Thinking about studying in the US can be overwhelming because there are so many options.
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 2019.
There are more than 170 US universities and colleges among the world’s best, and wherever you want to study in the US, a top university will not be far away. Almost all states and approximately 130 cities are represented in the best US universities list.
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California is the most represented state among the best US universities, with 15 institutions, followed by 13 universities in New York, 12 universities in Texas and 10 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.
It's important to note that we also produce a separate US College Ranking in partnership with the Wall Street Journal designed with students in mind. At the heart of the US College Ranking is a student survey, taken by more than 200,000 students across the US capturing the most important things to prospective students such as teaching, environment, resources, diversity and whether a student would recommend their institution or not.
You can see the full US College Ranking here, or scroll all the way down to see the top 10.
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Top 5 universities in the US
Based in Palo Alto, right beside Silicon Valley, Stanford has had a prominent role in encouraging the region’s tech industry to develop.
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” because 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.
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 countries.
Famous alumni include astronaut Buzz Aldrin, former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan and physicist Richard Feynman.
3. California Institute of Technology (CalTech)
Relative to the tiny size of its student population, CalTech has an impressive number of successful graduates and affiliates, including 72 Nobel Laureates, six Turing Award winners and four Fields Medallists.
There are 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 graduate community includes a number of politicians and public advisers, particularly in the areas of science, technology and energy.
All first-year students belong to one of four houses as part of the university’s alternative model to fraternities. A number of house traditions and events are 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.
Harvard University is probably the best-known university in the world, topping the Times Higher Education reputation rankings most years.
Founded in 1636, it is the oldest higher education institution in the US.
Approximately 20,000 students are 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 libraries and counts as the largest academic library in the world.
Among many famous alumni, Harvard can count eight US presidents, 157 Nobel laureates, 14 Turing Award winners and 62 living billionaires.
Unlike some other universities at the top of the list, Harvard is at least equally 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.
Fewer than 8,000 students are 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 strict 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 offer an early decision application route.
Renowned Princeton alumni include US presidents, astronauts, businesspeople and Olympians. Physicist Richard Feynman attended as a graduate student, as did mathematicians John Nash and Alan Turing.
Compare US universities with other regions
Best universities in Europe
Compare top Canadian universities
Top universities in South America
The best universities in Asia
Best universities in Africa
Best universities in Australia
Best universities in the UK
Top universities in the United States 2019
Click each institution to view its full World University Rankings 2019 results
|US Rank 2019||WUR Rank 2019||University||City||State|
|2||4||Massachusetts Institute of Technology||Cambridge||Massachusetts|
|3||5||California Institute of Technology||Pasadena||California|
|5||7||Princeton University||Princeton||New Jersey|
|6||8||Yale University||New Haven||Connecticut|
|7||10||University of Chicago||Chicago||Illinois|
|=8||=12||Johns Hopkins University||Baltimore||Maryland|
|=8||=12||University of Pennsylvania||Philadelphia||Pennsylvania|
|10||15||University of California, Berkeley||Berkeley||California|
|11||16||Columbia University||New York City||New York|
|12||17||University of California, Los Angeles||Los Angeles||California|
|13||18||Duke University||Durham||North Carolina|
|14||19||Cornell University||Ithaca||New York|
|15||20||University of Michigan||Ann Arbor||Michigan|
|16||24||Carnegie Mellon University||Pittsburgh||Pennsylvania|
|18||27||New York University||New York City||New York|
|19||28||University of Washington||Seattle||Washington|
|20||30||University of California, San Diego||San Diego||California|
|21||34||Georgia Institute of Technology||Atlanta||Georgia|
|22||39||University of Texas at Austin||Austin||Texas|
|23||43||University of Wisconsin-Madison||Madison||Wisconsin|
|24||50||University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign||Champaign||Illinois|
|25||52||University of California, Santa Barbara||Santa Barbara||California|
|26||53||Brown University||Providence||Rhode Island|
|27||54||Washington University in St Louis||St. Louis||Missouri|
|28||56||University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill||Chapel Hill||North Carolina|
|29||=59||University of California, Davis||Davis||California|
|30||64||Purdue University||West Lafayette||Indiana|
|31||66||University of Southern California||Los Angeles||California|
|=32||=71||University of Minnesota Twin Cities||Minneapolis||Minnesota|
|=32||=71||Ohio State University||Columbus||Ohio|
|35||81||Pennsylvania State University||State College||Pennsylvania|
|36||=82||University of Maryland, College Park||College Park||Maryland|
|39||=93||Michigan State University||East Lansing||Michigan|
|40||=96||University of California, Irvine||Irvine||California|
|41||=99||Dartmouth College||Hanover||New Hampshire|
|42||107||University of Virginia||Charlottesville||Virginia|
|43||109||Georgetown University||Washington D.C|
|44||=110||University of Pittsburgh||Pittsburgh||Pennsylvania|
|45||=114||University of Colorado Boulder||Boulder||Colorado|
|47||=123||Arizona State University||Tempe||Arizona|
|48||=132||Case Western Reserve University||Cleveland||Ohio|
|51||=156||University of Florida||Gainesville||Florida|
|53||=159||University of Arizona||Tucson||Arizona|
|54||=163||University of Rochester||Rochester (NY)||New York|
|55||=167||University of California, Santa Cruz||Santa Cruz||California|
|56||=171||Texas A&M University||College Station||Texas|
|57||=173||University of Notre Dame||Notre Dame||Indiana|
|58||=176||Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey||New Brunswick||New Jersey|
|58||179||University of Alabama at Birmingham||Birmingham||Alabama|
|60||=181||George Washington University||Washington D.C|
|=62||201–250||University at Buffalo||Buffalo||New York|
|=62||201–250||University of California, Riverside||Riverside||California|
|=62||201–250||University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa||Honolulu||Hawai'i|
|=62||201–250||University of Iowa||Iowa City||Iowa|
|=62||201–250||University of Massachusetts||Amherst, Boston, Dartmouth, Lowell, Worcester||Massachusetts|
|=62||201–250||University of Miami||Coral Gables||Florida|
|=62||201–250||University of Utah||Salt Lake City||Utah|
|=62||201–250||William & Mary||Williamsburg||Virginia|
|=71||251–300||University of Cincinnati||Cincinnati||Ohio|
|=71||251–300||Colorado School of Mines||Golden||Colorado|
|=71||251–300||University of Delaware||Newark (DE)||Delware|
|=71||251–300||Florida State University||Tallahassee||Florida|
|=71||251–300||University of Illinois at Chicago||Chicago||Illinois|
|=71||251–300||North Carolina State University||Raleigh||North Carolina|
|=71||251–300||Oregon Health and Science University||Portland||Oregon|
|=71||251–300||University of South Florida||Tampa||Florida|
|=71||251–300||Stony Brook University||Stony Brook||New York|
|=71||251–300||Syracuse University||Syracuse||New York|
|=71||251–300||University of Texas at Dallas||Richardson||Texas|
|=71||251–300||Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University||Blacksburg||Virginia|
|=71||251–300||Wake Forest University||Winston-Salem||North Carolina|
|=85||301–350||University of Alaska Fairbanks||Fairbanks||Alaska|
|=85||301–350||American University||Washington D.C|
|=85||301–350||University of Colorado Denver||Denver||Colorado|
|=85||301–350||University of Connecticut||Mansfield||Connecticut|
|=85||301–350||University of Denver||Denver||Colorado|
|=85||301–350||George Mason University||Fairfax||Virginia|
|=85||301–350||University of Houston||Houston||Texas|
|=85||301–350||University of New Mexico||Albuquerque||New Mexico|
|=85||301–350||Oregon State University||Corvallis||Oregon|
|=85||301–350||University of Tennessee, Knoxville||Knoxville||Texas|
|=85||301–350||Tulane University||New Orleans||Louisiana|
|=85||301–350||Washington State University||Pullman||Washington|
|=85||301–350||Wayne State University||Detroit||Michigan|
|=99||351–400||University of California, Merced||Merced||California|
|=99||351–400||Hofstra University||Hempstead||New York|
|=99||351–400||Iowa State University||Ames||Iowa|
|=99||351–400||University of Kansas||Lawrence||Kansa|
|=99||351–400||University of Nebraska-Lincoln||Lincoln||Nebraska|
|=99||351–400||Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute||Troy||New York|
|=99||351–400||University of Vermont||Burlington||Vermont|
|=109||401–500||University of Alabama||Tuscaloosa||Alabama|
|=109||401–500||University of Alabama in Huntsville||Huntsville||Alabama|
|=109||401–500||Colorado State University||Fort Collins||Colorado|
|=109||401–500||Florida International University||Miami||Florida|
|=109||401–500||University of Georgia||Athens||Georgia|
|=109||401–500||Georgia State University||Atlanta||Georgia|
|=109||401–500||University of Kentucky||Lexington||Kentucky|
|=109||401–500||University of Montana||Missoula||Montana|
|=109||401–500||University of Nebraska Medical Center||Omaha||Nebraska|
|=109||401–500||New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology||Socorro||New Mexico|
|=109||401–500||Northern Arizona University||Flagstaff||Arizona|
|=109||401–500||University of Oklahoma||Northern||Oklahoma|
|=109||401–500||University of South Carolina||Columbia||South Carolina|
|=109||401–500||State University of New York Albany||Albany||New York|
|=109||401–500||University of Tulsa||Tulsa||Oklahoma|
|=109||401–500||University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee||Milwaukee||Wisconsin|
|=124||501–600||Binghamton University, State University of New York||Binghamton||New York|
|=124||501–600||University of Idaho||Moscow||Idaho|
|=124||501–600||Kent State University||Kent||Ohio|
|=124||501–600||Louisiana State University||Baton Rouge||Louisiana|
|=124||501–600||University of Maryland, Baltimore County||Baltimore||Maryland|
|=124||501–600||Missouri University of Science and Technology||Rolla||Missouri|
|=124||501–600||Montana State University||Bozeman||Montana|
|=124||501–600||New Jersey Institute of Technology||Newark (NJ)||New Jersey|
|=124||501–600||Oklahoma State University||Stillwater||Oklahoma|
|=124||501–600||Saint Louis University||St. Louis||Missouri|
|=124||501–600||San Diego State University||San Diego||California|
|=124||501–600||Stevens Institute of Technology||Hoboken||New Jersey|
|=124||501–600||University of Texas at San Antonio||San Antonia||Texas|
|=124||501–600||University of Toledo||Toledo||Ohio|
|=124||501–600||Worcester Polytechnic Institute||Worcester||Massachusetts|
|=141||601–800||University of Arkansas||Fayetteville||Arkansas|
|=141||601–800||University of Central Florida||Orlando||Florida|
|=141||601–800||University of Dayton||Dayton||Ohio|
|=141||601–800||Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University||Daytona Beach||Florida|
|=141||601–800||Fordham University||New York City||New York|
|=141||601–800||Kansas State University||Manhattan||Kansas|
|=141||601–800||Louisiana Tech University||Ruston||Louisiana|
|=141||601–800||Mississippi State University||Starkville||Mississippi|
|=141||601–800||University of Nevada, Las Vegas||Las Vegas||Nevada|
|=141||601–800||New Mexico State University||Las Cruces||New Mexico|
|=141||601–800||University of North Carolina at Greensboro||Greeboro||North Carolina|
|=141||601–800||Old Dominion University||Norfolk||Virginia|
|=141||601–800||Portland State University||Portland||Oregon|
|=141||601–800||Rochester Institute of Technology||Rochester (NY)||New York|
|=141||601–800||University of San Diego||San Diego||California|
|=141||601–800||University of South Alabama||Mobile||Alabama|
|=141||601–800||University of South Dakota||Vermillion||South Dakota|
|=141||601–800||University of Texas at Arlington||Arlington||Texas|
|=141||601–800||University of Texas at El Paso||El Paso||Texas|
|=141||601–800||Texas Tech University||Lubbock||Texas|
|=141||601–800||Western Washington University||Bellingham||Washington|
|=141||601–800||West Virginia University||Morgantown||West Virginia|
|=166||801–1000||California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo||San Luis Obispo||California|
|=166||801–1000||East Carolina University||Greenville||North Carolina|
|=166||801–1000||Florida Atlantic University||Boca Raton||Florida|
|=166||801–1000||Florida Institute of Technology||Melbourne||Florida|
|=166||801–1000||Oakland University||Rochester (MI)||Michigan|
|=166||801–1000||Texas State University||San Marcos||Texas|
|172||1001+||University of Southern Mississippi||Hattiesberg||Mississippi|
Top 10 universities in the US (THE/WSJ US College Ranking 2019)
|WSJ/THE US College Rank 2019||University||City||State|
|2||Massachusetts Institute of Technology||Cambridge||Massachusetts|
|3||Yale University||New Haven||Connecticut|
|4||Columbia University||New York||New York|
|5||California Institute of Technology||Pasadena||California|
|=7||Brown University||Providence||Rhode Island|
|=7||Duke University||Durham||North Carolina|
|9||Princeton University||Princeton||New Jersey|
|10||University of Pennsylvania||Philadelphia||Pennsylvania|