Top Universities in the US 2019 | Top Universities

Top Universities in the US 2019

By Craig O

Updated June 30, 2020 Updated June 30, 2020

Click here to view the latest version of this article, based on the QS World University Rankings® 2020.

For yet another year, US universities dominate the QS World University Rankings, with 157 institutions ranked in the 2019 edition in total. Of these, 65 have improved upon their position since last year, while 47 have maintained their position.

Some of those 47 can be found at the very top of the table, with the top four universities both globally and in the US remaining unchanged since last year. Find out more about the best universities in the US below.

10. University of Pennsylvania

A non-mover at 19th globally, the University of Pennsylvania has climbed into the top 10 in the US this year, due to Johns Hopkins University falling four places to 21st. It performs particularly well for its ratio of students to faculty members, one of the six indicators used to compile the ranking, scoring 100 out of 100 and ranking 15th in the world.

9. Columbia University

Up two places this year to 16th in the world, Columbia University also achieves a perfect score of 100 for its student/faculty ratio. Columbia was established in 1754 and has produced many notable alumni, including three US presidents: Barack Obama, Franklin D. Roosevelt and Theodore Roosevelt.

8. Yale University

Ranked 15th in the world this year, 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. It’s ranked fifth in the world for its student/faculty ratio and ninth for its reputation among academics.

7. Cornell University

A non-mover at 14th this year, Cornell University is based in Ithaca, New York. It was the first university in the US to award a veterinary medicine degree and is currently ranked second in the world for veterinary science in the QS World University Rankings by Subject 2018.

6. Princeton University

As with Cornell and the four universities above it, there’s no movement from Princeton University in this year’s ranking, as it continues to be the 13th best university in the world. As well as being one of the country's best universities, it's also one of the oldest in the US, having been founded in 1746. Princeton 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 2018.

5. University of Chicago

The University of Chicago continues to hold down a place in the world's 10 best universities this year, achieving its highest score for its reputation among academics. 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.

4. California Institute of Technology (Caltech)

Caltech is the first of four US universities which remain firmly lodged as the world’s top four academic institutions for another year. 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.

It’s ranked fifth in the world for the citations per faculty, a measure of research impact. This is actually a drop of one place since last year, making Caltech one of the 118 US universities to see their rank for this indicator drop, suggesting the US is losing its dominance in the worlds of research and academic writing.

3. 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 has a large, residential campus in Cambridge, Massachusetts and is well respected in a broad range of fields, including law, business and medicine. 

2. Stanford University

Continuing to rank second in both the QS World University Rankings and the US this year is Stanford University. Based in the center of Silicon Valley in California, Stanford 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.

1. Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)

It really couldn’t be anyone else, could it? For a record-breaking seventh consecutive year, MIT has been crowned the best university in the world, helped by the fact it scores a perfect 100 for four of the six indicators used to compile the ranking. No other institution manages this.

MIT also achieves a world-leading score for citations per faculty and performs impressively well for its international student ratio.

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

US Rank

Global Rank

University

11

20

University of Michigan

12

21

Johns Hopkins University

13

26

Duke University

14

27

University of California, Berkeley (UCB) 

15

32

University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) 

16

34

Northwestern University

17

41

University of California, San Diego (UCSD)

18

43

New York University (NYU) 

19

46

Carnegie Mellon University

20

53

University of Wisconsin-Madison


The next top US universities all achieved positions in the global top 500:

US Rank

Global Rank

University

21

56

Brown University

22

63

University of Texas at Austin

23

66

University of Washington

24

=69

Georgia Institute of Technology

25

71

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

26

=83

University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill 

27

=87

Rice University

28

89

Ohio State University 

29

=93

Boston University

30

95

Pennsylvania State University 

=31

=100

Purdue University

=31

=100

University of California, Davis

=31

=100

Washington University in St. Louis

34

115

University of Southern California 

35

=126

University of Maryland, College Park

36

=132

University of California, Santa Barbara

37

136

University of Pittsburgh

38

=141

Michigan State University

39

148

Emory University

40

=156

University of Minnesota

41

169

University of California, Irvine (UCI)

42

=180

University of Florida

43

183

Dartmouth College

44

=184

University of Rochester

45

=186

Case Western Reserve University

46

190

University of Colorado at Boulder

47

192

University of Virginia 

48

=195

Vanderbilt University

49

203

Texas A&M University

=50

=212

Arizona State University

=50

=212

University of Notre Dame

51

=214

University of Illinois, Chicago (UIC) 

52

226

Georgetown University

53

=237

Tufts University

54

=242

University of Miami 

55

246

University of Arizona

56

259

University of Massachusetts, Amherst 

57

=279

North Carolina State University

58

=283

Rutgers - the State University of New Jersey, New Brunswick

59

=302

University of Hawaii at Mānoa

60

=310

Yeshiva University

61

=313

University at Buffalo SUNY

62

=323

Indiana University Bloomington

63

=326

Northeastern University

64

=336

University of California, Santa Cruz (UCSC)

65

=338

Virginia Polytechnic Institute

=66

=345

George Washington University

=66

=345

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

=66

=345

University of Utah

69

349

Stony Brook University

70

=367

University of Kansas

71

=373

University of Connecticut

72

=376

Boston College

73

=384

University of California, Riverside (UCR)

74

=387

Wake Forest University

75

=391

Washington State University

76

=397

University of Colorado at Denver

77

=412

Tulane University

78

419

University of Tennessee

=79

=426

Illinois Institute of Technology

=79

=426

University of Texas Dallas

81

=429

Brandeis University

82

431

The University of Georgia

83

=435

University of Iowa 

=84

=439

University of Delaware

=84

=439

Wayne State University

=86

=450

Colorado State University

=86

=450

Oregon State University

88

=453

University of Maryland, Baltimore County

89

=461

Clark University

90

=472

Florida State University

91

=489

Iowa State University

92

494

University of New Mexico

93

=495

University of Oklahoma

After 500, the world ranking continues in bands (e.g. 501-510). Universities which share a band are considered to have the same rank.

US Rank

Global Rank

University

=94

501-510

Drexel University

=94

501-510

Howard University

=94

501-510

Lehigh University

97

521-530

University of South Florida

=98

531-540

New School University

=98

531-540

University of Vermont

=100

541-550

American University

=100

541-550

University of Cincinnati

=102

551-560

Syracuse University

=102

551-560

University of Kentucky

=102

551-560

University of Nebraska

=105

561-570

Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis

=105

561-570

University of South Carolina at Columbia 

=107

581-590

College of William & Mary

=107

581-590

University of Massachusetts, Boston

=107

581-590

University of Oregon

=110

591-600

Michigan Technological University

=110

591-600

University of Missouri, Columbia

=112

601-650

City University of New York

=112

601-650

Clarkson University

=112

601-650

Rutgers - the State University of New Jersey, Newark

=112

601-650

Smith College

=112

601-650

Virginia Commonwealth University

=112

601-650

Worcester Polytechnic Institute 

=118

651-700

Louisiana State University

=118

651-700

Southern Methodist University 

=118

651-700

Stevens Institute of Technology

=118

651-700

Temple University

=118

651-700

University at Albany SUNY

=118

651-700

University of Denver

=118

651-700

University of Houston

=118

651-700

University of Wyoming

=126

701-750

Clemson University 

=126

701-750

Georgia State University

=126

701-750

Missouri University of Science and Technology

=126

701-750

Texas Tech University

=126

701-750

University of Alabama 

=126

701-750

University of Tulsa

=132

751-800

Kansas State University

=132

751-800

Kent State University

=132

751-800

New Jersey Institute of Technology

=132

751-800

Oklahoma State University

=132

751-800

University of Central Florida

=132

751-800

University of New Hampshire

The remaining 19 top US universities are all ranked in the 801-1000 range, making them joint 138th in the US. They are:

Auburn University, Baylor University, Binghamton University SUNY, Brigham Young University, Florida International University, Fordham University, George Mason University, Loyola University Chicago, Marquette University, Miami University, Ohio University, San Diego State University, University of ArkansasUniversity of MississippiUniversity of Montana Missoula, University of San Diego, University of San Francisco, University of the Pacific and Utah State University.

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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This article was originally published in June 2018 . It was last updated in June 2020

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Written by

As Head of Content, Craig is responsible for all articles and guides published across TopUniversities and TopMBA. He has nearly 10 years of experience writing for a student audience and extensive knowledge of universities and study programs around the world.

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