Top 5 universities in the US 2018
1. California Institute of Technology (CalTech)
Relative to the tiny size of the student population, CalTech has an impressive number of successful graduates and affiliates, including 34 Nobel prizewinners, six Turing Award winners, five Fields Medalists and a number of national awards.
There are only approximately 2,000 students at CalTech, and the primary campus in Pasadena, near Los Angeles, covers 124 acres. Almost all undergraduates live on campus.
Across the six faculties there is a focus on science and engineering.
In addition to Nobel laureates and top researchers, the CalTech alumni community also includes a number of politicians and public advisers, particularly in positions that deal with science, technology and energy.
All first-year students belong to one of four houses as part of the university’s alternative model to fraternities. There are a number of house traditions and events associated with each house.
The university has the highest proportion of students who continue on to pursue a PhD, and the trope of the CalTech postgraduate has filtered into popular culture; all the main characters in the TV comedy The Big Bang Theory work or study at CalTech.
1. Stanford University
Based right next to Silicon Valley – or Palo Alto – Stanford has had a prominent role in encouraging the high-tech industry to develop in the area.
Many faculty members, students and alumni have founded successful technology companies and start-ups, including Google, Snapchat and Hewlett-Packard.
In total, companies founded by Stanford alumni make $2.7 trillion each year.
The university is often referred to as “the Farm”, as the campus was built on the site of the Stanford family’s Palo Alto Stock Farm. The campus covers 8,180 acres, but more than half of the land is not yet developed.
With distinctive sand-coloured, red-roofed buildings, Stanford’s campus is thought to be one of the most beautiful in the world. It contains a number of sculpture gardens and art museums in addition to faculty buildings and a public meditation centre.
As might be expected from one of the best universities in the world, Stanford is highly competitive. The admission rate currently stands at just over 5 per cent.
Of the 15,000 students – most of whom live on campus – 22 per cent are international.
3. Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)
A long-standing rival of CalTech, MIT also cultivates a strong entrepreneurial culture, which has seen many alumni found notable companies such as Intel and Dropbox.
Unusually, the undergraduate and postgraduate programmes at MIT are not wholly separate; many courses can be taken at either level.
The undergraduate programme is one of the country’s most selective, admitting only 8 per cent of applicants. Engineering and computer science programmes are the most popular among undergraduates.
Thirty-three per cent of the 11,000 students are international, hailing from 154 different countries around the world.
Famous alumni include astronaut Buzz Aldrin, former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan and physicist Richard Feynman. Graduates are prevalent throughout science, politics, economics, business and media.
4. Harvard University
Harvard University is probably the best-known university in the world, coming top in the Times Higher Education reputation rankings most years.
It was founded in 1636, and is the oldest higher education institution in the US.
There are approximately 20,000 students enrolled, a quarter of whom are international. Although the cost of tuition is expensive, Harvard’s financial endowment allows for plenty of financial aid for students.
The Harvard Library system is made up of 79 different libraries and counts as the largest academic library in the world.
Among many famous alumni, Harvard can count eight US presidents, about 150 Nobel laureates, 13 Turing Award winners and 62 living billionaires.
Unlike some other universities at the top of the list, Harvard is at least equally as reputed for arts and humanities as it is for science and technology, if not more so.
5. Princeton University
Like Harvard, Princeton is a prestigious Ivy League university with a history stretching back more than 200 years.
Princeton’s distinctive social environment includes private “eating clubs” – which function as both social houses and dining halls. Many of the clubs are selective and competitive, but others simply require undergraduates to sign up.
There are fewer than 8,000 students enrolled at Princeton, and just over a quarter are international.
Princeton’s campuses, in New Jersey, are located about an hour away from both New York City and Philadelphia.
Degree courses have strictly specified requirements. All students are required to do independent research as part of their degrees, and some must take a foreign language course.
The application process is highly selective. Unlike most US universities, Princeton does not now offer an early decision application route.
Renowned Princeton alumni include US presidents, astronauts, businessmen, Olympians and numerous award-winners. Physicist Richard Feynman attended as a graduate student, as did mathematicians John Nash and Alan Turing.