The 10 best global universities of 2021, according to U.S. News

The John Harvard statue in Harvard Yard at Harvard University in Cambridge, MA.
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On Tuesday, U.S. News and World Report released its annual ranking of the best global universities.

For the ranking, U.S. News analyzed the data of roughly 1,500 schools from 86 countries across 13 different variables, including global research reputation, volume and quality of publications from students and faculty and international research collaboration. 

"Higher education has become more globalized," says Anita Narayan, managing editor of education for U.S. News, noting also that the coronavirus pandemic has "introduced additional factors to consider when pursuing higher education, especially if you're looking to earn a degree abroad." 

Indeed, students must now consider public health and travel restrictions before studying abroad and international students studying in the United States have been particularly impacted by the pandemic. Early data from the National Student Clearinghouse indicates that enrollment of "non-resident aliens" in U.S. colleges decreased by 11.2% this semester. 

Narayan and her team found that the U.S. is home to the highest number of top-ranking global universities. Some 255 U.S. schools made it into the publication's overall ranking, followed by 176 colleges in China and 87 colleges in the U.K. Schools from the U.S. and U.K. dominate the list of the top 10 global universities.

U.S. News also compared global universities across 38 subject areas, from agriculture sciences to psychology, to determine which fields schools excel in.

Here are the top 10 best global universities of 2021, according to U.S. News: 

1. Harvard University

Harvard University
DenisTangneyJr | iStock | Getty Images

Location: Cambridge, Massachusetts — United States

Highlight: Top-ranked university in several categories including biology & biochemistry, economics & business and immunology.

2. Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) campus in Cambridge, Massachusetts
(Photo: Bloomberg / Getty Images)

Location: Cambridge, Massachusetts — United States

Highlight: MIT was ranked the best university for physics in the world.

3. Stanford University

A general view of the campus of Stanford University including Hoover Tower and buildings of the Main Quadrangle.
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Location: Stanford, California — United States

Highlight: U.S. News identified Stanford as having the best computer science program in the world.

4. University of California, Berkeley

A general view of the University of California Berkeley campus including Sather Tower. The Haas School of Business is visible in foreground and the San Francisco Bay in the background.
David Madison/Getty Images

Location: Berkeley, California — United States

Highlight: This year, UC Berkeley was recognized for having the best chemistry program.

5. University of Oxford

The U.K. is home to three of the world's top 10 universities, according to Times Higher Education, including Oxford University.
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Location: Oxford, England — United Kingdom 

Highlight: Oxford was found to have the best arts & humanities program, worldwide.

6. Columbia University

Columbia University
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Location: New York City, New York — United States

Highlight: Columbia University was recognized by U.S. News for being among the best places to study cardiovascular systems.

7. California Institute of Technology

California Institute of Technology
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Location: Pasadena, California — United States

Highlight: Home to NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, CalTech was identified as the top-ranked university in space science.

8. University of Washington, Seattle

University of Washington
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Location: Seattle, Washington — United States

Highlight: The University of Washington, Seattle was found to have one of the world's best clinical medicine programs.

9. University of Cambridge

Students walk through Cambridge University in Cambridge, east of England, on March 14, 2018.
TOLGA AKMEN | AFP | Getty Images

Location: Cambridge, England — United Kingdom

Highlight: Cambridge's faculty has included some of history's most famous mathematicians. This year, the university earned fifth place for its mathematics program.

10. Johns Hopkins University

Johns Hopkins University
JHU Sheridan Libraries/Gado/Getty Images

Location: Baltimore, Maryland — United States

Highlight: Known for its medical research, Johns Hopkins was found to have the second-best infectious disease program, as well as the second-best surgical program, in the world.

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