These are the world’s top universities

Profile of students taking their seats for the diploma ceremony at Harvard University in Cambridge REUTERS/Brian Snyder

One US university scores full marks in this year's QS ranking Image: REUTERS/Brian Snyder

Joe Myers
Writer, Forum Agenda
Our Impact
What's the World Economic Forum doing to accelerate action on Education?
The Big Picture
Explore and monitor how Education is affecting economies, industries and global issues
A hand holding a looking glass by a lake
Crowdsource Innovation
Get involved with our crowdsourced digital platform to deliver impact at scale
Stay up to date:


The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) has been named the world’s top university for the fifth year in a row by the latest QS World University Rankings.

Based in Boston, MIT scored full marks in this year’s ranking. Strong academic and employer reputations were underpinned by academic excellence.

Quacquarelli Symonds ranks universities based on six indicators: academic reputation; employer reputation; student-to-faculty ratio; citations per faculty; international faculty ratio and international student ratio.

The top 10

 These are the world's best universities

For the first time in over 10 years, US institutions take the top three places. Stanford and Harvard swap places from 3= and 2nd respectively.

Stanford’s second place highlights a steady rise up the rankings. Fifteenth in 2012, this year the California-based university scored 98.7 out of 100 to pip Harvard.

Cambridge, joint third with Stanford last year, drops down to fourth. QS highlights a broader trend of Western European institutions falling down the rankings.

“Some Western European nations making or proposing cuts to public research spending are losing ground to their US and Asian counterparts,” said Ben Sowter, head of research at QS, in a press release.

Just one non-US or UK institution makes it into the top 10 – ETH Zurich in 8th.

The rest of the world

Asia’s highest ranked institution remains the National University of Singapore, in 12th, followed by the Nanyang Technological University, Singapore in 13th.

QS also highlights the continued progression of Chinese institutions – Tsinghua University has risen to its highest-ever position of 24th.

Australia and Canada also increased their representation in the top 100, while a Latin American university features for the first time. Universidad de Buenos Aires takes 85th place.

The importance of investment

Investment in further education is the key driving force behind risers and fallers, say QS.

“The thirteenth edition of the QS World University Rankings indicates that investment in higher education – either public or private – is a key differentiating factor between this year’s risers and fallers.”

As the World Economic Forum’s Skills for your Future series highlights, the world of work is changing rapidly. The skills required in the future are evolving and changing rapidly from those of today. Investment in higher education will play an important role in making sure the future workforce has the skills employers will be looking for.

Don't miss any update on this topic

Create a free account and access your personalized content collection with our latest publications and analyses.

Sign up for free

License and Republishing

World Economic Forum articles may be republished in accordance with the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International Public License, and in accordance with our Terms of Use.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author alone and not the World Economic Forum.

World Economic Forum logo
Global Agenda

The Agenda Weekly

A weekly update of the most important issues driving the global agenda

Subscribe today

You can unsubscribe at any time using the link in our emails. For more details, review our privacy policy.

Why we need education built for peace – especially in times of war

Jane Mann

February 28, 2024

About Us



Partners & Members

  • Join Us

Language Editions

Privacy Policy & Terms of Service

© 2024 World Economic Forum