What Makes MIT the #1 University in the World?

by Nancy DuVergne Smith on June 15, 2017 · 4 comments

in In the News, Research

Rankings are endless debated, but for six years running, Quacquarelli Symonds (QS), an international organization specializing in education and study abroad, has named MIT the top university in the world.

Academic reputation and faculty citations, earned by MIT faculty such as chemist Richard Schrock who recently won the 2017-2018 James R. Killian Jr. Faculty Achievement Award, propelled MIT to top honors. Photo: Justin Knight.

Academic reputation and faculty citations, earned by MIT faculty such as chemist Richard Schrock who recently won the 2017-2018 James R. Killian Jr. Faculty Achievement Award, propelled MIT to top honors. Photo: Justin Knight.

The 2018 list is prestigious: Stanford and Harvard took 2nd and 3rd places, then came Caltech at 4th and the University of Cambridge at 5th. More than 950 universities from 84 countries are compared in the 14th edition of the QS World University Rankings.

What criteria are used? QS claims a consistent methodological framework, with six categories assessed each round. The most influential is academic reputation, which is based on a proprietary academic survey of “over 70,000 individuals in the higher education space regarding teaching and research quality at the world’s universities,” according to the website.

What counts?

  1. Academic Reputation, 40%
  2. Employer Reputation, 10%
  3. Faculty/Student Ratio, 20%
  4. Citations per faculty, 20%
  5. International Faculty Ratio, 5%
  6. International Student Ratio, 5%
The ratio of international students, celebrated here in the recent OneWorld @ MIT Multicultural Festival and Dance Parties, counts in QS rankings.

The ratio of international students, celebrated here in the recent OneWorld @ MIT Multicultural Festival and Dance Parties, counts in QS rankings. Photo: Casey Atkins.

According to QS trends, MIT remains “light years ahead of the competition.” QS Intelligence Unit head Ben Sowter expects the Institute to continue to dominate in the future, in part, thanks to alumni support. “MIT has a network of successful alumni who make substantial donations to their alma mater and the power these connections grant the university cannot be overestimated,” he noted on the QS website.

In MIT’s profile, QS cites a bit of history, some facts, and overall grades by criteria. You can also call up an area of study, such as architecture, and find out that MIT ranked #1 in that specific field.  In March, QS published rankings by subject and MIT claimed 12 top ratings.

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Emil M Friedman June 15, 2017 at 12:17 pm

“Selectivity of admissions” (highly correlated with quality of student body) is crucial but was omitted from the list of criteria.

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Dori Davari June 15, 2017 at 12:48 pm

THANK YOU FOR THE GOOD NEWS AND FOR ALL WHO HAVE MADE THIS HAPPEN! I remember in 2012, I read that it is the long-term affordability (considering both cost and benefit in long term) that has made MIT number one. It brought smile to my face.

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Sammy June 15, 2017 at 10:58 pm

My ex girlfriend studied at Massachusetts Institute of Technology with a renowned professors, excellent facilities, and the academic reputation.
The MITX and OCW online Courses taught people around the world for non profit.
My ex girlfriend graduated in Nuclear Science and Engineering(22) Physics (8), Chemical-Biological Engineering (10B) and a minor in Biomedical Engineering (10C) at the Prestigious University.

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BlarryG June 18, 2017 at 4:38 am

What are you trying to say, she was so smart, she even knew enough to leave you too? (sorry, had to make the joke).

My ex-girlfriend, now current wife of 24 years was a total flop in school. Went to North Eastern before that became selective (she’s never get in now). She was a very diligent worker but never earned more than $40K/year and that stopped over 20 years back.

But, she’s true and a community builder (most people know each other in our neighborhood and we co-own a pool and park and run parades and sing alongs partly due to her). She knows everyone in town and the political people seek hre out because of it. She runs hikes for dozens each week, runs outdoor exercise classes for the community 2x a week and raised 3 kids, some difficult, like a pro.

She also, somehow has a gut sense for investing like her father the machinist who dies with $10M in the bank). He started her off with $10K at 4 years old, nothing ever more, but she’s earned going on $5M dollars now. She hasn’t worked in over 20 years (we decided not to do the two busy parent thing) but dividends etc average about $80K/year.

I’m a PhD, have done well in tech. Meant to marry a high performing PhD but sort of slipped up and married her “by mistake”. I’m so glad.

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