Harvard Tops 2019 Best Global Universities Rankings

PEOPLE WHO LOVE TRAVEL and adventure are often excited by the possibility of earning an academic degree at a college or university far away from their home country. A growing share of the world’s undergraduate and graduate students are opting to attend schools that are thousands of miles away from home.

Between 1999 and 2016, the number of international students who enrolled at higher education institutions worldwide increased rapidly, rising from 2 million to 5 million, according to a report published by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development in September.

Higher education experts say students should understand both the potential benefits of earning a degree overseas, such as strengthened foreign language skills, and the possible downsides, such as travel costs. Prospective students can find guidance about which international schools are world-renowned by examining the fifth edition of the U.S. News Best Global Universities rankings, released today.

The overall ranking includes 1,250 schools spread across 75 countries. U.S. News also offers rankings specific to particular countries, geographic regions and academic disciplines.

[See: The 2019 Best Global Universities.]

The 2019 Best Global Universities rankings are based on data and metrics provided by Clarivate Analytics InCites. The methodology differs from that used to calculate other U.S. News rankings, such as Best Colleges and Best Graduate Schools, in that the Best Global Universities rankings are entirely based on schools’ academic research performance, such as highly cited papers, and global and regional research reputations. These are not ratings of specific undergraduate or graduate programs.

The top 10 schools in the overall Best Global Universities ranking are similar to last year’s edition, with Harvard University in Massachusetts once again at No. 1, followed by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology at No. 2. However, Yale University in Connecticut and Johns Hopkins University in Maryland, which were tied with the University of Washington for 10th place last year, fell out of the top 10. UW remains at No. 10, while Yale is now at No. 11 and Johns Hopkins is at No. 12.

U.S. schools dominate the overall Best Global Universities ranking, claiming eight of the top 10 spots, with the remaining two taken by famed schools in the United Kingdom: the University of Oxford at No. 5 and the University of Cambridge at No. 7.

The U.S. has more universities that qualified for the overall ranking than any other nation: 227. China has the second-highest number of institutions, at 130, and the U.K. has the third largest contingent, at 78.

Aspiring international students can also consult the 42 country and five regional rankings to compare school options in specific areas of the world. These rankings are based entirely on how each school within that geographic region performed in the overall Best Global Universities ranking.

The highest-rated institutions in the regional rankings remain the same as in the prior edition. The University of Cape Town leads the Africa ranking, and the National University of Singapore tops the Asia ranking. In the Australia and New Zealand ranking, the University of Melbourne is in first place. The University of Oxford remains at the top in Europe, and the Universidade de São Paulo is No. 1 in Latin America.

Prospective students who are interested in a specific field, such as computer science, can refer to the relevant subject ranking; in total, schools are evaluated in 22 subjects. The Best Global Universities subject ranking methodology is different from the overall ranking methodology, since the former focuses on a school’s research strength within a particular field. Keep in mind the subject rankings do not evaluate academic majors, departments or a specific school at a university, such as a business or medical school.

There are 134 schools that are represented in a subject ranking but did not qualify for placement in the overall Best Global Universities ranking.

Several subject rankings include double the number of schools this year compared with last year: molecular biology and genetics, neuroscience and behavior, and environment/ecology. There are now 400 ranked universities for each of these subjects, up from 200 schools.

In nearly every subject ranking, the U.S. has the highest proportion of ranked institutions. There’s just one exception: In the materials science ranking, China claims the biggest share of schools at 20.3 percent, which is a half-percentage point higher than the share the U.S. has.

There are a few universities that have the unique distinction of placing highest in multiple Best Global Universities subject rankings, demonstrating the breadth of their research excellence. These institutions include Harvard, which is the highest-rated school in 10 of the 22 subject rankings, and the following three schools, each of which is rated No. 1 for two subjects: Tsinghua University in China, Wageningen University and Research Center in the Netherlands and the University of California—Berkeley in the U.S.

While U.S. schools claimed first place in most of the subject rankings, non-U.S. schools took the top spot in seven fields: agricultural sciences, arts and humanities, computer science, engineering, materials science, mathematics and plant and animal science.

There are 16 universities that earned spots in all 22 subject rankings. Nine of these universities are located in the U.S., four in Canada, one in Belgium, one in Korea and one in Australia.

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