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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 Game Development, 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...
University of Southern California
# 2

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.
University of California, Berkeley
# 3

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 Utah
# 4

University of Utah

#75 institution's overall influence
#1235 student desirability

Tuition + fees

$9K

Acceptance

67%

Graduation

65%

Student body

27K

Median SAT/ACT

1240/25

Salt Lake City, UT

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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”).
Brigham Young University
# 5

Brigham Young University

#111 institution's overall influence
#102 student desirability

Tuition + fees

$6K

Acceptance

64%

Graduation

83%

Student body

34K

Median SAT/ACT

1305/28

Provo, UT

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Brigham Young University (BYU) was founded in 1875 as the Brigham Young Academy. It is a private, research university owned and operated by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS).
Harvard University
# 6

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 Notre Dame
# 7

University of Notre Dame

#119 institution's overall influence
#23 student desirability

Tuition + fees

$53K

Acceptance

18%

Graduation

95%

Student body

13K

Median SAT/ACT

1475/34

Notre Dame, IN

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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.
Stanford University
# 8

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...
Carnegie Mellon University
# 9

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).
Iowa State University
# 10

Iowa State University

#192 institution's overall influence
#1077 student desirability

Tuition + fees

$9K

Acceptance

91%

Graduation

74%

Student body

33K

Median SAT/ACT

1213/25

Ames, IA

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Iowa State University was founded in 1858. The university is organized into eight colleges and two schools, which together offer 100 bachelor’s degree programs, 112 master’s degrees, and 83 doctorates.
University of Chicago
# 11

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
# 12

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).
University of California, Los Angeles
# 13

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 Texas at Austin
# 14

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.
Tallinn University
# 15

Tallinn University

#3425 institution's overall influence
Tallinn University is a public research university in Estonia. Located in the centre of Tallinn, the capital city of Estonia, Tallinn University is one of the three largest institutions of higher education in the country. Both QS World University and Times Higher Education rankings place it among the top 1000 universities in the world.
University of Maryland
# 16

University of Maryland

#77 institution's overall influence
#214 student desirability

Tuition + fees

$11K

Acceptance

47%

Graduation

87%

Student body

35K

Median SAT/ACT

1380/31

College Park, MD

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The University of Maryland is a system comprising 15 campuses. The system has a rather complicated history.
Cornell University
# 17

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.
University of Missouri
# 18

University of Missouri

#126 institution's overall influence
#1169 student desirability

Tuition + fees

$10K

Acceptance

78%

Graduation

68%

Student body

26K

Median SAT/ACT

1190/26

Columbia, MO

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The University of Missouri (often referred to as “Mizzou”) was founded in 1839. It was the first public university west of the Mississippi River.
Clarkson University
# 19

Clarkson University

#976 institution's overall influence
#413 student desirability

Tuition + fees

$49K

Acceptance

71%

Graduation

71%

Student body

4K

Median SAT/ACT

1255/27

Potsdam, NY

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Clarkson University is a private research university with its main campus in Potsdam, New York, and additional graduate program and research facilities in the New York Capital Region and Beacon, New York. It was founded in 1896 and has an enrollment of about 4,300 students studying toward bachelor's, master's, and doctoral degreess in each of its schools or institutes: the Institute for a Sustainable Environment, the School of Arts & Sciences, the David D. Reh School of Business, the Wallace H. Coulter School of Engineering, and the Earl R. and Barbara D. Lewis School of Health Sciences. It is...
Waseda University
# 20

Waseda University

#386 institution's overall influence
, abbreviated as , is a Japanese private research university in Shinjuku, Tokyo. Founded in 1882 as the Tōkyō Senmon Gakkō by Ōkuma Shigenobu, the school was formally renamed Waseda University in 1902.
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
# 21

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.
Northwestern University
# 22

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.
Savannah College of Art and Design
# 23

Savannah College of Art and Design

#2833 institution's overall influence
#945 student desirability

Tuition + fees

$37K

Acceptance

70%

Graduation

67%

Student body

12K

Median SAT/ACT

1130/24

Savannah, GA

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Savannah College of Art and Design is a private art school with locations in Savannah, Georgia; Atlanta, Georgia; and Lacoste, France.
University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign
# 24

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.
Reed College
# 25

Reed College

#248 institution's overall influence
#79 student desirability

Tuition + fees

$56K

Acceptance

35%

Graduation

78%

Student body

1K

Median SAT/ACT

1415/31

Portland, OR

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Reed College is a private liberal arts college in Portland, Oregon. Founded in 1908, Reed is a residential college with a campus in the Eastmoreland neighborhood, with Tudor-Gothic style architecture, and a forested canyon nature preserve at its center.
DigiPen Institute of Technology
# 26

DigiPen Institute of Technology

#3337 institution's overall influence
#142 student desirability

Tuition + fees

$31K

Acceptance

57%

Graduation

44%

Student body

1K

Median SAT/ACT

1272/27

Redmond, WA

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DigiPen Institute of Technology is a private, for-profit university in Redmond, Washington. It also has campuses in Singapore and Bilbao, Spain. DigiPen offers bachelor's and master's degree programs in Computer Science, Animation, Video Game Development, Game Design, Sound Design, and Computer Engineering.
Singapore Institute of Technology
# 27

Singapore Institute of Technology

#1643 institution's overall influence
The Singapore Institute of Technology is the fifth autonomous university in Singapore. Established in May 2009, SIT is Singapore's first university of applied learning.
Case Western Reserve University
# 28

Case Western Reserve University

#133 institution's overall influence
#110 student desirability

Tuition + fees

$49K

Acceptance

29%

Graduation

82%

Student body

9K

Median SAT/ACT

1435/32

Cleveland, OH

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Case Western Reserve University is a private research university in Cleveland, Ohio. It was created in 1967 through the federation of two longstanding contiguous institutions: Western Reserve University, founded in 1826 and named for its location in the Connecticut Western Reserve, and Case Institute of Technology, founded in 1880 through the endowment of Leonard Case, Jr. Time magazine described the merger as the creation of "Cleveland's Big-Leaguer" university.
University of Washington
# 29

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.
IT University of Copenhagen
# 30

IT University of Copenhagen

#4486 institution's overall influence
The IT University of Copenhagen, often abbreviated and referred to as ITU , is a public university and research institution in Copenhagen, the capital of Denmark. It is specialized in the cross-disciplinary study of information technology.
Edith Cowan University
# 31

Edith Cowan University

#1378 institution's overall influence
Edith Cowan University is an Australian public university located in Perth, Western Australia. It was named after the first woman to be elected to an Australian Parliament, Edith Cowan, and is the only Australian university named after a woman.
Southern Methodist University
# 32

Southern Methodist University

#299 institution's overall influence
#1324 student desirability

Tuition + fees

$54K

Acceptance

51%

Graduation

79%

Student body

10K

Median SAT/ACT

1370/31

Dallas, TX

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Southern Methodist University is a private research university in University Park, Texas, with satellite campuses in Plano, Texas and Taos, New Mexico. SMU was founded on April 17, 1911 by the Methodist Episcopal Church, South—now part of the United Methodist Church—in partnership with Dallas civic leaders. However, it is nonsectarian in its teaching and enrolls students of all religious affiliations. It is classified among "R-2: Doctoral Universities – High Research Activity".
Louisiana Tech University
# 33

Louisiana Tech University

#464 institution's overall influence
#608 student desirability

Tuition + fees

$10K

Acceptance

63%

Graduation

53%

Student body

7K

Median SAT/ACT

920/25

Ruston, LA

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Louisiana Tech University, colloquially referred to as Louisiana Tech, La. Tech, or simply Tech is a public research university in Ruston, Louisiana. It is a space grant college, and a member of the University of Louisiana System. It is classified among "R2: Doctoral Universities – High research activity".
Academy of Art University
# 34

Academy of Art University

#2091 institution's overall influence

Tuition + fees

$22K

Graduation

34%

Student body

7K

San Francisco, CA

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The Academy of Art University , formerly Academy of Art College and Richard Stephens Academy of Art, is a privately owned for-profit art school in San Francisco, California, in the United States. It was founded as the Academy of Advertising Art by Richard S. Stephens in 1929. It has 283 full-time teachers and 1154 part-time teaching staff, and about 11,000 students; it claims to be the largest privately owned art and design school in the United States.
The New School
# 35

The New School

#96 institution's overall influence
#1438 student 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.
California State University, Long Beach
# 36

California State University, Long Beach

#497 institution's overall influence
#183 student desirability

Tuition + fees

$7K

Acceptance

31%

Graduation

69%

Student body

31K

Median SAT/ACT

1145/23

Long Beach, CA

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California State University, Long Beach is a public university in Long Beach, California. The 322-acre campus is the third largest of the 23-school California State University system and one of the largest universities in the state of California by enrollment, its student body numbering 38,074 for the Fall 2019 semester. With 5,290 graduate students, the university enrolls one of the largest graduate student populations across the CSU system and in the state of California.
Edinburgh Napier University
# 37

Edinburgh Napier University

#796 institution's overall influence
Edinburgh Napier University is a public university in Edinburgh, Scotland. Napier Technical College, the predecessor of the university, was founded in 1964, taking its name from 16th-century Scottish mathematician and philosopher John Napier. The technical college was inaugurated as a University in 1992 by Lord Douglas-Hamilton, becoming Napier University. In 2009 the University was renamed Edinburgh Napier University.
Louisiana State University
# 38

Louisiana State University

#238 institution's overall influence
#1396 student desirability

Tuition + fees

$12K

Acceptance

74%

Graduation

65%

Student body

27K

Median SAT/ACT

1180/26

Baton Rouge, LA

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Louisiana State University (LSU) was founded in 1860. LSU is organized into 14 schools and colleges, which together offer some 330 undergraduate, graduate, and professional degree programs. LSU’s most popular programs are those in business administration, in engineering, and in education. The school is also especially known for its programs in theater, in French, and in landscape architecture.
Tokyo Institute of Technology
# 39

Tokyo Institute of Technology

#586 institution's overall influence
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, and is generally considered to be one of the most prestigious universities in Japan.
University of Michigan
# 40

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.
University of Central Florida
# 41

University of Central Florida

#543 institution's overall influence
#181 student desirability

Tuition + fees

$6K

Acceptance

43%

Graduation

69%

Student body

56K

Median SAT/ACT

1250/27

Orlando, FL

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The University of Central Florida is a public research university in unincorporated Orange County, Florida. With nearly 70,000 students, it has one of the largest student bodies in the United States.
# 42

Nihon University

#2432 institution's overall influence
, abbreviated as , is a private research university in Japan. Its predecessor, Nihon Law School , was founded by Yamada Akiyoshi, the Minister of Justice, in 1889. It is one of the private universities representing Japan. The university's name is derived from the Japanese word "Nihon" meaning Japan. Nihon University now has "16 colleges and 87 departments, 20 postgraduate schools, 1 junior college which is composed of 5 departments, 1 correspondence division, 32 research institutes and 3 hospitals." The number of students exceeds 70,000 and is the largest in Japan.
Dartmouth College
# 43

Dartmouth College

#55 institution's overall influence
#11 student desirability

Tuition + fees

$55K

Acceptance

9%

Graduation

97%

Student body

6K

Median SAT/ACT

1490/33

Hanover, NH

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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.
York University
# 44

York University

#202 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.
Pomona College
# 45

Pomona College

#277 institution's overall influence
#13 student desirability

Tuition + fees

$53K

Acceptance

8%

Graduation

97%

Student body

2K

Median SAT/ACT

1470/32

Claremont, CA

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Pomona College is a private liberal arts college in Claremont, California. It was established in 1887 by a group of Congregationalists who wanted to recreate a "college of the New England type" in Southern California, and in the 1920s it became the founding member of the Claremont Colleges consortium.
University of Cape Town
# 46

University of Cape Town

#167 institution's overall influence
The University of Cape Town is a public research university located in Cape Town in the Western Cape province of South Africa. UCT was founded in 1829 as the South African College making it the oldest higher education institute in South Africa. In terms of full university status, it is the oldest university in South Africa and the oldest extant university in Sub-Saharan Africa together with Stellenbosch University which received full university status on the same day in 1918.
California State University, Northridge
# 47

California State University, Northridge

#535 institution's overall influence
#1253 student desirability

Tuition + fees

$7K

Acceptance

51%

Graduation

50%

Student body

34K

Median SAT/ACT

1030/19

Northridge, CA

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California State University, Northridge is a public university in the Northridge neighborhood of Los Angeles, California. With a total enrollment of 38,391 students , it has the largest undergraduate population as well as the second largest total student body of the 23-campus California State University system, making it one of the largest comprehensive universities in the United States in terms of enrollment size. The size of CSUN also has a major impact on the California economy, with an estimated $1.9 billion in economic output generated by CSUN on a yearly basis. As of Fall 2019, the univ...
University of New South Wales
# 48

University of New South Wales

#231 institution's overall influence
The University of New South Wales is an Australian public research university located in the Sydney suburb of Kensington. Established in 1949, it is ranked fourth in Australia, 44th in the world according to the 2021 QS World University Rankings.
University of Salford
# 49

University of Salford

#658 institution's overall influence
The University of Salford, Manchester is a public university in Salford, Greater Manchester, England, west of Manchester city centre. The Royal Technical Institute, Salford, which opened in 1896, became a College of Advanced Technology in 1956 and gained university status in 1967, following the Robbins Report into higher education.
Masaryk University
# 50

Masaryk University

#750 institution's overall influence
Masaryk University is the second largest university in the Czech Republic, a member of the Compostela Group and the Utrecht Network. Founded in 1919 in Brno as the second Czech university , it now consists of nine faculties and 35,115 students. It is named after Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk, the first president of an independent Czechoslovakia as well as the leader of the movement for a second Czech university.