The top 50 universities by reputation 2017

Times Higher Education reveals the top universities with the best reputations, as determined by academics around the world

June 14 2017

Explore the full results of the THE World Reputation Rankings 2017


The Times Higher Education World Reputation Rankings 2017 rank the universities that academics believe excel in teaching and research. 

A questionnaire was sent to a selection of experienced published scholars, between January 2017 and March 2017, asking them to offer their views on the standards of teaching and research in their disciplines and in institutions that they are familiar with. The responses were then used to determine which universities were considered the most prestigious. The full methodology of the THE World Reputation Rankings can be found here.

Harvard University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Stanford University retain the top three places this year, with their positions unchanged from last year.

The top 10 is dominated by US universities except for the University of Oxford and the University of Cambridge, which share joint fourth place.

Although the results are based on academics’ views, students can also incorporate the reputation of a university into their decision-making process when choosing where to study.

Indeed, Raphaelle Soffe, a British A-level student who is due to attend Harvard in September 2017, said that the “reputation of Harvard University did influence my choice to a certain degree”, adding that, “what distinguished it from other world-leading institutions was its focus on research, academic rigour and the creation of a community based on trust and respect.

“My intention to pursue a career in international relations also influenced my decision; Harvard provided the perfect political training ground, with presidents, United Nations secretary-generals and other leading politicians from around the world educated on Harvard’s campus,” she added.

Scroll down for more student perspectives on studying at some of the universities with the strongest reputations. 

1. Harvard University

Harvard is the oldest higher education institution in the US and was established in 1636. It is considered one of the most prestigious universities in the world and has topped the THE World Reputation Rankings since 2011.

The institution has produced 47 Nobel laureates, 32 heads of state and 48 Pulitzer prizewinners, among many other academic accolades and prizes.

The central library is the one of the largest academic libraries in the world with 18.9 million volumes, while America’s oldest collection of maps and atlases are stored in the Pusey Library. 

2. Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)

MIT is a university based in the city of Cambridge, Massachusetts, dedicated to the teaching of science and technology. The sheer number of Nobel laureates that the institution has generated (an impressive 85) reveals the calibre of MIT graduates.

Scientific discoveries and technological advances to come out of the college include the first chemical synthesis of penicillin, the development of radar, the discovery of quarks and the invention of magnetic core memory, which aided the development of digital computers.


Students discuss universities with strong reputations

THE World Reputation Rankings 2017: life at the University of Cambridge
THE World Reputation Rankings 2017: the University of Toronto student perspective
THE World Reputation Rankings 2017: navigating Yale University


3. Stanford University

When Stanford University was founded in 1891, it was a co-educational institution, which was unheard of at a time when most universities were all-male affairs.

The research-intensive university has the largest number of Turing Award winners for a single institution (18) as well as 21 Nobel laureates and four Pulitzer prizewinners. In addition, Stanford University has produced 30 living billionaires and 17 current astronauts.

Stanford faculty and alumni have also founded many companies including Google, Hewlett-Packard, Nike, Instagram, Snapchat, LinkedIn and Yahoo.

=4. University of Cambridge

As well as being one of the most prestigious, the University of Cambridge can also count itself among the oldest universities in the world. The university is split into 31 autonomous colleges.

It is particularly known for its excellence in mathematics and a high number of Cambridge-affiliated mathematicians have won a Fields Medal, which is regarded as the Nobel prize for mathematics.

The institution is home to more than 100 libraries. One of the most well known is Wren Library, which is part of Trinity College, and holds A. A. Milne’s manuscript of Winnie the Pooh, one of Isaac Newton’s notebooks and some early editions of Shakespeare’s works.

=4. University of Oxford

Rounding off the top five is the University of Oxford. It is also one of the oldest universities in the world and has seen 30 world leaders, 26 British prime ministers, 26 Nobel prizewinners and more than 120 Olympic medalists pass through its halls.

Entry standards are high and prospective students are expected to achieve top grades and pass an interview in order to study at the institution.

Notable alumni include Stephen Hawking, J.R.R. Tolkien and Oscar Wilde.

Like the University of Cambridge, the University of Oxford follows a collegiate structure and is split into 44 colleges and halls. Nearly one-quarter of the city’s population is made up of students, meaning that it has the youngest population of any city in England and Wales.


The full searchable table of the THE World Reputation Rankings 2017 can be found here


The top 50 universities by reputation

World Reputation Ranking Institution  Country/Region
1 Harvard University United States
2 Massachusetts Institute of Technology United States
3 Stanford University United States
=4 University of Cambridge United Kingdom
=4 University of Oxford United Kingdom
6 University of California, Berkeley United States
7 Princeton University United States
8 Yale University United States
9 University of Chicago United States
10 California Institute of Technology United States
11 University of Tokyo Japan
12 Columbia University United States
13 University of California, Los Angeles United States
14 Tsinghua University China
15 University of Michigan United States
16 University College London United Kingdom
17 Peking University China
18 Imperial College London United Kingdom
19 University of Pennsylvania United States
20 London School of Economics and Political Science United Kingdom
21 Johns Hopkins University United States
22 ETH Zurich – Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich Switzerland
23 Cornell University United States
24 University of Toronto Canada
=25 Kyoto University Japan
=25 New York University United States
27 National University of Singapore Singapore
28 Duke University United States
29 University of California, San Diego United States
30 Lomonosov Moscow State University Russian Federation
31 Northwestern University United States
=32 University of Texas at Austin United States
=32 University of Wisconsin-Madison United States
=34 University of Edinburgh United Kingdom
=34 University of Washington United States
36 University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign United States
37 Carnegie Mellon University United States
38 Paris Sciences et Lettres - PSL Research University Paris France
39 University of Hong Kong Hong Kong
40 University of British Columbia Canada
41 King’s College London United Kingdom
=42 University of California, San Francisco United States
=42 LMU Munich Germany
=42 McGill University Canada
45 École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne Switzerland
=46 University of Melbourne Australia
=46 Seoul National University South Korea
48 Georgia Institute of Technology United States
49 University of California, Davis United States
50 University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill United States

Explore the results in full (top 100)
Access the full THE World Reputation Rankings 2017 digital supplement 

Have your say

Log in or register to post comments

Related articles

Study Business & Management in United Kingdom & United States

Study Computer Science in United Kingdom & United States

Study Mechanical & Aerospace Engineering in United Kingdom & United States

Study Electrical & Electronic Engineering in United Kingdom & United States

Study Accounting & Finance in United Kingdom & United States

Study Biological Sciences in United Kingdom & United States