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Which colleges and universities are the most influential in the world? And, in what do they excel?

Find the colleges and universities that have made the biggest historical impact in the discipline, country, and timeframe of your choice! We rank universities and colleges from around the world based on the scholarly work of their faculty and alumni, i.e., influence.

Note: The schools featured using this tool are influential in the disciplines selected. This does not necessarily mean that they offer a degree in the selected discipline. For example, Princeton University ranks highly for its influence in law. Given that Princeton is the alma mater of three former US presidents (James Madison, Woodrow Wilson, and John F. Kennedy) and three Supreme Court Justices (Samuel Alito, Elena Kagan, & Sonia Sotomayor), among many other prominent statespeople and law makers, Princeton’s influence in the field of law is undeniable. Nevertheless, they offer degrees in politics and public policy, but not in law specifically.

To find influential schools in the US that offer degrees in your area of interest, use our Custom College Rankings tool.

Methodology: How and Why We Rank by Influence …

What is Desirability?

List of the most influential schools in Accounting, for the years 2000 – 2020

Harvard University
#1

Harvard University

#1 institution's overall influence
#2 overall school desirability

Tuition + fees

$50K

Acceptance

5%

Graduation

97%

Student body

25K

Median SAT/ACT

1520/34

Cambridge, MA

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Harvard University is almost universally acclaimed as the world’s most prestigious university. There is little doubt that its towering reputation is well earned.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
#2

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

#9 institution's overall influence
#3 overall school desirability

Tuition + fees

$52K

Acceptance

7%

Graduation

93%

Student body

14K

Median SAT/ACT

1535/35

Cambridge, MA

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The Massachusetts Institute of Technology, founded shortly before the American Civil War and universally known as “MIT,” is located just across the Charles River from downtown Boston. Starting from the MIT campus, if you walk, cycle, or drive in a westerly direction along Massachusetts Avenue (“Mass Ave,” to the locals), or ride the Red Line underneath it, you soon arrive at Harvard Square, with the bulk of the town of Cambridge sandwiched in between. Thus, MIT is not unlike a bookend paired with Harvard, geographically speaking, and academically speaking, as well, it looks upon itself very mu...
University of Chicago
#3

University of Chicago

#5 institution's overall influence
#8 overall school desirability

Tuition + fees

$57K

Acceptance

7%

Graduation

94%

Student body

12K

Median SAT/ACT

1520/34

Chicago, IL

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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.
Stanford University
#4

Stanford University

#10 institution's overall influence
#1 overall school desirability

Tuition + fees

$51K

Acceptance

4%

Graduation

94%

Student body

14K

Median SAT/ACT

1495/33

Stanford, CA

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Stanford University was founded by Leland Stanford, a wealthy railroad magnate and erstwhile US Senator from California, as well as a former Governor of the Golden State. He placed the university in an unincorporated area about 30 miles south of San Francisco, adjacent to the town of Palo Alto (which he also founded). The campus lies in what is now known as Silicon Valley, which contributes greatly to the immense intellectual and economic influence of the private, research university that still bears the Stanford family name. Today, Stanford University is perhaps the closest thing to a true Iv...
Yale University
#5

Yale University

#7 institution's overall influence
#4 overall school desirability

Tuition + fees

$53K

Acceptance

6%

Graduation

98%

Student body

15K

Median SAT/ACT

1515/34

New Haven, CT

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Yale was originally founded under the name of Collegiate School by Connecticut Colony in 1701. It is the fourth-oldest institution of higher learning in the US, after Harvard, the College of William & Mary (in Williamsburg, Virginia), and St. John’s College (in Annapolis, Maryland). Called the “Collegiate School,” its original mission was to train future ministers for the Congregational Church.
University of London
#6

University of London

#2 institution's overall influence
An institution of higher education named University College London (UCL) was founded in the UK’s largest metropolis and capital city in 1826. A mere three years later, in 1829, a second, similar institution named King’s College London (KCL) opened its doors. Then, a mere decade after the founding of UCL, a third institution known simply as University of London (UL) was founded in 1836 by the merger of UCL and KCL.
Columbia University
#7

Columbia University

#3 institution's overall influence
#6 overall school desirability

Tuition + fees

$53K

Acceptance

6%

Graduation

95%

Student body

28K

Median SAT/ACT

1505/34

New York, NY

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Columbia is the eleventh-oldest institution of higher learning in the United States. After New Jersey founded its college (now Princeton University) in 1746, New Yorkers, not wishing to be outdone, established their own college just eight years later. Its original name was King’s College.
University of Pennsylvania
#8

University of Pennsylvania

#17 institution's overall influence
#10 overall school desirability

Tuition + fees

$56K

Acceptance

8%

Graduation

95%

Student body

27K

Median SAT/ACT

1485/33

Philadelphia, PA

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The University of Pennsylvania (commonly known as “Penn”) is a leading private research university (note that nearly all US universities named after their state are public-supported—Penn is an exception to this rule).
University of Milan
#9

University of Milan

#411 institution's overall influence
The University of Milan , known colloquially as UniMi or Statale, is a higher education institution in Milan, Italy. It is one of the largest universities in Europe, with about 60,000 students, and a permanent teaching and research staff of about 2,000.
University of California, Berkeley
#10

University of California, Berkeley

#6 institution's overall influence
#29 overall school desirability

Tuition + fees

$14K

Acceptance

15%

Graduation

92%

Student body

41K

Median SAT/ACT

1425/33

Berkeley, CA

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The University of California, Berkeley is a public research university in Berkeley, California. Established in 1868 as the state's first land-grant university, it is the oldest campus of the University of California system and a founding member of the Association of American Universities. Among its 14 colleges and schools, the university employs over 2,500 faculty and enrolls some 31,000 undergraduate and 12,000 graduate students, and its 180 academic departments and 80 interdisciplinary research units offer over 350 degree programs. Berkeley is ranked among the world's top universities by ma...
University of Michigan
#11

University of Michigan

#15 institution's overall influence
#37 overall school desirability

Tuition + fees

$16K

Acceptance

23%

Graduation

91%

Student body

42K

Median SAT/ACT

1420/32

Ann Arbor, MI

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The flagship campuses of many of the state university systems have superb faculties and excellent academic reputations. However, setting aside Berkeley as a special case, by our criteria the University of Michigan’s Ann Arbor campus is the most distinguished of all these many fine institutions. That is, Michigan has a strong claim to be considered (after Berkeley) the best public research university in the US.
New York University
#12

New York University

#16 institution's overall influence
#44 overall school desirability

Tuition + fees

$52K

Acceptance

20%

Graduation

85%

Student body

47K

Median SAT/ACT

1410/31

New York, NY

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As the cultural mecca of the US, New York City naturally contains many fine colleges and universities. One of the very best is New York University (NYU), located in Washington Square in Lower Manhattan’s Greenwich Village neighborhood. While NYU is a quintessentially urban school lacking a conventional, pastoral college campus setting, its site is immediately recognizable thanks to Washington Square Arch, which is a replica of the ancient Roman Arch of Titus and very similar in appearance to Paris’s celebrated Arc de Triomphe (though only half its size).
Cornell University
#13

Cornell University

#14 institution's overall influence
#14 overall school desirability

Tuition + fees

$55K

Acceptance

11%

Graduation

94%

Student body

24K

Median SAT/ACT

1465/33

Ithaca, NY

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Cornell University was founded in turbulent times. With the Civil War winding down, and less than two weeks after President Abraham Lincoln’s assassination, the Governor of New York signed the school’s official charter in the state capital, Albany, where only the day before Lincoln’s funeral procession had passed through the city’s streets.
Princeton University
#14

Princeton University

#8 institution's overall influence
#5 overall school desirability

Tuition + fees

$50K

Acceptance

5%

Graduation

97%

Student body

7K

Median SAT/ACT

1505/33

Princeton, NJ

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Although only the ninth-oldest university in the country, Princeton is one of the most historic. Originally founded as the College of New Jersey, the school’s sixth presidents, the Scottish theologian and educator John Witherspoon, signed the Declaration of Independence—the only college leader to do so. The next year, George Washington’s colonials dealt a small but significant blow to Lord Cornwallis’s superior forces at the Battle of Princeton on January 3, 1777. The victories at the earlier Battle of Trenton and at Princeton had an important positive effect on American morale, leading ...
Michigan State University
#15

Michigan State University

#103 institution's overall influence
#1461 overall school desirability

Tuition + fees

$16K

Acceptance

78%

Graduation

78%

Student body

43K

Median SAT/ACT

1210/26

East Lansing, MI

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Michigan State University (MSU) was founded in 1855 as the Agricultural College of the State of Michigan, the first of its kind in the US. Its original curriculum elevated the study of the natural sciences over the Classical languages and humanities, which was quite unusual at the time.
School for Advanced Studies in the Social Sciences
#16

School for Advanced Studies in the Social Sciences

#149 institution's overall influence
The School for Advanced Studies in the Social Sciences—or, in its French form, École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales (EHESS)—traces its roots to a department within the earlier École Pratique des Hautes Études [Practical School of Advanced Studies], founded in 1868.
University of Manchester
#17

University of Manchester

#34 institution's overall influence
With more than 40,000 students, Manchester is the largest single-site university in the United Kingdom. While it traces its roots back to the Manchester Mechanics’ Institute founded in 1824, the present university was formed by the merger of University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology (UMIST) and Victoria University of Manchester in 2004.
Northwestern University
#18

Northwestern University

#28 institution's overall influence
#24 overall school desirability

Tuition + fees

$55K

Acceptance

8%

Graduation

94%

Student body

19K

Median SAT/ACT

1490/34

Evanston, IL

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The founding of Northwestern University was spearheaded by the physician and politician John Evans, for whom the town of Evanston, Illinois, is named. The school is a private institution whose campus lies along Lake Michigan, just north of Chicago.
Brigham Young University
#19

Brigham Young University

#111 institution's overall influence
#102 overall school desirability

Tuition + fees

$6K

Acceptance

64%

Graduation

83%

Student body

34K

Median SAT/ACT

1305/28

Provo, UT

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Brigham Young University (BYU) was founded in 1875 as the Brigham Young Academy. It is a private, research university owned and operated by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS).
University of Oxford
#20

University of Oxford

#11 institution's overall influence
The University of Oxford is the oldest university in the English-speaking world, which affords it an aura of awe and respect that no amount of money can buy.
University of Texas at Austin
#21

University of Texas at Austin

#43 institution's overall influence
#43 overall school desirability

Tuition + fees

$11K

Acceptance

39%

Graduation

81%

Student body

45K

Median SAT/ACT

1355/30

Austin, TX

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By rights, the University of Texas (known within Texas itself as “UT,” for short) ought to be 40 years older than it is. In 1839, the Republic of Texas officially set aside 40 acres of prime real estate in the center of the new country’s capital city, Austin, as the site for the campus of a national university. The Texas Congress also granted 288,000 acres of land, mainly in the western regions of the Republic, as a financial endowment for the future university.
Graduate Center, CUNY
#22

Graduate Center, CUNY

#511 institution's overall influence

Tuition + fees

$7K

Student body

4K

New York, NY

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The Graduate School and University Center of the City University of New York is a public research institution and post-graduate university in New York City. It is the principal doctoral-granting institution of the City University of New York system. The school is situated in the landmark B. Altman and Company Building at 365 Fifth Avenue in Midtown Manhattan, opposite the Empire State Building. The Graduate Center has 4,600 students, 31 doctoral programs, 14 master's programs, and 30 research centers and institutes. A core faculty of approximately 140 is supplemented by over 1,800 additiona...
Duke University
#23

Duke University

#31 institution's overall influence
#12 overall school desirability

Tuition + fees

$56K

Acceptance

9%

Graduation

95%

Student body

15K

Median SAT/ACT

1510/34

Durham, NC

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Duke began life as Brown’s Schoolhouse, on a site in what is now the town of Trinity in Randolph County, North Carolina, a little over 70 miles west of its current location in the city of Durham.
University of Southern California
#24

University of Southern California

#39 institution's overall influence
#30 overall school desirability

Tuition + fees

$56K

Acceptance

13%

Graduation

92%

Student body

37K

Median SAT/ACT

1440/32

Los Angeles, CA

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The University of Southern California (USC) was founded as the first private research university in the state (five years before Stanford) largely through the efforts of Judge Robert Widney, one of the most prominent citizens of Los Angeles at that time.
University of British Columbia
#25

University of British Columbia

#60 institution's overall influence
The University of British Columbia (UBC) was founded in 1908.
University of Toronto
#26

University of Toronto

#24 institution's overall influence
The University of Toronto received its royal charter in 1827 from King George IV. Originally known as King’s College, it was the first institution of higher learning in the colonial Province of Upper Canada (consisting of mostly what is now southern Ontario).
Carnegie Mellon University
#27

Carnegie Mellon University

#46 institution's overall influence
#35 overall school desirability

Tuition + fees

$55K

Acceptance

17%

Graduation

90%

Student body

16K

Median SAT/ACT

1500/34

Pittsburgh, PA

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In 1900, the Scottish-born industrialist and philanthropist, Andrew Carnegie, donated the funds to establish a vocational college called the Carnegie Technical Schools. In 1912, the Technical Schools’ name was changed to the Carnegie Institute of Technology (CIT).
University of Florida
#28

University of Florida

#101 institution's overall influence
#45 overall school desirability

Tuition + fees

$6K

Acceptance

39%

Graduation

87%

Student body

45K

Median SAT/ACT

1360/29

Gainesville, FL

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The University of Florida (UF) traces its roots back to East Florida Seminary, which was founded in 1853 in the town of Ocala. The seminary, which was the first publicly supported institution of higher learning in the state, relocated to the city of Gainesville in 1858.
University of Cambridge
#29

University of Cambridge

#4 institution's overall influence
Founded in 1209, the University of Cambridge is one of the oldest universities in the world (or, at least, in Europe, not to prejudge the claims of several Islamic institutions to that title).
University of California, Los Angeles
#30

University of California, Los Angeles

#23 institution's overall influence
#31 overall school desirability

Tuition + fees

$13K

Acceptance

14%

Graduation

91%

Student body

44K

Median SAT/ACT

1405/32

Los Angeles, CA

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The University of California, Los Angeles is a public research university in Los Angeles, California. UCLA traces its early origins back to 1882 as the southern branch of the California State Normal School . It became the Southern Branch of the University of California in 1919, making it the second-oldest of the 10-campus University of California system.
University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign
#31

University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign

#45 institution's overall influence
#162 overall school desirability

Tuition + fees

$17K

Acceptance

62%

Graduation

85%

Student body

52K

Median SAT/ACT

1330/29

Champaign, IL

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The University of Illinois began life as the Illinois Industrial University, located in the city of Urbana. Although the original intention of lawmakers and the preference of many state residents was for the new school to concentrate on vocational training, the university’s first president, John Milton Gregory, wisely insisted on offering a full spectrum of liberal arts and science courses.
University of Waterloo
#32

University of Waterloo

#179 institution's overall influence
The University of Waterloo traces its roots back to the Waterloo College School, founded in 1914.
University of Rochester
#33

University of Rochester

#91 institution's overall influence
#61 overall school desirability

Tuition + fees

$54K

Acceptance

29%

Graduation

85%

Student body

11K

Median SAT/ACT

1410/32

Rochester, NY

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The University of Rochester traces its roots to the Baptist Education Society of the State of New York, founded in 1817 in the town of Hamilton in central New York state. Its primary function was to train Baptist clergymen. In 1823, the educational society changed its name to the Hamilton Literary and Theological Institution.
Georgetown University
#34

Georgetown University

#70 institution's overall influence
#19 overall school desirability

Tuition + fees

$54K

Acceptance

15%

Graduation

94%

Student body

14K

Median SAT/ACT

1450/32

Washington, DC

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Georgetown University is a Catholic institution of higher learning that was founded in 1789 by John Carroll, Archbishop of Baltimore.
University of New England
#35

University of New England

#919 institution's overall influence
The University of New England is a public university in Australia with approximately 22,500 higher education students. Its original and main campus is located in the city of Armidale in northern central New South Wales. UNE was the first Australian university established outside a state capital city.
University of Alabama
#36

University of Alabama

#199 institution's overall influence
#94 overall school desirability

Tuition + fees

$11K

Acceptance

59%

Graduation

69%

Student body

36K

Median SAT/ACT

1170/27

Tuscaloosa, AL

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The University of Alabama (UA) was founded in 1820. UA is organized into 13 academic divisions offering 117 areas of study. Among its most popular degree programs are those in engineering and in business, management, and marketing.
University of Washington
#37

University of Washington

#42 institution's overall influence
#69 overall school desirability

Tuition + fees

$11K

Acceptance

49%

Graduation

84%

Student body

46K

Median SAT/ACT

1340/29

Seattle, WA

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In the 1850s, the Governor of Washington Territory and some of his Seattle-based friends and business associates, including a prominent Methodist minister, put their heads together to figure out a way to advance two causes close to their hearts: the prospect of statehood for the territory and the economic welfare of the city of Seattle.
University of Minnesota
#38

University of Minnesota

#33 institution's overall influence
#890 overall school desirability

Tuition + fees

$15K

Acceptance

52%

Graduation

78%

Student body

44K

Median SAT/ACT

1375/28

Minneapolis, MN

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The University of Minnesota (UM) traces its roots to a college preparatory school established in the city of Minneapolis seven years before Minnesota entered the Union in 1858. This school closed its doors during the Civil War, but reopened in 1867.
University of Nebraska–Lincoln
#39

University of Nebraska–Lincoln

#261 institution's overall influence
#711 overall school desirability

Tuition + fees

$9K

Acceptance

80%

Graduation

67%

Student body

23K

Median SAT/ACT

1245/25

Lincoln, NE

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The University of Nebraska–Lincoln is a public research university in Lincoln, Nebraska. It is the state's oldest university and the largest in the University of Nebraska system.
#40

École normale supérieure Paris-Saclay

#1184 institution's overall influence
The École normale supérieure Paris-Saclay , formerly ENS Cachan, is a higher education institution of Paris-Saclay University, located in Gif-sur-Yvette within the Essonne department near Paris, in the Île-de-France region of France.
Johns Hopkins University
#41

Johns Hopkins University

#20 institution's overall influence
#21 overall school desirability

Tuition + fees

$54K

Acceptance

11%

Graduation

92%

Student body

24K

Median SAT/ACT

1505/34

Baltimore, MD

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Johns Hopkins was designed from its origin to contribute to the cutting edge of scientific discovery. With time, this goal has been fully achieved, leading to the top-tier research institution that the university is today. The school is named after its founding benefactor, the entrepreneur and philanthropist Johns Hopkins, who contributed $7 million (approximately $145 million in today’s money) to create both the university and an associated hospital.
Boston University School of Law
#42

Boston University School of Law

#661 institution's overall influence
Boston University School of Law is the law school of Boston University, a private university in Boston, Massachusetts.
McGill University
#43

McGill University

#40 institution's overall influence
McGill University is the direct descendent of McGill College, founded by royal charter in 1821 and largely funded by a bequest from the Scottish-born Canadian entrepreneur and philanthropist, James McGill. The university took its present name in 1885.
University of Wisconsin–Madison
#44

University of Wisconsin–Madison

#25 institution's overall influence
#216 overall school desirability

Tuition + fees

$11K

Acceptance

52%

Graduation

85%

Student body

36K

Median SAT/ACT

1365/29

Madison, WI

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The University of Wisconsin was founded at the same time that the eastern part of the Wisconsin Territory became the new state of Wisconsin and entered the union. In accord with its charter, the new state university was physically located in the state capital, Madison.
Amherst College
#45

Amherst College

#89 institution's overall influence
#26 overall school desirability

Tuition + fees

$56K

Acceptance

13%

Graduation

93%

Student body

2K

Median SAT/ACT

1430/32

Amherst, MA

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Amherst College was founded in 1821. It is a four-year, liberal arts college with an enrollment of over 1,850 undergraduates.
George Washington University
#46

George Washington University

#62 institution's overall influence
#76 overall school desirability

Tuition + fees

$53K

Acceptance

42%

Graduation

84%

Student body

21K

Median SAT/ACT

1370/30

Washington, DC

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George Washington University (GWU) was founded in 1821, under the name of Columbian College, by an act of the US Congress, signed by President James Monroe.
University of Virginia
#47

University of Virginia

#44 institution's overall influence
#40 overall school desirability

Tuition + fees

$17K

Acceptance

26%

Graduation

94%

Student body

24K

Median SAT/ACT

1415/32

Charlottesville, VA

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The University of Virginia (UVA) was very much the personal project of the third president of the United States, Thomas Jefferson. Virginia already had a venerable and distinguished university, the College of William & Mary, which is the second-oldest in the country—founded right after Harvard—and was Jefferson’s own alma mater.
University of Edinburgh
#48

University of Edinburgh

#12 institution's overall influence
In spite of dating back to the reign of Queen Elizabeth I, the University of Edinburgh is only the fourth-oldest university in Scotland (after St. Andrews, Glasgow, and Aberdeen), hence the sixth-oldest in the English-speaking world (with Oxford and Cambridge, of course, in first and second positions).
Ohio State University
#49

Ohio State University

#104 institution's overall influence
#77 overall school desirability

Tuition + fees

$11K

Acceptance

52%

Graduation

84%

Student body

55K

Median SAT/ACT

1345/29

Columbus, OH

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Ohio State University (OSU) was founded in 1870 as the Ohio Agricultural and Mechanical College. Three years later, in 1873, the new school opened its doors to a small group of 24 students. In 1878, the first class of just six students graduated.
RMIT University
#50

RMIT University

#579 institution's overall influence
RMIT University, formerly known as Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology and Melbourne Technical College, is a public research university based in Melbourne, Australia.