What Are Five of the Top Universities in the World?


Quick Answer

In 2014, the top five universities in the world were the California Institute of Technology, Harvard University, the University of Oxford, Stanford University and the University of Cambridge. These rankings were compiled by The Times based on 13 different performance indicators, including student performance, research and quality of instruction.

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Full Answer

Among the criteria Times Higher Education uses, teaching, research and citations are the most important, with each factor accounting for 30 percent of a school's final rating. Citations, in this instance, refers to how often the school's publications are cited as references in publications from elsewhere in academia. Industry innovation, a measure of how much outside investment a school attracts, is responsible for 2.5 percent of its rating. The final 7.5 percent of a school's rating comes from its international impact in terms of students, faculty, publications and citations.

The majority of the world's top colleges and universities are located in the United States. A smaller but still notable number of top schools are in the United Kingdom. In the 2014 rankings, only two non-U.S. and non-U.K. schools, the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich and Canada's University of Toronto, broke the top 20. The top 50 schools were more cosmopolitan, with Japan, Australia, Singapore, Germany, South Korea and China all being represented.

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