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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 Earth Sciences, for the years 2000 – 2020

University of London
#1

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.
Harvard University
#2

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

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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.
University of Cambridge
#3

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
#4

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.
Columbia University
#5

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

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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 California, Berkeley
#6

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

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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
#7

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

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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...
Pennsylvania State University
#8

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

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Pennsylvania State University (Penn State) was founded in 1855 as the Farmers’ High School of Pennsylvania.
University of Chicago
#9

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

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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
#10

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

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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...
#11

University of Colorado

#63 institution's overall influence
The University of Colorado was founded in 1876 in the town of Boulder.
Yale University
#12

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

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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 Washington
#13

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

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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 Oklahoma
#14

University of Oklahoma

#187 institution's overall influence
#1309 overall school desirability

Tuition + fees

$9K

Acceptance

83%

Graduation

67%

Student body

24K

Median SAT/ACT

1210/26

Norman, OK

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The University of Oklahoma (OU) was founded in 1890. OU offers 152 bachelor’s degree programs, 160 master’s programs, 75 doctoral programs, and 20 professional certificates. Among OU’s most popular programs are those in the fields of business, engineering, communication, and journalism.
Princeton University
#15

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

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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 ...
University of Bristol
#16

University of Bristol

#94 institution's overall influence
The University of Bristol traces its roots to a Merchant Venturers’ school (later the Merchant Venturers’ Technical College) founded in 1595 by the Society of Merchant Venturers, a Bristol-based charitable organization.
University of Reading
#17

University of Reading

#216 institution's overall influence
The University of Reading is a public university in Reading, Berkshire, England. It was founded in 1892 as University College, Reading, a University of Oxford extension college. The institution received the power to grant its own degrees in 1926 by royal charter from King George V and was the only university to receive such a charter between the two world wars. The university is usually categorised as a red brick university, reflecting its original foundation in the 19th century.
Cornell University
#18

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

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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.
University of Toronto
#19

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).
University of Michigan
#20

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

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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.
University of California, Los Angeles
#21

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

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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.
University of Edinburgh
#22

University of Edinburgh

#13 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).
Florida State University
#23

Florida State University

#146 institution's overall influence
#174 overall school desirability

Tuition + fees

$7K

Acceptance

32%

Graduation

80%

Student body

39K

Median SAT/ACT

1270/28

Tallahassee, FL

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Florida State University (FSU) was established in 1851. With a student enrollment of about 41,500, FSU is the second-largest university in the state, after the University of Florida.
University of British Columbia
#24

University of British Columbia

#72 institution's overall influence
The University of British Columbia (UBC) was founded in 1908.
University of Wisconsin–Madison
#25

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

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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.
University of Minnesota
#26

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

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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.
Johns Hopkins University
#27

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

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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.
Free University of Berlin
#28

Free University of Berlin

#234 institution's overall influence
The Free University of Berlin is a public research university in Berlin, Germany. The Free University of Berlin is one of eleven elite German research universities in the German Universities Excellence Initiative. Free University of Berlin is consistently ranked among Germany's top ten universities overall, with particular strengths in the arts and humanities followed by the social sciences internationally. It is recognised as a leading university in the international university tables.
California Institute of Technology
#29

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

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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.
Durham University
#30

Durham University

#144 institution's overall influence
Durham University is a public, research university established by an act of Parliament in 1832. It received its royal charter five years later, in 1837.
University of Manchester
#31

University of Manchester

#51 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.
City University of New York
#32

City University of New York

#19 institution's overall influence
The City University of New York (CUNY) is a mammoth system of two-year community colleges, four-year liberal arts colleges, and graduate professional schools. This system traces its roots back to the Free Academy, established in Manhattan in 1847. In 1866, the Free Academy changed its name to the City College of New York, which makes today’s City College the oldest institution within the CUNY system.
University of Göttingen
#33

University of Göttingen

#23 institution's overall influence
The University of Göttingen was established under the auspices of Georg August, Elector of Hanover, who was at the same time King George II of Great Britain and Ireland. Born in Hanover in 1683, Georg August acceded to both the Electorship and the British throne upon his father George I’s death in 1727.
University of Texas at Austin
#34

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

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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.
Ohio State University
#35

Ohio State University

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

Tuition + fees

$11K

Acceptance

68%

Graduation

83%

Student body

56K

Median SAT/ACT

1355/30

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.
University of Tokyo
#36

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.
Monash University
#37

Monash University

#183 institution's overall influence
Monash University is a public research university based in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia. Named for prominent World War I general Sir John Monash, it was founded in 1958 and is the second oldest university in the state. The university has a number of campuses, four of which are in Victoria , and one in Malaysia. Monash also has a research and teaching centre in Prato, Italy, a graduate research school in Mumbai, India and a graduate school in Suzhou, China. Monash University courses are also delivered at other locations, including South Africa.
Arizona State University
#38

Arizona State University

#139 institution's overall influence
#1312 overall school desirability

Tuition + fees

$11K

Acceptance

88%

Graduation

63%

Student body

51K

Median SAT/ACT

1240/25

Tempe, AZ

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Arizona State University (ASU) was founded as the Territorial Normal School in 1885—over a quarter century before Arizona entered the Union in 1912—in Tempe, a town just east of Phoenix.
Rutgers University
#39

Rutgers University

#50 institution's overall influence
Rutgers University’s full official name is Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey.
Texas A&M University
#40

Texas A&M University

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

Tuition + fees

$11K

Acceptance

63%

Graduation

82%

Student body

58K

Median SAT/ACT

1275/28

College Station, TX

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Texas A&M University is a public land-grant research university in College Station, Texas. It was founded in 1876 and became the flagship institution of the Texas A&M University System in 1948. , Texas A&M's student body is the second largest in the United States. Texas A&M's designation as a land, sea, and space grant institution—the only university in Texas to hold all three designations—reflects a range of research with ongoing projects funded by organizations such as the National Aeronautics and Space Administration , the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation, and
McGill University
#41

McGill University

#41 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 Leeds
#42

University of Leeds

#96 institution's overall influence
The city of Leeds lies at the northern edge of the English Midlands, the geographical region of the UK where the Industrial Revolution primarily took place. Leeds was especially important as a center of textile manufacturing, which led the way toward the explosive growth of British industry and empire during the Victorian era.
Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology
#43

Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology

#2202 institution's overall influence
The Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology is a scientific institution based in Pune, Maharashtra, India for expanding research in tropical Indian Ocean of the tropics in general with special reference to monsoon meteorology, and air-sea interaction of South Asian climate. Its an Autonomous Institute of the Ministry of Earth Sciences, Government of India.
Australian National University
#44

Australian National University

#113 institution's overall influence
Australian National University (ANU) proper dates to 1946, when it was founded by an act of the Australian Parliament in a suburb of Canberra, the capital of Australia.
Middle Tennessee State University
#45

Middle Tennessee State University

#999 institution's overall influence
#1328 overall school desirability

Tuition + fees

$9K

Acceptance

94%

Graduation

44%

Student body

18K

Median SAT/ACT

1135/23

Murfreesboro, TN

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Middle Tennessee State University is a public university in Murfreesboro, Tennessee. Founded in 1911 as a normal school, the university consists of eight undergraduate colleges as well as a college of graduate studies, together offering more than 300 degree programs through more than 35 departments. MTSU is most prominently known for its Recording Industry, Aerospace, Music and Concrete Industry Management programs. The university has partnered in research endeavors with the Oak Ridge National Laboratory, the United States Army, and the United States Marine Corps. In 2009, Middle Tennessee St...
Duke University
#46

Duke University

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

Tuition + fees

$58K

Acceptance

8%

Graduation

95%

Student body

15K

Median SAT/ACT

1525/34

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 Arizona
#47

University of Arizona

#86 institution's overall influence
#605 overall school desirability

Tuition + fees

$12K

Acceptance

85%

Graduation

63%

Student body

39K

Median SAT/ACT

1235/25

Tucson, AZ

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The University of Arizona (UA) was founded in 1885, when Arizona was still a territory (it entered the Union in 1912).
University of Pennsylvania
#48

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

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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 the Philippines
#49

University of the Philippines

#158 institution's overall influence
The University of the Philippines is a state university system in the Philippines, and is the country's national university. Founded by the American colonial government on June 18, 1908 for the Filipinos, it was established through the ratification of Act No. 1870 of the 1st Philippine Legislature to provide "advanced instruction in literature, philosophy, the sciences and arts, and to give professional and technical training" to eligible students regardless of "age, sex, nationality, religious belief and political affiliation." UP has institutional autonomy as the country's national universi
University of Melbourne
#50

University of Melbourne

#81 institution's overall influence
The University of Melbourne is a public research university founded in 1853, the second-oldest institution of higher learning in Australia.

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