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#8 Overall Influence #8 Desirability Rank

University of Chicago

Private research university in Chicago, Illinois, United States
By James Barham, PhD

The University of Chicago is one of the foremost universities in the world academically, albeit one of the youngest in that august company. In spite of its relatively recent founding, the school has been associated with some of the world’s most important scientific achievements, above all, the first controlled, self-sustaining, nuclear chain reaction (atomic fission), which was achieved in late 1942 by a team led by the legendary Italian physicist, Enrico Fermi, in a laboratory beneath a football field on the Chicago campus.

In another first, in 1952 then-graduate student Stanley Miller, with the assistance of his adviser, the distinguished University of Chicago chemist Harold Urey, demonstrated that organic molecules such as amino acids can be artificially produced in vitro from only inorganic precursor compounds. It is also worth noting that James D. Watson, the co-discover with Francis Crick of the double-helix structure of the DNA molecule at the University of Cambridge—also in 1952—completed his undergraduate education at Chicago.

However, Chicago is famed for far more than its contributions to science. For example, in 1896 renowned philosopher John Dewey founded the “Lab School” on the university’s campus to put his liberal pedagogical principles into practice. For better or for worse, the Chicago Lab School has had an incalculable impact on the course of educational philosophy in America.

In 1952, former University of Chicago President Robert Maynard Hutchins and philosophy professor Mortimer J. Adler teamed up to found the Great Books of the Western World publishing project and accompanying curriculum—one of the most important ancestors of the Great Books programs that are increasing in popularity today throughout the US.

Of the approximately 90 Nobel Prize recipients connected to the University of Chicago, no fewer than 29 have been recognized for their work in economics, including such distinguished names as:

  • Friedrich Hayek
  • Paul Samuelson
  • Kenneth Arrow
  • Herbert Simon
  • Milton Friedman
  • James M. Buchanan
  • George Stigler
  • Robert Lucas
  • Ronald Coase
  • Gary Becker
  • Eugene Fama

Friedman’s free-market views, in particular, have been identified with the university—so much so that he and his close associates (Stigler, Lucas, Coase, Becker, Fama, among others) have come to be known collectively as the “Chicago School” of economics.

The American novelist and Nobelist Saul Bellow was a professor at Chicago, as well as a longtime member of the university’s prestigious Committee on Social Thought.

Of the many other distinguished scholars associated with the Committee on Social Thought, we may mention Hans Jonas, Hannah Arendt, Mircea Eliade, Allan Bloom, and Leon Kass.

In addition, the highly influential political philosopher, Leo Strauss, held the Robert Maynard Hutchins Distinguished Service Professorship at Chicago for 20 years.

Other distinguished Chicago-related individuals include:

  • Astrophysicist, Edwin Hubble
  • Physicists, Luis Walter Alvarez & Carl Sagan
  • Statistician, Nate Silver
  • Novelists, Kurt Vonnegut & Philip Roth
  • Philosopher, Richard Rorty
  • Essayist, novelist, and culture critic, Susan Sontag
  • Historian, Carter G. Woodson
  • Anthropologist, Clifford Geertz
  • Economist, Thomas Sowell
  • Author, radio broadcaster, and oral history pioneer, Studs Terkel
  • Actor, Ed Asner
  • Actor and film director, Mike Nichols
  • Film critic, Roger Ebert
  • Dancer and choreographer, Katherine Dunham
  • Washington Post publisher, Katharine Graham
  • 2020 Democratic Party presidential nomination candidates, Amy Klobuchar & Bernie Sanders

From Wikipedia

The University of Chicago is a private research university in Chicago, Illinois. Founded in 1890, its main campus is located in Chicago's Hyde Park neighborhood. The University of Chicago is ranked among the best universities in the world, and it is among the most selective in the United States.

Source: Wikipedia


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
0 - 30K$2,712
30K - 48K$2,800
48K - 75K$7,934
75K - 110K$17,929

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?


5801 S Ellis Ave, Chicago IL 60637

On Campus Crime Rates

Property Crime

18 per 100K

Violent Crime

1 per 100K

What is University of Chicago 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

#7 World Rank
#3 World Rank
#10 World Rank
#10 World Rank
#6 World Rank
#8 World Rank
#5 World Rank
Political Science
#7 World Rank
#5 World Rank
#11 World Rank
#5 World Rank
#7 World Rank
#12 World Rank
#2 World Rank
#18 World Rank
Computer Science
#2 World Rank
#9 World Rank
#6 World Rank
#31 World Rank
#9 World Rank
Religious Studies
#5 World Rank
Earth Sciences
#3 World Rank
Criminal Justice
#4 World Rank
Social Work

Other areas of influence

#25 World Rank

Influential People

Who are University of Chicago's Most influential alumni?

University of Chicago 's most influential alumni faculty include professors and professionals in the fields of Anthropology, Sociology, and Economics

Bertram Kostant

Bertram Kostant

American mathematician

Clarence Zener

Clarence Zener

American physicist

Mildred Dresselhaus

Mildred Dresselhaus

American physicist

Raphael Finkel

American computer scientist

Donald Johanson

Donald Johanson

American anthropologist

Morris Halle

Morris Halle

Latvian-American linguist

Paul Rabinow

Paul Rabinow

American anthropologist

John Warwick Montgomery

Lawyer, theologian and author

Michael C. Jensen

American economist

Karl H. Pribram

Karl H. Pribram

Austrian neuroscientist

Paul Cohen

American mathematician

David Suzuki

David Suzuki

Canadian popular scientist and environmental activist