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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.

Methodology: How and Why We Rank by Influence …

What is Desirability?

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

Massachusetts Institute of Technology
# 1

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

#9 institution's overall influence
#3 student 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...
Stanford University
# 2

Stanford University

#10 institution's overall influence
#1 student 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...
Harvard University
# 3

Harvard University

#1 institution's overall influence
#2 student 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.
University of California, Berkeley
# 4

University of California, Berkeley

#6 institution's overall influence
#29 student 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
# 5

University of Michigan

#15 institution's overall influence
#37 student 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.
Cornell University
# 6

Cornell University

#14 institution's overall influence
#14 student 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.
Carnegie Mellon University
# 7

Carnegie Mellon University

#47 institution's overall influence
#35 student 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).
Imperial College London
# 8

Imperial College London

#50 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.
California Institute of Technology
# 9

California Institute of Technology

#27 institution's overall influence
#9 student desirability

Tuition + fees

$52K

Acceptance

7%

Graduation

94%

Student body

2K

Median SAT/ACT

1555/35

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.
Princeton University
# 10

Princeton University

#8 institution's overall influence
#5 student 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 ...
University of London
# 11

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.
Purdue University
# 12

Purdue University

#54 institution's overall influence
#1204 student desirability

Tuition + fees

$10K

Acceptance

58%

Graduation

77%

Student body

40K

Median SAT/ACT

1295/28

West Lafayette, IN

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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.
University of Cambridge
# 13

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 Southern California
# 14

University of Southern California

#39 institution's overall influence
#30 student 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.
Columbia University
# 15

Columbia University

#3 institution's overall influence
#6 student 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 Illinois at Urbana–Champaign
# 16

University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign

#45 institution's overall influence
#162 student 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.
Duke University
# 17

Duke University

#31 institution's overall influence
#12 student 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.
Nanyang Technological University
# 18

Nanyang Technological University

#405 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.
Johns Hopkins University
# 19

Johns Hopkins University

#20 institution's overall influence
#21 student 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.
University of Texas at Austin
# 20

University of Texas at Austin

#42 institution's overall influence
#43 student 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.
Northwestern University
# 21

Northwestern University

#28 institution's overall influence
#24 student 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.
Yale University
# 22

Yale University

#7 institution's overall influence
#4 student 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 California, San Diego
# 23

University of California, San Diego

#48 institution's overall influence
#71 student desirability

Tuition + fees

$14K

Acceptance

30%

Graduation

87%

Student body

36K

Median SAT/ACT

1365/30

La Jolla, CA

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The University of California, San Diego is a public research university in San Diego, California. Established in 1960 near the pre-existing Scripps Institution of Oceanography, UC San Diego is one of the ten campuses of the University of California, and offers over 200 undergraduate and graduate degree programs, enrolling approximately 30,800 undergraduate and 8,000 graduate students. The university occupies near the coast of the Pacific Ocean, with the main campus resting on approximately .
Georgia Institute of Technology
# 24

Georgia Institute of Technology

#144 institution's overall influence
#39 student desirability

Tuition + fees

$12K

Acceptance

22%

Graduation

86%

Student body

28K

Median SAT/ACT

1465/32

Atlanta, GA

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Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech) was founded in 1885. A component part of the University System of Georgia, today Georgia Tech has five satellite campuses: in Savannah, Georgia; Metz, France; Athlone, Ireland; Shenzhen, China; and Singapore.
University of California, Los Angeles
# 25

University of California, Los Angeles

#23 institution's overall influence
#31 student 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 Pennsylvania
# 26

University of Pennsylvania

#17 institution's overall influence
#10 student 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).
Anna University
# 27

Anna University

#466 institution's overall influence
Anna University is a public state university located in Tamil Nadu, India. The main campus is in Chennai. It was originally established on 4 September 1978 and after taking many different forms over the years, as per a September 2020 bill passed in the Tamil Nadu Legislative assembly, the varsity is now reconstituted to be an affiliating university for engineering colleges across Tamil Nadu excluding the engineering colleges that are part of the premier Anna Technological and Research University. The University is now the affiliating authority for close to 550 engineering colleges in Tamil Nad...
University of Toronto
# 28

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).
Rice University
# 29

Rice University

#91 institution's overall influence
#15 student desirability

Tuition + fees

$47K

Acceptance

11%

Graduation

93%

Student body

7K

Median SAT/ACT

1505/34

Houston, TX

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Rice University was founded in 1912 as the William M. Rice Institute for the Advancement of Literature, Science, and Art. Long known simply as the Rice Institute, the school acquired its present name in 1960.
University of Manchester
# 30

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.
University of Washington
# 31

University of Washington

#43 institution's overall influence
#69 student 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
# 32

University of Minnesota

#33 institution's overall influence
#890 student 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 Waterloo
# 33

University of Waterloo

#176 institution's overall influence
The University of Waterloo traces its roots back to the Waterloo College School, founded in 1914.
Tsinghua University
# 34

Tsinghua University

#188 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.
National University of Singapore
# 35

National University of Singapore

#191 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.
McGill University
# 36

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.
Texas A&M University
# 37

Texas A&M University

#181 institution's overall influence
#91 student desirability

Tuition + fees

$11K

Acceptance

68%

Graduation

80%

Student body

58K

Median SAT/ACT

1275/28

College Station, TX

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Texas A&M University is a public 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 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 the Office of Na
Osmania University
# 38

Osmania University

#346 institution's overall influence
Osmania University is a collegiate public state university located in University town, Hyderabad, India, and founded in 1918. It was established by and named after Mir Osman Ali Khan, the 7th Nizam of Hyderabad. It is the third oldest university in southern India, and the first to be established in the erstwhile Kingdom of Hyderabad. It is the first Indian university to have Urdu as a medium of instruction. As of 2012, the university hosts 3,700 international students from more than 80 nations.
Andhra University
# 39

Andhra University

#376 institution's overall influence
Andhra University is a public university located in Visakhapatnam, Andhra Pradesh, India. It was established in 1926.
Arizona State University
# 40

Arizona State University

#146 institution's overall influence
#1312 student desirability

Tuition + fees

$11K

Acceptance

85%

Graduation

67%

Student body

50K

Median SAT/ACT

1245/25

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.
Tribhuvan University
# 41

Tribhuvan University

#592 institution's overall influence
Tribhuvan University is a public university for higher education, located in Kirtipur, which is an ancient city in the Kathmandu Valley of Nepal. The university, established in 1959, is the oldest university in Nepal. In terms of enrollment, it is the 12th largest university in the world. The university offers 2,079 undergraduate and 2,000 postgraduate programs across a wide range of disciplines. The university has 61 constituent campuses and over 1,100 affiliated colleges across the country. Since it is government financed, it is less expensive than private universities.
Indian Institute of Science
# 42

Indian Institute of Science

#205 institution's overall influence
The Indian Institute of Science is a public, deemed, research university for higher education and research in science, engineering, design, and management. It is located in Bangalore , in the Indian state of Karnataka. The institute was established in 1909 with active support from Jamsetji Tata and thus is also locally known as the "Tata Institute". It was granted the deemed to be university status in 1958 and the Institute of Eminence status in 2018.
University of Chicago
# 43

University of Chicago

#5 institution's overall influence
#8 student 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.
New York University
# 44

New York University

#16 institution's overall influence
#44 student 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).
George Washington University
# 45

George Washington University

#62 institution's overall influence
#76 student 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.
# 46

Visvesvaraya Technological University

#649 institution's overall influence
Visvesvaraya Technological University is a collegiate public state university in Belgavi, Karnataka established by the Government of Karnataka. Apart from a few notable exceptions, VTU has authority over engineering education throughout the state of Karnataka. It is a statutory requirement for colleges offering any program in engineering or technology in the state to be affiliated with the university.
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
# 47

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

#184 institution's overall influence
#1177 student desirability

Tuition + fees

$54K

Acceptance

43%

Graduation

83%

Student body

8K

Median SAT/ACT

1415/31

Troy, NY

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Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute is a private research university in Troy, New York, with additional campuses in Hartford and Groton, Connecticut. It was established in 1824 by Stephen van Rensselaer and Amos Eaton for the "application of science to the common purposes of life" and is the oldest technological university in the English-speaking world. Numerous American colleges or departments of applied sciences were modeled after Rensselaer.
# 48

APJ Abdul Kalam Technological University

#860 institution's overall influence
APJ Abdul Kalam Technological University, also known as Kerala Technological University , is a state university located in Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala, India. It is both a teaching and affiliation university, with more than 150 affiliated colleges and over 1,60,000 students enrolled, having jurisdiction over the entire area of Kerala. It is an AICTE and UGC approved university that offers UG and PG courses under popular streams such as BTech, BArch, BHMCT, MTech, M.Arch, MBA, and MCA. Now, KTU also provides B.Tech Honours as well as Minor programs in addition to regular courses.
University of Wisconsin–Madison
# 49

University of Wisconsin–Madison

#25 institution's overall influence
#216 student 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.
Zhejiang University
# 50

Zhejiang University

#339 institution's overall influence
Zhejiang University , 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.