WSJ/THE US College Rankings 2021: Duke and Carnegie Mellon rise

Harvard tops student-focused ranking for fourth consecutive year

September 18, 2020
Duke University
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View the full results of the Wall Street Journal/Times Higher Education College Rankings 2021

Duke and Carnegie Mellon universities are the biggest risers at the top of a student-focused ranking of US universities and colleges.

The Wall Street Journal/Times Higher Education College Rankings 2021 are led by Harvard University for the fourth year in a row. The Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Yale University hold on to second and third place, respectively.

However, there are significant changes elsewhere in the top 20. Stanford University is now ranked fourth, up from joint seventh, replacing the University of Pennsylvania, which drops nine places to 13th.

Pennsylvania’s score in the outcomes pillar – which includes metrics on graduation rate, value added to graduate salary, debt after graduation and academic reputation – slipped this year.

Meanwhile, Brown University and Duke University are now ranked joint fifth, having risen two and five places, respectively, in the past year. Duke’s climb is the biggest in the top 20, matched only by Carnegie Mellon University’s leap from joint 25th to 20th place.

Carnegie Mellon improved its score in the outcomes pillar, while Duke’s rise was largely thanks to its higher score for resources, which includes metrics on finance per student, faculty per student and research papers per faculty.

Unlike the THE World University Rankings, which focus on universities’ research performance, the US table, which is fuelled by data from THE, measures institutions’ student engagement, student outcomes and learning environments.

The University of Michigan-Ann Arbor is now the top public university in the table, ranking at 23rd place, up from 27th, largely because of an improved performance for outcomes. It overtakes the University of California, Los Angeles, which is ranked 26th, down from joint 25th.

An open access version of the full WSJ/THE US College Rankings table will be published on THE on 7 October.

WSJ/THE College Rankings 2021: top 10

Rank 2021 Rank 2020 Institution City State
1 1 Harvard University Cambridge MA
2 2 Massachusetts Institute of Technology Cambridge MA
3 3 Yale University New Haven CT
4 =7 Stanford University Stanford CA
=5 =7 Brown University Providence RI
=5 10 Duke University Durham NC
=7 =5 California Institute of Technology Pasadena CA
=7 =5 Princeton University Princeton NJ
9 9 Cornell University Ithaca NY
10 11 Northwestern University Evanston IL

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