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The USA is the world's most popular study abroad destination and home to one of the largest higher education systems. But how good are its universities for postgraduate study?
The answer is very.
America's top universities dominate the upper reaches of all major global rankings. They also do very well in subject-specific league tables, where performance can matter most to prospective postgraduate (or 'graduate') students.
This page summarises the global rankings of US universities in the three most important international league tables. We've also listed some of the main domestic rankings of US universities.
The following table gives the top 20 universities in the USA, based on global university rankings.
This information is based on the latest rankings tables, researched and published by Times Higher Education, QS and the Academic Ranking of World Universities (ARWU). For more information on using international rankings as a postgraduate, see our guide.
|University||THE 2021||QS 2021||ARWU 2020|
|California Institute of Technology||4||4||8|
|Massachusetts Institute of Technology||5||1||4|
|University of California, Berkeley||7||30||5|
|University of Chicago||10||9||10|
|Johns Hopkins University||12||=25||15|
|University of Pennsylvania||13||16||19|
|University of California, Los Angeles||15||36||13|
|University of Michigan-Ann Arbor||22||21||22|
|New York University||26||35||=27|
|Carnegie Mellon University||28||51||95|
|University of Washington||29||=72||16|
|University of California, San Diego||33||54||18|
|Information in this table is based on the latest Times Higher Education World University Rankings, QS World University Rankings and Academic Ranking of World Universities. Visit their websites for more information.|
International rankings use all sorts of metrics to assess universities and they aren't all equally relevant to postgraduate study. That's why we've put together a guide to university rankings for Masters students.
US universities continue to dominate the top end of all three world university rankings, with American institutions holding the number one position in two of three rankings. Of course, this reinforces the USA's status as a top international study destination. But how relevant is it to Masters-level study?
Global rankings do take into account some of the factors that matter to postgraduate students. The quality (and volume) of a university's research, the reputation of its academics and its ability to attract external funding or partnerships can all have an impact on the quality of advanced degree programmes.
But international rankings measure these factors on an overall level. This can obscure the areas of specialism or expertise that represent an institution's key strengths - and which its Masters programmes will draw upon.
Our database includes plenty of US Masters degrees and our listings provide lots of helpful information about specific programs. Why not take a look?
As you'd expect from one of the world's largest higher education systems, there are a wide range of domestic rankings that only include universities in the USA. Most are produced by American media outlets and similar organisations.
Domestic rankings don't compare US universities internationally; instead they rank US institutions against each other. This can be useful if you're narrowing your search to the USA, but less helpful if you're still comparing a range of options for postgraduate study abroad.
We haven't summarised specific US university rankings here, but significant examples include:
There are a lot of American institutions in these rankings, but that's only a fraction of the total number of universities in the USA. To really get to grips with postgraduate study in the US higher education system, check out our comprehensive guide.
Last updated 08/09/2020