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Top US Universities by State 2020

Columbia University

 The US is home to some of the best universities in the world and the recently released QS World University Rankings: USA 2020, features 302 US universities.

We can appreciate that this is a lot to choose from, so to make life easier we have devised a state by state rundown of the best universities in the US.

The US rankings are compiled using four indicators: research, learning experience, diversity and internationalization and employability. You can find out more about the methodology used here.

Alabama: University of Alabama

The University of Alabama remains the highest-ranked university in the state of Alabama, coming in at 141-150 in the US rankings. The university scores well in the research indicator, placing in the top 100 in the US.

Runner up: University of Alabama, Birmingham ranks 171-180 in the US rankings this year, placing second in Alabama.

Alaska: University of Alaska Fairbanks

Placing 201-250 in the US Rankings this year is the University of Alaska Fairbanks. It also scores well in the research and learning experience indicators, ranking 151-200 in both. 

Runner up: University of Alaska Anchorage ranks 251-300, coming in at second in the state.

Arizona: The University of Arizona 

In 68th place in the US this year, and the best university in the state of Arizona, is the University of Arizona. The university performs extremely well in the research indicator, ranking 49th in the US.

Runner up:  Arizona State University places 91st in the US this year.

Arkansas: University of Arkansas

The only ranked university in Arkansas, the University of Arkansas places 251-300 in the US rankings this year. This may sound low, but it depends on which subject you wish to study – for example, the university scores within the top 200 in the world for agriculture and forestry.

Runner up: No runner up

California: Stanford University

Stanford University

The top-ranked university in the state of California is Stanford University. Stanford places second in the US. The university ranks third in the US for research and eighth for employability, and diversity and internationalization.

Runner up: University of California, Berkeley (UCB) ranks fourth in the US this year – the second-best university in the state of California.

Colorado: University of Colorado, Boulder

Taking the top spot in Colorado, we have the University of Colorado at Boulder, ranking joint 62nd in the US. The university earns its highest score in research indicator, where it places 36th in the US.

Runner up: The University of Denver is the second highest ranked university in Colorado, in 78th place in the US rankings this year.

Connecticut: Yale University

Yale University

It probably won’t come as a surprise that Yale University is the top-ranked university in Connecticut. Yale is part of the prestigious Ivy League group and ranks within the top 10 in the US, taking joint sixth place this year

It earns high scores in many of the indicators, including learning experience where it places joint first in the US, and employability (fourth place). 

Runner upUniversity of Connecticut is second in Connecticut in joint 82nd place.

Delaware: University of Delaware

Delaware’s sole representative in the world rankings, the University of Delaware, comes in at 111-120 place in the US Rankings. The University of Delaware ranks well for several subjects, most notably chemical engineering where it places joint 48th

Runner up: No runner up

Florida: University of Florida

The University of Florida steals the top spot for the best university in Florida, ranking 35th in the US. The University of Florida earns its best score in the research indicator, placing 33rd in the US – a reflection of its high level of research output.

Runner upUniversity of Miami ranks 39th in the US rankings this year and is the second best university in Florida in 2020.

Georgia: Emory University

Ranking 27th in the US is Emory University. The university earns a high score in the learning experience indicator, for which it ranks 21st in the world. The university performs well in several subjects, including theology, divinity and religious studies, placing 24th worldwide for the subject in the QS World University Rankings by Subject 2020.

Runner up: Georgia Institute of Technology places 32nd in the 2020 US Rankings.

Hawaii: University of Hawai'i at Mañoa

The University of Hawai'i at Mañoa ranks 66th in the US. It is one of the four ranked universities in the state, and scores well in the diversity and internationalization indicator, ranking joint 44th in the US. In the subject rankings, the university scores highest for linguistics, in 43rd place in the world.

Runner up: University of Hawaii at Hilo places 181-190 in the US this year.

Idaho: University of Idaho

Placing 171-180 is the University of Idaho, coming in at first place in the state of Idaho. The university performs well for agriculture and forestry, where it ranks in the top 250 in the world.

Runner up: Boise State University ranks 251-300 in the US this year.

Illinois: University of Chicago

University of Chicago

In 12th place in the US rankings is the University of Chicago – the top ranked university in Illinois. The University of Chicago scores well in all the indicators, particularly the learning experience indicator, where it earns a near perfect score. If you’re interested in studying anthropology, you’ll be pleased to learn that the University of Chicago ranks seventh in the world for the subject.

Runner up: Northwestern University is Illinois’ second best university, in 16th place in the US. The university earns a perfect score in the learning experience indicator.

Indiana: University of Notre Dame

The University of Notre Dame comes in at 40th in the US rankings this year. The University is an excellent place to look at if you wish to study theology, divinity and religious studies as it ranks first in the world for the subject.

Runner up: Purdue University is the second-best university in Indiana, ranking 53rd in the 2020 US rankings.

Iowa: University of Iowa

University of Iowa

The University of Iowa is Iowa’s top university, in 101-110 place in the US. The university ranks highly for several subjects, including dentistry, where it places in the top 50 worldwide.

Runner upIowa State University ranks in 131-140 place in the US this year.

Kansas: University of Kansas

The University of Kansas features in the US rankings in 161-170. It is the best in the state this year and ranks in the world top 100 for its pharmacy and pharmacology course.

Runner upKansas State University is Kansas’ second-best university, placing 171-180 in the US rankings this year.

Kentucky: University of Louisville

Kentucky’s top entrant this year is the University of Louisville in joint 98th place. Founded in 1865, the university’s highest rank is in research indicator which ranks in the US top 100.

Runner up: University of Kentucky is the second best university in the state, ranking 131-140.

Louisiana: Tulane University

In 67th place, we have Tulane University as Louisiana’s sole entrant this year. Tulane University earns its highest scores in the employability and the research indicators, ranking in the US top 100 for both.

Runner up: No runner up.

Maryland: Johns Hopkins University

John Hopkins University ranks an impressive 14th in the US. The university is widely credited with being the first US institution to integrate training and research.

Johns Hopkins University scores well across each of the four indicators, particularly the learning experience indicator, where it earns a perfect score.

Runner up: University of Maryland, College Park is second in the state of Maryland, placing joint 48th in the US.

Massachusetts: Harvard University

MIT

In first place in Massachusetts is Harvard University. Harvard University is part of the prestigious Ivy League group and earns perfect scores in several indicators, including employability and research, meaning that the university’s graduates are highly sought after by graduate employers all over the world.

Runner up: Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)  is far from a shoddy second best, ranking third in the US. It is also consistently ranked in top place in the world for a multitude of different subjects and earns near-perfect scores in most of the indicators, including employability where it places third in the US.

Michigan: University of Michigan

Michigan’s top university is the University of Michigan, in 18th place in the US. The University of Michigan scores extremely well in the research indicator, in 11th place this year, reflecting the high quality of research within the university.

The university ranks highly for a multitude of subjects in the subject rankings, including dentistry, where it places third in the world.

Runner up: Michigan State University comes in at second in Michigan state, placing 56th in the US.

Minnesota: University of Minnesota

University of Minnesota

In 55th place is the University of Minnesota. The university has a very high research output and is one of the most comprehensive public universities in the US, with a strong tradition of education and public service. The university ranks particularly well in the research indicator, in 25th place.

Runner up: University of Saint Thomas ranks second in Minnesota this year, placing 251-300 in the US.

Mississippi: University of Mississippi

The University of Mississippi ranks 191-200 in the US this year. With more than 21,500 students, the University of Mississippi is the state’s largest university and has a major medical school, a nationally recognized law school and 15 academic divisions. 

Runner up: Mississippi State University is the second-best university in Mississippi this year, placing in 201-250 place in the US.

Missouri: Washington University in St. Louis

Missouri’s top entrant in the rankings this year is Washington University in St. Louis. The university takes joint 28th place in the US this year. Founded in 1853, the university was named after George Washington and has three campuses. Those looking to study anatomy and physiology in Missouri will be pleased to discover that the university ranks sixth in the world for this subject.

Runner up: St. Louis University ranks 121-130 in the US rankings this year. 

Montana: Montana State University - Bozeman

Montana’s top entry in the world rankings this year is Montana State University Bozeman, ranking 251-300 in the US. The university is a land-grant research university and the largest university in Montana.

Runner up: University of Montana Missoula also ranks at 251-300 place in this year’s US ranking, coming in at second place in Montana.

Nebraska: University of Nebraska Lincoln

In 111-120 place this year is the University of Nebraska Lincoln. The university scores highly in the research indicator, reflecting its ability to produce high quality research. The university ranks second in the world for its hospitality and leisure management course.

Runner up: Creighton University places 191-200 in the US ranking this year.

Nevada: University of Nevada Las Vegas

The top university in Nevada this year is the University of Nevada Las Vegas in 171-180 place. The university earns its highest score in the diversity and internationalization indicator, ranking in the top 100 in the US.

Runner up: University of Nevada Reno places in 181-190 in the US rankings in 2020.

New Hampshire: Dartmouth College

Dartmouth College

The nation’s ninth oldest college, founded in 1796, Dartmouth College is New Hampshire’s best university. The institution places 37th in the US ranking this year and takes pride in their outstanding faculty members, with an excellent employability indicator ranking of 24th in the US.

Runner up: University of New Hampshire places 121-130 in the US rankings this year.

New Jersey: Princeton University

In 9th place in the US rankings, and top in New Jersey, is Ivy League group member Princeton University. Founded in 1746, Princeton is one of the oldest and most prestigious universities in the United States. Princeton earns near-perfect scores for the majority of the indicators, particularly for learning experience – an indication of the high quality of the academic output. The university also scores well for individual subjects; for example politics, where it places joint second in the world.

Runner upRutgers University- New Brunswick, ranks joint 41st in the 2020 US rankings.

New Mexico: University of New Mexico

The University of New Mexico is New Mexico’s highest-ranked university and comes in at 151-160 place in the US this year. The university’s unique campus environment echoes the buildings of the nearby Pueblo Indian villages and offers outstanding botanical surroundings. The university scores particularly highly in the research indicator, ranking in the US top 100 this year.

Runner up: New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology ranks 201-250 in the US this year.

New York: Columbia University

Part of the world-renowned Ivy League group, Columbia University places fifth in the US rankings this year. Founded in 1754, Columbia University is the second most selective Ivy League after Harvard. The university scores well across most of its indicators, and particularly well in the diversity and internationalization indicator – a reflection of its strong international outlook.

Runner up: Cornell University is a close second, ranking 10th in the US and also part of the Ivy League group.

North Carolina: Duke University

Duke University

Duke University is North Carolina’s top university, in 13th place. Duke has three campuses overall, with its largest campus decorated with Gothic architecture, including the Duke Chapel, which houses a 5,200-pipe organ. The university’s top score is in the learning experience indicator, reflecting the importance that Duke places on strong academic performance.

Runner up: University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill places second in North Carolina, placing 38th in this year’s US rankings.

Ohio: Case Western Reserve University 

In first place in Ohio is Case Western Reserve University. Dating back to 1826, the institution scores its highest score in the employability indicator, ranking in 34th place in the US.

Runner up: The Ohio State University places 58th in the US rankings this year.

Oklahoma: University of Oklahoma

In first place in Oklahoma this year and in joint 89th place in the US rankings this year is the University of Oklahoma. The university scores highest in the learning experience indicator and comes 151-200 in the subject rankings for communications and media studies.  

Runner up: University of Tulsa ranks 131-140 this year in the US.

Oregon: University of Oregon 

In joint 94th place in the US we have the University of Oregon. The university scores particularly highly in the diversity and internationalization indicators and has a very high research output.

Runner upOregon State University ranks 101-110 in the US rankings this year.

Pennsylvania: University of Pennsylvania

As you might expect, the University of Pennsylvania is Pennsylvania’s highest-ranked university. The university ranks eighth in the US rankings, with notable alumni including Donald Trump, Elon Musk and John Legend.

Runner upCarnegie Mellon University is in second place, ranking 17th in the US rankings.

Rhode Island: Brown University

Brown University

In Rhode Island, the top-ranked university is Ivy League group member, Brown University, in 20th place in the US rankings. The university, whose alumni include Emma Watson, John F. Kennedy and John D. Rockefeller Jr. scores well across all indicators, particularly the learning experience indicator, reflecting the high quality of teaching.

Runner up: University of Rhode Island places 141-150 in the US rankings this year.

South Carolina: University of South Carolina

The top university in South Carolina this year is the University of Carolina which ranks 121-130th in the US. The university is home to over 200 years of tradition and history, having been established in 1805.

Runner upClemson University ranks in 131-140th place in the US this year.

South Dakota: Augustana University

Augustana University places 251-300 in the US rankings. The university scores particularly highly for the learning experience indicator, in joint 46th.

Runner Up: No runner up.

Tennessee: Vanderbilt University

In joint 30th place in the US this year is Vanderbilt University; Tennessee’s highest-ranked in the US rankings.  Vanderbilt University earns a near-perfect score for the learning experience indicator, and also ranks particularly well in the subject rankings for Education and Training, where it places 22nd worldwide.

Runner up: The University of Tennessee, Knoxville ranks 101-110 this year in the US.

Texas: Rice University

Rice University ranks joint 21st in the world rankings this year. The university scores highly across all the indicators this year, particularly learning experience, where it places joint sixth in the US.

Runner up: University of Texas at Austin ranks in 25th place in the US in 2020.

Utah: University of Utah

The University of Utah ranks 101-110 this year and is the top university in the state of Utah. The institution recognizes the interdependence of teaching and research as components of academic success, and as a result the University of Utah scores well on the research indicator.  It is also worth noting that the university scores well in the subject rankings for mineral and mining engineering, placing  32nd in the world.

Runner up: Brigham Young University ranks 161-700 in the 2020 US rankings.

Vermont: University of Vermont

Vermont’s sole entrant in the university rankings this year is the University of Vermont in 121-130 place in the US. Founded in 1791, the University of Vermont is one of the oldest universities in the US.

Runner up: No runner up

Virginia: University of Virginia

In 50th place in the US is Virginia’s top-ranked university; the University of Virginia. Founded by Thomas Jefferson in 1819, the university places in the world top 100 for its nursing course.

Runner upCollege of William & Mary places joint 80th in the US this year.

Washington: University of Washington

In the state of Washington (not to be confused with Washington D.C.) the top-ranked university is the University of Washington in 24th place in the US this year.  The University of Washington scores highest in the diversity and internationalization indicator, in joint 14th in the US.

Runner up: Washington State University ranks 111-120 in the world rankings this year.

Washington D.C: Georgetown University

In the federal district (not a state) of Washington D.C, Georgetown University places in the top 25 in the US rankings this year, in 23rd. Georgetown is the nation’s oldest Catholic and Jesuit university, established in 1789, and is now a major international research university.

Runner up: George Washington University ranks joint 34th in the US rankings this year.

West Virginia: West Virginia University

West Virginia’s sole entrant in the US rankings this year is West Virginia University, ranking 131-140 in the US. The university performs particularly well in the research indicator, placing in the top 100 in the US.

Runner up: No runner up

Wisconsin: University of Wisconsin-Madison

The best university in Wisconsin is the University of Wisconsin-Madison at 52nd place in the US rankings. The university enjoys a high score for research and is the 36th best university in the US for employability – with strong partnerships with employers and good alumni outcomes.

Runner up: Marquette University ranks 161-170 in the US in 2020.

Wyoming: University of Wyoming

In the least populous state in the US, we have the University of Wyoming in 191-200 in this year’s US ranking. Wyoming’s natural beauty and location in the mountain region of the west of the US make it an enviable place to be a student.

Runner up: No runner up

Maine and North Dakota have no universities included in this year’s rankings.

This article was originally published in November 2019 and was updated in May 2020 to reflect the latest edition of the QS World University Rankings: USA 2020.

Mohd S, Sara R & 4 others saved this
Written by Chloe Lane
A Content Writer for TopUniversities.com, Chloe has a bachelor’s degree in Economics from the University of Reading and grew up in Leicestershire, UK. 

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