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Academic Ranking of World Universities (ARWU) 2020

Harvard University was the top-ranked university in the world in 2020 with a score of 100 according to the Shanghai Ranking Consultancy group. Out of the top 50 ranked universities, the United States had 30 different universities on the list.

An American legacy

Harvard University is by far the most prestigious university in the United States. Founded in 1636, it is the country’s oldest institution of higher learning. Harvard is a member of the Ivy League, which is a group of eight private colleges in the Northeastern United States. Ivy League colleges are known in the U.S. for being highly selective while providing top education.

The top of the top

Out of thousands of higher education institutions in the United States, Harvard is even more exceptional for producing both the most presidents and the most billionaires. Attending college is typically seen as giving attendees a leg up in society, although the high cost of attendance can sometimes negate this effect.

The 2020 Academic Ranking of World Universities (ARWU) by Shanghai Ranking Consultancy

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Release date

August 2020



Survey time period


Supplementary notes

Several indicators are used to rank the universities. Number of alumni and academic staff winning Nobel Prizes and Fields Medals, highly cited researchers, papers published in Nature and Science, papers indexed in major indices and the per capita academic performance of the institution.
The highest scoring institution is assigned a score of 100 and other institutions are calculated as a percentage of the top score.
Detailed information about the methodology can be accessed here.

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