The Top Universities of the World – Updated 2017

TOP 10 UNIVERSITIES IN THE WORLD

Updated: 5/2018

For over 20+ years, I’ve analyzed the many lists and surveys* about the Top Universities in the United States (and quite possibly the “World”).

And in the earlier part of this decade, I wrote one of the most comprehensive posts (on two former employer site’s) examining all the different ranking systems and analyzed how we can determine the answer to the question:

What are the top universities in our world? 

The U.S. rankings have become almost the default list of schools for “the world”, but we should never forget that we live in a very connected society these days where not just one country dominates the rankings (interestingly though, you’ll notice some interesting names in the following information.  Have you heard of “Visvesvaraya Technological University”?)

However, what do we seriously mean by the “Top Universities?”

Many people don’t realize that it’s not just what our parents or what our friends think are the top institutions of higher learning (unless they are heads of venture capital firms or managers of human resource teams).  In actuality, what REALLY matters is what do recruiters or hiring decision makers think?  In other realms like venture capital, what really matters is what do the people who are funding startups believe?  And if you’re pursuing additional university education, what do the graduate school admissions folks believe are the top universities in the world.  It doesn’t exactly matter what you learned, but it truly matters what others believe you may have acquired at your “high quality place of learning.”

At my last educational organization, I published a very lengthy piece about how rankings are conducted for Universities.  Unfortunately, the analysis has been pulled down because they deactivated the entire blog for some reason.  Nevertheless, I had planned on writing an even more comprehensive piece here and due to a recent inquiry about “Top U.S. Universities” by a nice mother who has spent a majority of her life analyzing UK higher education, I decided I would write this for her and the many other mothers here in Hong Kong to help clarify how to think about the Top Universities in the U.S. (and like I said, possibly the world).

For our rankings, we have decided to use:

  • 3 parts dedicated to the folks who evaluate resumes most often
  • 1 part admissions selectivity
  • 1 part internet exposure
  • and 5 different larger media or studies that influence many of the aforementioned.

To give a hint to part of our list, here are the 6th through 10th Top Universities in the World compiled from the 10 part analysis of the Top Institutions of Higher Education:

TOP UNIVERSITIES ACCORDING TO THE PEOPLE WHO ACTUALLY HIRE THE GRADUATES

The first part of our evaluation comes from one of the most reputable publications in the world, the New York Times.  In 2012, they surveyed “2500 recruiters & 2200 CEO’s & Business Managers (who) were asked to select their top universities.”  They come up with the following rankings:

Since it’s hard to see it even when you click on the image, I’ve ballooned up the image into 2 closeups:

2018 commentary: You can see that Universities such as Imperial College in London are in the Top 10 — which go to show that it’s not just about the American Universities, but also that employers sometimes have a different perspective internationally.  Check out the University that follows it in the ranking at #10! 

Secondly, we gathered some fascinating data that was graphically produced on Wired Magazine.  It showed the Top Feeder Universities into some of the Top Technology companies we prize today.

THE TOP UNIVERSITIES WHICH FEED INTO APPLE, GOOGLE, AND FACEBOOK (ALONG WITH MICROSOFT, IBM, YAHOO, TWITTER)

Business Insider helps us with our 3rd part of the “hiring managers who truly look at University backgrounds” by “(asking) over 1,500 professionals who have hiring experience in a variety of industries what they consider to be the best colleges in the U.S. based on how well the schools prepare their students for success after graduation.”  They found from these professionals that they believed the top 25 universities were:

After evaluating what hiring managers & executives thought, we also analyzed “selectivity” among Universities.  While data is sparse on many International universities, we found a number of websites that helped us estimate what were the admission rates for some.  We relied on the following: Google‘s automatic answering engine, an article on the Chinese University admissions process on the NYTimes,  a wikipedia artcle on SNUa post on hubpagesa post on Priceonomicsalong with even data on some university news pages.

THE MOST SELECTIVE UNIVERSITIES IN THE WORLD (ESTIMATED)

See also: Answer to What is the general acceptance rate to Seoul National University?” on Quora.  

The next part of our algorithm in deciding which University should be at the apex of University prestige, we added in an Internet impact set of rankings.  More on them:

The Webometrics Ranking of World Universities, also known as Ranking Web of World Universities, is a ranking system for the world’s universities based on a composite indicator that takes into account both the volume of the Web contents (number of web pages and files) and the visibility and impact of these web publications according to the number of external inlinks (site citations) they received. The ranking is published by the Cybermetrics Lab, a research group of the Spanish National Research Council (CSIC) located in Madrid.

FOR THE 5 DIFFERENT RANKINGS FROM MAJOR MEDIA OR COLLEGE RANKINGS ORGANIZATIONS

…we rely on the “grandfather of college rankings” (since 1983) – US News, Times Higher Education, QS World University Rankings, Shanghai Ranking and a very popular U.S. Magazine, Forbes.

Before we begin, we will say that there is a reason why some of them are specific to U.S. Universities.  If you see here, U.S. Universities are considered currently “the top.”

The above comes from bbc’s Top 500 Univeresities through students’ eyes.

1. US NEWS COLLEGE RANKINGS – GLOBAL (2014-15)

2. TIMES HIGHER EDUCATION TOP 25+ WORLD UNIVERSITY RANKINGS 2014-15

3. QS TOP 20 WORLD UNIVERSITY RANKINGS – 2014-15

4. SHANGHAI RANKING’S TOP 10 UNIVERSITIES – 2014

5. U.S. MAGAZINE FORBES TOP UNIVERSITIES – 2014-15

And to explain why we used these, we found these were the lists that came up first when searching “Top Universities” or “Best Universities” on the web which is influencing many.

Calculating all these lists together combined with recruiter & executive opinions and other criteria, we found the…

TOP 10 UNIVERSITIES IN THE WORLD FOR 2015

**Footnote:  We really wanted to use the Center for World University Rankings (2014) in this edition of our rankings and we may include it in future editions.  It:

…compiled its ranking by analyzing the world’s top 1,000 universities based on a list of eight criteria: quality of education (25 percent), alumni employment (25 percent), quality of faculty (25 percent), publications (5 percent), influence (5 percent), citations (5 percent), broad impact (5 percent) and patents (5 percent).

In case you’re curious, here are their top 30:

If you want to see one of the most thorough explanations of how rankings work, you can also click on this link to Wikipedia’s “College and university rankings” article which explains the many different publications that have attempted to carry out this job over the years.

Also, a number of other rankings are out there including: