WSJ/THE US College Rankings 2020: Pennsylvania and Johns Hopkins rise

Harvard tops student-focused ranking for fourth consecutive year

September 5, 2019
University of Pennsylvania
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View the full results of the Wall Street Journal/Times Higher Education College Rankings 2020

The University of Pennsylvania and Johns Hopkins University have soared up a student-focused ranking of US universities and colleges.   

The Wall Street Journal/Times Higher Education College Rankings 2020 are led by Harvard University for the fourth year in a row. Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Yale University hold on to second and third place respectively.

However, there are shifts elsewhere in the top 10 as the University of Pennsylvania climbs six places to rank fourth and Princeton University rises four spots to place joint fifth. Cornell University joins the top 10 in ninth place, up from 11th.

Pennsylvania’s score in the outcomes pillar – which includes metrics on graduation rate, value added to graduate salary, academic reputation and, for the first time, debt after graduation – improved this year.

Unlike the THE World University Rankings, which focus on universities’ research performance, the US table, which is fuelled by data from THE, measures institutions’ student engagement, student outcomes and learning environments.

Outside the top 10, Johns Hopkins is the biggest riser in the top 40, climbing nine places to joint 12th overall, after achieving higher scores across the board. Meanwhile, Columbia University took the sharpest fall in this cohort, dropping 11 places to 15th, largely because of a decrease in its outcomes score.

The University of California, Los Angeles is still the top public university, ranking at joint 25th place.

The US ranking is partly based on the results of the THE US Student Survey, which gathered the views of more than 170,000 current university students in 2018 and 2019 to find out about their engagement with their studies, their interaction with their teachers and their satisfaction with their experience.  

It also draws on the THE Academic Reputation Survey, in order to determine which institutions have the best reputation for excellence in teaching.

An open access version of the full WSJ/THE US College Rankings table will be published on THE on 25 September, while an analysis of the results will be published on 26 September.

WSJ/THE College Rankings 2020: top 10

2020 rank 2019 rank Institution City State 
1 1 Harvard University Cambridge MA
2 2 Massachusetts Institute of Technology Cambridge MA
3 3 Yale University New Haven CT
4 10 University of Pennsylvania Philadelphia PA
=5 5 California Institute of Technology Pasadena CA
=5 9 Princeton University Princeton NJ
=7 =7 Brown University Providence RI
=7 6 Stanford University Stanford CA
9 11 Cornell University Ithaca NY
10 =7 Duke University Durham NC

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