Brandeis University
#86 Overall Influence#167 Desirability Rank

Brandeis University

Private research university in Waltham, Massachusetts

By James Barham, PhD

Brandeis University was founded in suburban Boston in 1948. Its founders intended to provide a top-rank research university that would be friendly to Jewish students and faculty—at a time when the American Ivy League schools all restricted the number of their Jewish students according to a strict quota system.

The circumstances of Brandeis’s founding are unusual and rather complicated.

In 1914, the Middlesex College of Medicine and Surgery was founded in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Later, it moved to Waltham and changed its name to Middlesex University.

By the end of World War II, Middlesex University was the only university in the US that did not have a Jewish quota. Unfortunately, it was struggling financially and was on the point of having to close its doors, which it finally did in 1947.

At the same time, the American-born rabbi and fervent Zionist, Israel Goldstein, was putting together a group of backers to launch a new research university in America which–while secular in its curriculum and open to all–would take as its special mission the education of the best and the brightest Jewish students, thus circumventing the Ivy League quota system.

Goldstein undertook a massive publicity campaign, for which he enlisted the help of the world-renowned physicist, Albert Einstein, among many others. (Einstein later resigned from the project.)

After long negotiations, Goldstein’s group was able to purchase the land and physical plant belonging to Middlesex University, which had by then shut its doors. Since there was no other continuity between the two schools–in students, in faculty, or in administration–Middlesex is not considered to be the official predecessor of Brandeis.

Goldstein and his associates named the new university after US Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis, the first Jewish member of that body.

Brandeis is associated with three Nobel laureates:

  • Biochemist and neuroscientist, Roderick MacKinnon
  • Chronobiology pioneers, Michael Rosbash & Jeffrey Hall

as well as the Turing Award winner,

  • Leslie Lamport

and the Fields Medalists,

  • Edward Witten
  • Heisuke Hironaka

Other prominent Brandeis connected individuals include the following:

  • Philosophers, Alasdair MacIntyre, Herbert Marcuse, Michael Sandel, Hubert Dreyfus, Jean Bethke Elshtain, Michael Walzer, Evelyn Fox Keller, Christian Hoff Sommers, Seyla Benhabib & Angela Davis
  • Bioethicist, Arthur Caplan
  • Law professor, Anita Hill
  • Mathematicians, Karen Uhlenbeck, Ruth Charney, David Harbater, Kiyoshi Igusa, Ira Gessel & Paul Sally
  • Computer scientists, Timothy Hickey & Harry Mairson
  • Astronomer, Janet Akyüz Mattei,/li>
  • Physicists, Charles H. Bennett, Paul Townsend, Matthew Headrick & Venkataraman Balakrishnan
  • Biochemists, William Jencks, Judith Voet, Perry Frey & Gregory Petsko
  • Cell biologists, Margaret Fuller & Jason Swedlow
  • Neuroscientist, Larry Abbott
  • Cognitive scientists, Ulrich Neisser, Philip Rubin & Ron Sun
  • Psychologists, Abraham Maslow & Elliot Aronson
  • Linguist, Ray Jackendoff
  • Poets, Adrienne Rich, Frank Bidart, Alicia Ostriker, Allen Grossman & Mark Halliday
  • Novelists, Kathy Acker, Gish Jen & Ha Jin
  • Novelist and memoirist, Frank Conroy
  • Literary critics, Philip Rahv, Elaine Showalter & Margo Jefferson
  • Inspirational author, Mitch Albom
  • Political commentators, Thomas Friedman, Walter Laqueur, Max Lerner & Kay Hymowitz
  • Classical composers, Leonard Bernstein, Peter Lieberson & Irving Fine
  • Popular music producer, Jon Landau
  • Theater producer, Michael Kaiser
  • Film directors, Marshall Herskovitz & Debra Granik
  • TV screenwriters, Marta Kauffman & David Crane
  • Actors, Louise Lasser & Tony Goldwyn
  • Historians, David Hackett Fischer, Deborah Lipstadt, David Oshinsky, Laura Snyder & Joan Wallach Scott
  • Judaica scholar, Michael Fishbane
  • Economists, Thomas Sowell, Stuart Altman, Robert Reich, Gustav Ranis & George Loewenstein
  • Anthropologists, Arjun Appadurai & Lawrence Rosen
  • Sociologists, Philip Rieff & Nancy Chodorow
  • Social activist and co-founder of the Youth International Party (Yippies), Abbie Hoffman
  • Photographer and philanthropist, Bobby Sager
  • Journalist, Guy Raz
  • TV correspondent, Bob Simon
  • US First Lady and philanthropist, Eleanor Roosevelt


What does this school look for?

Annual Applications




Graduation Rate


Median SAT Score


Median ACT Score



How much does it cost to attend?

Tuition (in-state)


Fees (in-state)


IncomeAverage Net Cost

After Graduation

Averages for 10 years after enrolling

Avg Earnings




Campus Life

What's it like to attend this school?

The People

Full time on-campus stats

Student Body






The Campus

Where will you be attending?


415 South St, Waltham MA 02454-9110

On Campus Crime Rates

Property Crime

10 per 100k

Violent Crime

0 per 100k

City Crime Rates

Property Crime

11 per 100k

Violent Crime

2 per 100k

What is Brandeis University known for?

Our answer to this is to show you the disciplines in which a school's faculty and alumni have had the highest historical influence. A school may be influential in a discipline even if they do not offer degrees in that area. We've organized two lists to show where they are influential and offer corresponding degrees, and where they are influential through scholarship although they don't offer degrees in the disciplines.

Top areas of influence with degrees offered

#40 World Rank #22 USA Rank
#62 World Rank #23 USA Rank
#47 World Rank #24 USA Rank
#63 World Rank #33 USA Rank
#97 World Rank #35 USA Rank
#73 World Rank #40 USA Rank
#83 World Rank #42 USA Rank
#60 World Rank #42 USA Rank
Political Science
#70 World Rank #44 USA Rank
Computer Science
#124 World Rank #45 USA Rank
#90 World Rank #47 USA Rank
#115 World Rank #60 USA Rank
#91 World Rank #61 USA Rank
#165 World Rank #61 USA Rank
#132 World Rank #100 USA Rank
#207 World Rank #105 USA Rank

Other areas of influence

#42 World Rank #36 USA Rank
Social Work
#52 World Rank #44 USA Rank
Criminal Justice
#69 World Rank #32 USA Rank
Religious Studies
#84 World Rank #45 USA Rank
#128 World Rank #101 USA Rank
#134 World Rank #98 USA Rank
#690 World Rank #253 USA Rank

Influential People

Who are Brandeis University's Most influential alumni?

Brandeis University's most influential alumni faculty include professors and professionals in the fields of Psychology, Social Work, and Sociology. Brandeis University’s most academically influential people include Edward Witten, Thomas Friedman, and Jack Abramoff.

Edward Witten
Edward Witten

American theoretical physicist

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Thomas Friedman
Thomas Friedman

American journalist and author

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Jack Abramoff
Jack Abramoff

American republican lobbyist

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Christina Hoff Sommers
Christina Hoff Sommers

American author and philosopher

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Ha Jin
Ha Jin

Chinese-American novelist, short story writer and poet

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Bonnie Berger
Bonnie Berger

American mathematician and computer scientist

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Deborah Lipstadt
Deborah Lipstadt

American historian

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Michael Sandel
Michael Sandel

American political philosopher

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Elaine Showalter

American literary critic, feminist, and writer on cultural and social issues

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Leslie Lamport
Leslie Lamport

American computer scientist

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Kathy Acker
Kathy Acker

American novelist, playwright, essayist, and poet

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Evelyn Fox Keller

American physicist, author and feminist

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