25 top universities in the world 2020

25 top universities in the world 2020

What are the top institutions of higher learning in the world? There are obvious names that come to mind, including Harvard, Oxford, MIT, Stanford, among others. Leading institutions have exemplary systems when it comes to research performance, education quality, alumni employment, and faculty quality.

Top universities in the world

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What is the best university in the world 2020? The following are the top 25 in 2020/2021 according to the UAE based Centre for World University Rankings (CWUR).

What criteria are used to rate leading universities?

The CWUR uses four main objectives when ranking institutions that are doing well. This includes the following.

  1. Research performance (40%) by analyzing the total number of research papers, the number of research papers that appear in top-tier journals, number of research papers that appear in highly influential journals, and the number of highly cited research papers.
  2. The quality of education (25%) by analyzing the facility's alumni who have won key academic distinctions relative to the facility's size.
  3. Alumni employment (25%) by analyzing the number of the institution's alumni who have held the highest executive positions at the world's greatest organizations relative to the institution's size.
  4. Quality of faculty (10%) by analyzing the number of faculty members that have won key scholarly distinctions.

Top universities in the world 2020

The following are the top universities in the world ranked.

1. Harvard University


Image: instagram.com, @harvard
Source: UGC

Harvard is the leading and also the oldest global institution located in the United States of America. It was formed in 1636 by its initial benefactor, John Harvard. It is a private Ivy League research institution. For a long time, it has held the top position in research and academics. It has campuses across Greater Boston and Cambridge. As of 2020, the facility has produced 8 USA presidents, 188 billionaires (living), 160 Nobel laureates, 369 Rhodes Scholars, 14 Turing Award winners, and 252 Marshall Scholars.

READ ALSO: List of the 50 best universities in Africa

2. Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Image: twitter.com, @MIT
Source: UGC

MIT is located in Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA. It was founded in 1861. The facility has made great contributions to engineering, technology, mathematics, and modern science. As of 2020, the facility has produced 96 Nobel laureates, 41 astronauts, 73 Marshall Scholars, 58 National Medal of Science recipients, 26 Turing Award recipients, 16 Chief Scientists of the US Air Force, and 29 National Medals of Technology and Innovation recipients.

3. Stanford University


Image: instagram.com, @stanford
Source: UGC

Stanford was founded in 1885 by Leland and Jane Stanford to remember their only son, Leland Stanford Jr, who passed away because of typhoid fever in 1884 aged 15. The first student was admitted in 1891. 2020 statistics reveal that 28 Turing Award laureates, 8 Fields medalists, and 83 Nobel laureates are from Stanford’s alumni, staff, or faculty. It is also a leading facility in terms of entrepreneurship and financing business start-ups.

4. University of Cambridge

University of Cambridge

Image: instagram.com, @cambridgeuniversity
Source: UGC

Cambridge is the leading institution of higher learning in the United Kingdom and the fourth in the world. It was established in 1209 and granted a royal charter in 1231 by King Henry 11. It is the second oldest university in the UK and the fourth oldest in the world. It was formed by scholars who had broken away from the University of Oxford because of a dispute. Statistics as of 2020 reveal that 14 British Prime Ministers, 11 Fields medalists, 120 Nobel laureates, and 7 Turing Award winners are associated with the facility.

5. University of Oxford


Image: instagram.com, @oxford_uni
Source: UGC

Oxford is the oldest university in the United Kingdom, having started teaching in 1096. It shares a lot of common features with the University of Cambridge. 28 UK prime ministers and countless heads of global governments are Oxford’s alumni. 72 Nobel Prize laureates, 6 Turing Award winners, and 3 Fields medalists are affiliated with the facility.

6. Columbia University


Image: instagram.com, @columbia
Source: UGC

Columbia University in the City of New York was established in 1754 by the colonialists as King’s College. It is the oldest institution of higher learning in New York and the fourth oldest in the USA. Five Founding Fathers of the USA, three US presidents, 96 Nobel laureates, 125 Pulitzer Prize winners, 29 foreign presidents, 53 billionaires (alive), 11 Olympic medalists, 10 justices of the USA Supreme Court, and 101 National Academy members are affiliated with the institution as of 2020.

7. Princeton University


Image: instagram.com, @princeton
Source: UGC

Princeton was established in 1746 as the College of New Jersey. It is the fourth-oldest institution of higher learning in the USA. It offers both graduate and undergraduate learning in engineering, humanities, natural sciences, and social sciences. It boasts of 68 Nobel Prize laureates, 126 Marshall Scholars, 21 Medal of Science winners, 15 Fields medalists, 209 Rhodes Scholars, 14 Turing Award winners, two US presidents, 139 Gates Cambridge Scholars, among other award-winning personnel in various fields.

8. University of Pennsylvania


Image: instagram.com, @uofpenn
Source: UGC

UPenn was established in 1740 in Philadelphia, USA. It is a private Ivy League research facility. The institution has produced two US presidents (including Donald Trump), 36 Nobel laureates, 14 foreign presidents, 169 Guggenheim Fellows, several billionaires, senators, among other award-winning personnel that hold highly respected positions worldwide.

9. University of Chicago

University of Chicago

Image: instagram.com, @uchicago
Source: UGC

UChicago was founded in 1890 in Chicago, Illinois, USA. It mainly provides arts and sciences programs, both undergraduate and graduate. The facility boasts of 100 Nobel winners, 4 Turing Award winners, 54 Rhodes Scholars, 52 MacArthur Fellows, 20 National Humanities medalists, among other winners and global leaders.

10. Yale University

Yale University

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Source: UGC

Yale, a private Ivy League research facility located in New Haven, Connecticut, USA, wraps the list of ten top universities in the world. It was established in 1701 as the Collegiate School until its renaming in 1718. It is the third oldest university in the USA. It is affiliated with 62 Nobel laureates, 119 Marshall Scholars, 3 Turing winners, 247 Rhodes Scholars, and other notable alumni, including several presidents, Supreme Court Justices, billionaires, and diplomats.

11. California Institute of Technology

California Institute of Technology

Image: instagram.com, @caltechedu
Source: UGC

Caltech, which is located in Pasadena, California, United States, is globally known for its computer science major. It was founded in 1891 by Amos G. Throop as a vocational school until 1920 when it became Caltech. It focuses on the provision of pure and applied sciences. It has produced 74 Nobel laureates, 6 Turing winners, 71 National Medal Science and Technology winners, and numerous members of NASA.

12. University of California, Berkeley

UC Berkeley

Image: twitter.com, @UCBerkeley
Source: UGC

UC Berkeley was established in 1868 in Berkeley, California. It is the oldest campus of the University of California. The facility has produced 107 Nobel laureates (one of the highest), 14 Field medalists, 25 Turing Award winners, among other awards. The founders of Apple, eBay, Intel, Tesla, and other prominent global organization are UC Berkeley alumni.

13. Cornell University


Image: instagram.com, @cornelluniversity
Source: UGC

Cornell is based in the United States with the main campus in Ithaca, New York. It was established in 1865 by Andrew Dickson White and Ezra Cornell. It admits students from all religions, races, and countries. It boasts of 59 Nobel laureates, one Fields medalist, 4 Turing winners, and numerous scholars.

READ ALSO: Top universities in South Africa 2019 - 2020

14. University of Tokyo


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Source: UGC

UTokyo is the best public facility of higher learning in Japan. It was founded in 1877. It admits both local and international students. It has produced 16 Nobel Prize winners, 16 prime ministers, three astronauts, three Pritzker Prize winners, a Field medalist, among other global leaders.

15. Johns Hopkins University

Johns Hopkins

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Source: UGC

Johns Hopkins was established in 1876 in Baltimore, Maryland. It has several campuses and international centers. It is the first academic facility to incorporate research and education. It has produced one Fields medalist and 39 Nobel winners.

16. University of Michigan, Ann Arbor


Image: instagram.com, @uofmichigan
Source: UGC

Michigan was established in 1817 in Detroit as Catholepistermiad and later moved to Ann Arbor in 1837. It has one of the highest research activities. As of 2020, Michigan has produced 25 Nobel laureates, 51 MacArthur genius award winners, a Field medalist, and 6 Turing laureates.

17. Northwestern University


Image: instagram.com, @northwesternu
Source: UGC

Northwestern University is located in Evanston, Illinois, USA. It was established in 1851 to serve the Northwest Territory. It has nine schools for undergraduate, professional, and graduate programs. It has produced 19 Nobel winners, 1 Field medalist, 23 National Medical of Science winners, among other winners. Its School of Communication has produced the highest number of award-winning actors, directors, writers, and actresses.

18. University of California, Los Angeles

University of California, Los Angeles

Image: instagram.com, @UCLA
Source: UGC

UCLA is based in Los Angeles, USA. It was established in 1882 as part of the California State Normal School. It became a part of the University of California system in 1919. It is considered the best public university in the USA and is also part of the Ivy League. It boasts of 24 Nobel winners, 5 Turing winners, and 3 Filed medalists, among other top leadership positions and awards.

19. University College London

University College London

Image: instagram.com, @ucl
Source: UGC

UCL was established in 1826 as London University, in London, England. Among its alumni, researchers, and faculty are global presidents, the discoverer of DNA structure, the telephone inventor, inventors of the vacuum tube, hormones, and noble gases. It has also produced 33 Nobel winners and three Fields medalists as of 2020.

20. Duke University

Duke University

Image: instagram.com, @dukeuniversity
Source: UGC

Duke is located in Durham, North Carolina. It was established in 1838 by Quakers and Methodists in Trinity and was later taken to Durham in 1892. It is one of the leading employers in North Carolina. The facility has produced 25 Churchill scholars (3rd highest behind Harvard and Princeton), 15 Nobel winners, 50 Rhodes scholars, among other winners.

21. PSL University

Paris Sciences & Lettres

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Source: UGC

Paris Sciences & Lettres is the leading public institution of higher learning in France and 21st worldwide. It was founded in 2010, making it the youngest facility to appear on the list. As of 2020, the institution has produced 28 Nobel winners, 48 CNRS Gold medalists, 79 Moliere winners, 10 Fields medalists, 50 Cesar, and 3 Abel winners.

22. University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign


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Source: UGC

Illinois was founded in 1867 and is a flagship facility of the University of Illinois system. The institution is classified as an R1 Doctoral Research University due to its high research activity. It has produced a total of 30 Nobel winners, a Fields medalist, and 2 Turing winners.

23. University of Washington – Seattle

UW Seattle

Image: instagram.com, @uofwa
Source: UGC

UW is a public research university established in 1861 in Seattle, Washington. It is classified as an R1 Doctoral Research University. It has produced 20 Nobel Prize winners, among other prize winners and scholars.

24. University of Toronto

U of Toronto

Image: instagram.com, @uoft
Source: UGC

U of T is the leading institution of higher learning in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. It was established in 1827 by a royal charter as King’s College then changed to its present name in 1850. It carries out intensive research in Canada and is one of the members of the Association of American University outside the US. It has produced 10 Nobel winners, a Fields medalist, 5 Turing winners, and 94 Rhodes scholars.

25. New York University

New York University

Image: instagram.com, @nyuniversity
Source: UGC

NYU, which is located in New York City, wraps up the list of 25 top universities in the world list. It was established in 1831 by Albert Gallatin to solve social class issues and admit students based on merit. NYU is the largest independent research university in the USA. It has campuses distributed globally in Africa, Asia, and Europe. The facility has produced 37 Nobel winners, 5 Fields medalists, 8 Turing winners, numerous scholars, Grammy, Tony, Academy, and Emmy winners, and countless global leaders.

READ ALSO: 1st Black woman to complete urology residency in at Columbia University


The following are the frequently asked questions concerning top universities across the globe.

What are the top universities in the world for medicine?

For a long time, five leading medical schools include the following:

  1. Harvard University
  2. The University of Oxford
  3. The University of Cambridge
  4. Stanford University
  5. Johns Hopkins University

What are the top universities in the world for computer science?

The following are the top 5 in 2020:

  1. Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)
  2. Stanford University
  3. Carnegie Mellon University
  4. The University of California, Berkeley (UCB)
  5. The University of Oxford

Image: instagram.com, @oxford_uni
Source: UGC

What are the top universities in the world for MBA?

If you are considering doing your MBA, the following five institutions are the best.

  1. The Wharton School
  2. Stanford Graduate School of Business
  3. INSEAD that has multiple global campuses
  4. MIT Sloan School of Management
  5. Harvard Business School

What are the top universities in the world engineering?

In engineering, which are the top 10 universities in the world?

  1. Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)
  2. Stanford University
  3. The University of Cambridge
  4. ETH Zurich – Swiss Federal Institute of Technology
  5. The University of California, Berkeley (UCB)
  6. Oxford University
  7. Imperial College London
  8. Nanyang Technological University, Singapore (NTU)
  9. Tsinghua University in China (Mainland)
  10. National University of Singapore (NUS)

Image: instagram.com, @nus_singapore
Source: UGC

What is the number 1 university in the world?

According to CWUR, Harvard University in the USA is the leading global institution of higher learning.

READ ALSO: Harvard university appoints various African professionals as fellows

The above list of top universities in the world shows that two countries, the United Kingdom and the United States dominate the charts. Other countries, primarily in Africa and South America, have a long way to go.


Source: Briefly.co.za

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