16 Best Colleges In The World

When considering your career, you will probably face one of the most important decisions of your life: deciding whether to go to college.

Often considered the next step after high school, the college prepares you socially and intellectually to begin your career and adult life. After you have decided you want to go to college, the next issue is where.

Where you choose to go to college affects you in the long run. Not negatively, but then not as positively as attending a top college. These are the top colleges in the world for you to choose from.

What Makes the Best College?

These reasons may vary from person to person. However, to be regarded as the best college, there are some essential features the college must have. Some of the very prominent ones are;

The best colleges in the world ought to have vast academic programs ranging from subjects you’ve constantly heard of to issues you didn’t even know existed. In studying these courses, you can be sure of top-notch faculty, research opportunities, and industry connections for internships, networking, or job opportunities.

The best colleges in the world have a knack for the diverse campus culture. Imagine studying with people from different races and cultural and social backgrounds. You can also find any student club; there are varieties.

The best college degrees also offer courses beyond just preparing for your career. You would find classes that are aimed towards advancing you psychologically and emotionally.

They would also build your ethical decision-making, critical-thinking skills, and a greater understanding of solutions for societal challenges to prepare you for a career and life.

The best colleges in the world also have provisions for scholarships and grants. Being the best, you should know they do not come cheap.

An article on collegedata.com cites these average costs of tuition and fees for the 2016–17 school year, according to College Board: $33,480 at private colleges, $9,650 for state residents at public colleges, and $24,930 for out-of-state residents attending public universities.

These costs don’t include room and board, which typically tack on another $10,000–$15,000 to your bill. These colleges would find a way to make your education affordable.

Why Must I Attend One of the Best Colleges in the World?

These colleges already have their reputation cut out for them. By attending any of these best colleges, you are confident you will make more money than most people once you get a job.

This would be more advantageous if you graduated with good grades and a reasonable degree. Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) shows that in 2021, people with a college degree made around $1,198 a week.

The best colleges in the world are not just about books. You would also have to break out of your shell. You would need to transition to the person you have always been to become better. This would help your grades and ensure you make the right connections. If you wish you’d studied more in high school, college is an opportunity for you to hit the books harder.

In the best colleges, every class you take does not have to apply to your major. You would gain new skills and overcome fears that you have always had. The idea of college is to grow personally and professionally. Also, take classes that are just fun. You could even take a horseback riding class.

By attending any of the best colleges in the world, you will have the time to find your direction. If, before you get in, you do not know what exact line you want to major in, most of these colleges only require a student to declare a major at the end of their sophomore year.

That gives you two years to work on general courses and explore different majors. Some professors will allow you to audit a class to determine whether you will enjoy that major. You won’t get a grade or credit for auditing a course; it’s just for academic exploration.

By attending any of the best colleges in the world, you would expand your career options.

After you graduate, your employer understands that college develops your ability to think analytically, understand complex subjects, and communicate your ideas better.

No matter what major you pursue in college, employers know you picked up skills in organization, self-discipline, and the ability to follow through on important tasks.

Requirements for Enrolling in the Best Colleges

You would need to enroll in any of the world’s best colleges.

  • Get the best possible grades during all four years of high school. Grades are significant.
  • Take academically rigorous classes all four years. You should carry as many challenging courses as you can handle-college prep, Advanced Placement (AP), honors, and International Baccalaureate (IB).
  • Practice taking the SAT or ACT. Become familiar with the types of material covered and the test directions. Take the PSAT during your sophomore year. Determine what knowledge and skills you lack and master them for the actual tests. Take advantage of free online SAT or ACT materials, study guides, practice tests, tutors, and prep courses before or during your junior year.
  • Try taking both the SAT and ACT. These top colleges will accept either test. You may do better on one test than the other. This will boost your chances of admission. If you are unsatisfied with your scores, take the SAT or ACT more than once.
  • Take SAT Subject Tests and AP Tests. Competitive colleges may require you to take some of these exams, and they take note of exam results. The best colleges accept only AP scores of five (5).
  • Spend sufficient time developing your college essays. Remember that your college essay is a chance to sell yourself to the college you are applying for. Write, edit, rewrite. Do not hesitate to convey who you are in your writing: energetic, exciting, passionate, and intellectually curious.
  • Take up more leadership positions. Get involved in extracurricular activities. Demonstrate growth. Develop a deep interest or talent in one or more areas.
  • Ask your school counselor and teachers who know you well for recommendations—at least a month in advance of college deadlines for submissions. Remind them of your actions so they write a glowing recommendation for you.
  • Get organized and stay focused. Make a file folder for each college that interests you. Keep focused on getting into any of these best colleges in the world.

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 15 Best Colleges in the World

Different colleges exist, but a few have consistently delivered class and excellence, making them stand out. These colleges include:

1. Harvard University

The United States | Cambridge (US.)

Harvard University is a private Ivy League research university in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The university was founded in 1636 as Harvard College and named for its first benefactor, the Puritan clergyman John Harvard. It is the oldest institution of higher learning in the United States and among the most prestigious in the world.

Harvard University is devoted to excellence in teaching, learning, research, and developing leaders in many disciplines who make a difference globally. Harvard University is an Ivy League school and very quickly one of the best colleges in the world.

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2. Massachusetts Institute of Technology

United States |Cambridge (US.)

Massachusetts Institute of Technology is a private land-grant research university in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Established in 1861, MIT has since played a vital role in developing modern technology and science and has been ranked among the top academic institutions in the world. MIT alumni have not only made a name for themselves but also made a name for the school. They have launched over 30,000 active companies, creating 4.6 million jobs and generating roughly $1.9 trillion in annual revenue.

With more than 1,067 Faculty members, MIT continues to play a vital role in shaping the future of undergraduate and graduate students as advisors, mentors, coaches, committee members, and much more. In addition, the Institute’s board of trustees includes 78 eminent leaders in science, engineering, education, industry, and other professions. Additionally, the faculty members continue to thrive in the global standard of excellence in their disciplines.

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3. Stanford University

United States | Stanford

Stanford University, officially Leland Stanford Junior University, is a private research university in Stanford, California. The campus occupies 8,180 acres, among the largest in the United States, and enrolls over 17,000 students.

Stanford has a rich tradition of fostering creativity and the arts: a vibrant campus arts district and two world-class museums hosting regular exhibitions. Eight dining halls, a teaching kitchen, and organic gardens provide healthy, sustainable meals to the campus community.

The intimate communal nature of life on campus has even given rise to “Stanford speak,” a unique language only spoken on campus. Stanford counts 19 Nobel laureates within its community today and numerous famous alums from art, social sciences, business, politics, humanities, media, sports, and technology. The 31st president of the US, Herbert Hoover, was part of the first class at Stanford and received a degree in geology in 1895. The alumni include 17 astronauts, 18 Turing Award recipients, and two Fields Medalists.

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4. University of California–Berkeley

United States | Berkeley

The University of California, Berkeley is a public land-grant research university in Berkeley, California. Established in 1868 as the University of California, it is the state’s first land-grant university and the first campus of the University of California system. Berkeley alums, faculty, and researchers include 99 Nobel laureates, 23 Turing Award winners, and 14 Pulitzer Prize winners. Faculty member J. R. Oppenheimer led the Manhattan Project to create the first atomic bomb. At the same time, Berkeley’s Nobel laureate Ernest Lawrence invented the cyclotron, through which UC Berkeley scientists and researchers discovered 16 chemical elements of the periodic table.

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5. University of Oxford

United Kingdom | Oxford

The University of Oxford is one of the leading universities in the world. The University of Oxford is the oldest in the English-speaking world. It is so ancient that its founding date is unknown – though it is thought that teaching took place there as early as the 11th century. The University of Oxford has no main campus; its buildings and facilities are scattered around the medieval city center.

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Its colleges each have a distinctive character and traditions, often dating back centuries. Colleges are self-governing institutions to which students usually apply directly. Oxford University has four academic divisions: Humanities, Mathematical, Physical, and Life Sciences; Medical Sciences; and Social Sciences. The university’s particular strength is the sciences, ranked number one in the world for medicine. The University of Oxford, though ancient, will be one of the best colleges in the world in 2023.

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6. Columbia University

United States | New York City

Columbia University is a private Ivy League research university in New York City. Established in 1754 as King’s College on the grounds of Trinity Church in Manhattan, Columbia is the oldest institution of higher education in New York and the fifth-oldest institution of higher learning in the United States. The university comprises three schools that enroll undergraduates- Columbia College, the Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science, and the School of General Studies – and numerous graduate and professional schools.

Columbia University’s highly-ranked graduate programs are the Business School, the Law School, and the College of Physicians and Surgeons. With an undergraduate acceptance rate of 5.8 percent, Columbia is currently the third most selective college in the United States and the second most demanding in the Ivy League after Harvard. 

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7. California Institute of Technology

United States | Pasadena

The California Institute of Technology (Caltech) is a private research university in Pasadena, California. The university is known for its strength in science and engineering. It is among a small group of institutes of technology in the United States primarily devoted to the instruction of pure and applied sciences.

As of October 2020, 76 Nobel laureates have been affiliated with Caltech, including 40 alums and faculty members. In addition, 4 Fields Medalists and 6 Turing Award winners have been affiliated with Caltech.

There are 8 Crawford Laureates, 56 non-emeritus faculty members elected to one of the United States National Academies, 4 Chief Scientists of the US Air Force, and 71 who have won the United States National Medal of Science or Technology. California Institute of Technology will be one of the best colleges in the world in 2023.

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8. University of Washington

United States | Seattle

The University of Washington is a public research university in Seattle, Washington. Founded in 1861, Washington is one of the oldest universities on the West Coast; it was established in Seattle approximately a decade after the city’s founding to aid its economic development. Today, the university’s 703-acre main Seattle campus is in the University District, Puget Sound region of the Pacific Northwest.

The university also has campuses in Tacoma and Bothell. Overall, UW encompasses over 500 buildings and over 20 million gross square footage of space, including one of the largest library systems in the world with more than 26 university libraries, as well as the UW Tower, lecture halls, art centers, museums, laboratories, stadiums, and conference centers.

The university offers bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees through its 140 departments, organized into various colleges and schools. It also continues operating a Transition School and Early Entrance Program on campus, which began in 1977.

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9. University of Cambridge

United Kingdom | Cambridge (UK.)

Located in the center of the ancient city of Cambridge, 50 miles north of London, the University of Cambridge is a collegiate public research institution that serves more than 18,000 students from all corners of the globe. 

The university consists of numerous listed buildings and is divided into 31 autonomous colleges, with many older ones situated on the famous river Cam. Applications are made directly to the individual colleges rather than the university.

You can live and are often taught within your college, receiving small group teaching sessions known as college supervision. Six academic schools – Arts and Humanities, Biological Sciences, Clinical Medicine, Humanities and Social Sciences, Physical Sciences, and Technology – are spread across the university’s colleges, housing roughly 150 faculties and other institutions. 

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10. Johns Hopkins University

United States | Baltimore

The Johns Hopkins University, also popularly known as Johns Hopkins, Hopkins, or JHU, is a private research university in Baltimore, Maryland. 

Johns Hopkins is considered the first research university in the United States. Daniel Coit Gilman inaugurated as Johns Hopkins’ first president on February 22, 1876, led the university to revolutionize higher education in the US by integrating teaching and research. 

In 1900, Johns Hopkins became a founding member of the American Association of Universities. The university has since led all US universities in annual research expenditures.

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11. Princeton University

United States | Princeton

Princeton University is a private Ivy League research university in Princeton, New Jersey. Founded in 1746 in Elizabeth as the College of New Jersey, Princeton is the fourth-oldest institution of higher education in the United States, and one of the nine colonial colleges chartered before the American Revolution.

Princeton is a learning community enriched by its vast experiences and students’ perspectives. Students primarily benefit from the extraordinary resources of a world-class research institution dedicated to teaching. Princeton students embrace a wide variety of past and present traditions.

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The university is a NCAA Division I school and competes in the Ivy League. The school’s athletic team, the Princeton Tigers, has won the most titles in its conference and has sent many students and alums to the Olympics. Princeton is one of the best colleges in the world.

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12. Yale University

United States | New Haven

Yale University is a private Ivy League research university in New Haven, Connecticut. Founded in 1701 as the Collegiate School; it is the third-oldest institution of higher education in the United States. As of October 2020, 65 Nobel laureates, five Fields Medalists, four Abel Prize laureates, and three Turing award winners have been affiliated with Yale University.

In addition, Yale has graduated many notable alums, including five US Presidents, 19 US Supreme Court Justices, 31 living billionaires, and many heads of state. Hundreds of members of Congress and many US diplomats, 78 MacArthur Fellows, 252 Rhodes Scholars, 123 Marshall Scholars, and nine Mitchell Scholars have been affiliated with the university. Yale is a member of the Big Three. It is one of the best colleges in the world.

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13. Imperial College London

Imperial College London, also known as Imperial College of Science, Technology, and Medicine, is a public research university in London. Imperial is 1st in the UK for innovation and 2nd in Europe behind KU Leuven by Reuters – The World’s Most Innovative Universities.

Imperial is 1st for MBA in entrepreneurship in Europe and 2nd in the world behind Stanford by the QS MBA Rankings. According to the Guardian University Guide and the Complete University Guide, students are ranked 1st for employment prospects among UK universities.

As of 2018, The Guardian notes that Imperial graduates pick up the highest salaries in the UK in the first year after graduation, earning around a fifth more than students leaving Oxford and Cambridge.

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14. University of Chicago

The University of Chicago is a private research university in Chicago, Illinois. Founded in 1890, its main campus is in Chicago’s Hyde Park neighborhood. The University of Chicago is ranked among the best universities in the world. The academic bodies of the University of Chicago consist of the College, five divisions of graduate research, six professional schools, and the Graham School of Continuing Liberal and Professional Studies.

The university also contains a library system, the University of Chicago Press, and the University of Chicago Medical Center, and oversees several laboratories, including Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory (Fermilab), Argonne National Laboratory, and the Marine Biological Laboratory.

The Higher Learning Commission accredits the university. The University of Chicago has an extensive record of producing successful business leaders and billionaires. ARWU has consistently placed the University of Chicago among the top 15 universities in the world.

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15. ETH Zurich (Swiss Federal Institute of Technology)

ETH Zurich is one of the world’s leading science and technology universities known for its cutting-edge research and innovation. It was established in 1855 as the Swiss Federal Polytechnic School. A century and a half later, the university can count 21 Nobel laureates, 2 Fields Medalists, 2 Pritzker Prize winners, and 1 Turing Award winner as alumni, including the great Albert Einstein himself.

Students at ETH face an intensive workload, but they can still find time for cultural and other leisure activities and for attending the many regular symposia and conferences on campus, where some of the best minds in science come to speak.

The university, officially called the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich in English, has 16 departments that offer academic education and conduct scientific research in subjects ranging from engineering and architecture to chemistry and physics.

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16. Nanyang Technological University, Singapore (NTU)

Yes, Nanyang Technological University (NTU) in Singapore is widely considered one of the best colleges in the world. It consistently ranks highly in global university rankings, including the Times Higher Education World University Rankings, the QS World University Rankings, and the Academic Ranking of World Universities.

For example, in the 2023 QS World University Rankings, NTU was ranked as the 19th best university in the world, while in the 2022 Times Higher Education World University Rankings, NTU was ranked 36th in the world.

NTU has also been recognized for its strengths in areas such as engineering and technology, computer science, and business.

In addition to its high rankings, NTU has a strong reputation for research and innovation, with several research institutes and centers dedicated to areas such as sustainability, artificial intelligence, and entrepreneurship. The university also has a diverse student body, with students from over 100 countries studying at NTU.

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Is Oxford better than Harvard?

It is difficult to compare two prestigious universities, like Oxford and Harvard, and declare one as better. Both universities are renowned for their academic excellence, research output, and rich history.

Oxford is one of the world’s oldest and most distinguished universities, with a strong focus on the humanities, social sciences, and natural sciences. It has produced numerous Nobel laureates, heads of state, and successful business leaders.

Harvard is a leading research university emphasizing the social sciences, law, and business. It has also produced many Nobel laureates and numerous heads of state, business leaders, and prominent academics.

Ultimately, the choice between Oxford and Harvard depends on various factors, including the academic program and research opportunities that best align with your interests and goals and other considerations such as location, culture, and community. Researching both universities thoroughly and considering all the factors before deciding is important.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is there always an entrance exam to get into these colleges?

Each of these colleges has its enrollment requirements. Contact your course advisor to ensure you get the correct processes.

What are the best three colleges in the world?

Harvard University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Stanford University.

Are most of the best colleges in the world privately owned?

No. Not all the best colleges in the world are private schools

Is there an age limit for applying to these colleges?

Once you are above 16, you can apply for any of these colleges.

Can I attend any of these top colleges online?

Yes. It, however, depends on the course you have chosen to study.


College is a time for personal and professional growth. It is common for students to pick up new academic interests in college that they would not have had otherwise. College is different from high school because you can choose many of the classes you want to take, and you aren’t required to take classes you’re not interested in.

This flexibility allows you to discover your academic passions. Attending any of the best colleges in the world would ensure that they would be nurtured when you find your desires.




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