There are many outstanding universities across the world, but some have been able to maintain a high profile. This year’s top institutions are prestigious, known for their academic excellence for centuries. 

The Times Higher Education ranking was used based on research quality, environment, international outlook, teaching, and industry. 

Here are the top universities in the world for the year 2024:

1. University of Oxford

The University of Oxford is a prestigious research institution in England. It has been in existence since 1096, which makes it the oldest in England. It gained expansion after students in the country were banned from studying in Paris in 1167 by Henry II. 

Oxford has self-governing colleges within it; there is no main campus. If you are going there as an undergraduate, you will be exposed to many tutorials, research, seminars, and laboratory work. 


As a student, you’re expected to dress as an academic for examinations, disciplinary hearings, visiting university officers and matriculation. If you love debating, engaging in sporting activities, music and drama — Oxford is for you. The average tuition fee is 9,250 pounds — which usually increases annually.

2. Stanford University

Stanford University is a private research institution founded by Leland Stanford in 1885. It is situated in California and officially known as “Leland Stanford Junior University,” named in memory of the founder’s only child.

Stanford is a respected institution, usually ranked among the best in the world. It is notable for its high research quality, entrepreneurial culture, and funding for startups. The school offers financial aid for students and tuition waivers for low-income families. It also funds research with affiliated institutions.

There are twenty-four libraries with special books, e-books, and other sources to help you. You’re required to spend the first year on campus as an undergraduate. The school has over 600 student organisations, usually partially funded through allocations. The tuition fee at Stanford is US$79,000, but it could be more or less depending on your course.

3. Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)

MIT is a private research university in Cambridge, Massachusetts. It was established in 1861 to address the increase in industrialisation in the United States. Since then, it has contributed to the development of many modern sciences and technologies. Many MIT alumni are founders of world-class companies you might have heard of.

If you are interested in technology, computer science, or anything related, you should try this institution. It has many facilities, such as a towing tank or testing ship, a pressurised wind tunnel for testing aerodynamic research, etc. 

Those who stay on campus have the privilege of receiving support from faculty Housemasters, resident advisors, and graduate student tutors. This institution has a tech student newspaper, radio station, entrepreneurship competition, and more. The average tuition fee is US$62,000.

4. Harvard University

Harvard is a private research university in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Founded in 1636, it is named after a clergyman named “John Harvard.” Harvard is the oldest and highest institution in the United States. 

For years, many have known Harvard as one of the top and most prestigious universities in the world, with formidable academic excellence in many fields. The school started as a college that trained congregational clergy. The curriculum was secularised in the 18th century. 

By the 19th century, Harvard had become prominent among the Boston elite for its cultural and academic excellence. Developing professional schools collaborating with the college transformed Harvard into a world-class modern research institution. It has consistently been ranked as number one for medical school research. 

Harvard is a place to be if you’re interested in medicine or other related courses. However, Harvard is also ranked high in other departments, such as law, psychology, and English language. The school engages in different sporting activities for undergraduate and postgraduate students — called intramural sports programmes. Their sports teams compete very well with others. On average, school fees at Harvard are US$56,550.

5. University of Cambridge

The University of Cambridge is known for its exceptional research. It was founded in 1209 after some scholars from the University of Oxford left following a fight that ensued among the people. The two institutions really share many things in common; that’s why they are called “Oxbridge.” 

The colleges within Cambridge are self-governed and managed by their own policies and personnel. If you’re going there as an undergraduate, you would attend seminars and be placed on supervision. The university has museums that exhibit science and culture – libraries with about 16 million books. 

When it comes to the study of mathematics, Cambridge has been a leader since the 17th century. Getting into this higher institution is quite competitive; you would do examinations and get interviewed. According to the school rule, anyone not admitted to their desired college can opt for the “winter pool” — a place you can be considered for other admissions.

Entertainment and sport are very keen. Students can attend dinners at their respective colleges and organise any intended event. Cambridge participates in competition between other institutions and within its colleges. Important to note that the course determines the tuition fee, but the least is nothing less than 25,000 pounds.

6. Princeton University

Princeton University is a private research institution in Princeton, New Jersey. It was established in 1746 as the College of New Jersey and is regarded as one of the colonial colleges before the American Revolution. It officially became a university in 1896.

For undergraduate students, housing for four years is guaranteed — which is why 98% live on campus. Residential college advisers are attached to students to guide them in college life, and faculty officers for academic guidance. There are over 500 organisations in the school with exciting past and present traditions you would love. The university has an athletic team, “Princeton Tigers, ” representing them at sports competitions. Tuition fee is US$62,400.

7. California Institute of Technology (Caltech)

Caltech is a private research university in Pasadena, California. It was founded by Amos G. Throop in 1891 as a vocational school. In 1920, the school was reformed and became what it is known for today. 

This institution is behind many modern scientific developments. Its contribution to the growth of applied and pure science made it one of the top universities in the world. In addition, it has been instrumental in scientists, bringing innovations in robotics, physics, engineering, and earthquake monitoring. 

Caltech has athletic basketball, football, baseball, tennis, volleyball, and swimming teams. The teams compete within and outside the school. If you love music, the Institute has an orchestra group and jazz band that includes students and staff. They organise concerts annually. The annual tuition fee is at least US$63,000.

8. Imperial College London

Imperial College London is a public research institute in London. The college started when Prince Albert, the husband of Queen Victoria, envisioned a cultural area. It was formally established in 1907 by Royal Charter as a unification of the Royal School of Mines, City and Guilds of London Institute and the Royal College of Science. 

The main campus is in Kensington, where most research and teaching take place. The second campus in White City is used for innovation. The college has teaching hospitals across London, just like an academic health science centre. Imperial has sports facilities such as gyms, swimming pools, and halls. 

Also, music is practised at the Kensington campus for students of any grade. If you like social activities, this institution is a very fun place to be. It has bars and sports clubs that participate in British Universities and Colleges Sport Association Leagues. The school fees for a year start from 40,000 pounds.

9. University of California, Berkeley (UC, Berkeley)

UC Berkeley is a research university located in Berkeley, California. It was established in 1868 by an Anglo-Irish philosopher, George Berkeley. This institution has been one of the top universities in the world for years. Its programmes are primarily for undergraduates and include doctoral programs.

If UC Berkeley is an option for you, you can stay on campus; there are university-owned residences and private and affiliated ones. If you’re a fan of politics, the school has 94 political student groups on campus that can shape you into what you aspire to be. The athletic teams known as “California Golden Bears” or “Cal Bears” have represented the university in many competitions. For tuition, US$35,000 should cater for you, but you should check the Berkeley website for further details.

10. Yale University

Yale University is a private research university in New Haven, Connecticut. It was one of the colonial colleges founded in 1701, before the American Revolution. In its initial stage, Yale was restricted to ministers in theology and sacred languages; gradually, the university curriculum was expanded to include sciences and humanities. 

By the 19th century, the school had started awarding PhD and other graduate programmes. The school provides financial aid in the form of grants and scholarships. Another important feature is its many athletic facilities, including a bowl stadium. The school fee here is around US$87,000.

You should also read: Top 10 Universities in Africa 2024

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