The Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2012-2013 powered by Thomson Reuters are the only global university performance tables to judge world class universities across all of their core missions – teaching, research, knowledge transfer and international outlook. The top universities rankings employ 13 carefully calibrated performance indicators to provide the most comprehensive and balanced comparisons available, which are trusted by students, academics, university leaders, industry and governments.

Top universities by region

Top universities by subject

 

The World Reputation Rankings measure an increasingly vital element in the social-network age, say Phil Baty

Reputation is subjective, messy and nebulous, but it matters deeply in today’s competitive global higher education sector.

Research has shown that a university’s reputation is the top priority (over location or even salary) for academics moving jobs, and it is the number one consideration for internationally mobile students, above tuition fees and course content. 

It can also be key to attracting collaborative partnerships and funding from alumni, philanthropists and industry.

And although reputations once gained can often be stubbornly enduring, things can change quickly in an information-rich, multimedia and socially networked age. The stakes are high.

“The strength of a university’s brand both depends upon and feeds into the success of the institution itself,” writes David Copping, a senior associate at the London law firm Farrer & Co.

“If a university thrives, the value of its brand will increase, in turn creating a virtuous feedback loop as academics, students and funding are drawn in. But the reverse is also true: failures of compliance or strategy can tarnish and at worst destroy this key asset, trapping the institution in a downward spiral.”

Given the importance of what is at stake, the Times Higher Education World Reputation Rankings have quickly developed into a powerful and highly cited global benchmark of universities’ academic prestige – a trusted brand index. So it is essential that the research underpinning the rankings can bear the weight being placed on it.

This top 100 list is based on the world’s largest invitation-only survey of experienced, published academics, carried out by the polling company Ipsos MediaCT for our rankings data provider, Thomson Reuters.

Respondents are carefully selected to be statistically representative of their country and their specialist discipline, and are asked to name a small number of institutions based on their own expert, subject-specific experience and knowledge. So the list gives a representative and balanced view of the most prestigious academic institutions in the world.

The 2013 rankings are based on a staggering 16,639 survey responses. In the three short rounds of the annual survey thus far, almost 50,000 responses have been gathered from more than 150 countries.

The reputation rankings are based on nothing more than subjective judgement, but it is the judgement of experts. It is thanks to their expertise and engagement with this important exercise that we can bring you this trusted picture of the most reputable universities in the world.

* Phil Baty is the Times Higher Education World University Rankings editor 2013

Top North American universities 2012-13

Rank Institution Country / Region Overall scorechange criteria
1 California Institute of Technology United States
95.5
2 Stanford University United States
93.7
4 Harvard University United States
93.6
5 Massachusetts Institute of Technology United States
93.1
6 Princeton University United States
92.7
9 University of California, Berkeley United States
90.5
10 University of Chicago United States
90.4
11 Yale University United States
89.2
13 University of California, Los Angeles United States
87.7
14 Columbia University United States
87.0
15 University of Pennsylvania United States
86.6
16 Johns Hopkins University United States
85.6
18 Cornell University United States
83.3
19 Northwestern University United States
83.1
20 University of Michigan United States
82.6
21 University of Toronto Canada
82.2
22 Carnegie Mellon University United States
81.5
23 Duke University United States
81.2
24 University of Washington United States
79.9
25 Georgia Institute of Technology United States
78.8
25 University of Texas at Austin United States
78.8
30 University of British Columbia Canada
77.3
31 University of Wisconsin-Madison United States
76.9
33 University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign United States
75.8
34 McGill University Canada
75.7
35 University of California, Santa Barbara United States
75.6
38 University of California, San Diego United States
75.2
41 New York University United States
72.8
42 University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill United States
72.4
44 University of California, Davis United States
71.8
44 Washington University in St Louis United States
71.8
47 University of Minnesota United States
70.5
51 Brown University United States
68.9
53 Ohio State University United States
67.0
54 Boston University United States
66.8
56 University of Southern California United States
66.3
61 Pennsylvania State University United States
65.8
69 Purdue University United States
63.8
72 University of Massachusetts United States
62.9
75 Rice University United States
62.0
76 University of Pittsburgh United States
61.7
79 Emory University United States
61.3
84 University of Montreal Canada
59.8
87 Tufts University United States
59.1
88 McMaster University Canada
59.0
91 University of Colorado Boulder United States
58.7
94 University of Notre Dame United States
58.3
94 Michigan State University United States
58.3
96 University of California, Irvine United States
58.2
97 University of Maryland, College Park United States
57.9
98 University of Arizona United States
57.7
99 Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey United States
57.5
102 University of Rochester United States
57.2
104 Case Western Reserve University United States
56.9
106 Vanderbilt University United States
56.6
118 University of Virginia United States
55.0
121 University of Alberta Canada
54.7
122 University of California, Santa Cruz United States
54.5
122 University of Florida United States
54.5
124 Dartmouth College United States
54.4
134 University of Utah United States
53.2
134 Indiana University United States
53.2
148 Arizona State University United States
51.9
150 Boston College United States
51.6
154 University of California, Riverside United States
51.1
156 Yeshiva University United States
50.9
156 Texas A&M University United States
50.9
162 Stony Brook University United States
50.2
165 University of Delaware United States
49.7
167 University of Texas at Dallas United States
49.5
168 George Washington University United States
49.4
169 University of Iowa United States
49.3
171 University of Ottawa Canada
49.0
174 Georgetown University United States
48.9
174 Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute United States
48.9
184 William & Mary United States
48.0
184 Colorado School of Mines United States
48.0
184 University of Illinois at Chicago United States
48.0
189 Medical University of South Carolina United States
47.7
190 Wake Forest University United States
47.3
193 Iowa State University United States
46.9
193 University of Miami United States
46.9
196 University of Victoria Canada
46.7
198 University at Buffalo United States 46.6

Rankings methodology: experts recognise these as the best

The excellent response to the third round of the annual Academic Reputation Survey gives an even more accurate picture of scholarly opinion.


The 
Times Higher Education World Reputation Rankings are created using the world’s largest invitation-only survey of academic opinion – a truly unique piece of research.

The Academic Reputation Survey, available in 10 languages, uses United Nations data to ensure that it is-properly distributed to reflect the demographics of world scholarship.
It is also evenly spread across academic disciplines.

Those invited to take part are statistically representative of both their country and their discipline.

The questionnaire, administered by polling company Ipsos MediaCT for THE’s rankings data supplier Thomson Reuters, targets only experienced, published scholars, who offer their views on excellence in research and teaching within their disciplines and at institutions with which they are familiar.

The 2013 rankings are based on a survey carried out in March and April 2012, which received 16,639 responses from 144 countries. When polled, the respondents on average had been working in the academy for 17 years.

With 13,388 answers to the first Academic Reputation Survey in 2010 and a further 17,554 in 2011, just under 48,000 detailed expert responses from more than 150 countries have now been collected in just three annual rounds.

There is a balanced spread of responses across disciplines. In 2013, the most (22.1 per cent) have come from the social sciences, followed by engineering and technology (21.3 per cent), physical sciences (18.0 per cent), clinical subjects (15.4 per cent) and the life sciences (12.7 per cent), with the arts and humanities polling the lowest (10.5 per cent).

The spread across the regions is also well balanced: 33 per cent of responses hail from North America, 17 per cent from Western Europe, 12 per cent from East Asia, 10 per cent from Oceania, 6 per cent from Eastern Europe, 5 per cent from South America and 5 per cent from the Middle East.

In the survey, scholars are -questioned at the level of their specific subject discipline. They are not asked to create a ranking or to list a large range of institutions, but to name no more than 15 of those they believe to be the best, based on their own experience.

To help elicit more meaningful responses, respondents are asked “action-based” questions, such as: “Which university would you send your most talented graduates to for the best postgraduate supervision?”

The survey data were used alongside 11 objective indicators to help create the 2012-13 World University Rankings, which were unveiled in October last year. The reputation data are published alone each year to create the World Reputation Rankings.

Calculating the scores
The reputation table ranks institutions according to an overall measure of their esteem that combines data on their reputation for research and for teaching.

The two scores are combined at a ratio of 2:1, giving more weight to research because feedback from our expert advisers suggests that there is greater confidence in respondents’ ability to make accurate judgements about research quality.

The scores are based on the number of times an institution is cited by respondents as being the best in their field. The number one institution, Harvard University, was selected most often. The scores for all other institutions in the table are expressed as a percentage of Harvard’s, set at 100. For example, the University of Oxford received 73 per cent of the number of nominations that Harvard received, giving it a score of 73 against Harvard’s 100. This scoring system, which is different from the one used in the World University Rankings, is intended to provide a clearer and more meaningful perspective on the reputation data in isolation.

The top 100 universities by reputation are listed, but Times Higher Education has agreed with data supplier Thomson Reuters to rank only the top 50 because the differentials between institutions after that point become very narrow. The institutions that make up the second half of the table are listed in groups of 10, in alphabetical order. Scores are given to one decimal place, but were calculated to greater precision.