The United States has long prided itself on its exceptional higher education, leading the world in students spelling out words and pictures on football fields, crushing the competition in numbers of students wearing sweaters with university logos on them, and, without challenge, winning the largest pool of valedictorians, beating out the UK (0) and Australia (0). Further, the U.S. has more universities than France, which has a terrible case of Grand Ecoles, aside some terrifically cheap universities (how good could they be, so cheap?). In short, if you got your degree at one of the U.S.’s 4,599 colleges and universities, you likely attended a very good school — perhaps the best.
If you’re wondering how your school fares against the world’s top few, or are looking to make a choice that will define the rest of your life and permanent social ranking, we have produced a World Schools Rankings Reports for around 50 of the colleges currently ranked in the world’s top ten.
Alabama State University
Rank: Definitely a “10”
Big Al says this is a legit top tenner, and an excellent incubator for character, with excellent gym equipment and a good cut in its jib.
Arizona State University
Bring your sunglasses, because this school can be Fulbright(!). ASU is perhaps number one in the world for Sandra Day O’Connor School of Laws.
Rank: Has Boston in the title
Although demands on students are stringent, there is still plenty of time to lay prone on plush lawns, writing screenplays about the other Boston school.
Rank: Has university in the title
BU outperforms in instances where people think that you’re trying to convey descriptively that you attend Harvard, without saying “Harvard.”
Rank: How YOU doin?
Are there polar bears in Maine? No, but who needs them when your endowment is $1.04 billion? This liberal arts college is New Ivy all the way.
Rank: Rankings are a philosophy that Brown does not concern itself with.
This form is too linear.
They may not be in space, but they’re studying the fuck out of aerospace.
Rank: If anyone knows how to rig the algorithm it’s the world’s leading computer scientists, housed at CM. This illustrious school is located in Pittsburgh so you’re not distracted and can focus on studying at one of the best schools in the world.
The number one school in the world if you aspire to be a Founding Father or sit unhappily on the Supreme Court. If you wish to become a billionaire, have your millionaire dad wave you through. Students must purchase a laptop and scepter prior to commencement. Makes and distributes its own Pulitzers.
Cornell has the smartest people in the world, but they’re not too cool for slope day. One of the hottest Ivies, but chill enough to play beer pong with the guys.
There may not be a Dartmouth in Qatar (yet) but world is just realizing how great Dartmouth is – it sure looks great on a sweater. Please leave your football affiliations at the door.
Rank: Aristocratic title
You probably know the old chestnut, “You must be smart if you went to Duke.” This is the New York Yankees of schools, which is why other people resent it.
Florida State University
Rank: Selective graduation
FSU’s biochem program is perhaps tougher than the leading med programs in the country, and certainly more trouble to pronounce. Socially speaking, has been on a hot streak since the 1970s.
University of Central Florida
Rank: You don’t rank your friends
Can you buy values? You don’t have to if you’re in-state. UCF is the most selective medical school in the country, and has the tiniest beakers.
Rank: A tuppence
A great school if you like to be taught by Madeline Albright, but bad if you care that Madeline can only work part-time. It takes GUTS to get into Georgetown.
Rank: Forged with blood
Begun as a sweatshop in post-Civil War Georgia, G-Tech has grown large enough to pay other people to make its machines, and is known for its fierce work ethic.
Rank: “A rank in Boston”
Harvard doesn’t care about your 1400 SAT score, administrators only want to know one thing: do you own a spotted leopard? “A school in Boston” is the number one school in the world for aspiring oligarchs.
Indiana State University
Rank: Division 1
Far superior to Indiana State University, Terre Neuve, the Indiana, U.S., campus provides an outstanding mid-education, according to the Princeton Review. If you don’t like Indiana, you probably haven’t stayed long enough. For a doctorate. That’s when it gets good.
Iowa State University of Science and Technology
Rank: 1st to poll
A charter member of the Big 12 and the nation’s most student-centered public research university, Iowa is constantly asking students, “Are you mad at me? Say something. Anything.” It boasts one of the most illustrious homecoming celebrations for people who never left. Don’t worry, they got rid of the nuclear reactor.
James Madison University
Charming hole-in-the-wall university James Madison has some killer Mexican wings. This top school is as hard to get into as Virginia Tech, and far superior to Alexander Hamilton University, that jerk.
Johns Hopkins is very hards to gets into. Founded by a quaker, JH’s various business, medicine, nursing and international studies schools are well regarded the world over, with Nobel prize winners among alums. Indeed, the faculty are world class when they feel like speaking.
Kent is the fourth best school in Ohio, and therefore one of the best in the world.
Michigan State University
Rank: On a diet
This spirited beacon for higher education and football doesn’t have any U.S. presidents on its alum list, unless you count PRESIDENT MAGIC JOHNSON.
Rank: Please, give us a harder equation
Girls want to be M.I.T., Harvard wants to be with M.I.T. Often invoked in stories about alienated geniuses, it is the best college in the world, and not in any of those soft, pussy subjects like history or medicine.
The leading school for students who want to complete their studies somewhere else, perhaps overseas, Northeastern started out in Boston as a YMCA and enjoyed a brief boom period after it figured out how to shorten “The Center for the Study of Sport in Society.” The lack of an article hasn’t stopped Sport in Society from making its mark.
The “Cornell of the Great Lakes” has huge endowments and massive research grants, which it hides under a puffer jacket and loose-fitting blue jeans. Concerned it wasn’t receiving enough media attention for its integrated sciences, Northwestern founded a journalism school to rectify the problem.
New York University
Rank: If you can make it here, you can tell everyone you made it here
The cultural capital of the educational world, NYU enjoys close proximity to parks, people with those loops that make gigantic bubbles, and Citibike stations. It is considered a pre-eminent place of learning, and has nice banners that look a bit like what you’d see at Hogwarts.
The Ohio State University
Rank: The north, south and west of higher learning
Known colloquially as “The better than Michigan university,” Ohio State has been up-and-coming since 1916. Aside from a solid academic program, OSU is known for its second-to-none cheering, and is available for weddings.
Pennsylvania State University
Rank: You have an A+ chance of getting in
Penn State saw its first graduates matriculate in 1862, and in 1863 closed enrollment to horses, embarking on its journey to become of the leading human universities in the world. Indeed, Main Campus is a top ten school for sure.
Rank: Princeton doesn’t advertise
Founded in Elizabeth and today located in the fiefdom of Princeton, the school is bordered on all sides by New Jersey. The wealthiest school in terms of endowment per student, Princeton has world class alums and recruits a narrow slice of applicants who have demonstrated requisite enthusiasm for dining clubs and dressing like it’s Halloween year-round.
Rank: One of the best schools in the galaxy
Purdue is its own flagship. Among its alums, the university counts Gus Grissom, the first vertically launched man into space, as well as Bill Bobs, the first (unsuccessfully) horizontally launched man into space.
Rice has a 5:1 student to faculty ratio, and has provided its alums with one of the best Murder She Wrote plots in modern history in the death of founder William Marsh Rice, who was chloroformed to death by his butler and attorney, the latter who made out a check to himself, but misspelled his own name.
Rank: Do not wave your patriarchal numbers in my face
Leading the way for recruitment of women into STEM subjects, Smith lures them in with a molasses cookie. The school started out as seven sisters and now has around 2600. In 2006, Smith installed Kurt Vonnegut as writer-in-residence, an honor that killed him the following year.
Southern Methodist University
Rank: Some firsts
SMU is proud home to the George W. Bush Presidential Library, a vast resource of paint-by-numbers instructional guides, and is noted for its potential for networking, perhaps over a copy of Painting for Dummies.
A finishing school for Silicon Valley entrepreneurs, Stanford isn’t an Ivy, because there isn’t a varsity Halo league. It remains the biggest kombucha party school, year after year.
One fifth of the student body lives on campus (the head), at this tech school turned PhD powerhouse. When not pursuing leading-edge research in the aeronautical and marine fields, A&M likes to prune the shrubs on its ranch.
The only Boston school to be located in the French Alps, Tufts is considered one of the Little Ivies, which is only the tiniest bit insulting.
University at Albany, State University of New York
Rank: Number one in the world for concrete per square foot.
SUNY Albany is still riding high from besting the British at their own game in 1777.
University of Colorado, Boulder
Rank: 5 finger shoes
UC Boulder is the most and least diverse campus perhaps in the world, with every color of townie bike in the rainbow, and some of the top white varsity skiers in attendance.
University of California, Berkeley
Rank: 2 good
Berkeley stands out as a world-class university that actually takes its star professors down from the walls and puts them to work. Berkeley is renowned for its brave student activists standing up to take a hose of pepper spray to the face.
Rank: 73 degrees
This exceptional state school far outperforms Berkeley on the James Franco/student ratio, and boasts the best weather in the world, until Earth warms another three degrees.
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Rank: 2nd place in the Civil War
The focal point of this public Ivy is the Old Well, located between Old West and Old East in the Old South, where old Confederate paraphernalia lies here and there.
University of Chicago
Known as the Stanford of Lake Michigan, Chicago is culturally rich, but doesn’t rub it in the faces of poorer universities. The university boasts top-tier graduate schools and its own Plaisance.
University of Evansville
Rank: There is a state called Evansville?
Unlike Walmart colleges like Yale and Harvard, UE has low admissions to provide one on one teaching, making it an ace place to learn.
University of Idaho-Moscow
Rank: Right on the border of one
In the same realm as Yale or the University of Oregon, the University of Idaho-Moscow has talented faculty, a beer hall and a tire shop that will give you a good deal.
University of Illinois
If Abraham Lincoln hadn’t self-educated, he would have chosen U. Ill. to lay down his briefcase. The school is famed for incubating President Barack Obama’s patented “uhhhh” with vocal fry.
University of Maryland, College Park
Rank: DC plus representation
M.I.T. might sound fancier, but UM is neighbors with NASA and the Department of Homeland Security, and doing world-class research into good Ethiopian food.
University of Minnesota
Strewn between the Twin Cities, U of M is one of the safest campuses around, and will remain so, unless someone makes off with Minneapolis or St. Paul, rupturing the crucial balance. Though it’s difficult to get into Minnesota, it’s only 112th in Natural Sciences, so you could try for that.
University of Notre Dame
Rank: The holy trinity
Notre Dame is Catholic, but, like, a Catholic that drinks. Notre Dame has all four seasons, including two that are football, and has a business program that shits on Kelloggs.
University of Oregon
Rank: 30 degree vert
Smart people are active people, and Oregon has 10 Pulitzer Prize winners, 19 Rhodes scholars, 129 Fulbright scholars, and seriously hundreds of parkour champions among its alumni. Lots of gravity research going on here.
University of Oxford
Where is it? Do they sell merchandise?
University of Pennsylvania
Rank: The rank goes on and on
This tough school grades on a curve. After every curve comes a Waffle House. Penn is the number two school in the world for likelihood graduates will be driving a BMW in ten years time, behind Michigan State University in Dubai.
University of Rhode Island
Rank: 2 if by land, 1 by sea
URI specializes in watersheds, marine ecosystems, water tables, and aquaculture, all bars in Providence.
University of Washington
Rank: The other Washington
If Harvard and the University of San Diego had a baby, it would be UW.
University of Wisconsin-Madison
Proof that sausage-loving Americans aren’t all red-blooded, Wisconsin has a history of progressive activism and has kept its land grant through vigorous games of corn hole on campus lawns. The school is home to a famously long-running student paper, The Daily Cardinal, which its staff prioritize over their actual coursework. Thousands-of-years-old effigy mounds around the campus show that earlier inhabitants also sat around in sweat pants a lot.
University of Texas
Rank: Buy stock in UT now to make bank when it hits #1
Located in Silicon Hills, UT provides a safe environment for aspiring techies to ride their Segways and auto-unicycles far from the cliffs of the Pacific Ocean.
University of Vermont
Rank: Rich before you
FACT: Vanderbilt is better than NYU, but because it’s in the South, people overlook it. p.s. no one cares about state schools.
If you’re not up to scratch you might not clear the hard cutoffs. Cutoff SLEEVES.
Yale has seen more than one U.S. president pass through its halls, though one of them was #43, which actually counts as two negs. Wanting to go to Yale, and having good enough scores to go to Yale are very different things, because Yale is probably the best university in the world.