World's top 50 universities

Every year, thousands of universities worldwide produce graduates, undertake research and publish scientific papers. How to find out who are the leaders today in higher education? How to choose among them?

A number of global rankings are published annually. Some are focusing on academic achievements, reputation in science and the number of graduates awarded with Nobel Prize or other notable awards. Undoubtedly, these indicators are very important, but for future students it could be only an indirect confirmation of the quality of the learning process.

Here, we represent the current World University Rankings by The Times Higher Education, which uses more than a dozen indicators to evaluate the institutions' real activities for more comprehensive comparison. The most important groups of indicators we consider:

  • Teaching - is based on evaluation of the teaching reputation, also includes such statistics as students-to-staff ratio, doctorate-to-bachelor’s and doctorates awarded-to-academic staff ratios. It also estimates institution's financial status and ability to provide students and faculty with the required infrastructure.
  • Research - is based on the university's reputation in research by the opinion of academics, also evaluates the funding of scientific programs, and their productivity level.

In the table below the top universities are ranked by overall score with an indication of their Teaching Rank (score), which is very helpful for future students seeking to obtain a world-class degree, and Research Rank (score) for those who plans further to continue in the science field.

A distinctive feature of the global leaders in education is an active promotion of distance learning. Most of them are offering a wide range of online courses in many disciplines (free or for some charge). It is a great opportunity to enhance your knowledge level in the leading institutions and get an access to courses from the best professors and trainers, being thousands of kilometers away.

World rankings of the 50 best universities 2016
2016 Rank University Overall score Country Teaching
Rank (score)
Rank (score)
Online Courses
1California Institute of Technology95.2USA01 (95.6)03 (97.6)Free
2University of Oxford94.2UK05 (86.5)02 (98.9)min £250
3Stanford University93.9USA02 (92.5)05 (96.2)Free
4University of Cambridge92.8UK04 (88.2)04 (96.7)min £235
5Massachusetts Institute of Technology92.0USA03 (89.4)14 (88.6)Free
6Harvard University91.6USA10 (83.6)01 (99.0)Free
7Princeton University90.1USA09 (85.1)07 (91.9)Free
8Imperial College London89.1UK11 (83.3)16 (88.5)None
9ETH Zurich88.3Switzerland20 (77.0)06 (95.0)Free
10University of Chicago87.9USA08 (85.7)12 (88.9)Free
11Johns Hopkins University87.6USA19 (77.6)10 (90.4)Free
12Yale University87.4USA06 (86.5)17 (87.8)Free
13University of California, Berkeley87.2USA15 (80.4)08 (91.1)Free
14University College London87.1UK16 (78.1)17 (91.0)Free
15Columbia University86.1USA07 (85.9)24 (82.2)Free
16University of California, Los Angeles85.8USA14 (80.8)15 (88.6)Free
17University of Pennsylvania85.2USA12 (82.0)18 (86.9)Free
18Cornell University84.0USA17 (77.9)19 (86.1)Free
19University of Toronto83.9Canada23 (75.9)11 (89.3)Free
20Duke University82.7USA22 (76.0)29 (78.0)Free
21University of Michigan82.4USA21 (76.8)20 (85.2)Free
22Carnegie Mellon University82.3USA35 (67.4)13 (88.8)Free
23London School of Economics and Political Science81.3UK31 (69.8)27 (80.6)None
24University of Edinburgh80.3UK34 (68.6)32 (77.2)Free
25Northwestern University79.5USA32 (69.8)28 (78.4)Free
26National University of Singapore79.2Singapore27 (71.7)21 (84.5)Free
27King’s College London78.2UK41 (64.5)35 (75.8)Free
28Karolinska Institutet77.5Sweden48 (60.6)26 (81.1)Free
29LMU Munich77.3Germany30 (70.5)30 (77.4)Free
30New York University77.2USA25 (74.7)43 (72.3)None
31EPFL76.1Switzerland46 (61.3)54 (67.5)Free
32University of Washington75.6USA36 (67.1)47 (70.0)Free
33University of Melbourne75.4Australia45 (62.0)36 (75.5)Free
34University of British Columbia75.3Canada49 (60.2)38 (73.2)Free
35KU Leuven74.8Belgium51 (59.9)34 (76.9)Free
36University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign74.5USA42 (64.5)25 (81.2)Free
37Heidelberg University74.4Germany33 (68.8)50 (69.6)Free
38McGill University72.6Canada38 (66.1)45 (72.1)Free
39University of California, San Diego72.2USA59 (56.9)48 (69.8)Free
40University of California, Santa Barbara72.2USA71 (52.6)58 (66.0)None
41Georgia Institute of Technology72.1USA57 (57.8)40 (72.7)Free
42Peking University72.0China18 (77.8)42 (72.4)Free
43University of Tokyo71.1Japan13 (81.4)22 (83.0)Free
44University of Hong Kong71.0Hong Kong40 (64.6)39 (72.8)Free
45University of California, Davis71.0USA50 (60.1)41 (72.7)Free
46University of Texas at Austin70.3USA52 (59.3)49 (69.7)Free
47Tsinghua University70.0China26 (73.3)23 (83.0)Free
48Wageningen University70.0Netherlands60 (52.6)55 (66.9)Free
49Humboldt University of Berlin69.9Germany43 (63.7)33 (77.0)None
50University of Wisconsin–Madison69.7USA39 (65.1)52 (68.2)Free