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Columbia University was among the most influential colleges on the list.


Andrew Kelly/Reuters



  • The start of the school year means that for many high school juniors, and some seniors, it’s time to decide which colleges to apply to. 
  • Academics and data scientists at school ranking website AcademicInfluence.com identified the most influential colleges and universities using a proprietary algorithm that looks at each institution’s alumni and professors.
  • Cornell University, Stanford University, and Harvard University are some of the colleges that made the list. 
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

For a whole class of high school students, this fall brings up a big question: Which colleges to apply to?

While these are uncertain times amid the coronavirus pandemic, with some students even choosing to take a gap year, the decision on where to apply is still a crucial one.

Academics and data scientists at school ranking website AcademicInfluence.com identified the most influential colleges and universities. They did this using a proprietary algorithm that ranks the impact of college alumni and professors (for example, the number of times a person is named on Wikipedia or cited on the research website Crossref), according to Jed Macosko, cofounder of the site and Wake Forest University physics professor.  

Here are the top 15 most influential universities in the world, per the ranking.

Business financial make money capital trading 15. University of Pennsylvania

business  financial  make money  capital  trading University of Pennsylvania building



f11photo/Shutterstock


Location: Philadelphia

Tuition: $49,220

Notable alumni: American linguist and philosopher Noam Chomsky, Tesla and SpaceX’s Elon Musk, and American business magnate Warren Buffett

Business financial make money capital trading 14. University of Michigan

business  financial  make money  capital  trading university of michigan football stadium




SNEHIT PHOTO/Shutterstock



Location: Ann Arbor, Michigan

Tuition: $15,897 (in-state) 

Notable alumni: Google co-founder Larry Page, American playwright Arthur Miller, and American mathematician Claude Shannon

Business financial make money capital trading 13. University of Oxford

business  financial  make money  capital  trading University of Oxford student, woman on laptop, student at laptop, studying



Christopher Furlong/Getty Images


Location: Oxford, England 

Tuition: £9,250 (about $12,000) for UK students 

Notable alumni: American media mogul Rupert Murdoch, “Lord of the Rings” author J.R.R Tolkien, and Medieval philosopher Roger Bacon

Business financial make money capital trading 12. Cornell University

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Location: Ithaca, New York

Tuition: $54,584

Notable alumni: Pulitzer Prize-winning author Toni Morrison, American writer Kurt Vonnegut, and American mathematician Norbert Wiener

Business financial make money capital trading 11. New York University

business  financial  make money  capital  trading New York University NYU Students Graduation Commencement



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Location: New York, New York 

Tuition: $49,256

Notable alumni: Polio vaccine inventor Jonas Salk, Austrian and British economist Friedrich Hayek, and actress Angelina Jolie

Business financial make money capital trading 10. University of Cambridge

business  financial  make money  capital  trading cambridge university



Shani Wijetilaka


Location: Cambridge, England 

Tuition: £9,250 (about $12,000) for UK students, approximately £25,00 ($32,000) for international students

Notable alumni: British naturalist Charles Darwin, English philosopher Francis Bacon, and American economist Milton Friedman 

Business financial make money capital trading 9. University of Chicago

business  financial  make money  capital  trading university of chicago



Natalia Bratslavsky/Shutterstock


Location: Chicago, Illinois  

Tuition: $55,425 

Notable alumni: American economist and Nobel-prize winner Joseph Stiglitz, molecular biologist and geneticist James Watson, and astrophysicist Carl Sagan

Business financial make money capital trading 8. Princeton University

business  financial  make money  capital  trading People walk around the Princeton University campus in New Jersey, November 16, 2013. .JPG

People walk around the Princeton University campus in New Jersey, November 16, 2013.

REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz


Location: Princeton, New Jersey 

Tuition: $49,450 

Notable alumni: Former Google CEO Eric Schmidt, “The Great Gatsby” author F. Scott Fitzgerald, and British mathematician and logician Alan Turing

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Business financial make money capital trading 7. Yale University

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Michelle McLoughlin/Reuters


Location: New Haven, Connecticut

Tuition: $53,430

Notable alumni: US federal judge Richard Posner, American economist Paul Krugman, paleontologist George Gaylord Simpson

Business financial make money capital trading 6. University of California, Berkeley

business  financial  make money  capital  trading california berkeley haas school of business

The Haas School of Business at UC Berkeley.

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Location: Berkeley, California

Tuition: $11,442 (in-state) 

Notable alumni: “Call of the Wild” author Jack London, evolutionary biologist Lynn Margulis, and “The Feminine Mystique” author Betty Friedan

Business financial make money capital trading 5. Columbia University

business  financial  make money  capital  trading columbia university



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Location: New York, New York 

Tuition: $50,665

Notable alumni: US founding father Alexander Hamilton, anthropologist Margaret Mead, and poet Allen Ginsberg

Business financial make money capital trading 4. Massachusetts Institute of Technology

business  financial  make money  capital  trading MIT mass institute tech



Maddie Meyer/Getty Images


Location: Cambridge, Massachusetts 

Tuition: $51,520

Notable alumni: American linguist Noam Chomsky, German-American nuclear physicist Hans Bethe, and American physicist Murray Gell-Mann 

Business financial make money capital trading 3. Stanford University

business  financial  make money  capital  trading stanford university



Beck Diefenbach/Reuters


Location: Stanford, California 

Tuition: $50,703

Notable alumni: Astronaut and physicist Sally Ride, Google cofounder Sergey Brin, and venture capitalist and entrepreneur Peter Thiel

Business financial make money capital trading 2. University of London

business  financial  make money  capital  trading University of London



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Location: London

Tuition: Varies based on program of study

Notable alumni: English writer H.G. Wells, telephone inventor and scientist Alexander Graham Bell, and Bengali poet and philosopher Rabindranath Tagore 

Business financial make money capital trading 1. Harvard University

business  financial  make money  capital  trading Harvard/Harvard students on campus on July 8, 2020.



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Location: Cambridge, Massachusetts 

Tuition: $46,340

Notable alumni: Microsoft founder Bill Gates, French philosopher Jacques Derrida, and American philosopher and poet Ralph Waldo Emerson

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