Top US Universities by State | Top Universities

Top US Universities by State

By Keshala Jayawickrama

Updated October 12, 2023 Updated October 12, 2023

The US is home to some of the best universities in the world and the recently released QS World University Rankings 2024 features 198 US universities. 

This can be a lot to choose from, so to make life easier we have devised a state-by-state rundown of the best universities in the US. 

The world university rankings are compiled using nine indicators: academic and employer reputation, faculty student ratio, citations per faculty, international faculty ratio, international students' ratio, international research network, employment outcomes and sustainability. You can find out more about the methodology used here

Alabama - Auburn University  

Auburn University, ranked the top university of the state and 801-850 in the world this year in the world rankings, is a prominent public research institution offering diverse academic programmes. The university is recognised for its significant influence on both education and Alabama's economic landscape. 

Runner up: University of Alabama at Birmingham, ranked 901-950 in the world. 

Alaska - University of Alaska Fairbanks 

Placed first in the state and 781-790 in the world this year is the University of Alaska Fairbanks. The best score it achieved is for its faculty-student ratio, for which the university is placed 30th in the world. With over 150 programmes, UAF cultivates a dynamic community that believes in the transformative power of knowledge and curiosity. 

Runner up: No runner up. 

Arizona - Arizona State University 

Arizona State University is ranked the top university of the state and 179th in the world. The university is recognised for revolutionising higher education, providing quality academic access and guidance to over 100,000 students from diverse backgrounds globally.  

The highest score attained is for sustainability, for which the university is placed 33rd in the world while displaying the institution's eco-conscious strategy. 

Runner up: The University of Arizona, ranked joint 285th in the world 

Arkansas - University of Arkansas Fayetteville 

The only ranked university in Arkansas, the University of Arkansas is placed 1001-1200 in the world rankings this year. The University of Arkansas prioritises student success, offering top-notch education and research opportunities on a picturesque Fayetteville campus. With acclaimed programmes and impressive rankings, it's a hub for academic excellence. 

Runner up: No runner up. 

California- Stanford University  

Stanford University

Among the top universities in California, Stanford University stands as the top-ranked institution. Stanford is placed fifth in the world while also being ranked third in the world for employer reputation and second for employment outcomes. Founded in 1885, the university emphasizes discovery, innovation, and societal impact, boasting a vast campus with renowned schools and a rich tradition of nurturing creativity and arts. 

Runner up: University of California, Berkeley (UCB), ranked 10th in the world 

Colorado - University of Colorado Boulder  

Taking the top spot in Colorado, we have the University of Colorado at Boulder, also ranked joint 264th in the world. The university earns its highest score for sustainability, where it is placed 40th globally indicating their eco-conscious approach to education. 

Runner up: Colorado State University, ranked 409th in the world. 

Connecticut - Yale University 

Yale University

It probably won’t come as a surprise that Yale University is the top-ranked university in Connecticut. Yale is part of the prestigious Ivy League group and is ranked within the top 10 in the US, and 16th in the world. 

The university earns high scores for its academic and employer reputation, faculty-student ratio, employment outcome and sustainability while being ranked third in the world for faculty-student ratio.  

Runner up: University of Connecticut, ranked joint 444th in the world. 

Delaware - University of Delaware  

Delaware’s sole representative in the world rankings, the University of Delaware is ranked 498th in the world rankings. The University of Delaware ranks well for several subjects, most notably chemical engineering where it is placed joint 80th globally. 

Runner up: No runner up 

Florida - University of Florida  

The University of Florida secures the top spot among the top universities in Florida, while being ranked 168th in the world. The University of Florida has earned its best score for their international research network, placed 24th in the world – a reflection of its high level of research output.  

With over 50,000 students, University of Florida ranks among the top five largest universities in the United States. 

Runner up: University of Miami, ranked joint 278th in the world. 

Georgia - Georgia Institute of Technology  

Rising from the previous year’s ranking, Georgia Institute of Technology is ranked the top university in the state in 2024 and is positioned 97th globally. The highest score of the university is earned for the employer reputation indicator while also been ranked in the top 10 for several subjects such as statistics and operational research (ninth) and data science (ninth). 

Runner up: Emory University, is ranked joint 166th in the world. 

Hawaii- University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa  

The University of Hawaiʻi at Mañoa holds the title of being the best university in Hawaii while securing a global ranking of 386th. It is the only ranked universities in the state and is committed to sustainability and providing a unique multicultural educational experience in Hawaii. In the subject rankings, the university scores highest for linguistics, and is placed 19th in the world. 

Runner up: No runner up. 

Idaho - University of Idaho  

Placed 1001-1200 in the world and the top in the state, the University of Idaho consistently earns accolades, ranking high for academic strength, affordability, environmental responsibility, and overall excellence.  

Runner up: No runner up. 

Illinois: University of Chicago

University of Chicago

In 11th place in the world rankings, is the University of Chicago – the top-ranked university in Illinois. The University of Chicago scores well in all indicators, particularly for academic reputation, where it earns a near perfect score.  

If you’re interested in studying economics and econometrics, you’ll be pleased to learn that the University of Chicago ranks fourth in the world for the subject while also being ranked in the top 10 in the world for several subjects such as social science, accounting and finance, anthropology, law and sociology. 

Runner up: Northwestern University, ranked joint 47th in the world 

Indiana - Purdue University  

Following the same pattern, Purdue University, which was once second, is now the best in the state and is ranked 99th globally. It is a renowned institution known for its strong emphasis on engineering, management, education, and pharmacy programmes and it houses 13 schools and colleges, with notable alumni such as John Wooden and Neil Armstrong. 

Runner up: University of Notre Dame, ranked joint 304th in the world. 

Iowa - Iowa State University 

University of Iowa

Iowa State University, standing as the top university in the state and jointly ranked 400th globally, offers a stunning 1,900-acre campus in Ames, Iowa. With over 33,000 students and 120 majors, it's an esteemed member of AAU and the Big 12 Athletic Conference.  

The university stands out for its exceptional agriculture and forestry program (joint eighth), and excels in veterinary science, securing a commendable joint 16th position worldwide. 

Runner up: University of Iowa, ranked joint 491st in the world. 

Kansas - University of Kansas 

The University of Kansas is featured as the top university in the state and joint 410th in the world rankings this year. The university has recently expanded its facilities, fostering interdisciplinary learning and research across various domains including engineering, chemistry, geology, and film, while also gaining national recognition for its advanced medical research and training centres. 

Runner up: Kansas State University, ranked 851-900 in the world. 

Kentucky - University of Kentucky  

Moving up from second place in the state, the University of Kentucky has snagged the top spot and is ranked 681-690 in the world rankings this year. The best score is earned by the university for its international research network and they are also ranked joint 50th in mineral and mining engineering.  

Runner up: University of Louisville College of Business, ranked1001-1200 in the world. 

Louisiana - Tulane University  

In joint 600th place in the world, we have Tulane University as Louisiana’s top university this year. Established in 1834, Tulane University is a distinctive private research institution closely linked to the culture and challenges of Gulf South. Emphasising interdisciplinary collaboration, it seeks real-world solutions and a personalised learning experience, making a positive impact beyond its campuses. 

Runner up: Louisiana State University, ranked 801-850 in the world.

Maryland - Johns Hopkins University  

Johns Hopkins University holds the position of the top university in the state of Maryland, while being ranked 28th globally. The university is widely credited with being the first US institution to integrate training and research. Johns Hopkins University ranks eighth globally in terms of faculty-student ratio. 

Runner up: University of Maryland, ranked joint 169th in the world.   

Massachusetts - Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)  

 Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) is ranked first in both the state and the world in the QS World University Rankings 2024. Founded in 1861, MIT has evolved into a prestigious educational institution with a large faculty and student body, focusing on innovation. It's a leader in research, spanning AI, climate adaptation, healthcare, while offering a comprehensive college experience in sports and the arts.  

Runner up: Harvard University, ranked 4th in the world 

Michigan - University of Michigan-Ann Arbor  

Michigan’s top university is the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, in 33rd place in the world this year. The University of Michigan scores extremely well in the academic reputation indicator, coming in 22nd place globally, reflecting their commitment towards academic excellence. 

The university ranks highly for a multitude of subjects in the subject rankings, especially in dentistry, where it places first in the world. 

Runner up: Michigan State University, ranked 136th in the world. 

Minnesota - University of Minnesota Twin Cities  

University of Minnesota

In 195th place in the world and first in the state is the University of Minnesota Twin Cities. The university has a very high research output and is one of the most comprehensive public universities in the US, with a strong tradition of education and public service.  

Prospective veterinary studies students will find it valuable to know that the university is ranked 12th globally in the field. 

Runner up: No runner up. 

Mississippi - Mississippi State University 1001-1200 

Ranked first in the state and 1001-1200 in the world, Mississippi State University embodies a commitment to personalised growth and academic success. With a diverse range of programmes and dedicated faculty, MSU empowers students to excel in their chosen fields and positively impact society. 

Runner up: University of Mississippi, ranked 1001-1200 in the world 

Missouri - Washington University in St. Louis 

Missouri’s top university in the rankings this year is Washington University in St. Louis. The university is ranked joint 154th place in the world this year. Founded in 1853, the university was named after George Washington and has three campuses. Those looking to study anatomy and physiology in Missouri will be pleased to discover that the university ranks joint 19th in the world for this subject. 

Runner up: Missouri University of Science and Technology, ranked 480th in the world.  

Montana - University of Montana Missoula  

Montana’s top entry in the world rankings this year is University of Montana Missoula, ranked 1201-1400 in the world. The University of Montana attracts a diverse population, fostering an engaged community of roughly 15,000 students across varied academic disciplines. 

Runner up: No runner up. 

Nebraska - University of Nebraska – Lincoln  

In joint 551st place globally and the best university in Nebraska this year is the University of Nebraska Lincoln. The university's agriculture and forestry course ranks among the top 100 globally, securing 59th position.  

The university's commitment to access and affordability is showcased by a significant representation of first-generation students, reflecting its dedication to higher education accessibility. 

Runner up: No runner up.

New Hampshire: Dartmouth College

Dartmouth College

The nation’s ninth oldest college, founded in 1796, Dartmouth College is New Hampshire’s best university. The institution is placed joint 237th in the world ranking this year and takes pride in their outstanding faculty members.  

Simultaneously, the university's remarkable 65th global ranking for employment outcomes is a testament to their outstanding commitment to preparing students for successful careers. 

Runner up: University of New Hampshire, ranked 1001-1200 in the world. 

New Jersey- Princeton University 

In joint 17th place in the world university rankings and securing the top spot in New Jersey is Princeton University, a distinguished member of the Ivy League. Founded in 1746, Princeton is one of the oldest and most prestigious universities in the United States.  

Princeton earns a perfect score for citations per faculty and near-perfect scores for academic and employer reputations, demonstrating the university’s exceptional standing and strong influence in the academic and corporate communities.  

Runner up: Rutgers University- New Brunswick, ranked 299th in the world. 

New Mexico - University of New Mexico  

The University of New Mexico is the state’s highest-ranked university which is also ranked 631-640 in the world this year. The university’s unique campus environment is reminiscent of the nearby Pueblo Indian villages, and it features exceptional botanical surroundings. The university excels in its international research network, achieving its highest scores in this aspect. 

Runner up: No runner up. 

New York- Cornell University  

Cornell University, previously ranked second in the state, has ascended to become the top university in the state and 13th globally in the 2024 world university rankings. The university scores excellently across all indicators and the highest score is for citations per faculty.  

Cornell is ranked among the top 20 in the world for many programmes in the subject rankings while notably being ranked third for veterinary science and fourth for agriculture and forestry

Runner up: Columbia University, ranked 23rd in the world. 

North Carolina: Duke University

Duke University

Duke University is North Carolina’s top university and the 57th best university in the world. Duke has three campuses overall, with its largest campus decorated with Gothic architecture, including the Duke Chapel, which houses a 5,200-pipe organ. The university’s top score is in the faculty-student ratio, reflecting the importance that Duke places on providing an effective learning and teaching environment. 

Runner up: University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, ranked 132nd in the world. 

Ohio - The Ohio State University 

Previously ranked second and now emerging as the top university in the state and ranked joint 151st in the world, The Ohio State University was founded in 1870. Based in Columbus, Ohio, it’s among the largest universities in the United States, with multiple campuses across Ohio. It is also the 10th best university to study veterinary science in the world in 2024, further solidifying its standing among the top universities in Ohio.

Runner up: Case Western Reserve University, ranked 255th in the world. 

Oklahoma - University of Oklahoma 

In first place in Oklahoma and placed 641-650 in the world rankings this year, is the University of Oklahoma. The University of Oklahoma is a distinguished research university dedicated to serving educational, cultural, economic, and healthcare needs at both state and national levels, with a comprehensive academic structure.  

The university is ranked 33rd in the subject rankings for petroleum engineering and 51-70 for library and information management.    

Runner up: Oklahoma State University, ranked 851-900 in the world. 

Oregon - Oregon State University  

Oregon State University has risen from second to first place in the state and is now ranked 505th globally. Renowned for tackling pressing global challenges, it stands out as one of the few US universities awarded all four land grants, showcasing a strong commitment to research and community engagement. 

Runner up: University of Oregon, ranked 721-730 in the world. 

Pennsylvania - University of Pennsylvania  

As you might have expected, the University of Pennsylvania is Pennsylvania’s highest-ranked university. The university is ranked 12th in the world rankings, with notable alumni including Elon Musk and John Legend. 

Runner up: Carnegie Mellon University, ranked 52nd in the world.  

Rhode Island: Brown University

Brown University

In Rhode Island, the top-ranked university is Ivy League group member, Brown University, in joint 73rd place in the world rankings. The university, whose alumni include Emma Watson, John F. Kennedy and John D. Rockefeller Jr., has earned its highest score in citations per faculty demonstrating the university’s significant contribution towards research. 

Runner up: University of Rhode Island, ranked 1001-1200 in the world. 

South Carolina - University of South Carolina  

The top university in the state this year is the University of South Carolina which is ranked joint 575th in the world. The university is home to over 200 years of tradition and history, having been established in 1805.  

For those interested in studying hospitality, the university’s programme will be a valuable choice to consider since it’s ranked 42nd globally for its exceptional offerings and opportunities.  

Runner up: Clemson University, ranked 851-900 in the world. 

Tennessee: Vanderbilt University

The top-ranked university in Tennessee this year is Vanderbilt University, which is also ranked 261st in the world. Vanderbilt University earns a perfect score for its faculty-student ratio and is ranked ninth globally for the same. The university ranks particularly well in subject rankings for education, where it is placed joint 19th worldwide. 

Runner up: The University of Tennessee, Knoxville, ranked joint 446th in the world. 

Texas- University of Texas at Austin  

Rising from the second position among the top universities in Texas to claiming the title of the best university in the state, we present the University of Texas at Austin, also ranked 58th in the world. The highest score of the university is earned for academic reputation and is also ranked first for petroleum engineering, and fifth for communication and media studies and library and information management. 

Runner up: Texas A&M University, ranked joint 134th in the world. 

Utah - University of Utah  

The University of Utah is ranked joint 441st in the world this year and is the top university in the state of Utah. The institution recognises the interdependence of teaching and research as components of academic success. It is also worth noting that the university is placed 43rd in the world, in the subject rankings for mineral and mining engineering. 

Runner up: Brigham Young University, ranked 1001-1200 in the world. 

Vermont - University of Vermont 

Vermont’s sole entrant in the university rankings this year is the University of Vermont ranked 901-950 in the world. Founded in 1791, the University of Vermont is one of the oldest universities in the US. 

Runner up: No runner up 

Virginia - University of Virginia  

In 260th place in the world is Virginia’s top-ranked university; the University of Virginia. Founded by Thomas Jefferson in 1819, the university is placed 51st in the world for its law course. The University of Virginia ranks within the top 100 global institutions for its employment outcome score. 

Runner up: Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, ranked joint 302nd in the world. 

Washington - University of Washington  

In the state of Washington (not to be confused with Washington D.C.) the top-ranked university is the University of Washington in 63rd place in the world this year.  The University of Washington scores highest in international research network and citations per faculty while being ranked in the top 10 in the world for several subjects such as library and information management (third), nursing (fourth) and data science (seventh).  

Runner up: Washington State University ranked joint 419th in the world. 

Washington DC - Georgetown University  

In the federal district (not a state) of Washington D.C, Georgetown University places 297th in the world rankings this year. Georgetown is the nation’s oldest Catholic and Jesuit university, established in 1789, and is now recognised for their impressive employment outcome for which the university is ranked 43rd globally. 

Runner up: George Washington University, ranked joint 340th in the world. 

West Virginia - West Virginia University  

West Virginia’s sole entrant in the world rankings this year is West Virginia University, ranked 901-950 in the world. Being the state's flagship land-grant institution, the university encourages students to dream big, embracing challenges and fostering a diverse, vibrant community across three campuses. 

Runner up: No runner up. 

Wisconsin - University of Wisconsin-Madison  

The best university in Wisconsin is the University of Wisconsin-Madison at 102nd place in the world rankings. The university enjoys a high score for international research network and sustainability while consistently excelling in various academic subjects. Many programmes such as communication and media studies (eighth), life sciences and medicine (10th), and sociology (=10th) rank in the top 10 in our various subject rankings.  

Runner up: University of Wisconsin Milwaukee, ranked 1001-1200 in the world. 

Wyoming - University of Wyoming 

In the least populous state in the US, we have the University of Wyoming in 1001-1200 in this year’s world rankings. Wyoming’s natural beauty and location in the mountain region of the west of the US make it an enviable place to be a student.  

Runner up: No runner up. 

This article was originally published in November 2019 . It was last updated in October 2023

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