Top 10 US Universities 2015/16
**Click here to discover the top 10 US universities in 2016-2017.
The US maintains its leading presence in the QS World University Rankings® this year, with a total of 154 US universities included in the ranking. Of these, 30 are ranked among the world’s top 100, while all of the 10 top US universities listed below are ranked within the global top 20.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) is not only the top university in the US, but it has also now been ranked first in the world for four years in a row. It has produced many notable and successful alumni and is not only known for its courses in the technology-related fields of physical sciences and engineering, but in recent times also for its biology, economics, linguistics and management courses.
Ranked second in the world overall, Harvard University takes the top spot for life sciences and medicine, as well as placing joint second with the University of Cambridge for arts and humanities. Harvard is the oldest institution of higher education in the United States, having been established in 1636.
Ranked joint third in the world alongside the University of Cambridge, Stanford University is known for its entrepreneurial character and business courses. It also comes second in the world for engineering and technology, after MIT. Its alumni and faculty have founded many internationally successful companies, including Google, Yahoo!, Nike and Instagram.
Visit our sister site, TopMBA.com, for a comparison of Harvard and Stanford’s graduate business schools.
Located in Pasadena, California, the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) is ranked 5th in the world this year. With only around 2,200 students, it’s by far the smallest of these top US universities. It is highly respected for its research in science and engineering, and retains its place as the 8th best university in the field of natural sciences this year.
The University of Chicago is ranked 10th in the world, and is highly regarded for both arts and sciences courses. The university’s press is the largest in the US and its alumni includes 89 Nobel Prize winners. Chicago's physics department helped develop the world's first man-made, self-sustaining nuclear reaction underneath one of the university’s football fields.
Placed 11th in this year’s world rankings, Princeton was established in 1746 and is particularly prestigious in the arts and humanities. The university offers generous financial aid to ensure talented students from all walks of life are able to attend. Its alumni include US presidents Woodrow Wilson and James Madison, amongst many other successful people.
Yale University is ranked 15th in the world this year and is one of the oldest US universities, having been founded in 1701. In 1861, Yale awarded the first PhD in the United States. It has produced many notable alumni, including five US presidents and 13 billionaires.
Ranked 16th in the world this year, Johns Hopkins University was named for its first benefactor – the entrepreneur, abolitionist, and philanthropist Johns Hopkins. It was the first research university in the US and is viewed particularly favorably for its courses in the faculty of life sciences and medicine.
Ranked 17th in the world this year, Cornell University is an Ivy League member based in Ithaca, New York. Cornell awarded the world's first degree in journalism and was the first among US universities to offer a major in American Studies. English actor John Cleese is a visiting professor, while the school’s alumni community includes Bill Nye “the Science Guy”.
The University of Pennsylvania is ranked 18th in the world and was founded by one of the US’s founding fathers, Benjamin Franklin. It is consistently highly ranked and highly regarded across the board, with a particularly strong reputation in the life sciences and medicine.
This article was originally published in September 2015 . It was last updated in January 2020