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2021 Best Global Universities Rankings

The new edition includes 10 additional subject rankings in STEM fields

Published on October 20, 2020

U.S. News & World Report, the global authority in education rankings, today released the 2021 edition of the Best Global Universities rankings. With data on nearly 1,500 schools, the rankings evaluate universities from dozens of countries on academic research and reputation.

Two countries are represented by the overall top 10 schools: the U.S. and the United Kingdom. Harvard University maintains its No. 1 rank, while Massachusetts Institute of Technology comes in at No. 2. Stanford University and the University of California–Berkeley are third and fourth, respectively. The U.K.’s University of Oxford finishes out the top five in the overall ranking.

This year’s edition includes schools from 86 countries, up from 81 last year. The U.S. has the most universities in the overall ranking with 255, followed by these countries:

  • China: 176
  • U.K.: 87
  • France: 70
  • Germany: 68

“The Best Global Universities methodology places significant emphasis on academic research,” said Robert Morse, chief data strategist at U.S. News. “With rankings by subject, region and country, students and their families can easily learn more about schools based on their specific needs and interests.”

Ten new subject rankings were added this year, for a total of 38. The new subjects are biotechnology and applied microbiology; cell biology; chemical engineering; endocrinology and metabolism; energy and fuels; gastroenterology and hepatology; infectious diseases; nanoscience and nanotechnology; public, environmental and occupational health; and radiology, nuclear medicine and medical imaging. China is home to six of the top 10 schools in several of these subjects: chemical engineering, energy and fuels, and nanoscience and nanotechnology.

Based on Web of Science data and InCites metrics provided by Clarivate, a global leader in providing trusted information and insights to accelerate the pace of innovation, the Best Global Universities methodology weighs factors that measure a university’s global and regional research reputation and academic research performance. For the overall rankings, this includes bibliometric indicators such as publications, citations and international collaboration. Each subject ranking has its own methodology based on academic research performance in that specific area.

“The coronavirus pandemic has introduced additional factors to consider when pursuing higher education, especially if you’re looking to earn a degree abroad,” said Anita Narayan, managing editor of Education at U.S. News. “For prospective students, the Best Global Universities rankings provide a solid place to begin your search, create an initial list of schools and compare overall academic quality.”

2021 U.S. News & World Report Best Global Universities

Overall Best Global Universities – Top 10

Harvard University (U.S.)
Massachusetts Institute of Technology (U.S.)
Stanford University (U.S.)
University of California–Berkeley (U.S.)
University of Oxford (U.K.)
Columbia University (U.S.)
California Institute of Technology (U.S.)
University of Washington (U.S.)
University of Cambridge (U.K.)
Johns Hopkins University (U.S.)

Africa – Top 3

University of Cape Town (South Africa)
University of Witwatersrand (South Africa)
Stellenbosch University (South Africa)

Asia – Top 3

Tsinghua University (China)
National University of Singapore
Nanyang Technological University (Singapore)

Australia/New Zealand – Top 3

University of Melbourne (Australia)
University of Sydney
University of Queensland Australia

Europe – Top 3

University of Oxford (U.K.)
University of Cambridge (U.K.)
University College London

Latin America – Top 3

Universidade de São Paulo (Brazil)
State University of Campinas (Brazil)
Pontificia University Católica de Chile

Associate Writer