Top Universities in the World 2021 | Top Universities

Top Universities in the World 2021

By Chloe Lane

Updated April 21, 2021 Updated April 21, 2021

Launched today, the QS World University Rankings® 2021 features 1,029 of the most prestigious universities in the world, ranked based on a methodology which assesses each institution on six metrics, including its reputation amongst academics and employers.

Read on as we count down and find out the top university in each location below and reveal which universities ranked within the top 10 in the world this year.

QS World University Rankings 2021 – Top 10

2021 Rank


2020 Rank








Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)


United States




Stanford University


United States




Harvard University


United States




California Institute of Technology (Caltech)

United States



University of Oxford


United Kingdom




ETH Zurich (Swiss Federal Institute of Technology)






University of Cambridge


United Kingdom




 Imperial College London

United Kingdom




University of Chicago

United States




 UCL (University College London)

United Kingdom

10.  UCL (University College London)

University College London (UCL)

Down two places this year but remaining in the top 10, is the UK’s University College London, earning a perfect score in the international students indicator.

9. University of Chicago       

University of Chicago

The US’ University of Chicago is up one place this year and earns a very impressive score for the academic reputation indicator.

8. Imperial College London

Imperial College London

Up one place this year, Imperial College London is now the highest-ranked institution in UK capital London. It earns perfect scores in the international faculty and international students indicators and scores well throughout all of the indicators.

7. University of Cambridge

University of Cambridge

The University of Cambridge remains in seventh place in the 2021 world university rankings. It earns perfect scores in academic reputation, employer reputation, the faculty student ratio and international faculty indicators. 

6. ETH Zurich (Swiss Federal Institute of Technology)

ETH Zurich

Staying in sixth place, Switzerland’s ETH Zurich is once again the highest-ranked institution in continental Europe, with a perfect score in the citations per faculty indicator (a measure of research impact).

5. University of Oxford

University of Oxford

The University of Oxford falls one place this year to rank 5th in the 2021 world university rankings. Scoring consistently well across all the indicators, the University of Oxford earns perfect scores in the academic reputation, employer reputation and faculty student ratio indicators.

4. California Institute of Technology (Caltech)

California Institute of Technology (Caltech)

Climbing one place this year in the world university rankings, California Institute of Technology steals fourth place in 2021, with a perfect score in the international faculty indicator.

3. Harvard University

Harvard University

Harvard retains its position of third in the world for another year running, as well as being first in the world for the academic and employer reputation indicators.

2. Stanford University

Stanford University

Stanford University, located near Silicon Valley, continues to rank second among the top universities in the world and earns its best scores for its academic reputation (fourth) and employer reputation (fifth).

1. Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)

Once again, MIT is the world leader in the world university rankings for the ninth year running. MIT earns perfect scores across most of the indicators, including academic reputation, employer reputation, faculty student ratio and international faculty.

Best universities in the world by location

Outside of the US, the UK and Switzerland, 82 other locations were featured in the world university rankings – discover the highest-ranked institution in each of these below.

Argentina: Universidad de Buenos Aires – ranked joint 66th in the world

Australia: Australian National University (ANU) – ranked joint 31st

Austria: Universität Wien (University of Vienna) – ranked joint 150th

Bahrain: Applied Science University of Bahrain– ranked 651-700

Bangladesh: Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology and the University of Dhaka – both ranked 801-1000

Belarus: Belarus State University – ranked joint 317th

Belgium: Katholieke Universiteit Leuven – ranked 84th

Brazil: Universidade de São Paulo (USP) – ranked joint 115th

Brunei Darussalam: University of Brunei Darussalam – ranked joint 254th

Bulgaria: Sofia University “St. Kliment Ohridski” – ranked 601-650th

Canada: University of Toronto – ranked joint 25th

Chile: Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile – ranked 121st

China: Tsinghua University – ranked 15th

Colombia: Universidad de Los Andes Colombia – ranked joint 227th

Costa Rica: Universidad de Costa Rica – ranked 571-580

Croatia: University of Rijeka and University of Zagreb – both ranked 800-1000

Cuba: Universidad de la Habana – ranked 498th

Cyprus: University of Cyprus – ranked joint 477th

Czech Republic: Charles University – ranked joint 260th

Denmark: University of Copenhagen – ranked joint 76th

Ecuador: Universidad de San Francisco de Quito – ranked 751-800

Egypt: American University in Cairo – ranked joint 411th

Estonia: University of Tartu – ranked 285th

Finland: University of Helsinki – ranked 104th

France: Paris Sciences et Lettres Research University (PSL) – ranked 52nd

Germany: Technische Universität München – ranked 50th

Georgia: Ivane Javakhishvili Tbilisi State University – ranked 601-650

Greece: National Technical University of Athens – ranked joint 477th

Hong Kong: University of Hong Kong (HKU) – ranked 22nd

Hungary: University of Szeged – ranked 501-510

India: Indian Institute of Technology Bombay (IITB) – ranked 172nd

Indonesia: Universitas Gadjah Mada– ranked joint 254th

Iran: Sharif University of Technology – ranked joint 409th

Iraq: University of Baghdad and University of Kufa– both ranked 801-1000

Israel: Hebrew University of Jerusalem – ranked joint 177th

Italy: Politecnico di Milano – ranked 137th

Japan: University of Tokyo – ranked 24th

Jordan: University of Jordan – ranked 601-650

Kazakhstan: Al-Farabi Kazakh National University – ranked 165th

Kuwait: Gulf University for Science and Technology (GUST) and Kuwait University – both ranked 801-1000

Latvia: Riga Technical University – ranked 701-750

Lebanon: American University of Beirut (AUB) – ranked joint 220th

Lithuania: Vilnius University – ranked joint 423rd

Macao, S.A.R., China: University of Macau – ranked joint 367th

Malaysia: Universiti Malaya (UM) – ranked 59th

Malta: University of Malta (L-Università ta' Malta) – ranked 801-1000

Mexico: Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM) – ranked 100th

Netherlands: Delft University of Technology – ranked 57th

New Zealand: University of Auckland – ranked 81st

Norway: University of Oslo – ranked 113th

Oman: Sultan Qaboos University – ranked joint 375th

Pakistan: National University of Sciences and Technology (NUST) – ranked 355th

Panama: Universidad Tecnológica de Panamá (UTP) – ranked 801-1000

Peru: Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú – ranked joint 432nd

Philippines: University of the Philippines – ranked joint 396th

Poland: University of Warsaw – ranked joint 321st

Portugal: University of Lisbon and University of Porto –ranked joint 357th

Qatar: Qatar University – ranked 245th

Republic of Ireland: Trinity College Dublin (TCD) – ranked 101st

Romania: Babes-Bolyai University and the University of Bucharest – both ranked 801-1000

Russia: Lomonosov Moscow State University – ranked 74th

Saudi Arabia: King Abdul Aziz University (KAU) – ranked 143rd

Singapore: National University of Singapore (NUS) – ranked 11th

Slovakia: Pavol Josef Safarik University – ranked 651-700

Slovenia: University of Ljubljana – ranked 601-650

South Africa: University of Cape Town – ranked joint 220th

South Korea: Seoul National University (SNU) – ranked 37th

Spain: Universitat de Barcelona (UB) – ranked 183rd

Sri Lanka: University of Peradeniya – ranked 801-1000

Sweden: Lund University – ranked 97th

Taiwan: National Taiwan University (NTU) – ranked joint 66th

Thailand: Chulalongkorn University – ranked joint 208th

Turkey: Koç University – ranked joint 465th

Ukraine: V.N. Karazin Kharkiv National University – ranked joint 477th

United Arab Emirates: Khalifa University– ranked joint 211th

Uruguay: Universidad ORT Uruguay – ranked joint 462nd

Venezuela: Universidad Central de Venezuela (UCV) – ranked 751-800

Vietnam: Vietnam National University - Ho Chi Minh City (VNU-HCM) and Vietnam National University, Hanoi – both ranked 801-1000

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This article was originally published in June 2020 . It was last updated in April 2021

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Written by

As Content Editor for and, Chloe creates and publishes a wide range of articles for universities and business schools across the world. Chloe has a Bachelor’s degree in Economics from the University of Reading and grew up in Leicestershire, UK. 

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