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THE USA: Destination Guides - Must read

The top universities in the USA

The USA has some of the most famous and well-reputed institutions in the world. We take a look at some of the top-rated universities in the country.

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When evaluating any study abroad destination you’ll want to get an idea of the higher education landscape, including the institutions that are highly ranked and rated. Offering some of the top universities in the world, excellent teaching quality, a great student experience and a world-renowned university culture the USA remains a firm favourite for international students. In this article, we take you through the top universities in the USA and some of the reasons why the institutions rank so highly. 


To put together the list of the best universities in the USA we have made use of the QS World University Rankings 2021, the U.S. News & World Report 2021 and the Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2021. There’s no time to waste, let’s jump right into the top-rated universities in the USA. 


Massachusetts Institute of Technology


Based in Cambridge, Massachusetts on the east coast of the USA, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) is world-renowned for its engineering, science, computer science and applied science programmes. MIT dates back to 1861 and boasts 97 Nobel Laureates and eight Fields Medallists among its illustrious alumni. The institution is highly competitive with an average of just over 21,000 applicants a year of which just 1,500 or six per cent are accepted. 


MIT is home to an international student community of over 3,000 students, almost a quarter of all of those enrolled at the institution. It grabbed the number one spot for the top-rated university in the USA on the QS World University Rankings 2021, with a perfect score of 100. The Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2021 placed MIT at fourth in the USA and fifth in the world. This ranking for the best universities in the USA was backed up by the U.S. News & World Report National Universities 2021 which saw MIT take the fourth spot. 


Interested in studying engineering in the USA, check out these universities:



Stanford University 


Another of the USA’s famous institutions is Stanford University. The university is based on the west coast of the USA in Stanford, California. Stanford is a private university and well-known for its high-quality research output. It is home to 6,366 undergraduate students and 8,971 postgraduate students. Studying at Stanford also means a very favourable student to faculty ratio of 5:1. 


If you’re looking for high-quality academic staff then Stanford is one of the places to be, with 19 Nobel Laureates currently involved with the university. Added to this is a significant research budget of USD 1,93 million and an impressive extra-curricular sports programme. It is little wonder then that Stanford often occupies the rarefied air of the world’s top institutions. The QS World University Rankings 2021 have Stanford at number two in the USA, while the Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2021 places the university second overall globally. The U.S. News & World Report National University Rankings also give Stanford a favourable rating as a top 10 university in the USA. 


Thinking about pursuing a medical degree in the USA, it’s worth checking out these institutions:



Harvard University 


Harvard University is often spoken of in reverent tones and for good reason. World-famous for its medical, business and law schools, the university is also one of the oldest in the USA having been established almost 400 years ago. Harvard boasts alumni including Microsoft founder Bill Gates, former American President Barack Obama and poet T.S. Eliot. 


Based in Cambridge Massachusetts, Harvard is part of the prestigious Ivy League group of universities and is home to almost 24,000 students. It is also known for its significant financial aid and scholarship programmes, which in 2020 provided USD 645 million in funding. Harvard is placed third on the list of top universities in the USA as per the QS World University Rankings 2021 and third in the world by the Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2021. The U.S. News & World Report also has Harvard as one of the top-rated universities in the USA at number two. 


Interested in getting a law degree in the USA? Check out these universities:



University of Chicago 


Based in one of America’s most famous cities, Chicago, the University of Chicago plays host to over 10,000 postgraduate students and almost 7,000 undergraduate students. The university offers 52 majors at the undergraduate level and has six professional schools for graduate study. The campus is located close to Lake Michigan and boasts a botanical garden as well, meaning you get to experience both the natural world and the cities incredible architecture. 


The university sits comfortably within the top 20 universities in the USA, sitting in 9th spot on the QS World University Rankings 2021. The Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2021 rates the institution as the 8th best in the USA and 10th in the world. If you consult the U.S. News & World Report National University Rankings 2021 you’ll also find the university in the top 10 at number six. 


Yale University 


Rounding out our list of the best universities in the USA is another Ivy League institution. Yale University has a long history dating back to 1701. Over 120 nationalities are represented amongst the 2,789 international students at the university. International students make up 21 per cent of the total student community at Yale and the university also had 3,149 students who received grants or scholarships in the recent academic year. 


Yale University is located in New Haven, Connecticut which is based on the east coast of the USA. It is also known for its excellence in several fields including the humanities, law and biological sciences. It is widely acknowledged as one of the top 10 universities in the USA, with the QS World University Rankings 2021 placing Yale at 9th and the Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2021 ranking the university in the top 10 universities in the world at number eight. Additionally, Yale sits amongst the illustrious company in the U.S. News & World Report National University Rankings 2021 with a position of number four. 


If you’re seriously considering studying in the USA it’s worth reading about the U.S. higher education systemthe best law schools in the USA and how to apply to a university in the USA. You can also get started with your course research using our handy course matcher tool


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