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5 Important Takeaways from the 2024–2025 U.S. News and World Report Best Global University Rankings

Jul 2, 2024

This morning, U.S. News and World Report released their much-anticipated 2024-2025 Best Global University Rankings. These annual rankings are a cornerstone in the field, influencing decisions that range from student applications to institutional funding and providing a glimpse into the current state of affairs in the world of higher education. This list can provide helpful insights into the relative merits of the schools students may be considering adding to their college lists. In order to use this list effectively, however, it is important to understand the nuances of the ranking system and the factors considered therein.

Here is a breakdown of the rankings’ methodology, as well as key takeaways from this year’s list:


The U.S. News and World Report Best Global University Rankings are based on a comprehensive methodology that evaluates colleges and universities across thirteen key metrics. These include:

  • Global research reputation (12.5%)
  • Regional research reputation (12.5%)
  • Publications (10%)
  • Books (2.5%)
  • Conferences (2.5%)
  • Normalized citation impact (10%)
  • Total citations (7.5%)
  • Number of publications that are among the 10% most cited (12.5%)
  • Percentage of total publications that are among the 10% most cited (10%)
  • International collaboration – relative to country (5%)
  • International collaboration (5%)
  • Number of highly cited papers that are among the top 1% most cited in their respective field 5%
  • Percentage of total publications that are among the top 1% most highly cited papers 5%

In addition to the overall global rankings and country-specific rankings, U.S. News and World Report published a subject-specific ranking list, evaluating schools’ global positions in over 50 individual disciplines.

These rankings offer quantitative data students can consider when building their college lists, providing a fairly comprehensive picture of universities’ academic prowess and institutional reach. That being said, students using the rankings to build their college lists should note that many of these factors do not capture the qualitative aspects of students’ experiences.

Key Takeaways from the 2024–25 Rankings

1. The number of universities considered rose by more than 10%.

This year, 2,250 universities across over 100 countries were considered—up more than ten percent from the 2,000 schools considered in the previous ranking.

2. Harvard University lands on top.

As in the last cycle, Harvard University claimed the #1 spot in the global rankings list. This prestigious accolade reflects Harvard’s unparalleled academic excellence, groundbreaking research, and global influence. Known for its distinguished faculty, cutting-edge facilities, and a tradition of innovation, Harvard continues to set the standard in higher education, making it the leading choice for students and scholars worldwide.

3. The U.S. dominates the rankings for another year.

Nearly half of the top 50 schools in the ranking are located in the U.S., totaling 24 of the top 50 on the rankings list. Additionally, four out of the top five are U.S. schools: Harvard University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Stanford University, and University of California, Berkeley. This remarkable achievement underscores the global prestige of U.S. universities, known for their world-class research, innovative academic programs, and extensive resources.

4. UT Austin and Brown University dropped in the rankings.

Both Brown University and The University of Texas at Austin surprisingly dropped in the rankings, falling out of the top 50. Given both schools’ excellence, this shift demonstrates the fierce competition for top spots in the rankings this year.

5. U.S. News and World Report adds new subjects to the rankings.

This year, four new disciplines were added to the subject-specific rankings, including: ecology; green and sustainable science and technology; environmental engineering; and marine and freshwater biology. These additions not only demonstrate the ranking system’s commitment to reflecting the most relevant information in higher education today, but also provide a glimpse into recent trends and changes in the disciplinary offerings at the most prestigious universities in the world.

The 2024–2025 U.S. News and World Report Rankings offer students valuable information regarding the trends in the global higher education landscape. While students should take their personal preferences and the intangible elements of a school’s culture that draw them to a specific school into account, these rankings can be a helpful first step for students as they set their collegiate goals and assemble their college lists.

Originally posted on Forbes.

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