Thinking about studying in the US can be overwhelming, especially since there are so many options of where to study.
We thought you might like to know which are the top universities in the US based on the highly respected Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2018.
The best universities and colleges in the US number almost 160, and wherever you want to study in America, a top university will not be far away. Almost all the states are represented in the best US universities list. Approximately 130 different cities appear in the ranking.
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California is the most represented state among the best American universities with 13 universities followed by 11 universities in New York, 11 universities in Texas and nine universities in Massachusetts.
The universities at the very top of the ranking are concentrated in these popular destinations that are well known for their higher education opportunities; the top five are based in California, Massachusetts and New Jersey.
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Top 5 universities in the US
=1. California Institute of Technology (CalTech)
Relative to the tiny size of the student population, CalTech has an impressive number of successful graduates and affiliates, including 34 Nobel prizewinners, six Turing Award winners, five Fields Medalists and a number of national awards.
There are only approximately 2,000 students at CalTech, and the primary campus in Pasadena, near Los Angeles, covers 124 acres. Almost all undergraduates live on campus.
Across the six faculties there is a focus on science and engineering.
In addition to Nobel laureates and top researchers, the CalTech alumni community also includes a number of politicians and public advisers, particularly in positions that deal with science, technology and energy.
All first-year students belong to one of four houses as part of the university’s alternative model to fraternities. There are a number of house traditions and events associated with each house.
The university has the highest proportion of students who continue on to pursue a PhD, and the trope of the CalTech postgraduate has filtered into popular culture; all the main characters in the TV comedy The Big Bang Theory work or study at CalTech.
Based right next to Silicon Valley – or Palo Alto – Stanford has had a prominent role in encouraging the high-tech industry to develop in the area.
Many faculty members, students and alumni have founded successful technology companies and start-ups, including Google, Snapchat and Hewlett-Packard.
In total, companies founded by Stanford alumni make $2.7 trillion each year.
The university is often referred to as “the Farm”, as the campus was built on the site of the Stanford family’s Palo Alto Stock Farm. The campus covers 8,180 acres, but more than half of the land is not yet developed.
With distinctive sand-coloured, red-roofed buildings, Stanford’s campus is thought to be one of the most beautiful in the world. It contains a number of sculpture gardens and art museums in addition to faculty buildings and a public meditation centre.
As might be expected from one of the best universities in the world, Stanford is highly competitive. The admission rate currently stands at just over 5 per cent.
Of the 15,000 students – most of whom live on campus – 22 per cent are international.
A long-standing rival of CalTech, MIT also cultivates a strong entrepreneurial culture, which has seen many alumni found notable companies such as Intel and Dropbox.
Unusually, the undergraduate and postgraduate programmes at MIT are not wholly separate; many courses can be taken at either level.
The undergraduate programme is one of the country’s most selective, admitting only 8 per cent of applicants. Engineering and computer science programmes are the most popular among undergraduates.
Thirty-three per cent of the 11,000 students are international, hailing from 154 different countries around the world.
Famous alumni include astronaut Buzz Aldrin, former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan and physicist Richard Feynman. Graduates are prevalent throughout science, politics, economics, business and media.
Harvard University is probably the best-known university in the world, coming top in the Times Higher Education reputation rankings most years.
It was founded in 1636, and is the oldest higher education institution in the US.
There are approximately 20,000 students enrolled, a quarter of whom are international. Although the cost of tuition is expensive, Harvard’s financial endowment allows for plenty of financial aid for students.
The Harvard Library system is made up of 79 different libraries and counts as the largest academic library in the world.
Among many famous alumni, Harvard can count eight US presidents, about 150 Nobel laureates, 13 Turing Award winners and 62 living billionaires.
Unlike some other universities at the top of the list, Harvard is at least equally as reputed for arts and humanities as it is for science and technology, if not more so.
Like Harvard, Princeton is a prestigious Ivy League university with a history stretching back more than 200 years.
Princeton’s distinctive social environment includes private “eating clubs” – which function as both social houses and dining halls. Many of the clubs are selective and competitive, but others simply require undergraduates to sign up.
There are fewer than 8,000 students enrolled at Princeton, and just over a quarter are international.
Princeton’s campuses, in New Jersey, are located about an hour away from both New York City and Philadelphia.
Degree courses have strictly specified requirements. All students are required to do independent research as part of their degrees, and some must take a foreign language course.
The application process is highly selective. Unlike most US universities, Princeton does not now offer an early decision application route.
Renowned Princeton alumni include US presidents, astronauts, businessmen, Olympians and numerous award-winners. Physicist Richard Feynman attended as a graduate student, as did mathematicians John Nash and Alan Turing.
Compare US universities with other regions
Top universities in the United States 2018
Click each institution to view its full World University Rankings 2018 results
|US Rank 2018||World University Rank 2018||University||State||City|
|=1||=3||California Institute of Technology||California||Pasadena|
|3||5||Massachusetts Institute of Technology||Massachusetts||Cambridge|
|5||7||Princeton University||New Jersey||Princeton|
|6||9||University of Chicago||Illinois||Chicago|
|7||=10||University of Pennsylvania||Pennsylvania||Philadelphia|
|8||12||Yale University||Connecticut||New Havem|
|9||13||Johns Hopkins University||Maryland||Baltimore|
|10||14||Columbia University||New York State||New York City|
|11||15||University of California, Los Angeles||California||Los Angeles|
|12||17||Duke University||North Carolina||Durham|
|13||18||University of California, Berkeley||California||Berkelely|
|14||19||Cornell University||New York State||Ithaca|
|16||21||University of Michigan||Michigan||Ann Arbor|
|17||24||Carnegie Mellon University||Pennsylvania||Pittsburgh|
|18||=25||University of Washington||Washington||Seattle|
|19||=27||New York University||New York State||New York City|
|20||31||University of California, San Diego||California||San Diego|
|21||33||Georgia Institute of Technology||Georgia||Atlanta|
|22||37||University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign||Illinois||Champaign|
|23||43||University of Wisconsin-Madison||Wisconsin||Madison|
|24||49||University of Texas at Austin||Texas||Austin|
|=25||=50||Brown University||Rhode Island||Providence|
|=25||=50||Washington University in St Louis||Missouri||St. Louis|
|27||53||University of California, Santa Barbara||California||Santa Barbara|
|28||=54||University of California, Davis||California||Davis|
|=29||=56||University of Minnesota||Minnesota||Minneapolis|
|=29||=56||University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill||North Carolina||Chapel Hill|
|31||60||Purdue University||Indiana||West Lafayette|
|32||66||University of Southern California||California||Los Angeles|
|33||69||University of Maryland, College Park||Maryland||College Park|
|=34||=70||Ohio State University||Ohio||Columbus|
|36||77||Pennsylvania State University||Pennsylvania||State College|
|37||=83||Michigan State University||Michigan||East Lansing|
|39||89||Dartmouth College||New Hampshire||Hanover|
|41||99||University of California, Irvine||California||Irvine|
|=42||=100||University of Colorado Boulder||Colorado||Boulder|
|=42||=100||University of Pittsburgh||Pennsylvia||Pittsburgh|
|45||=113||University of Virginia||Virginia||Charlottesville|
|47||=123||Georgetown University||-||Washington D.C|
|48||=126||Arizona State University||Arizona||Tempe|
|49||=143||University of Florida||Florida||Gainesville|
|50||=150||University of Notre Dame||Indiana||Notre Dame|
|51||=153||University of Rochester||New York State||Rochester (NY)|
|52||158||Case Western Reserve University||Ohio||Cleveland|
|53||=159||Texas A&M University||Texas||College Station|
|54||161||University of Arizona||Arizona||Tucson|
|55||=162||University of California, Santa Cruz||California||Santa Cruz|
|56||168||University of Alabama at Birmingham||Alabama||Birmingham|
|58||172||Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey||New Jersey||New Brunswick|
|59||186||University of Miami||Florida||Coral Gables|
|60||191||University of Massachusetts||Massachusetts||Amherst, Boston, Dartmouth, Lowell, Worcester|
|62||=198||University of California, Riverside||California||Riverside|
|=63||201–250||University of Cincinnati||Ohio||Cincinnati|
|=63||201–250||University of Delaware||Delware||Newark (DE)|
|=63||201–250||Florida State University||Florida||Tallahassee|
|=63||201–250||George Washington University||-||Washington D.C|
|=63||201–250||University of Hawai’i at Mānoa||Hawai'i||Honolulu|
|=63||201–250||University of Iowa||Iowa||Iowa City|
|=63||201–250||University of Texas at Dallas||Texas||Richardson|
|=63||201–250||University of Utah||Utah||Salt Lake City|
|=72||251–300||University at Buffalo||New York State||Buffalo|
|=72||251–300||University of Colorado Denver||Colorado||Denver|
|=72||251–300||Colorado School of Mines||Colarado||Golden|
|=72||251–300||University of Illinois at Chicago||Illinois||Chicago|
|=72||251–300||North Carolina State University||North Carolina||Raleigh|
|=72||251–300||University of Oregon||Oregon||Eugene|
|=72||251–300||Oregon Health and Science University||Oregon||Portland|
|=72||251–300||University of South Florida||Florida||Tampa|
|=72||251–300||Stony Brook University||New York State||Stony Brook|
|=72||251–300||Syracuse University||New York State||Syracuse|
|=72||251–300||Wake Forest University||North Carolina||Winston-Salem|
|=72||251–300||William & Mary||Virginia||Williamsburg|
|=85||301–350||University of Alaska Fairbanks||Alaska||Fairbanks|
|=85||301–350||University of Connecticut||Connecticut||Mansfield|
|=85||301–350||University of Denver||Colorado||Denver|
|=85||301–350||George Mason University||Virginia||Fairfax|
|=85||301–350||University of Houston||Texas||Houston|
|=85||301–350||Iowa State University||Iowa||Ames|
|=85||301–350||University of Nebraska-Lincoln||Nebraska||Lincoln|
|=85||301–350||Oregon State University||Oregon||Corvallis|
|=85||301–350||Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute||New York State||Troy|
|=85||301–350||University of Tennessee, Knoxville||Tennessee||Knoxville|
|=85||301–350||Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University||Virginia||Blacksburg|
|=85||301–350||Washington State University||Washington||Pullman|
|=99||351–400||University of Alabama||Alabama||Tuscaloosa|
|=99||351–400||American University||-||Washington D.C|
|=99||351–400||Colorado State University||Colorado||Fort Collins|
|=99||351–400||University of Georgia||Georgia||Athens|
|=99||351–400||Georgia State University||Georgia||Atlanta|
|=99||351–400||University of Kansas||Kansas||Lawrence|
|=99||351–400||University of South Carolina||South Carolina||Columbia|
|=99||351–400||Tulane University||Louisiana||New Orleans|
|=99||351–400||University of Vermont||Vermont||Burlington|
|=99||351–400||Wayne State University||Michigan||Detroit|
|=111||401–500||Binghamton University, State University of New York||New York State||Binghampton|
|=111||401–500||Florida International University||Florida||Miami|
|=111||401–500||Hofstra University||New York State||Hempstead|
|=111||401–500||Louisiana State University||Louisiana||Baton Rouge|
|=111||401–500||University of Maryland, Baltimore County||Maryland||Baltimore|
|=111||401–500||University of Missouri||Missouri||Columbia (MO)|
|=111||401–500||University of Montana||Montana||Missoula|
|=111||401–500||University of Nebraska Medical Center||Nebraska||Omaha|
|=111||401–500||Northern Arizona University||Arizona||Flagstaff|
|=111||401–500||University of Oklahoma||Oklahoma||Northern|
|=111||401–500||Saint Louis University||Missouri||St. Louis|
|=111||401–500||San Diego State University||California||San Diego|
|=111||401–500||University of Texas at San Antonio||Texas||San Antonio|
|=111||401–500||University of Tulsa||Oklahoma||Tulsa|
|=111||401–500||University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee||Wisconsin||Milwaukee|
|=126||501–600||University of Arkansas||Arkansa||Fayetteville|
|=126||501–600||Kent State University||Ohio||Kent|
|=126||501–600||Missouri University of Science and Technology||Missouri||Rolla|
|=126||501–600||Montana State University||Montana||Bozeman|
|=126||501–600||New Jersey Institute of Technology||New Jersey||Newark (NJ)|
|=126||501–600||Oklahoma State University||Oklahoma||Stillwater|
|=126||501–600||University of South Dakota||South Dakota||Vermillion|
|=126||501–600||Stevens Institute of Technology||New Jersey||Hoboken|
|=126||501–600||University of Texas at Arlington||Texas||Arlington|
|=126||501–600||Texas Tech University||Texas||Lubbock|
|=126||501–600||University of Toledo||Ohio||Tuledo|
|=139||601–800||University of Dayton||Ohio||Dayton|
|=139||601–800||Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University||Florida||Daytona Beach|
|=139||601–800||Florida Atlantic University||Florida||Boca Raton|
|=139||601–800||Florida Institute of Technology||Florida||Melbourne|
|=139||601–800||Kansas State University||Kansas||Manhattan|
|=139||601–800||Mississippi State University||Mississippi||Starkville|
|=139||601–800||New Mexico State University||New Mexico||Las Cruces|
|=139||601–800||University of North Carolina at Greensboro||North Carolina||Greenboro|
|=139||601–800||Old Dominion University||Virginia||Norfolk|
|=139||601–800||Portland State University||Oregon||Portland|
|=139||601–800||Rochester Institute of Technology||New York State||Rochester (NY)|
|=139||601–800||University of Texas at El Paso||Texas||El Paso|
|=154||801–1000||California Polytechnic State University-San Luis Obispo||California||San Luis Obispo|
|=154||801–1000||Oakland University||Michigan||Rochester (MI)|
|=154||801–1000||University of Southern Mississippi||Mississippi||Hattiesburg|
|=154||801–1000||Texas State University||Texas||San Marcos|
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