Best universities in the world 2020

Find the world’s top universities using the latest Times Higher Education World University Rankings data

September 11 2019
Best universities in the world 2018

The Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2020, released on 11 September 2019, has revealed the world’s top universities. 

A UK university has taken the top spot: the University of Oxford. There is now a new world number two, with the California Institute of Technology climbing three places from last year to second place. 

In total, 92 countries are represented in the ranking and 27 of these have at least one university in the top 200.

Resources: applying to universities overseas

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Both in terms of the overall ranking and the highest positions, the US and the UK are well represented. Japan and China are among the best represented countries in the ranking but they fall behind other nations, such as Germany and the Netherlands, for universities in the top 200.

The results are calculated using 13 performance indicators underlying five metrics: research, teaching, research influence, industry income and international outlook. The full methodology can be found here.

Best universities worldwide

Best universities in France
Best universities in Germany
Best universities in the UK
Best universities in the United States 
Best universities in Australia 
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Top 5 universities in the world

1. University of Oxford

One of the most prestigious universities in the UK has come out on top for the fourth year running.

The University of Oxford is the oldest university in the UK and one of the best known in the world.

There are more than 20,000 students at Oxford, with an almost equal number of undergraduates and postgraduates.

About 95 per cent of Oxford graduates are either employed or in postgraduate study within six months of completing their studies.

Admission is extremely competitive; on average the university receives five applications for every place. 

The university employs staff from just under 100 different countries and foreign citizens make up about 40 per cent of the student and academic body.

Dispelling the myths around elite universities 

2. California Institute of Technology

One of the most striking features of Caltech is its unusually small size; only around 1,000 undergraduates and 1,250 postgraduates are enrolled there. The college boasts a high student-to-staff ratio.

Caltech aims to foster an interdisciplinary environment in which students learn about and tackle the most challenging and fundamental scientific or technological problems.

The institution was founded as Throop University in 1891. It assumed its current name in 1920.

There were 6,506 applicants for the entry class graduating in 2019 and 99 per cent of the students accepted across all years were in the top 10 per cent of their high school class.

More than half of Caltech students receive need-based financial support. The average financial aid package is $38,983 (£29,890).

Caltech’s mascot is a beaver, “nature’s engineer”.

Among the unusual features of the university are the customary cookie break taken every Thursday by physicists and their students, and the university’s status as a distributor of olive oil.

The world’s best small universities

3. University of Cambridge

The University of Cambridge operates a collegiate system, much like the University of Oxford. Almost all of the 18,000 students belong to a college or hall, where they have the option to live, study and sleep on site.

There are 31 colleges and 150 academic departments at Cambridge.

The university has a long and prestigious history dating back to 1209, when scholars in Oxford fled to Cambridge after clashes with local people.

Many famous politicians, cultural figures and scientists spent time in Cambridge, including Isaac Newton and John Harvard, who would go on to found Harvard University.

Every college has unique traditions and all students matriculate in a formal ceremony when arriving at the university.

Life at the University of Cambridge

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4. Stanford University

Stanford has generated many start-ups and entrepreneurs and was partly responsible for the development of the surrounding Silicon Valley.

Many students go on to achieve great things; 17 Nobel laureates are affiliated with Stanford.

The large campus is home to 97 per cent of undergraduates and nearly 700 university buildings, alongside museums, gardens and recreational centres.

There are just under 7,000 undergraduates and 9,000 graduates at the university, with a 7:1 student-to-staff ratio.

Research at Stanford has a $1.22 billion budget and more than 5,000 of the projects are externally funded.

The 10 most beautiful universities in the US 

5. Massachusetts Institute of Technology

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology was founded mid-19th century and has always endeavoured to provide financial aid to students on a needs basis.

The very first architecture classes anywhere in the US were taught at MIT. The first female student, Ellen Swallow Richards, was admitted to the chemistry department in 1871.

Just two years later, the first international student – from Canada – graduated from MIT.

The campus in Cambridge, Massachusetts, includes 18 student residences, many gardens and public works of art.

Admission to the university is extremely selective; only 8 per cent of applicants won a place in the graduating class of 2019.

Graduates are employed by top companies, including Google, Amazon and Apple.

Women in STEM: stories from MIT students

Best universities by region

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Top 200 universities in the world 2020

Click each institution to view its full World University Rankings 2020 results

 World University Rank 2020   World University rank 2019  University Country/region
 1   1  University of Oxford United Kingdom
 2   5  California Institute of Technology United States
 3   2  University of Cambridge United Kingdom
 4   3  Stanford University United States
 5   4  Massachusetts Institute of Technology United States
 6   7  Princeton University United States
 7   6  Harvard University United States
 8   8  Yale University United States
 9   10  University of Chicago United States
 10   9  Imperial College London United Kingdom
 11   =12  University of Pennsylvania United States
 12   =12  Johns Hopkins University United States
 =13   15  University of California, Berkeley United States
 =13   11  ETH Zurich Switzerland
 15   14  UCL United Kingdom
 16   16  Columbia University United States
 17   17  University of California, Los Angeles United States
 18   21  University of Toronto Canada
 19   19  Cornell University United States
 20   18  Duke University United States
 21   20  University of Michigan-Ann Arbor United States
 22   25  Northwestern University United States
 23   22  Tsinghua University China
 24   31  Peking University China
 25   23  National University of Singapore Singapore
 26   28  University of Washington United States
 =27   24  Carnegie Mellon University United States
 =27   26  London School of Economics and Political Science United Kingdom
 29   27  New York University United States
 30   29  University of Edinburgh United Kingdom
 31   30  University of California, San Diego United States
 =32   =32  LMU Munich Germany
 =32   =32  University of Melbourne Australia
 34   37  University of British Columbia Canada
 35   36  University of Hong Kong Hong Kong
 =36   38  King’s College London United Kingdom
 =36   42  The University of Tokyo Japan
 =38   35  École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne Switzerland
 =38   34  Georgia Institute of Technology United States
 =38   39  University of Texas at Austin United States
 41   40  Karolinska Institute Sweden
 42   =44  McGill University Canada
 43   =44  Technical University of Munich Germany
 44   47  Heidelberg University Germany
 =45   48  KU Leuven Belgium
 =45   41  Paris Sciences et Lettres – PSL Research University Paris France
 47   41  The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology Hong Kong
 =48   50  University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign United States
 =48   51  Nanyang Technological University, Singapore Singapore
 50   49  Australian National University Australia
 51   43  University of Wisconsin-Madison United States
 52   54  Washington University in St Louis United States
 53   53  Brown University United States
 54   56  University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill United States
 =55   =59  University of California, Davis United States
 =55   57  University of Manchester United Kingdom
 =57   52  University of California, Santa Barbara United States
 =57   53  Chinese University of Hong Kong Hong Kong
 59   =59  Wageningen University & Research Netherlands
 60   =59  University of Sydney Australia
 61   =74  Boston University United States
 =62   62  University of Amsterdam Netherlands
 =62   66  University of Southern California United States
 64   63  Seoul National University South Korea
 65   65  Kyoto University Japan
 66   69  University of Queensland Australia
 =67   58  Delft University of Technology Netherlands
 =67   68  Leiden University Netherlands
 69   70  Erasmus University Rotterdam Netherlands
 70   =71  Ohio State University (Main campus) United States
 71   =96  UNSW Sydney Australia
 72   77  McMaster University Canada
 73   =79  University of Groningen Netherlands
 74   67  Humboldt University of Berlin Germany
 =75   =84  Monash University Australia
 =75   =74  Utrecht University Netherlands
 77   =79  University of Warwick United Kingdom
 78   81  Penn State (Main campus) United States
 79   =71  University of Minnesota United States
 =80   =90  Charité - Universitätsmedizin Berlin Germany
 =80   =84  Emory University United States
 =80   =93  University of Science and Technology of China China
 =80   73  Sorbonne University France
 84   =93  Michigan State University United States
 85   =90  University of Montreal Canada
 86   76  University of Freiburg Germany
 87   78  University of Bristol United Kingdom
 88   64  Purdue University West Lafayette United States
 89   =82  Sungkyunkwan University (SKKU) South Korea
 90   =90  University of Zurich Switzerland
 =91   =82  University of Maryland, College Park United States
 =91   89  University of Tübingen Germany
 93   108  École Polytechnique France
 =94   103  University of Basel Switzerland
 =94   =99  Dartmouth College United States
 =96   =96  University of California, Irvine United States
 =96   =99  University of Helsinki Finland
 =96   98  Lund University Sweden
 =99   =93  University of Glasgow United Kingdom
 =99   =87  RWTH Aachen University Germany
 101   =116  University of Copenhagen Denmark
 =102   109  Georgetown University United States
 =102   =87  Uppsala University Sweden
 104   =159  University of Arizona United States
 =105   =110  University of Bonn Germany
 =105   86  Rice University United States
 =107   107  University of Virginia (Main campus) United States
 =107   101  Zhejiang University China
 109   104  Fudan University China
 =110   102  Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) South Korea
 =110   130  Queen Mary University of London United Kingdom
 112   =116  University of Birmingham United Kingdom
 =113   =110  University of Bern Switzerland
 =113   =110  University of Pittsburgh-Pittsburgh campus United States
 115   =123  Aarhus University Denmark
 116   =121  Vanderbilt University United States
 =117   104  Free University of Berlin Germany
 =117   106  University of Sheffield United Kingdom
 119   =132  Case Western Reserve University United States
 =120   =135  University of Adelaide Australia
 =120   170  National Taiwan University Taiwan
 122   118  University of Southampton United Kingdom
 123   =143  Ghent University Belgium
 124   =114  University of Colorado Boulder United States
 125   =123  University of Göttingen Germany
 126   =110  City University of Hong Kong Hong Kong
 127   =128  Maastricht University Netherlands
 =128   =123  Radboud University Nijmegen Netherlands
 =128   119  University of York United Kingdom
 130   NR  University of Paris France
 =131   =121  University of Oslo Norway
 =131   134  University of Western Australia Australia
 133   =114  Durham University United Kingdom
 =134   =146  Indiana University United States
 =134   =143  University of Vienna Austria
 =136   =132  University of Alberta Canada
 =136   =156  University of Cape Town South Africa
 138   166  Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam Netherlands
 =139   =146  Lancaster University United Kingdom
 =139   152  Tufts University United States
 =141   =176  University of Ottawa Canada
 =141   =149  Ulm University Germany
 143   =135  Pompeu Fabra University Spain
 =144   =135  University of Geneva Switzerland
 =144   134  Nanjing University China
 =146   141  University of Exeter United Kingdom
 =146   142  Pohang University of Science and Technology (POSTECH) South Korea
 =146   =161  University of Sussex United Kingdom
 =149   =135  University of Hamburg Germany
 =149   =153  Sant’Anna School of Advanced Studies – Pisa Italy
 =149   131  Technical University of Berlin Germany
 =152   =128  Université Catholique de Louvain Belgium
 =152   =149  University of Nottingham United Kingdom
 =152   =161  Scuola Normale Superiore di Pisa Italy
 =155   =123  Arizona State University (Tempe) United States
 =155   =153  University of Leeds United Kingdom
 =157   145  Autonomous University of Barcelona Spain
 =157   =146  University of Cologne Germany
 =157   =123  University of Mannheim Germany
 =157   173  University of Notre Dame United States
 =157   189  Shanghai Jiao Tong University China
 =157   151  TU Dresden Germany
 163   =159  University of Würzburg Germany
 164   120  Trinity College Dublin Republic of Ireland
 165   =181  University of Liverpool United Kingdom
 =166   201–250  Bielefeld University Germany
 =166   =167  University of Leicester United Kingdom
 =168   158  University of Aberdeen United Kingdom
 =168   180  University of Bologna Italy
 =168   =176  Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey United States
 171   159  Hong Kong Polytechnic University Hong Kong
 172   179  University of Alabama at Birmingham United States
 =173   =184  Northeastern University United States
 =173   =163  University of Rochester United States
 =175   =156  University of Florida United States
 =175   =135  Karlsruhe Institute of Technology Germany
 =175   =153  Stockholm University Sweden
 178   =171  Texas A&M University United States
 =179   201–250  University of Auckland New Zealand
 =179   =167  University of California, Santa Cruz United States
 =179   198  Korea University South Korea
 =179   201–250  Queensland University of Technology Australia
 183   175  University of Erlangen-Nuremberg Germany
 =184   =181  Aalto University Finland
 =184   =163  Technical University of Denmark Denmark
 =186   =167  Eindhoven University of Technology Netherlands
 =186   201–250  University of Gothenburg Sweden
 188   NR  Télécom Paris France
 =189   =199  Lomonosov Moscow State University Russian Federation
 =189   =184  University of Münster Germany
 =189   201–250  Tel Aviv University Israel
 192   =190  University of East Anglia United Kingdom
 193   251–300  University of Canberra Australia
 =194   =190  University of Duisburg-Essen Germany
 =194   196  University of Technology Sydney Australia
 =194   201–250  University of the Witwatersrand South Africa
 197   201–250  Yonsei University (Seoul campus) South Korea
 =198   201–250  University of Antwerp Belgium
 =198   =187  Cardiff University United Kingdom
 =198   =181  George Washington University United States
 =198   =176  University of Lausanne Switzerland
 =198   165  University of St Andrews United Kingdom

Read more: The top universities with the highest proportion of international students 

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