Harvard still tops US News 2017 Best Global Universities

By Bonnie K. Goodman, BA, MLIS

Harvard University remains the top university in the world according to US News and World Report’s third annual Best Global Universities Rankings, US News released the 2017 ranking on Tuesday, Oct. 25, 2016. The biggest international university ranking looked at the best universities by “region, country, and subject.” This year’s ranking increased the number of school from 750 to 1000 from 65 countries in the world up from 57, giving each one a score out of 100.

There was a lot of movement in the top 10 of the ranking. As for the rest of the top three, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology remained second, and Stanford University moved up one to third. The top public school on the list the University of California-Berkeley moved down one to fourth, while the California Institute of Technology, Caltech moved up two to reach the top five.

The top ten’s two British universities, perennially in the top the University of Oxford (U.K.) and the University of Cambridge each moved down one to the sixth and seventh spot. Princeton joined the top ten, and moved up from 13th to eighth on the list, Princeton topped US News’s Best Colleges National ranking. Columbia University remained ninth, while the University of Chicago dropped out of the top 10 down to number 13.

The top 20 also saw some changes, 17 schools were from the US, with three from the UK including the Imperial College of London at 19. There was also a new entry to the top 20, the University of California San Francisco, a graduate school for the sciences moved up to number 17.

American universities dominated the entire ranking as they did the top 10 with 210 institutions, followed by China with 87 schools continuing the rise of Asian schools and the UK was third with 68 schools, in continental Europe Germany had 55 institutions in the ranking, while France had 49. The United Kingdom pierced the top universities with Oxford University at №6 and the University of Cambridge at №7, both moving down one spot. The US also leads in universities specializing in the arts and humanities, clinical medicine, computer science economics and business and engineering. The UK comes in second in the arts and humanities.

Robert Morse, chief data strategist at U.S. News, explained the reason behind American domination, “U.S. universities do especially well in the Best Global Universities rankings because they place an enormous emphasis on academic research — a key factor in our methodology since these are indicators that can be compared globally. This methodology is different from that of Best Colleges, which measures the overall quality of undergraduate education and focuses on outcomes including graduation and retention rates.”

The first university that made the list outside of the US and the UK was Canada with the University of Toronto at №21 down from 16 last year. The University of British Columbia came in second as it has been for most of this year’s international lists at №31 up two, followed by McGill University at №50 up from 53 last year.

The top European university outside of the UK is the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich, coming in at only 35 down from 27 last year. The top Asian university on the list is the University of Tokyo at №44 moving down from 30 last year. In Oceania, the University of Melbourne in Australia took the highest spot for that area on the top 500 at №36 up from 40. The top school in Africa is the University of Cape Town that sits at №112 up from 162.

US News’ global universities list covers five regions including African universities. US News’ added to their country-specific rankings adding six more countries bringing the number to 38. There are 22 subject rankings in all. The subject rankings are dominated by STEM subjects; science, technology, engineering and mathematics with the addition of the arts and humanities.

US News utilizes data from Clarivate Analytics InCitesTM research analytics solutions, and citations data taken from the Web of Science database. The data “measures a university’s global and regional reputation; academic research performance using bibliometric indicators such as publications, citations and international collaboration; and school-level data on faculty and Ph.D. graduates.” This year US News’ altered their methodology “to further emphasize excellence in academic research by factoring in the total number of highly cited papers in the top 1 percent of their respective fields and the percentage of a university’s total papers that are among the top 1 percent of most-cited papers.”

U.S. News 2017 Best Global Universities Rankings top 10:

Overall Best Global Universities

1 Harvard University (U.S.) (1)
2 Massachusetts Institute of Technology (U.S.) (2)
3 Stanford University (U.S.) (4)
4 University of California-Berkeley (U.S.) (3)
5 California Institute of Technology (U.S.) (7)
6 University of Oxford (U.K.) (5)
7 University of Cambridge (U.K.) (6)
8 Princeton University (13)
9 Columbia University (U.S.) (9)
10 University of California-Los Angeles (U.S.) (8)

Bonnie K. Goodman BA, MLIS (McGill University), is a journalist, librarian, historian & editor. She is a former Features Editor at the History News Network & reporter at Examiner.com where she covered politics, universities, religion and news. She has a dozen years experience in education & political journalism.

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