No matter where they’re from, undergraduate and postgraduate students who wish to study abroad have thousands of international universities to consider. Knowing what some of the best universities are in various regions can help you make an informed decision about where to study abroad.
In this piece, we’ll explore some of the best global universities in the U.S., Europe, Asia, Australia, and beyond. Compiled by our team here at Remitly, this list includes top academic schools consistently ranked highly in global university rankings.
Read on to discover some of the most prestigious universities in the world.
Top universities for international students in the United States
If you wish to study abroad in the U.S., dozens of American universities earn the distinction of consistently ranking high on lists of top international universities. The following are some of the biggest standouts.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)
Location: Cambridge, Massachusetts
Size: 4,657 undergraduates
In 2023, MIT ranked as the best university on the QS World University Rankings, and U.S. News and World Report (USNWR) named it the second-best American university. Its computer science and business programs both consistently rank high, and the school boasts 100 Nobel Laureates among its alums.
Location: Stanford, California
Size: 7,761 undergraduates
Located in Silicon Valley, Stanford University is where many tech leaders get their education. U.S. News and World Report ties it for first in computer science and ranks it in the top five for many engineering specialties. The QS World University Rankings place the school in the top five best international universities.
Location: Cambridge, Massachusetts
Size: 7,153 undergraduates
Founded in 1636, Harvard University has the distinction of being the oldest university in the U.S., and it’s one of the top-ranked universities in the world. Although a private university, Harvard has committed to making education affordable, and much of the student body receives financial aid. As a result, U.S. News and World Report ranked the university as the best value for the money among American universities.
California Institute of Technology (Caltech)
Location: Pasadena, California
Size: 982 undergraduates
Home to NASA’s jet propulsion laboratory, the California Institute of Technology is at the forefront of innovation, and at the university, research isn’t just for those in graduate school. Roughly 90% of undergraduates participate in research, making the school an excellent choice for international students who want hands-on experience in technology, engineering, and science.
Location: Princeton, New Jersey
Size: 5,548 undergraduates
Just 50 miles from the most populous city in the U.S., Princeton University draws students from all over the U.S. and the rest of the world. USNWR gave Princeton the number-one spot on its 2023 rankings. Every undergraduate receives a broad liberal arts education, and the school provides plenty of opportunities for hands-on learning with more than 400 international internships available for students.
Top universities for international students in Europe
International undergraduate and graduate students who wish to study in Europe have many highly-ranked international universities to choose from, including the following schools.
University of Oxford
Location: Oxford, United Kingdom
Size: 12,683 undergraduates
Established in 1096, the University of Oxford is the oldest higher education institution in the English-speaking world. In subject rankings, many programs at the prestigious university rank highly, including arts and humanities, life sciences, and social sciences. The school is also one of the world’s best places to study the modern languages of Europe, offering courses in Czech, French, German, Italian, Polish, and more.
University of Cambridge
Location: Cambridge, United Kingdom
Size: 12,940 undergraduates
QS global universities rankings for 2023 placed the University of Cambridge as one of the best international universities, second only to MIT. Thirty-one constituent colleges make up the prestigious university. Some of its standout programs include mathematics, psychology, space science, cell biology, and arts and humanities.
Location: Zurich, Switzerland
Size: 10,665 undergraduates
As one of the top global universities for STEM, ETH Zurich is where many influential scientists and engineers received their education. In fact, Albert Einstein studied there and ended up teaching courses during his tenure as a student. Both QS and USNWR placed the school among the top 10 international universities in 2023.
Location: Paris, France
Size: 55,300 total students
A semester or academic year at Sorbonne University gives you a chance to live and study in the heart of Paris, with campuses across the city. For those whose native language isn’t French, the prestigious university offers some English programs, including physics, computational mechanics, and bioinformatics.
Technical University of Munich
Location: Munich, Germany
Size: 50,484 total students
The Technical University of Munich, or TUM, is a popular choice of international universities for budding entrepreneurs. Each year, its students and alums launch more than 75 start-ups using technology developed through research at the institution. Its faculty includes previous recipients of grants from the European Research Council and winners of the prestigious Alexander von Humboldt Professorship, awarded to only Germany’s top educators.
Top universities for international students in Southeast and East Asia
In world university rankings, these international universities in East and Southeast Asia frequently earn top marks.
National University of Singapore
Size: 30,700 undergraduates
With 60 bachelor’s degree programs and over 170 master’s degrees, doctoral degrees, and graduate diplomas, the National University of Singapore offers educational opportunities for international students with a wide range of interests. Several of the university’s programs consistently rank in the top 10 in the world, including artificial intelligence, engineering, chemistry, energy and fuels, and material science.
University of Hong Kong
Location: Hong Kong
Size: 17,536 undergraduates
The University of Hong Kong is a public university that draws international students from around the world. Many hope to become leading educators of tomorrow, as the university ranks first in the world for education and educational research, according to USNWR. The school boasts an impressive employment rate, with nearly 100% of full-time graduates in 2021 finding jobs soon after graduation.
Location: Beijing, China
Size: 16,287 undergraduates
Located on a 442-hectare campus in Beijing, Tsinghua University is in the heart of one of the most advanced cities in the world. It’s no surprise that many of its STEM programs earn top marks. In 2023, USNWR ranked the university number one for artificial intelligence, engineering, computer science, and chemical engineering and number two for physical chemistry and water resources research.
Kyoto University, Japan
Location: Kyoto, Japan
Size: 22,596 undergraduates
More than 2,500 international students choose to study at Kyoto University, which ranks highly on lists of the best global universities in Japan and beyond. Almost half of graduates go on to work for business and STEM employers, such as telecoms, insurance companies, financial institutions, and manufacturers. The university also provides numerous on-campus activities with dozens of athletic teams and cultural student clubs.
Seoul National University
Location: Seoul, South Korea
Size: 15,870 undergraduates
Top publications frequently name Seoul National University as one of the best universities in Asia. In fact, the Times Higher Education (THE) gave the school the number 8 spot in its 2022 Best Universities in Asia rankings. Only 10 to 20% of instruction at the university is in English, so learning Korean is an important first step for most international students who wish to study there.
Top universities for international students in Australia
If you wish to study abroad in Australia, a number of post-secondary institutions in Australia boast places of honor on world university rankings, such as all of the following international universities.
University of Melbourne
Location: Melbourne, Victoria
Size: 54,000 total students
The University of Melbourne has been ranked as the top university in Australia by multiple publications, and the school consistently earns top marks for worldwide graduate employability. That’s part of the reason why thousands of international students choose to study there each year. In fact, roughly 40% of the student body comprises people born in countries other than Australia.
Australian National University
Location: Canberra, Australian Capital Territory
Size: 10,252 undergraduates
A public institution, Australian National University (ANU), demonstrates a true commitment to international education. The school has partnerships with more than 150 universities in foreign countries to provide study-abroad opportunities, and international students from 100 different countries attend classes there. ANU also stands out for its excellence in research, with 95% of work performed there rated above or well above world standards.
University of Sydney
Location: Sydney, New South Wales
Size: 74,000 total students
Over the last 170+ years, more than 420,000 graduated from the University of Sydney, and its alums hail from more than 170 countries. The school frequently ranks as one of the best universities in Australia, and its artificial intelligence, arts and humanities, and electrical engineering programs are among some of the top-rated in the country.
University of Queensland
Location: Brisbane, Queensland
Size: 55,044 total students
More than 20,000 international students complete their studies at the University of Queensland. For those interested in life sciences, the university offers research opportunities at its marine research stations on islands located off the coast of Australia as well as large veterinary and agricultural teaching and research centers. The university is also particularly well known for its engineering programs.
University of New South Wales
Location: Kensington, New South Wales
Size: 63,232 total students
The University of New South Wales offers a wide range of educational opportunities for international students with faculties of Arts, Design, and Architecture; Business; Engineering; Law and Justice; Science; and Medicine. The university boasts four main campuses and additional regional campus locations, allowing undergraduate and graduate students to learn in a variety of settings.
Other top international universities for studying abroad
No matter where you want to study abroad, there will likely be at least one top university in the region. Here are some other well-regarded international universities for you to consider.
University of Toronto
Location: Toronto, Canada
Size: 75,582 undergraduates
With three campus locations and smaller satellites, the University of Toronto is the largest in Canada regarding enrollment. It also frequently ranks first among global universities in Canada and in the top 20 worldwide. The public university is a leader in clinical medicine, and its arts and humanities programs also earn top marks.
King Abdulaziz University
Location: Jeddah, Saudi Arabia
Size: 117,096 total students
For international students wishing to study STEM fields in the Middle East, King Abdulaziz University is a popular choice, as many of its technology, science, and engineering programs receive high marks. In fact, USNW named it the best global university for mechanical engineering and the 10th-best for chemistry in 2023.
Universidade São Paulo
Location: São Paulo, Brazil
Size: 58,000 undergraduates
The Universidade São Paulo has been named the number one university in Latin America by many publications and earned spots in lists of the top 100 international universities in the world. While obtaining their degrees, students can participate in several cultural activities right on campus, as the university is home to more than 20 museums, two theaters, a cinema, and a concert hall.
University of Auckland
Location: Auckland, New Zealand
Size: 33,093 total students
The University of Auckland is a major center for research and development. In 2018, the university was home to a third of the top researchers in New Zealand. Top publications consistently rank it in the top 100 globally for agricultural sciences, arts and humanities, economics and business, psychology, and public, environmental, and occupational health.
University of Cape Town (UCT)
Location: Cape Town, South Africa
Size: 26,000 total students
UCT has a picturesque campus situated below Table Mountain’s Devil’s Peak and a diverse faculty that includes 35 researchers with A-ratings from the National Research Foundation. International students can enroll in one of the university’s six faculties: Commerce, Humanities, Law, Engineering and the Built Environment, Health Sciences, and Science.
Which school you study at can greatly affect your study abroad experience. Use this listing of the top global universities as a starting point for your research as you weigh your options.
Check out international university rankings to discover other top universities in the world, and read our guide to choosing a study abroad program for more advice on how to select a study abroad destination and school.
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