio of US universities at the top of the QS World University Rankings this year. Harvard is the oldest university in the US, dating back to 1636, and achieved the top position for life sciences and medicine in the QS World University Rankings by Faculty 2015. 

4. California Institute of Technology (Caltech)


Retaining fifth place in the overall world ranking this year is California Institute of Technology, commonly known as Caltech, located in the city of Pasadena, California. The smallest US university in the top 10, Caltech punches above its weight – particularly in scientific and technical subjects.

5. University of Chicago

University of Chicago

Ranked fifth in the US and tenth in the world this year, the University of Chicago is affiliated with 89 Nobel Prize winners, and its physics department is known for developing the world’s first man-made, self-sustaining nuclear reaction.

6. Princeton University


Princeton University retains its position, at 11th place once again this year. Another of the oldest US universities, it’s especially renowned for academic excellence in the arts and humanities, achieving seventh place for this in the faculty rankings.

7. Yale University

Yale University

Ranked 15th in the world, Yale University’s alumni includes five US presidents and 13 billionaires, and in 1861 the university awarded the first PhD in the US. Around 20% of Yale’s 12,385 students are international, representing 118 countries.

8. Cornell University

Cornell University

Located in Ithaca, New York, Cornell University ranks 16th in the world this year. Having awarded the nation’s first veterinary medicine degree, it currently ranks second in the world for veterinary science in the QS World University Rankings by Subject 2016.

9. Johns Hopkins University

Johns Hopkins University

Ranked 17th in the world, Johns Hopkins University was established in 1876. Considered to be the first research university in the US, it is particularly esteemed for research and teaching in the life sciences and medicine (achieving fifth place for this in the QS World University Rankings by Faculty).

10. University of Pennsylvania

University of Pennsylvania

The University of Pennsylvania, commonly known as Penn, is ranked 18th in the world this year. Located in Philadelphia, it’s another institution which is highly regarded for life sciences and medicine, achieving first place in this year’s inaugural ranking of the world’s top nursing schools.


The remaining 20 top universities in the US (all but one of which are in the top 50) this year are…

11. Columbia University (ranked 20th in the world)

12. University of Michigan (ranked 23rd in the world, up from joint 30th last year)

13. Duke University (ranked joint 24th in  the world)

14. Northwestern University (ranked 26th in the world)

15. University of California, Berkeley (UCB; ranked 28th in the world)

16. University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA; ranked 31st in the world)

17. University of California, San Diego (UCSD; ranked 40th in the world)

18. New York University (NYU; ranked joint 46th in the world)

19. Brown University (ranked joint 49th in the world)

20. University of Wisconsin-Madison (ranked joint 53rd in the world)

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign


The next 58 top US universities all achieved positions in the global top 400:

21. Carnegie Mellon University (ranked 58th in the world)

22. University of Washington (ranked 59th in the world)

23. University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (ranked 66th in the world)

24. University of Texas at Austin (ranked 67th in the world)

25. Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech; ranked 71st in the world)

26. University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill (ranked 78th in the world)

27. University of California, Davis (UCD; ranked joint 85th in the world)

28. Ohio State University (ranked 88th in the world)

29. Boston University (ranked 89th in the world)

30. Rice University (ranked 90th in the world)

31. Purdue University (ranked 92nd in the world)

32. Pennsylvania State University (ranked joint 95th in the world)

33. Washington University in St. Louis (ranked joint 106th in the world)

34. University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB; ranked 118th in the world)

35. University of Maryland, College Park (ranked joint 131st in the world)

36. University of Southern California (ranked 136th in the world)

37. University of Minnesota (ranked 137th in the world)

38. University of Pittsburgh (ranked 145th in the world)

39. Emory University (ranked joint 149th in the world)

40. University of California, Irvine (UCI; ranked 156th in the world)

41. Dartmouth College (ranked 158th in the world)

=42. Texas A&M University (ranked joint 160th in the world)

=42. Michigan State University (ranked joint 160th in the world)

44. University of Colorado at Boulder (ranked 170th in the world)

45. University of Virginia (ranked 172nd in the world)

46. University of Florida (ranked joint 185th in the world)

47. University of Illinois, Chicago (UIC; ranked joint 187th in the world)

48. University of Rochester (ranked 194th in the world)

49. Case Western Reserve University (ranked 202nd in the world)

=50. Vanderbilt University (ranked joint 203rd in the world)

=50. University of Notre Dame (ranked joint 203rd in the world)

52. Georgetown University (ranked joint 214th in the world)

53. Arizona State University (ranked 222nd in the world)

54. University of Arizona (ranked 233rd in the world)

55. Tufts University (ranked 238th in the world)

56. University of Massachusetts, Amherst (ranked 251st in the world)

57. University of Miami (ranked joint 252nd in the world)

58. University of California, Riverside (UCR; ranked 271st in the world)

59. North Carolina State University (ranked 277th in the world)

60. Indiana University Bloomington (ranked 291st in the world)

61. University of California, Santa Cruz (UCSC; ranked 296th in the world)

62. Boston College (ranked joint 299th in the world)

63. Rutgers - the State University of New Jersey, New Brunswick (ranked 301st in the world)

64. Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (ranked joint 310th in the world)

65. Yeshiva University (ranked joint 330th in the world)

66. University at Buffalo Suny (ranked 342nd in the world)

67. University of Hawaii at Mānoa (ranked 343rd in the world)

=68. Virginia Polytechnic Institute (Virginia Tech; ranked joint 361st in the world)

=68. Northeastern University (ranked joint 361st in the world)

70. George Washington University (ranked joint 363rd in the world)

71. University of Kansas (ranked 373rd in the world)

72. University of Colorado at Denver (ranked joint 374th in the world)

73. University of Texas Dallas (ranked joint 380th in the world)

74. American University (ranked 384th in the world)

75. Colorado State University (ranked joint 386th in the world)

76. Stony Brook University (ranked joint 390th in the world)

77. University of Iowa (ranked joint 393rd in the world)

78. Washington State University (ranked joint 395th)

University of Utah

After the top 400, the world’s top universities are given a rank in a range, starting from 401-410, up to 701+. You can find out more here.

The following 19 US universities are all in the global top 500:

=79. Brandeis University (ranked 401-410)

=79. Illinois Institute of Technology (ranked 401-410)

=79. Wake Forest University (ranked 401-410)

=82. University of Delaware (ranked 411-420)

=82. University of Utah (ranked 411-420)

=84. Iowa State University (ranked 421-430)

=84. University of Connecticut (ranked 421-430)

=86. Florida State University (ranked 431-440)

=86. The University of Georgia (ranked 431-440)

88. University of Maryland, Baltimore County (ranked 441-450)

89. Oregon State University (ranked 451-460)

=90. University of New Mexico (ranked 461-470)

=90. University of Oklahoma (ranked 461-470)

=90. University of Tennessee (ranked 461-470)

=90. Wayne State University (ranked 461-470)

94. Clark University (ranked 471-480)

95. Lehigh University (ranked 481-490)

=96. University of Nebraska (ranked 491-500)

=96. University of South Florida (ranked 491-500)

College of William & Mary

The ranking now continues in a wider range, grouping universities in bands of 50:

=98. City University of New York (501-550)

=98. Drexel University (501-550)

=98. Michigan Technological University (501-550)

=98. Missouri University of Science and Technology (501-550)

=98. Tulane University (501-550)

=98. University of Kentucky (501-550)

=104. College of William & Mary (551-600)

=104. Howard University (551-600)

=104. Syracuse University (551-600)

=104. University of Cincinnati (551-600)

=104. University of Massachusetts, Boston (551-600)

=104. University of Missouri, Columbia (551-600)

=104. University of Oregon (551-600)

=104. University of South Carolina at Columbia (551-600)

=104. University of Vermont (551-600)

=113. Clarkson University (601-650)

=113. New School University (601-650)

=113. University of Alabama (601-650)

=113. University of Houston (601-650)

=113. University of Mississippi (601-650)

=113. University of New Hampshire (601-650)

=113. Worcester Polytechnic Institute (601-650)

=120. Brigham Young University (651-700)

=120. George Mason University (651-700)

=120. Louisiana State University (651-700)

=120. Rutgers - the State University of New Jersey, Newark (651-700)

=120. Stevens Institute of Technology (651-700)

=120. Temple University (651-700)

=120. University at Albany Suny (651-700)

=120. University of Denver (651-700)

=120. Virginia Commonwealth University (651-700)

Auburn University

Finally, 26 universities in the US are in the 701+ range of the QS World University Rankings:

This means they’re equally placed at joint 129th among US universities.

=129. Auburn University (701+)

=129. Baylor University (701+)

=129. Binghamton University Suny (701+)

=129. Clemson University (701+)

=129. Fordham University (701+)

=129. Georgia State University (701+)

=129. Kansas State University (701+)

=129. Kent State University (701+)

=129. Loyola University Chicago (701+)

=129. Marquette University (701+)

=129. Miami University (701+)

=129. New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT; 701+)

=129. Ohio University (701+)

=129. Oklahoma State University (701+)

=129. San Diego State University (701+)

=129. Smith College (701+)

=129. Southern Methodist University (701+)

=129. University of Arkansas (701+)

=129. University of Central Florida (701+)

=129. University of Montana Missoula (701+)

=129. University of San Diego (701+)

=129. University of San Francisco (701+)

=129. University of the Pacific (701+)

=129. University of Tulsa (701+)

=129. University of Wyoming (701+)

=129. Utah State University (701+)

To compare top US universities on each of the six indicators assessed by the rankings, explore the interactive results table. 

Find out more about studying in the US with our complete guide. 

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Written by Sabrina Collier
Sabrina is a content writer for, providing guidance on a wide range of topics. A graduate of Aberystwyth University, Sabrina is originally from the West Midlands but now lives in London. 

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