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 for the years 2000 – 2020

University of Iowa
#51

University of Iowa

#56 institution's overall influence
#369 overall school desirability

Tuition + fees

$9K

Acceptance

83%

Graduation

72%

Student body

27K

Median SAT/ACT

1225/25

Iowa City, IA

View profile

The University of Iowa was founded in late February of 1847, as one of the very first legislative acts of the new state of Iowa after it was admitted to the union at the end of December of the previous year.
Washington University in St. Louis
#52

Washington University in St. Louis

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

Tuition + fees

$53K

Acceptance

15%

Graduation

94%

Student body

12K

Median SAT/ACT

1520/33

Saint Louis, MO

View profile

Washington University in St. Louis (WUSTL), which is located in an unincorporated area just west of the St. Louis city limits, was founded in 1853. WUSTL’s student body is highly diversified, including individuals from all 50 states and some 120 foreign countries.
University of Leeds
#53

University of Leeds

#64 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.
University of Warwick
#54

University of Warwick

#165 institution's overall influence
The University of Warwick (pronounced “Warrick”) was founded in 1965 near the West Midlands market town of the same name, which lies approximately halfway between Coventry and Stratford-upon-Avon, and has a population of a little over 30,000. However, the university campus does not lie in Warwick proper, but rather in a rural area to the north of the old town center, virtually on the outskirts of Coventry.
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
#55

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

#75 institution's overall influence
#38 overall school desirability

Tuition + fees

$9K

Acceptance

23%

Graduation

91%

Student body

25K

Median SAT/ACT

1375/31

Chapel Hill, NC

View profile

The University of North Carolina (UNC) system is a large network of 16 public universities with a total student enrollment of around 240,000 souls. The oldest member of the UNC system is the flagship campus in the small, centrally located town of Chapel Hill.
Brandeis University
#56

Brandeis University

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

Tuition + fees

$55K

Acceptance

31%

Graduation

90%

Student body

7K

Median SAT/ACT

1390/31

Waltham, MA

View profile

Brandeis University was founded in suburban Boston in 1948. Its founders intended to provide a top-rank research university that would be friendly to Jewish students and faculty—at a time when the American Ivy League schools all restricted the number of their Jewish students according to a strict quota system.
University of Pittsburgh
#57

University of Pittsburgh

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

Tuition + fees

$19K

Acceptance

59%

Graduation

81%

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.
Dartmouth College
#58

Dartmouth College

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

Tuition + fees

$55K

Acceptance

9%

Graduation

97%

Student body

6K

Median SAT/ACT

1490/33

Hanover, NH

View profile

Despite the word “college” in its name, Dartmouth is a full-scale, PhD-granting, private, research university. Indeed, it is an official member of the Ivy League, and is the fourteenth-oldest university in the US, founded only five years after Brown and 15 years after Columbia.
University of Sussex
#59

University of Sussex

#143 institution's overall influence
The University of Sussex was established by royal charter in 1961 in the village of Falmer, in the eastern portion of the sprawling South Downs National Park, just north of the seaside city of Brighton, in the county of East Sussex.
Tel Aviv University
#60

Tel Aviv University

#155 institution's overall influence
In 1931, a Biological-Pedagogical Institute (later, the Institute of Natural Sciences) was established in the city of Tel Aviv in British Mandatory Palestine.
Syracuse University
#61

Syracuse University

#87 institution's overall influence
#1450 overall school desirability

Tuition + fees

$52K

Acceptance

50%

Graduation

82%

Student body

23K

Median SAT/ACT

1275/27

Syracuse, NY

View profile

Syracuse University traces its roots to Genesee Wesleyan Seminary, which was founded by the Methodist Episcopal Church in 1831 in Lima, a small town south of Rochester, in the western part of New York state.
School for Advanced Studies in the Social Sciences
#62

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.
#63

University of California, Davis

#117 institution's overall influence
#163 overall school desirability

Tuition + fees

$14K

Acceptance

41%

Graduation

85%

Student body

35K

Median SAT/ACT

1280/28

Davis, CA

View profile

The University of California, Davis is a public research university and land-grant university located near Davis, California. It is one of the ten campuses of the University of California system, and has the third-largest enrollment in the system after UCLA and UC Berkeley. The institution was first founded as an agricultural branch of the system in 1905, and became the seventh campus of the University of California in 1959.
University of Birmingham
#64

University of Birmingham

#53 institution's overall influence
The University of Birmingham has a rather involved history. The oldest entity to which the modern university can trace its roots is the Birmingham School of Medicine and Surgery, founded in 1825. This medical-training college was officially recognized by the crown in 1836, becoming the Birmingham Royal School of Medicine and Surgery, which developed into Queen’s College, Birmingham, in 1843.
University of California, Irvine
#65

University of California, Irvine

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

Tuition + fees

$14K

Acceptance

29%

Graduation

87%

Student body

36K

Median SAT/ACT

1300/29

Irvine, CA

View profile

The University of California, Irvine is a public research university in Irvine, California. UCI is one of the ten campuses of the University of California system, and offers 87 undergraduate degrees and 129 graduate and professional degrees, enrolling roughly 30,000 undergraduates and 6,000 graduate students as of Fall 2019. The university is classified as an R1 University, and had $436.6 million in research and development expenditures in 2018. UCI became a member of the Association of American Universities in 1996. The university is considered one of the "Public Ivies," meaning that it is a...
University of East Anglia
#66

University of East Anglia

#159 institution's overall influence
The University of East Anglia (UEA) was founded in 1963. East Anglia is a historical region comprising the easternmost counties of England, located northeast of Cambridge on the North Sea coast.
Pennsylvania State University
#67

Pennsylvania State University

#108 institution's overall influence

Tuition + fees

$18K

Acceptance

56%

Graduation

86%

Student body

47K

Median SAT/ACT

1260/27

University Park, PA

View profile

Pennsylvania State University (Penn State) was founded in 1855 as the Farmers’ High School of Pennsylvania.
Michigan State University
#68

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

View profile

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.
University of Utah
#69

University of Utah

#74 institution's overall influence
#1235 overall school desirability

Tuition + fees

$9K

Acceptance

67%

Graduation

65%

Student body

27K

Median SAT/ACT

1240/25

Salt Lake City, UT

View profile

The University of Utah was established as the University of Deseret in 1850. Like all “Deseret” (the original name for Utah) institutions, it was originally closely associated with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (“Mormons”).
University of Sydney
#70

University of Sydney

#79 institution's overall influence
The wave of expansion of Homo sapiens out of its African birthplace reached the continent of Australia around 40,000 years ago, or more. However, the first visit of Europeans to the land down under did not occur until 1606, when the Dutch explorer Willem Janszoon made landfall at what is now the town of Weipa on the western shore of the Cape York Peninsula in northern Queensland.
University of Vienna
#71

University of Vienna

#19 institution's overall influence
The University of Vienna was founded by the Habsburg ruler, Rudolf IV, Duke of Austria. This monarch was known as “Rudolf der Stifter” [Rudolf the Founder] on account of his fondness for building new cathedrals and monasteries, as well as the university. He may also have been motivated by rivalry with his Central European peers, the Holy Roman Emperor, Charles IV (who had established Charles University in Prague just a few years earlier, in 1348) and Casimir III (known as “Casimir the Great”), King of Poland (who had founded Jagiellonian University in Kraków one year earlier, in 1364).
University of Florida
#72

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

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.
Arizona State University
#73

Arizona State University

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

Tuition + fees

$11K

Acceptance

85%

Graduation

67%

Student body

50K

Median SAT/ACT

1245/25

Tempe, AZ

View profile

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.
University of Melbourne
#74

University of Melbourne

#93 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.
Emory University
#75

Emory University

#113 institution's overall influence
#41 overall school desirability

Tuition + fees

$51K

Acceptance

19%

Graduation

91%

Student body

13K

Median SAT/ACT

1435/32

Atlanta, GA

View profile

Emory University is a private, research university originally founded in Oxford, Georgia, in 1836 by the Methodist Episcopal Church as Emory College.
University of Waterloo
#76

University of Waterloo

#179 institution's overall influence
The University of Waterloo traces its roots back to the Waterloo College School, founded in 1914.
Brigham Young University
#77

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

View profile

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).
Vanderbilt University
#78

Vanderbilt University

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

Tuition + fees

$50K

Acceptance

10%

Graduation

92%

Student body

11K

Median SAT/ACT

1505/34

Nashville, TN

View profile

Vanderbilt University was founded in 1873 as the Central University of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South (known as Central University, for short).
University of Rochester
#79

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

View profile

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.
The New School
#80

The New School

#95 institution's overall influence
#1438 overall school desirability

Tuition + fees

$49K

Acceptance

57%

Graduation

68%

Student body

10K

Median SAT/ACT

1255/27

New York, NY

View profile

The New School is a private, research university located in and around Greenwich Village in lower Manhattan. It was founded in 1919 as the New School for Social Research.
University of Massachusetts Amherst
#81

University of Massachusetts Amherst

#132 institution's overall influence
#953 overall school desirability

Tuition + fees

$16K

Acceptance

60%

Graduation

76%

Student body

28K

Median SAT/ACT

1295/28

Amherst, MA

View profile

The University of Massachusetts traces its roots to the Massachusetts Agricultural College, founded in 1863 (though the first classes were not held until four years later, in 1867).
University of California, Santa Cruz
#82

University of California, Santa Cruz

#167 institution's overall influence
#734 overall school desirability

Tuition + fees

$14K

Acceptance

47%

Graduation

77%

Student body

20K

Median SAT/ACT

1295/29

Santa Cruz, CA

View profile

The University of California, Santa Cruz is a public research university in Santa Cruz, California. It is one of 10 campuses in the University of California system. Located 75 miles south of San Francisco at the edge of the coastal community of Santa Cruz, the campus lies on of rolling, forested hills overlooking the Pacific Ocean and Monterey Bay.
University of California, San Francisco
#83

University of California, San Francisco

#147 institution's overall influence

Student body

1K

San Francisco, CA

View profile

The University of California, San Francisco is a public research university in San Francisco, California. It is part of the University of California system and it is dedicated entirely to health science. It is a major center of medical and biological research and teaching.
National University of Singapore
#84

National University of Singapore

#192 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.
#85

Stony Brook University

#164 institution's overall influence
#1211 overall school desirability

Tuition + fees

$10K

Acceptance

42%

Graduation

72%

Student body

24K

Median SAT/ACT

1325/28

Stony Brook, NY

View profile

The State University of New York at Stony Brook , more commonly known as Stony Brook University , is a public sea-grant and space-grant research university in Stony Brook, New York. It is one of four university centers of the State University of New York system. Consisting of 213 buildings over 1,454 acres of land in Suffolk County, it is the largest public university in the state of New York by area.
University of Delhi
#86

University of Delhi

#158 institution's overall influence
The University of Delhi (DU) was founded in 1922 by the government of British India. The new university soon absorbed four other colleges already existing in Delhi: Delhi College (originally founded in 1792 as Zakir Husain Delhi College); St. Stephen’s College (founded in 1881); Hindu College (founded in 1899); and Ramjas College (founded in 1917). One reason why the British decided to establish DU was the transfer of the seat of colonial administration from Kolkata (Calcutta) to Delhi in 1911.
Leiden University
#87

Leiden University

#29 institution's overall influence
Leiden University, though a relative latecomer to the European scene, is the oldest university in what is now the Netherlands, and—to put things in proper perspective—is more than 50 years older than Harvard, he oldest university in the US. In other words, from an international perspective, it is quite a venerable institution.
University of Sheffield
#88

University of Sheffield

#171 institution's overall influence
The University of Sheffield is a public research university in Sheffield, South Yorkshire, England. Its history traces back to the foundation of Sheffield Medical School in 1828, Firth College in 1879 and Sheffield Technical School in 1884. University College of Sheffield was subsequently formed by the amalgamation of the three institutions in 1897 and was granted a royal charter as University of Sheffield in 1905 by King Edward VII.
Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich
#89

Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich

#26 institution's overall influence
The present-day University of Munich traces its roots to a fifteenth-century institution founded in the town of Ingolstadt by Duke Ludwig IX of Bavaria-Landshut. The school was moved to the town of Landshut in 1800 by King Maximilian I of Bavaria, when Ingolstadt was threatened by invading French armies during the Napoleonic Wars. In 1802, it was given its present official name of “Ludwig Maximilian University (LMU)” in recognition of its first and second founding fathers.
University of Alberta
#90

University of Alberta

#144 institution's overall influence
The University of Alberta is a public research university founded in 1908—just three years after the Province of Alberta officially entered the Dominion of Canada.
Wesleyan University
#91

Wesleyan University

#96 institution's overall influence
#34 overall school desirability

Tuition + fees

$55K

Acceptance

17%

Graduation

91%

Student body

3K

Middletown, CT

View profile

Wesleyan University was founded in 1831 under the auspices of the Methodist Episcopal Church. In 1872, Wesleyan led the way in admitting female students, an effort sometimes referred to as the “Wesleyan Experiment.” However, resistance to the experiment in certain quarters made itself increasingly felt, until the policy was reversed in 1912. Women were not admitted again until 1970.
University of Glasgow
#92

University of Glasgow

#32 institution's overall influence
Founded by a decree (“papal bull”) issued by Pope Nicholas V, Glasgow is the fourth-oldest university in the English-speaking world. Only Oxford and Cambridge (see above) and, in Scotland, St. Andrews University (founded in 1413) are older.
York University
#93

York University

#204 institution's overall influence
York University (AKA Université York) is a public research university which was founded in 1959. With a student body approaching 56,000 in size, York University is the third-largest institution of higher learning in Canada, after the University of Toronto and the University of British Columbia.
George Mason University
#94

George Mason University

#200 institution's overall influence
#548 overall school desirability

Tuition + fees

$12K

Acceptance

81%

Graduation

70%

Student body

30K

Median SAT/ACT

1220/27

Fairfax, VA

View profile

George Mason University (GMU) was founded in 1949 as the Northern Virginia University Center of the University of Virginia. The school was originally located in Arlington, Virginia, a suburban town just across the Potomac River from Washington, DC.
Rockefeller University
#95

Rockefeller University

#99 institution's overall influence

Student body

<1K

New York, NY

View profile

The Rockefeller University is a private graduate university in New York City. It focuses primarily on the biological and medical sciences and provides doctoral and postdoctoral education. It is classified among "R2: Doctoral Universities – High research activity". Rockefeller is the oldest biomedical research institute in the United States. The 82-person faculty has 37 members of the National Academy of Sciences, 17 members of the National Academy of Medicine, seven Lasker Award recipients, and five Nobel laureates. As of October 2019, a total of 36 Nobel laureates have been affiliated with R
University at Buffalo
#96

University at Buffalo

#98 institution's overall influence
#1348 overall school desirability

Tuition + fees

$10K

Acceptance

56%

Graduation

74%

Student body

27K

Median SAT/ACT

1245/26

Buffalo, NY

View profile

The University at Buffalo (officially, State University of New York at Buffalo) was founded in 1846 as a private medical college by Millard Fillmore, 13th President of the US. Commonly known as UB, the university joined the SUNY system in 1962.
University of Notre Dame
#97

University of Notre Dame

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

Tuition + fees

$53K

Acceptance

18%

Graduation

95%

Student body

13K

Median SAT/ACT

1475/34

Notre Dame, IN

View profile

The University of Notre Dame (ND) was founded in 1842 by Edward Sorin, a Catholic priest of the religious order of the Congregation of Holy Cross (Congregatio a Sancta Cruce—CSC). ND was originally a primary and secondary school. Two years later, in 1844, the school received its college charter from the General Assembly of Indiana (which had been a state since 1816). It awarded its first degree in 1849.
University of Nottingham
#98

University of Nottingham

#154 institution's overall influence
The University of Nottingham traces its ultimate roots to a private adult-education and teacher-training (normal) school founded in that Midlands city in 1798. In 1873, the University of Cambridge began offering college extension courses in connection with the normal school. However, the official founding of the present university is usually taken to coincide with the establishment of University College Nottingham, in 1881.
University of Bonn
#99

University of Bonn

#30 institution's overall influence
The University of Bonn is a public research university located in Bonn, North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany. It was founded in its present form as the Rhein-Universität on 18 October 1818 by Frederick William III, as the linear successor of the Kurkölnische Akademie Bonn which was founded in 1777. The University of Bonn offers many undergraduate and graduate programs in a range of subjects and has 544 professors. Its library holds more than five million volumes.
Ohio State University
#100

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

View profile

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.