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Top US Universities by State 2018

Top US Universities by State 2018 main image

Over 150 US universities are included in the QS World University Rankings®, published earlier this month, and any of them would be a fantastic choice of study destination. If you’re looking to cut costs by studying in-state (or maybe there’s a part of the country you’d like to move to) our state-by-state rundown of the best universities in the US should help make that difficult decision about where to study a little bit easier.

Alabama: University of Alabama

The University of Alabama is the highest-ranked university in its state, coming in at 651-700 in the world and joint 115th in the US. This is a slight fall from last year’s ranking of 601-650 but not enough of a drop to risk losing its title of the best in-state option. The university is particularly worth considering if you’re interested in studying law, as it’s ranked in the top 250 in the world for that subject in the QS World University Rankings by Subject 2017.

Runner-up: University of Auburn, ranked 801-1000 in the world (=139th in the US)

Arizona: Arizona State University

There’s been a seismic change in Arizona since last year’s ranking, with Arizona State replacing the University of Arizona as the top university in the state. Ranked 209th in the world and 49th in the country, Arizona State is also in the top 100 universities in the world for citations per faculty, one of the six indicators used in compiling this year’s world ranking.

Runner-up: University of Arizona, ranked joint 230th in the world (54th in the US)

Arkansas: University of Arkansas

Only one university from the state of Arkansas makes it into this year’s ranking, with the University of Arkansas ranked 801-1000 in the world and joint 139th in the US. This may sound like it’s a long way down the table but depending upon your chosen subject, it could be an ideal fit. The university is ranked in the top 150 in the world for agriculture and forestry.

Runner-up: None

California: Stanford University

California has more top universities than you can shake a stick at, with two in the top four in the world alone. As a result of this fierce competition, there are arguably dozens of potential study destinations which are worth considering. Only one can be crowned the best in the state though, and that honor belongs to Stanford University. Ranked second in both the world and the US (behind MIT), Stanford enjoys a fantastic reputation with both academics and employers.

Runner-up: California Institute of Technology (Caltech), ranked fourth in the world (fourth in the US)

Colorado: University of Colorado at Boulder

The University of Colorado takes twin honors in its home state, with the University of Colorado at Boulder the highest-ranked university in Colorado and the University of Colorado at Denver the runner-up. Across the six categories universities are scored on in the rankings, the University of Colorado at Boulder performed best for its ratio of students to faculty. It’s ranked =182nd in the world, or 45th in the US.

Runner-up: University of Colorado at Denver, ranked 394th in the world (74th in the US)

Connecticut: Yale University

It’s probably no surprise to see Yale come out on top in the battle to be Connecticut’s top university. Even with a fall of one place since last year’s ranking, the university is still an impressive 16th best in the world, and the eighth best in the country. It’s also ranked an incredible fourth in the world for its student to faculty ratio, so it’s perfect if you’re looking for somewhere with smaller class sizes and more one-on-one time with your tutors.

Runner-up: University of Connecticut, ranked 421-430 in the world (=79th in the US)

Delaware: University of Delaware

Delaware’s sole representative in the world rankings, the University of Delaware, comes in at an impressive ranking of 421-430 in the world, sharing 79th place in the US with some other universities. The university scores particularly well for the number of citations each faculty produces, an encouraging sign for anyone looking to go into research-based industries.

Runner-up: None

Florida: University of Florida

The sunshine state has plenty to recommend it, including some top universities. The University of Florida wins top prize, ranking 44th in the country and 178th in the world but Miami is hot on its heels. Florida enjoys a particularly strong reputation among academics and is ranked joint eighth in the world for sports-related subjects.

Runner-up: University of Miami, ranked 252nd in the world (57th in the US)

Georgia: Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech)

Ranked 25th in the US and 70th in the world, Georgia Tech is a clear winner when it comes to picking the best university in the state. In this year’s ranking, it scored particularly impressively for the number of citations per faculty and continues to enjoy a healthy reputation with both academics and employers.

Runner-up: Emory University, ranked joint 147th in the world (38th in the US)

Hawaii: University of Hawaii at Mānoa

There’s only one top option if you’re hoping to study on the island paradise of Hawaii, with the University of Hawaii at Mānoa the only university from the state included in this year’s ranking. It might be the only university you need though: it’s ranked an impressive 66th in the country, and joint 341st in the world.

Runner-up: None

Illinois: University of Chicago

Scraping into the top five countries in the country, and ranked in the top 10 globally, is the University of Chicago. Studying here could mean a top graduate job is virtually guaranteed, as the university is also ranked 17th in the world in the QS Graduate Employability Rankings.

Runner-up: Northwestern University, ranked joint 28th in the world (15th in the US)

Indiana: Purdue University

Purdue University may have fallen out of the world’s top 100 this year but it’s ranking of 105th (down from 92nd) is still good enough to keep it ahead of the other universities in the state. Despite the slip, the university continues to enjoy a strong reputation among academics.

Runner-up: University of Notre Dame, ranked 216th in the world (52nd in the US)

Iowa: University of Iowa

It’s a close-run thing in the state of Iowa but the University of Iowa takes the honors of being the best in-state option. As a study destination, it’s particularly worth considering if you’re interested in studying nursing, for which it’s considered to be in the top 100 universities in the world.

Runner-up: Iowa State University, ranked 471-480 in the world (=90th in the US)

Kansas: University of Kansas

As the 72nd best university in the US, the University of Kansas is by far and away the best in its state, despite slipping down the ranking globally this year (down 13 places to joint 386th). It’s ranked in the top 100 in the world for sports-related subjects, one of four subjects which was added to this year’s subject rankings for the first time ever.

Runner-up: Kansas State University, ranked 751-800 in the world (=132nd in the US)

Kentucky: University of Kentucky

Only one university from the great state of Kentucky features in this year’s rankings but fortunately the University of Kentucky is a more than credible option. Ranked 551-600 in the world and joint 103rd, the University of Kentucky is also highly-ranked for agriculture & forestry in the 2017 subject rankings (101-150 in the world).

Runner-up: None

Louisiana: Tulane University

Soaring up the rankings since last year, Tulane University is yet again the best university in Louisiana. Ranked 451-460 in the world and joint 86th in the US, Tulane is worth considering as a study destination, particularly if you’re interested in archaeology, for which its ranked in the world’s top 200 universities.

Runner-up: Louisiana State University, ranked 651-700 in the world (=115th in the US)

Maryland: Johns Hopkins University

Ranked an extremely impressive 17th in the world, Johns Hopkins University is a fantastic choice of study destination and the ninth best university in the country. As well as performing well for the ratio of students to faculty members, the university is also in the top 60 in the world for graduate employability.

Runner-up: University of Maryland, College Park, ranked 129th in the world (34th in the US)

Massachusetts: Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)

There’s no surprises in Massachusetts, where MIT continues to be the best of the bunch. It’s been the world’s number one university for the last six years, so don’t expect it to lose its status as the best in Massachusetts any time soon. Sorry Harvard.

Runner-up: Harvard University, ranked third in the world (3rd in the US)

Michigan: University of Michigan

Moving up two places globally since last year to joint 21st, and still the best in the state, is the University of Michigan. Michigan is also the second-best university in the world for dentistry and the 27th best in the world for graduate employability, so do you really need to look anywhere else? It’s also the joint 12th best university in the country.

Runner-up: Michigan State University, ranked joint 149th in the world (39th in the US)

Minnesota: University of Minnesota

Only one university from Minnesota makes it into this year’s rankings, with the University of Minnesota ranked 163rd in the world. That makes it the 40th best university in the US, a feat it achieved thanks to a formidable reputation among academics – the 28th best in the country.

Runner-up: None

Mississippi: University of Mississippi

Mississippi is another state with only one representative on the list, with the University of Mississippi making it into the world’s top 1000. It’s a steep fall from last year where it was ranked 601-650 and means it’s now only the joint 139th best university in the country.

Runner-up: None

Missouri: Washington University in St Louis

Moving up six places globally since last year, Washington University in St Louis continues to be the best-performing university in Missouri. Now the 31st best university in the US, it’s also the 32nd best in the world for medicine.

Runner-up: University of Missouri, Columbia, ranked 601-650 in the world (=109th in the US)

Montana: University of Montana Missoula

It’s slim pickings in Montana, but at least there’s the University of Montana Missoula right? Ranked 801-1000 in the world and joint 139th in the US, it’s the best option in the state and definitely worth considering if you’re interested in studying agriculture & forestry. For this particular course, it’s considered to be in the world’s top 150.

Runner-up: None

Nebraska: University of Nebraska

Yet another state with limited options for students but the University of Nebraska shouldn’t be overlooked. Ranked inside the top 100 in the country (it’s joint 94th), the university is joint 39th in the world for agriculture & forestry, which is clearly a popular course in certain parts of the US. Globally, the university is ranked 501-550.

Runner-up: None

New Hampshire: Dartmouth College

Dartmouth College may not quite be up there with the Harvards and Yales at the top of the rankings but it does more than enough to be crowned the best in New Hampshire, with a respectable ranking of 169th in the world (42nd in the US). It scores particularly highly for its ratio of students to faculty members suggesting you don’t have to worry about your tutor forgetting your name.

Runner-up: University of New Hampshire

New Jersey: Princeton University

Although it’s slipped two places to 13th globally since last year, Princeton University remains the sixth best university in the US and a highly appealing study destination. As well as an academically satisfying experience, Princeton graduates seem to do fantastically well once it’s time to find a job, as shown by the fact the university is ranked 10th in the world for graduate employability.

Runner-up: Rutgers – The State University of New Jersey, New Brunswick, ranked joint 283rd in the world (59th in the US)

New Mexico: University of New Mexico

As with last year, the University of New Mexico is the only university from its state to feature in the world rankings. The joint 88th best university in the US, the University of New Mexico is a non-mover globally and continues to rank 461-470th. It’s also ranked in the top 150 in the world for archaeology.

Runner-up: None

New York: Cornell University

You can’t move for top universities in the state of New York but it’s Cornell University that takes the honors of being the best. Moving up two places globally to be the 14th best university in the world, Cornell is also the seventh best in the country. Unsurprisingly for such an outstanding university, it’s also ranked highly for graduate employability.

Runner-up: Columbia University, ranked 18th in the world (10th in the US)

North Carolina: Duke University

An extremely consistent performer across the board, Duke University is the stand-out institution in North Carolina. Ranked joint 21st in the world and joint 12th in the US, the university excels in a number of subjects, including theology, religious studies and divinity, English language and literature, history, economics and econometry, and life sciences and medicine.

Runner-up: University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, ranked 80th in the world (26th in the US)

Ohio: Ohio State University

Up two places globally last year, Ohio State University is the 28th best university in the US and the best in-state option for Ohio students. Ranked within the world’s top 100 for academic reputation, the 86th best university in the world is particularly well-regarded for veterinary science.

Runner-up: Case Western Reserve University, ranked 213th in the world (51st in the US)

Oklahoma: University of Oklahoma

Home to more than 30,000 students, the University of Oklahoma is ranked 501-550 in the world this year, which is high enough to feature in the top 100 universities in the US (it’s joint 94th). In the 2017 subject rankings, OU was considered to be in the world’s top 150 universities for earth & marine sciences.

Runner-up: University of Tulsa, ranked 751-800 in the world (=132nd in the US)

Oregon: Oregon State University

In an improved performance compared to last year’s ranking, Oregon State University is the 85th best university in the US. Ranked 441-450 in the world, Oregon State is one of the best universities in the world for studying agriculture & forestry (it’s joint 13th in the world).

Runner-up: University of Oregon, ranked 551-600 in the world (=103rd in the US)

Pennsylvania: University of Pennsylvania

There’s a rich and varied selection of universities in Pennsylvania so you’ll be spoilt for choice of in-state options here. The University of Pennsylvania, however, is the best of the bunch and is ranked 19th in the world and 11th in the US. It scores particularly well for the ratio of students to faculty members.

Runner-up: Carnegie Mellon University, ranked joint 47th in the world (18th in the US)

Rhode Island: Brown University

There’s only one top university from Rhode Island in the world rankings but, for such a small state, it’s an extremely impressive university. Brown University, ranked 53rd in the world and 20th in the country, is one of the Ivy League institutions and scores particularly well for the number of research citations produced per faculty member.

Runner-up: None

South Carolina: University of South Carolina at Columbia

Over 200 years old, the University of South Carolina remains the best university in the state with a global ranking of 601-650. This translates into being the joint 109th best university in the country, and it excels in particular at communication and media studies, according to the 2017 subject rankings.

Runner-up: Clemson University, ranked 701-750 in the world (=125th in the US)

Tennessee: Vanderbilt University

An internationally recognized research university, Vanderbilt University is the best in Tennessee and the 50th best university in the US. Although this isn’t a change from last year, the university has fallen nine places globally since last year to 212th. Despite this, it has the fifth best ratio of students to faculty members in the world.

Runner-up: University of Tennessee, ranked 451-460 in the world (=86th in the US)

Texas: University of Texas at Austin

Yet another state with a wide selection of top universities, Texas continues to be dominated by the performance of the University of Texas at Austin. Ranked 67th in the world and 23rd in the country, UT is also in the top 80 in the world for graduate employability.

Runner-up: Rice University, ranked 89th in the world (29th in the US)

Utah: University of Utah

Moving up nine places in the US this year is the University of Utah, the highest-ranked university in its state. Now ranked 73rd in the country, and joint 391st in the world, the university is also the joint 18th best place in the world to study mineral & mining engineering.

Runner-up: Brigham Young University, ranked 751-800 in the world (=132nd in the US)

Vermont: University of Vermont

Just the one university from Vermont makes it into this year’s rankings, with the University of Vermont the sole representative of the state. Ranked 551-600 in the world and joint 103rd in the US, it’s another US university that performs particularly well for agriculture & forestry, with a ranking of 151-200 in the world.

Runner-up: None

Virginia: University of Virginia

Despite falling one place globally since last year, the University of Virginia is still the best university in the state. Ranked joint 173rd in the world and 43rd in the country, the university is the 39th best in the world for studying English language & literature.

Runner-up: Virginia Polytechnic Institute (Virginia Tech), ranked joint 173rd in the world (43rd in the US)

Washington: University of Washington

In the state of Washington (not to be confused with Washington D.C.), the University of Washington is the best option for students. Ranked 22nd in the US and 61st in the world, the university is one of the best in the world for the number of research citations produced per faculty member.

Runner-up: Washington State University, ranked 401-410 in the world (75th in the US)

Washington D.C.: Georgetown University

In the federal district (not a state) of Washington D.C., students can find several top universities. Of these, Georgetown University is the highest-ranked this year, coming in at 227th in the world and 53rd in the US. It’s a particularly attractive study destination if you’re interested in studying politics, for which it’s ranked 11th in the world.

Runner-up: George Washington University, ranked joint 352nd in the world (68th in the US)

Wisconsin: University of Wisconsin-Madison

By far and away the best university in the state, the University of Wisconsin-Madison is a fantastic choice for prospective students. Although it’s dropped two places globally this year to 55th, it’s still the 21st best university in the US and has the 49th best reputation among academics in the world.

Runner-up: Marquette University, ranked 801-1000 in the world (=139th in the US)

Wyoming: University of Wyoming

The least populous state in the US has only one university in this year’s ranking. The University of Wyoming, ranked 701-750 in the world and joint 125th in the US, has over 13,000 students from 90 different countries.

Runner-up: None

The states of Alaska, Idaho, Maine, Nevada, North Dakota, South Dakota and West Virginia have no universities included in this year’s world rankings.

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Written by Craig OCallaghan
As editor of TopUniversities.com, Craig oversees the site's editorial content and network of student contributors. He also plays a key editorial role in the publication of several guides and reports, including the QS Top Grad School Guide.

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