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Top Universities in the US 2018

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Unsurprisingly for the world’s most popular study destination, US universities consistently dominate the QS World University Rankings®, and the 2018 edition is no exception – with 31 top US universities featuring in the top 100 and a further 28 institutions in the global top 300. Read on to discover the top 10 universities in the US this year, plus the ranking positions of the remaining 147 universities.

1. Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)

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The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) is ranked first, both in the world and in the US for the sixth year in a row. MIT is located in Cambridge, Massachusetts and is highly selective, with only 8% of undergraduate applicants receiving a place in 2016.

2. Stanford University

Continuing to rank second in both the QS World University Rankings and the US this year is Stanford University. Stanford is based in the heart of Silicon Valley in California and is renowned for its entrepreneurial spirit and business courses. Its alumni include many successful entrepreneurs such as the founders or co-founders of Netflix, YouTube, WhatsApp and Google.

3. Harvard University

Harvard University

Harvard University retains its position of third in the QS World University Rankings this year. The oldest university in the country, dating back to 1636, Harvard now has around 22,000 students at its large, residential campus in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Harvard is well respected in a broad range of fields, including law, business and medicine.  

4. California Institute of Technology (Caltech)

Caltech

Up one place this year to rank fourth in the world, California Institute of Technology, commonly known as Caltech, concludes the uninterrupted quartet of US universities at the top of this year’s QS World University Rankings. Known as a leading tech school, Caltech is located in the city of Pasadena, California and is the smallest university in the US top 10, with only 2,240 students.

5. University of Chicago

University of Chicago

Also up one place in the QS World University Rankings® 2018, the University of Chicago is now ranked ninth in the world overall. Established in 1890, the university is known for its strong focus on research. For example, the university’s physics department is known for developing the world’s first man-made, self-sustaining nuclear reaction.

6. Princeton University

Princeton

Ranked 13th in the world this year, Princeton University is another of the country’s oldest universities (founded in 1746) and is considered especially prestigious for the arts and humanities, a broad subject area for which its ranked seventh in the world in the QS World University Rankings by Subject 2017.

7. Cornell University

Cornell University

Cornell University is up two places this year to rank 14th in the world. Based in Ithaca, New York, Cornell was the first university in the US to award a veterinary medicine degree, and is currently ranked second for veterinary science in the QS World University Rankings by Subject 2017.

8. Yale University

Yale University

Ranked 16th in the world, Yale University is known for its highly selective law school. Yale was established in 1701 and awarded the first PhD in the US in 1861. Today, around 20% of its 12,300 students come from outside the US.

9. Johns Hopkins University

Johns Hopkins University

Johns Hopkins University retains its position of 17th in the world this year. Founded in 1876, it’s considered the US’ first research university, and is particularly highly regarded for its education and research in life sciences and medical subjects (achieving sixth place for this broad subject area in the QS World University Rankings by Subject 2017).

10. Columbia University

Columbia University

Overtaking the University of Pennsylvania as the 10th highest ranked US university this year is the New-York based Columbia University, up two places to rank 18th. Columbia was established in 1754 and has produced many notable alumni, including three US presidents: Barack Obama, Franklin D. Roosevelt and Theodore Roosevelt.

Pennsylvania

The remaining 20 top universities in the US this year are…

11. University of Pennsylvania (ranked 19th in the world)

=12. Duke University (ranked joint 21st in the world)

=12. University of Michigan (ranked joint 21st in the world)

14. University of California, Berkeley (UCB) (ranked 27thin the world)

15. Northwestern University (ranked joint 28th in the world)

16. University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) (ranked 33rd in the world)

17. University of California, San Diego (UCSD) (ranked joint 38th in the world)

18. Carnegie Mellon University (ranked joint 47th in the world)

19. New York University (NYU) (ranked 52nd in the world)

20. Brown University (ranked 53rd in the world)

Washington University in St. Louis

The next 55 top US universities all achieved positions in the global top 400:

  1. University of Wisconsin-Madison (ranked 55th in the world)
  2. University of Washington (ranked 61st in the world)
  3. University of Texas at Austin (ranked 67th in the world)
  4. University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (ranked 69th in the world)
  5. Georgia Institute of Technology (ranked 70thin the world)
  6. University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill (ranked 80th in the world)
  7. Boston University (ranked 81stin the world)
  8. Ohio State University (ranked 86th in the world)
  9. Rice University (ranked 89th in the world)
  10. Pennsylvania State University (ranked joint 93rdin the world)
  11. Washington University in St. Louis (ranked 100th in the world)
  12. Purdue University (ranked 105th in the world)
  13. University of California, Davis (UCD; ranked joint 105th in the world)
  14. University of Maryland, College Park (ranked 129th in the world)
  15. University of Southern California (ranked 132ndin the world)
  16. University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB; ranked 134thin the world)
  17. University of Pittsburgh (ranked joint 142nd in the world)
  18. Emory University (ranked joint 147th in the world)
  19. Michigan State University (ranked joint 149thin the world)
  20. University of Minnesota (ranked 163rd in the world)
  21. University of California, Irvine (UCI) (ranked joint 164thin the world)
  22. Dartmouth College (ranked 169thin the world)
  23. University of Virginia (ranked joint 173rd in the world)
  24. University of Florida (ranked joint 178th in the world)
  25. University of Colorado at Boulder (ranked joint 182nd in the world)
  26. University of Rochester (ranked 186th in the world)
  27. Texas A&M University (ranked joint 195th in the world)
  28. University of Illinois, Chicago (UIC) (ranked joint 207th in the world)
  29. Arizona State University (ranked 209th in the world)
  30. Vanderbilt University (ranked 212th in the world)
  31. Case Western Reserve University (ranked 213th in the world)
  32. University of Notre Dame (ranked 216th in the world)
  33. Georgetown University (ranked 227th in the world)
  34. University of Arizona (ranked joint 230th in the world)
  35. Tufts University (ranked joint 243rd in the world)
  36. University of Massachusetts, Amherst (ranked 249th in the world)
  37. University of Miami (ranked 252nd in the world)
  38. North Carolina State University (ranked 263rd in the world)
  39. Rutgers - the State University of New Jersey, New Brunswick (ranked joint 283rd in the world)
  40. University of California, Santa Cruz (UCSC) (ranked joint 301st in the world)
  41. Indiana University Bloomington (ranked 304th in the world)
  42. University at Buffalo Suny (ranked 318th in the world)
  43. University of California, Riverside (UCR) (ranked joint 323rd in the world)
  44. Yeshiva University (ranked joint 325th in the world)
  45. Boston College (ranked joint 339thin the world)
  46. University of Hawaii at Mānoa (ranked joint 341st in the world)
  47. Northeastern University (ranked joint 346th in the world)
  48. George Washington University (ranked joint 352nd in the world)
  49. Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute(ranked joint 364th in the world)
  50. Virginia Polytechnic Institute (ranked joint 367th in the world)
  51. Stony Brook University (ranked joint 382nd in the world)
  52. University of Kansas (ranked joint 386th in the world)
  53. University of Utah (ranked joint 391st in the world)
  54. University of Colorado at Denver (ranked 394th in the world)
  55. Illinois Institute of Technology (ranked joint 395th in the world).

Wake Forest University

The following 18 US universities are all ranked in the global top 500:

  1. Washington State University (ranked 401-410 in the world)

=77. Brandeis University (ranked 411-420)

=77. Wake Forest University (ranked 411-420)

=79. The University of Georgia (ranked 421-430)

=79. University of Connecticut (ranked 421-430)

=79. University of Delaware (ranked 421-430)

=79. University of Iowa (ranked 421-430)

=79. University of Texas Dallas (ranked 421-430)

  1. Florida State University (ranked 431-440)
  2. Oregon State University (ranked 441-450)

=86. Tulane University (ranked 451-460 – up from 501-550 last year)

=86. University of Tennessee (ranked 451-460)

=88. University of New Mexico (ranked 461-470)

=88. Wayne State University (ranked 461-470)

=90. American University (ranked 471-480)

=90. Iowa State University (ranked 471-480)

=92. Colorado State University (ranked 481-490)

=92. University of Maryland, Baltimore County (ranked 481-490)

College of William & Mary

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

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=94. City University of New York (ranked 501-550 in the world)

=94. Clark University (501-550)

=94. Drexel University (501-550)

=94. Lehigh University (501-550)

=94. Syracuse University (501-550)

=94. University of Cincinnati (501-550)

=94. University of Nebraska (501-550)

=94. University of Oklahoma (501-550)

=94. University of South Florida (501-550)

=103. College of William & Mary (551-600)

=103. Howard University (551-600)

=103. Michigan Technological University (551-600)

=103. University of Kentucky (551-600)

=103. University of Oregon (551-600)

=103. University of Vermont (551-600)

=109. Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis (new this year, ranked 601-650)

=109. New School University (601-650)

=109. University of Houston (601-650)

=109. University of Massachusetts, Boston (601-650)

=109. University of Missouri, Columbia (601-650)

=109. University of South Carolina at Columbia (601-650)

=115. Clarkson University (651-700)

=115. Louisiana State University (651-700)

=115. Missouri University of Science and Technology (651-700)

=115. Rutgers - the State University of New Jersey, Newark (651-700)

=115. Stevens Institute of Technology (651-700)

=115. Temple University (651-700)

=115. University at Albany Suny (651-700)

=115. University of Alabama (651-700)

=115. Virginia Commonwealth University (651-700)

=115. Worcester Polytechnic Institute (651-700)

Texas Tech University

The following 14 US universities are all ranked between 701st and 800th in the world.

=125. Clemson University (701-750)

=125. Smith College (701-750)

=125. Southern Methodist University (701-750)

=125. Texas Tech University (new this year, ranked 701-750)

=125. University of Central Florida (701-750)

=125. University of Denver (701-750)

=125. University of Wyoming (701-750)

=132. Brigham Young University (751-800)

=132. Florida International University (751-800)

=132. Georgia State University (751-800)

=132. Kansas State University (751-800)

=132. Loyola University Chicago (751-800)

=132. University of New Hampshire (751-800)

=132. University of Tulsa (751-800)

Auburn University

The remaining 19 top US universities are all ranked in the 801-1000 range, making them joint 139th in the US:

=139. Auburn University (801-1000)

=139. Baylor University (801-1000)

=139. Binghamton University Suny (801-1000)

=139. Fordham University (801-1000)

=139. George Mason University (801-1000)

=139. Kent State University (801-1000)

=139. Marquette University (801-1000)

=139. Miami University (801-1000)

=139. New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT; 801-1000)

=139. Ohio University (801-1000)

=139. Oklahoma State University (801-1000)

=139. San Diego State University (801-1000)

=139. University of Arkansas (801-1000)

=139. University of Mississippi (801-1000)

=139. University of Montana Missoula (801-1000)

=139. University of San Diego (801-1000)

=139. University of San Francisco (801-1000)

=139. University of the Pacific (801-1000)

=139. Utah State University (801-1000)

Find out more about studying in the US with our complete guide, which includes advice on applications, visas, costs, funding and more.  

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Sabrina Collier's profile image
Written by Sabrina Collier
Sabrina is a content writer for TopUniversities.com, 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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4 Comments

wanna a further study for MBA, am wondering if there are any good choices ?

Hi Hui, our sister site TopMBA.com has a ranking of the top business schools for MBA programs in North America, which you can find here. :)

Great. MIT, Harvard and Stanford are always at the top. But I need to know which university is best among these three in terms of Job offiers?

Hi Saurabh, looking at the most recent Graduate Employabilty Ranking, Stanford is 1st overall, followed by MIT, and Stanford receives a stronger score than MIT for its graduate employment rate (Harvard does not feature, but is ranked 3rd in the world for the Employer Reputation indicator of the QS World University Rankings® 2018).