Search Schools Result

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 Chemistry, for the years 2000 – 2020

Harvard University
#1

Harvard University

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

Tuition + fees

$52K

Acceptance

5%

Graduation

96%

Student body

25K

Median SAT/ACT

1515/34

Cambridge, MA

View profile

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

University of California, Berkeley

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

Tuition + fees

$14K

Acceptance

17%

Graduation

91%

Student body

42K

Median SAT/ACT

1430/33

Berkeley, CA

View profile

The University of California, Berkeley is a public land-grant research university in Berkeley, California. Established in 1868 as the University of California, it is the state's first land-grant university and the first campus of the University of California system. Its fourteen colleges and schools offer over 350 degree programs and enroll 31,000 undergraduate and 12,000 graduate students. Berkeley is ranked among the world's top universities by major educational publications.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
#3

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

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

Tuition + fees

$54K

Acceptance

7%

Graduation

94%

Student body

14K

Median SAT/ACT

1540/35

Cambridge, MA

View profile

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...
Stanford University
#4

Stanford University

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

Tuition + fees

$54K

Acceptance

5%

Graduation

94%

Student body

15K

Median SAT/ACT

1505/33

Stanford, CA

View profile

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...
California Institute of Technology
#5

California Institute of Technology

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

Tuition + fees

$55K

Acceptance

7%

Graduation

89%

Student body

2K

Median SAT/ACT

1545/35

Pasadena, CA

View profile

The California Institute of Technology (universally known as “Caltech”) is located in the Los Angeles suburb of Pasadena. It was originally founded as a vocational school, but took on the complexion of an institute at the cutting edge of scientific discovery quite early in its history.
University of Cambridge
#6

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 Oxford
#7

University of Oxford

#8 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 London
#8

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.
University of Tokyo
#9

University of Tokyo

#75 institution's overall influence
The University of Tokyo, abbreviated as Todai or UTokyo, is a public research university located in Bunkyō, Tokyo, Japan. Established in 1877, the university is the first imperial university and currently selected as a Top Type university of Top Global University Project by the Japanese government.
Kyoto University
#10

Kyoto University

#164 institution's overall influence
Kyoto University, or KyotoU, is a public research university located in Kyoto, Japan. Founded in 1897, it is the second oldest university in Japan, one of the former Imperial Universities, the first three Designated National University and selected as a Top Type university of Top Global University Project by the Japanese government. KyotoU is usually ranked amongst the top two in Japan, the top ten in Asia, and the world's top thirty institutions of higher education.
Columbia University
#11

Columbia University

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

Tuition + fees

$61K

Acceptance

7%

Graduation

95%

Student body

28K

Median SAT/ACT

1505/34

New York, NY

View profile

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.
#12

Peking University

#136 institution's overall influence
Peking University , is a major research university in Beijing, China, and a member of the elite C9 League of Chinese universities. Peking University was established as the Imperial University of Peking in 1898 when it received its first royal charter by the Guangxu Emperor. A successor of the older Guozijian Imperial College, the university's romanized name 'Peking' retains the older transliteration of 'Beijing' that has been superseded in most other contexts. Perennially ranked as one of the top academic institutions in China and the world, as of 2021, PKU is ranked 2nd in the Asia-Pacific an...
Cornell University
#13

Cornell University

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

Tuition + fees

$57K

Acceptance

11%

Graduation

93%

Student body

25K

Median SAT/ACT

1480/33

Ithaca, NY

View profile

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.
Tsinghua University
#14

Tsinghua University

#171 institution's overall influence
Tsinghua University was founded in 1911 as Tsinghua College. In the modern Pinyin transliteration system, the name would be written as “Qinghua”; however, the university retains the older spelling for official purposes.
Osaka University
#15

Osaka University

#246 institution's overall influence
Osaka University , or Handai, is a public research university located in Osaka Prefecture, Japan. It was one of the Imperial Universities in Japan, and is now a Designated National University listed as a "Top Type" university in the Top Global University Project. It is often ranked among the top three public universities in Japan, along with the University of Tokyo and Kyoto University. It is ranked third overall among Japanese universities and 71st worldwide in the 2020 QS World University Rankings.
Zhejiang University
#16

Zhejiang University

#261 institution's overall influence
Zhejiang University , https://www.educatepulse.com/zhejiang-university-school-of-medicine/ also colloquially referred to as Zheda , is an elite C9 League university located in Hangzhou, the capital of Zhejiang province. Founded in 1897, Zhejiang University is one of China's oldest, most selective, and most prestigious institutions of higher education. The university is organized into 37 colleges, schools, and departments offering more than 140 undergraduate and 300 graduate programs.
Yale University
#17

Yale University

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

Tuition + fees

$56K

Acceptance

7%

Graduation

97%

Student body

16K

Median SAT/ACT

1515/34

New Haven, CT

View profile

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 Chicago
#18

University of Chicago

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

Tuition + fees

$59K

Acceptance

7%

Graduation

93%

Student body

13K

Median SAT/ACT

1535/34

Chicago, IL

View profile

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.
University of California, Los Angeles
#19

University of California, Los Angeles

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

Tuition + fees

$13K

Acceptance

14%

Graduation

91%

Student body

44K

Median SAT/ACT

1415/32

Los Angeles, CA

View profile

The University of California, Los Angeles is a public land-grant 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. UCLA receives the most college applications of any university in the United States and is considered one of the most prestigious universities in the world.
Northwestern University
#20

Northwestern University

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

Tuition + fees

$57K

Acceptance

9%

Graduation

94%

Student body

19K

Median SAT/ACT

1495/34

Evanston, IL

View profile

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.
University of Minnesota
#21

University of Minnesota

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

Tuition + fees

$15K

Acceptance

70%

Graduation

80%

Student body

44K

Median SAT/ACT

1370/28

Minneapolis, MN

View profile

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 Michigan
#22

University of Michigan

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

Tuition + fees

$17K

Acceptance

26%

Graduation

92%

Student body

43K

Median SAT/ACT

1435/32

Ann Arbor, MI

View profile

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.
Princeton University
#23

Princeton University

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

Tuition + fees

$53K

Acceptance

6%

Graduation

97%

Student body

7K

Median SAT/ACT

1515/34

Princeton, NJ

View profile

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 ...
University of Pennsylvania
#24

University of Pennsylvania

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

Tuition + fees

$58K

Acceptance

9%

Graduation

96%

Student body

28K

Median SAT/ACT

1505/34

Philadelphia, PA

View profile

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).
Fudan University
#25

Fudan University

#316 institution's overall influence
Fudan University is a major public research university in Shanghai, China. It is widely considered one of the most prestigious and selective universities in China. Founded in 1905, shortly before the end of China's imperial Qing dynasty, Fudan was the first university established independently by the Chinese people. Fudan is a member of the elite C9 League and a Chinese Ministry of Education Class A Double First Class University.
University of Texas at Austin
#26

University of Texas at Austin

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

Tuition + fees

$11K

Acceptance

32%

Graduation

83%

Student body

45K

Median SAT/ACT

1355/30

Austin, TX

View profile

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.
Jilin University
#27

Jilin University

#566 institution's overall influence
Jilin University located in Changchun, founded in 1946, is a leading national research university under the direct jurisdiction of China's Ministry of Education. It is a Chinese Ministry of Education Class A Double First Class University. It is strongly supported by state key projects such as Project 985, Project 211 and Project 2011. Jilin University is consistently ranked as one of the most prestigious universities in China, and has research projects in automobile engineering, chemistry, computer science, electrical engineering and biology be identified as internationally renowned. In 2017,
University of Science and Technology of China
#28

University of Science and Technology of China

#478 institution's overall influence
The University of Science and Technology of China is a national research university in Hefei, Anhui, China, under the direct leadership of the Chinese Academy of Sciences . It is a member of the C9 League, China's equivalent of the Ivy League. It is also a Chinese Ministry of Education Class A Double First Class University. Founded in Beijing by the CAS in September 1958, it was moved to Hefei in the beginning of 1970 during the Cultural Revolution.
Purdue University
#29

Purdue University

#62 institution's overall influence
#1204 overall school desirability

Tuition + fees

$10K

Acceptance

67%

Graduation

78%

Student body

42K

Median SAT/ACT

1315/28

West Lafayette, IN

View profile

Purdue University was founded in 1869 with substantial financing provided by industrialist John Purdue. Its purpose was to train students in agriculture and engineering. The school officially opened for business in 1874 and grew quickly.
Tohoku University
#30

Tohoku University

#294 institution's overall influence
Tohoku University, or Tohokudai, located in Sendai, Miyagi in the Tōhoku Region, Japan, is a Japanese national university. It was the third Imperial University in Japan, the top three Designated National University along with the University of Tokyo and Kyoto University and selected as a Top Type university of Top Global University Project by the Japanese government. In 2020, the Times Higher Education Tohoku University was ranked No. 1 university in Japan.
Shanghai Jiao Tong University
#31

Shanghai Jiao Tong University

#357 institution's overall influence
Shanghai Jiao Tong University is a major research university in Shanghai. Established on April 8, 1896, as Nanyang Public School by an imperial edict issued by the Guangxu Emperor, it is one of China's oldest universities. Shanghai Jiao Tong University is a C9 League university and a Chinese Ministry of Education Class A Double First Class University.
University of Wisconsin–Madison
#32

University of Wisconsin–Madison

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

Tuition + fees

$11K

Acceptance

57%

Graduation

87%

Student body

36K

Median SAT/ACT

1390/29

Madison, WI

View profile

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.
University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign
#33

University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

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

Tuition + fees

$17K

Acceptance

63%

Graduation

85%

Student body

52K

Median SAT/ACT

1340/29

Champaign, IL

View profile

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 Toronto
#34

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).
#35

Nanjing University

#382 institution's overall influence
Nanjing University , known as Nanda , is a major public research university, the oldest institution of higher learning in Nanjing, Jiangsu, and a member of the elite C9 League of Chinese universities. NJU has two main campuses: the Xianlin campus in the northeast of Nanjing, and the Gulou campus in the city center of Nanjing.
University of Washington
#36

University of Washington

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

Tuition + fees

$11K

Acceptance

56%

Graduation

84%

Student body

47K

Median SAT/ACT

1345/30

Seattle, WA

View profile

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.
Nanyang Technological University
#37

Nanyang Technological University

#402 institution's overall influence
Nanyang Technological University (NTU) is a public research university that was founded in 1981 as the Nanyang Technological Institute. Ten years later, in 1991, the institute was upgraded to university status.
Nagoya University
#38

Nagoya University

#352 institution's overall influence
Nagoya University, abbreviated to Meidai or NU, is a Japanese national research university located in Chikusa-ku, Nagoya. It was the seventh Imperial University in Japan, one of the first five Designated National University and selected as a Top Type university of Top Global University Project by the Japanese government. It is the 3rd highest ranked higher education institution in Japan .
#39

ETH Zurich

#68 institution's overall influence
ETH Zürich is a public research university in the city of Zürich, Switzerland. Founded by the Swiss Federal Government in 1854 with the stated mission to educate engineers and scientists, the school focuses exclusively on science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. Like its sister institution EPFL, it is part of the Swiss Federal Institutes of Technology Domain, part of the Swiss Federal Department of Economic Affairs, Education and Research.
Imperial College London
#40

Imperial College London

#57 institution's overall influence
The origins of Imperial College London (ICL) can be traced back to the Royal College of Chemistry, founded in 1845. In 1853, this school was merged with the Royal School of Mines, established two years previously.
University of the Chinese Academy of Sciences
#41

University of the Chinese Academy of Sciences

#904 institution's overall influence
The University of the Chinese Academy of Sciences is a public university for graduate education, under the direct leadership of the Chinese Academy of Sciences . The predecessors of UCAS are the Graduate University of the Chinese Academy of Sciences and the Graduate School of the University of Science and Technology of China , which was founded in 1978 as the first graduate school in China by approval of the State Council.
Sichuan University
#42

Sichuan University

#549 institution's overall influence
Sichuan University is a public research university in Chengdu, Sichuan, China.Sichuan University is directed by the Ministry of Education. One of the top universities of China, it is a member of various education projects aiming at developing elite universities, including the Project 211, the Project 985 and the Double First Class University Plan.
Tokyo Institute of Technology
#43

Tokyo Institute of Technology

#395 institution's overall influence
Tokyo Institute of Technology is a national research university located in Greater Tokyo Area, Japan. Tokyo Tech is the largest institution for higher education in Japan dedicated to science and technology, one of first five Designated National University and selected as a Top Type university of Top Global University Project by the Japanese government. It is generally considered to be one of the most prestigious universities in Japan.
Hokkaido University
#44

Hokkaido University

#448 institution's overall influence
Hokkaido University, or Hokudai, is a Japanese national university in Sapporo, Hokkaido. It was the fifth Imperial University in Japan, which were established to be the nation's finest institutes of higher education or research, and was selected as a Top Type university of the Top Global University Project by the Japanese government. The main campus is located in downtown Sapporo, just north of Sapporo Station, and stretches approximately 2.4 kilometers northward. It is considered one of the top universities in Japan.
Johns Hopkins University
#45

Johns Hopkins University

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

Tuition + fees

$55K

Acceptance

11%

Graduation

93%

Student body

25K

Median SAT/ACT

1510/34

Baltimore, MD

View profile

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.
National University of Singapore
#46

National University of Singapore

#165 institution's overall influence
The National University of Singapore (NUS) was founded in 1905 as the Straits Settlements and Federated Malay States Government Medical School, in what was then the British-controlled Straits Settlements colony.
University of Pittsburgh
#47

University of Pittsburgh

#59 institution's overall influence
#987 overall school desirability

Tuition + fees

$20K

Acceptance

64%

Graduation

82%

Student body

27K

Median SAT/ACT

1350/30

Pittsburgh, PA

View profile

University of Pittsburgh (“Pitt”) traces its roots to the Pittsburgh Academy, a preparatory school founded in 1787, when Pittsburgh was still a frontier outpost. Defined in this way, Pitt is the oldest continuously chartered educational institution west of the Allegheny Mountains.
Pennsylvania State University
#48

Pennsylvania State University

#73 institution's overall influence

Tuition + fees

$18K

Acceptance

76%

Graduation

69%

Student body

47K

Median SAT/ACT

1190/26

University Park, PA

View profile

Pennsylvania State University (Penn State) was founded in 1855 as the Farmers’ High School of Pennsylvania.
University of Florida
#49

University of Florida

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

Tuition + fees

$6K

Acceptance

31%

Graduation

88%

Student body

46K

Median SAT/ACT

1390/30

Gainesville, FL

View profile

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 California, San Diego
#50

University of California, San Diego

#52 institution's overall influence
#71 overall school desirability

Tuition + fees

$14K

Acceptance

37%

Graduation

85%

Student body

38K

Median SAT/ACT

1370/30

La Jolla, CA

View profile

The University of California, San Diego is a public land-grant research university in San Diego, California. Established in 1960 near the pre-existing Scripps Institution of Oceanography, UC San Diego is the southernmost of the ten campuses of the University of California, and offers over 200 undergraduate and graduate degree programs, enrolling 31,842 undergraduate and 8,631 graduate students. The university occupies near the coast of the Pacific Ocean, with the main campus resting on approximately . UC San Diego is ranked among the best universities in the world by major college and univer...

Stay informed! Get the latest Academic Influence news, information, and rankings with our upcoming newsletter.