Best Universities in the World: List of 11 Top Colleges around the Globe

As hundreds of thousands of students are scrambling to fill out college applications to meet deadlines for the end of the year, it might be reasonable to ask them: is it crucial where you spend the next four years of your life?

best university
Photo: Armin Rimoldi on Pexels

State universities and community colleges are great, but prestigious institutions give certain advantages you just likely won’t get at state universities or community colleges. She should certainly go for the latter option if a student has a choice between pursuing a state university or an elite university!


The fact is, among exclusive industries such as technology, management, and finance, top universities still take the lead.

And, once you have thoroughly read the list of the best universities in the world below, you will understand why it is a life-changing decision to attend one of them.

1. ETH Zurich / Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (Switzerland)

ETH Zurich is one of the world’s leading universities in science and technology and is known for its cutting-edge research and innovation. It was established in 1855 as the Swiss Federal Polytechnic School, and a century and a half later the university can count 21 Novel laureates, 2 Fields Medalists, 2 Pritzker Prize winners, and 1 Turing Award winner as alumni, including the great Albert Einstein himself.

Located in Zurich, Switzerland’s largest city, ETH Zurich is largely based on a modern main campus built on a hill in the outskirts of the town. Students at ETH have twice as many lectures as those at other Swiss institutions but can still attend regular exhibitions, plays, and concerts, as well as the advantage of the regular symposia and conferences and campus, where some of the best minds in science come to speak.

ETH Zurich – Swiss Federal Institute of Technology is one of the top Public universities in Zürich, Switzerland. It is ranked #6 in QS Global World Rankings 2021.

2. Harvard University (United States)

Established in 1636, Harvard is the oldest higher education institution in the United States and is widely regarded in terms of its influence, reputation, and academic pedigree as a leading university in not just the US but also the world.

Located in Cambridge, Massachusetts, three miles northwest of Boston, Harvard’s 209-acre campus houses 10 degree-granting schools in addition to the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, two theaters, and five museums. It is also home to the largest academic library system in the world, with 18 million volumes, 180,000 serial titles, an estimated 400 million manuscript items, and 10 million photographs.

Like most of the United States’ pre-Civil War colleges, Harvard was founded to train clergy, but Harvard’s curriculum and student body quickly secularized, and in the 20th-century admissions policy was opened up to bring in a more diverse pool of applicants.

READ ALSO:  10 Acclaimed Schools Offering Doctorates of Physical Therapy

Only the academic elite can claim a place at Harvard, and the nominal cost of attendance is high – though the university’s hefty endowment is such that it can offer generous financial aid packages, which around 60% of students take advantage of.

Harvard University is one of the top Private universities in Cambridge, United States. It is ranked #3 in QS Global World Rankings 2021.

3. KAIST – Korea Advanced Institute of Science & Technology (South Korea)

Formerly known as the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology, KAIST was South Korea’s first research-oriented science and engineering institution when it was founded in 1971. For such a young university, KAIST’s standing is growing rapidly: it is widely acknowledged as the best university in Korea and has been named the most innovative university in the Asia-Pacific region.

Around 10,000 full-time students attend KAIST, split between 4,000 undergraduates and 6,000 postgraduates, science, engineering, and technology are the school’s main focuses, though the university has branched out in recent years and is now internationally accredited in business education too. It has also adopted dual degree programs with leading world universities such as Carnegie Mellon in the United States and the Technical University of Berlin, and these offer its students diverse educational opportunities.

KAIST is one of the best universities in the world located in Daejeon, South Korea. It is ranked #39 in QS Global World Rankings 2021.

4. LSE – London School of Economics and Political Science (United Kingdom)

The London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) offers you the opportunity to study the social sciences in an institution with a worldwide academic reputation while enjoying the cultural, social, and recreational facilities of one of the world’s greatest capital cities.

The school offers 40 undergraduate programs and over 140 taught research postgraduate programs. LSE’s academic profile spans a wide range of social science disciplines, from accounting to law, management to social policy.

It is one of the top Public universities in London, United Kingdom. LSE is ranked #49 in QS Global World Rankings 2021.

5. MIT – Massachusetts Institute of Technology (United States)

At its founding in 1861, MIT was initially a small community of problem-solvers and science lovers eager to bring their knowledge to bear on the world. Today, MIT has evolved into an educational behemoth, with some 1,000 faculty members and more than 11,000 undergraduate and graduate students.

MIT is now an independent, coeducational, privately endowed university organized into five schools: architecture and planning; engineering; humanities, arts, and social sciences; management; science. Yet the principle of educational innovation remains at the core of MIT’s educational philosophy.

Science and technology are not the only strings to MIT’s bow, however. Approximately 20% of MIT undergraduates join a sports team, and with 33 varsity sports, MIT boasts one of the broadest intercollegiate athletic programs in the world.

The campus merged with various Cambridge neighborhoods, including Kendall Square which is one of the most innovative square miles on the planet. The close association of industry and research has helped MIT alumni go on to launch more than 30,000 active companies, creating 4.6 million jobs and generating roughly $1.9 trillion in annual revenue. No wonder then that a nation of MIT graduates would be equivalent to the 10th-largest economy in the world.

READ ALSO:  10 Best and Most Wanted Colleges in Pakistan

It is one of the top Private universities in Cambridge, United States. MIT is ranked #1 in QS Global World Rankings 2021.

6. NUS – National University of Singapore (Singapore)

A leading global university centered in Asia, the National University of Singapore is Singapore’s flagship university, which offers a global approach to education and research, with a focus on Asian perspectives and expertise.

NUS has 17 faculties and schools across three campuses. Its transformative education includes a broad-based curriculum underscored by multi-disciplinary courses and cross-faculty enrichment. Over 38,000 students from 100 countries enrich the community with their diverse social and cultural perspectives. NUS also strives to create a supportive and innovative environment to promote creative enterprise within its community.

NUS is one of the top public universities in Singapore. It is ranked #11 in QS Global World Rankings 2021.

7. Osaka University (Japan)

Ranked 17th in the QS University Rankings: Asia 2016, Osaka University is the sixth oldest university in Japan, having originally been founded in 1724. The 72nd best university in the world according to the QS World University Rankings 2021, the Japanese university also ranks among the top 40 universities in the world for:

  • Chemical Engineering
  • Dentistry
  • Natural Sciences
  • Physics and Astronomy

8. Stanford University (United States)

Stanford University was founded in 1885 by California senator Leland Stanford and his wife, Jane, to “promote the public welfare by exercising an influence on behalf of humanity and civilization”. The couple’s only child had died of typhoid, and their decision to build a university on their farm was intended as a memorial. From the start the university was non-sectarian, co-educational, and affordable, teaching both the traditional liberal arts and the technology and engineering that was shaping the new America at the time.

Fast forward more than a century, and Stanford counts 19 Nobel laureates within its community and is regularly ranked among the top three universities in the world. Nicknamed “The Farm” from the days when horses roamed there, Stanford’s campus is now a thriving community of more than 11,000 creative and accomplished people from around the world. Nearly all undergraduate and 60% of graduate students live on campus, so it is hardly surprising that student life is rich and diverse, with over 625 organized student groups.

Stanford University is one of the best universities in the world located in Stanford, United States. It is ranked #2 in QS Global World Rankings 2021.

9. University of Copenhagen (Denmark)

The University of Copenhagen is a research-led university that provides research and education of the highest international standards. With over 40,000 students and more than 9,000 employees, the University of Copenhagen (UCPH) is one of the largest institutions of research and education in the Nordic countries.

International full-degree students make up 10% of the total student population and, UCPH welcomes approximately 2,000 international exchange students every year. UCPH partners with world-class institutions around the world to attract talented students and researchers, and the university’s international study environment is supported by an increasing number of international researchers and academic staff.

READ ALSO:  A Complete List of the Ivy League Schools

The university was founded in 1479 and is one of the oldest universities in Northern Europe. It has four campuses, each with its unique atmosphere and environment. The campus structures range from historic buildings in the city center to high-technology laboratories and auditoriums.

The university is one of the top Public universities in Copenhagen, Denmark, and ranked #76 in QS Global World Rankings 2021.

10. University of Manchester (United Kingdom)

The University of Manchester offers over 1,000-degree programs across the humanities, business, science, and engineering subject areas. These programs include foundation courses, bachelor’s degrees, master’s degrees, PhDs, and MBAs.

Ranked 28th in the world according to the QS World University Rankings 2021, the University of Manchester is a prestigious red brick university and is also a member of the Russell Group: a select network of leading research-intensive universities in the UK. The university is investing £1 billion over 10 years into its campus, providing facilities as well as affordable student rooms in Manchester.

The university is also helping to sustain its incredible history of innovation, with 25 Nobel Prize winners among its current and former students and staff. It helped with the development of the world’s first modern computer in 1948 and was where Ernest Rutherford first split the atom in 1917.

Today, the University of Manchester is at the forefront of cutting-edge research in science and engineering, particularly into new treatments for life-threatening diseases. In 2015/2016 alone, it attracted over £342 million in external research funding.

11. University of Oxford (United Kingdom)

The University of Oxford is the oldest in the English-speaking world and is actually so ancient that its founding date is unknown – though it is thought that teaching took place there as early as the 11th century.

It’s located in and around the medieval city center of Oxford, dubbed “the dreaming city of spires” by the 19th-century poet Matthew Arnold, and comprises 44 colleges and the famous Oxford University halls as well as the largest library system in the UK.

There are 22,000 students at Oxford in total, around half of whom are undergraduates, while 40% are international students. A quarter of the city of Oxford’s residents is students, giving the city the youngest population in the UK.

Oxford has an alumni network of over 250,000 individuals, including more than 120 Olympic medalists, 26 Nobel Prize winners, seven poets laureates, and over 30 modern world leaders (including Bill Clinton, Aung San Suu Kyi, Indira Gandhi, and 26 UK Prime Ministers).

It is one of the best universities in the world located in Oxford, United Kingdom, and ranked #5 in QS Global World Rankings 2021.

Final thoughts

These best universities in the world have the upper hand in the above-mentioned industries when it comes to access to opportunities, training, and pay. The world’s best universities (coupled with hard work) open doors to top internships, top careers, and eventually top salaries!

Today, most individuals change occupations at least three times before they are 32, so being part of an alumni network that allows you access to the top of every industry gives you the ability to take risks.

At the end of the day, these best universities in the world owe you the chance to fail. And getting that choice is what you need to thrive in today’s fast-paced entrepreneurial environment.

Sorry, this content is protected by copyright.