With the rapid evolution of modern technology, industries have evolved equally to require more channeled expertise and manual labor. Job opportunities from around the world are growing by day, but, the competition for rewarding prospects is equally fierce. To stay ahead of this competition, international education from a country as advanced as the USA is key.

Universities in the USA are known for their top-tier educational facilities that are sure to set an individual on a path to a successful career. Thanks to their well-planned academia these universities constantly rank among top universities in the world in terms of research, facilities, campus life, and the learning environment. In this article, we aim to discuss 15 of the top universities in the USA for international students.

Top Universities in the USA for International Students

1. Massachusetts Institute of Technology

MIT is a university that constantly makes it to the hall of fame of world universities. Established in 1861 in Cambridge, Massachusetts, MIT played a crucial role in the Industrial Revolution and subsequently in shaping the world of science and technology even to this day. The university accepts talent from around the world to enhance its reputation for world-class research and innovation.

The university has a special recognition for its programs in Computer Science and Engineering. MIT is the institution that famously nurtured history-making figures like Richard Feynman and Buzz Aldrin.

2. Harvard University

Located in the same city as MIT, Harvard University, established in 1636 is to this day one of the world’s best. It was the first college in the American colonies and the oldest institution of higher education in the United States. The university is home to students from diverse backgrounds and its distinguished faculties including the Law School and Medical School have produced Nobel Laureates and other prestigious prize winners.

Despite being one of the most competitive universities to get into, Harvard offers financial aid and stipends to deserving students who demonstrate academic talent. For example, international students can be beneficiaries of the university’s graduate stipend which would incur a 14% tax for students with a J or F visa. Each school of the university has its own office for financial aid to inquire about such financial aid options.

3. Stanford University

Stanford University was established in 1885 by two individuals, former California Senator Leland Stanford and his wife. The university has seven schools including medicine, law, and engineering, and is known for driving impactful research projects both sponsored and unsponsored across industries.

Stanford has a campus library system of 20 libraries, holding over 12 million educational materials for the reference of students. Stanford University is popular among international students who admire the university for its rich history, social prestige, academic excellence, and commitment to producing history-making professionals in just about any industry.

4. University of California, Berkeley

Part of the University of California system, UC Berkeley was founded in 1868 as the first public land-grant research university in the state. The university and its student body play a notable role in public service, civil rights, and environmental sustainability. More commonly, education at the university is held in high regard, especially in fields that require a research-based approach.

UC Berkeley is located close to Silicon Valley, a hub for technology, software, and internet companies. For this reason, the university has garnered a reputation for creating entrepreneurs for the world of technology with some who have founded or led phenomenal companies in Silicon Valley like Steve Wozniak, co-founder of Apple Computers.

5. University of Chicago

Located in Chicago in the state of Illinois, the University of Chicago is a medium-sized private research university established in 1890. Just as the university is known for its academic excellence and intellectual prowess, the urban campus is known for its breathtaking architecture which is a perfect blend of modern and gothic styles.

The university is famously known for its School of Economics which produced world-class economists like Gary Becker. In the world of physics, the university was instrumental in creating scientists like Carl Sagan, who were pioneers in the world of science in the past century. Apart from that many educational programs are offered in a wide range of disciplines including law and mathematics at the University of Chicago.

6. University of Pennsylvania

With a reputation for cutting-edge research and innovation, the University of Pennsylvania’s endeavors in higher education in the United States are impactful. The university was first established in 1740 as a charity school, and later led to America’s first medical school which was established in 1765.

The university is one of the eight prestigious private institutions in the northeast United States collectively known as the Ivy League. Penn is highly ranked for its programs in education, management, and applied sciences. Most students describe the university’s environment as conventional, located strategically in a bustling place of rich historical significance.

7. Cornell University

Located in Ithaca, New York, Cornell University is a place of prestige thanks to its reputed faculties, academic and research excellence, and notable alumni. The university, just like most others on this list, has a very limited acceptance rate making it all the more competitive to get into. However, the university accepts international students who manage to excel in academics.

Cornell University offers world-recognized programs in fields like hospitality and engineering. It is considered the best Ivy League university for engineering, alongside Princeton University. The university is credited for producing the likes of Bill Nye, a popular television personality and mechanical engineer.

8. California Institute of Technology

Credited for being responsible for many modern scientific innovations of today’s world, the California Institute of Technology is one of the best institutions in the world especially for science and engineering. Caltech is known for being extremely selective, leading to the university being recognized as a smaller institute. In most of the recent years, the annual admissions have been less than 2,500 students consistently.

Caltech’s reputation is solidified as a university that places a lot of emphasis on research. Students are highly encouraged to partake in research opportunities like the Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship program. It is also one of the universities that has several aid options for financially challenged students.

9. Yale University

Located in New Haven, Yale University, is a perfect choice for students looking for an experience beyond education. The university’s campus is known for being beautiful and spacious, and the life inside and outside of the university is interesting. Yale is known for excellent academics, top-tier lecturers, and a diverse student community.

Economics and Political Sciences are some of the most popular bachelor’s programs offered at Yale. Being a university that is world-recognized, Yale University has nurtured international partnerships with other institutions abroad like University College London and the University of Ghana. The university places extra significance on undergraduate programs, quite different from the norm of most other universities worldwide.

10. Princeton University

Located in New Jersey, Princeton University was chartered in 1746 making history as the fourth oldest college in the United States. The university, originally established to train ministers dedicated to their principles, quickly gained a reputation for excellent research, and today, it’s linked to over 40 Nobel laureates and other prestigious award winners.

Famously, Richard Feynam who obtained his bachelor’s at MIT, earned his Ph.D. at Princeton University. Modern world popular figures like Michelle Obama and Jeff Bezos were also students of Princeton University. The university’s reputation opens up innumerable career opportunities for graduating students.

11. Columbia University

Columbia University is yet another Ivy League private university located in New York. The university is highly selective of its students frequently making history for having the lowest acceptance rates. The university boasts a rich culture and student life and has exceptional faculties, industry professionals, and world-class scholars working and studying at the campus.

This Ivy League university takes pride in attracting and retaining some of the world’s greatest minds. Columbia University has produced several presidents of the United States including former presidents Barack Obama and Franklin D. Roosevelt. Today, the university is known for its programs in social sciences and engineering.

12. John Hopkins University

Established in 1876, John Hopkins University is home to nine academic divisions and is America’s first research university. This private university in Baltimore, Maryland has a school of medicine that it is especially known for. The Johns Hopkins Medical School runs parallel to Johns Hopkins Hospital, a renowned institution in the nation.

Its excellence in medical specialties including neurology and psychiatry has given the university global recognition. However, medicine is not the only sought-after program in the university. With several novelists, actors, and musicians in its hall of fame, the university is also a pioneer in the world of arts.

13. University of California, Los Angeles

University of California Los Angeles is a part of the University of California system. It was founded in 1868 in Oakland, California. Across the five disciplines and seven colleges the university has, there are over 130 undergraduate programs offered at UCLA.

The university is partnered with many other local and international institutions. Apart from the world-class research and educational facilities, the university is known for creating top-rated agriculture and health experts. UCLA is one of the world-class institutions in the nation that offers education for a price that’s comparable to the country’s public school tuition.

14. University of Michigan-Ann Arbor

Founded in 1817, the University of Michigan is one of the oldest research universities in America. The university is heavily invested in partaking in research and therefore is an excellent spot to learn STEM disciplines and arts-related subjects.

Apart from its high standards of education, the university has an athletic team that is known nationwide. The Wolverines, as they are collectively known, hold top ranks in university-level sports like basketball, football, and baseball.

15. New York University

New York University was established in 1831 and is one of the largest universities in the country. The university’s programs in business and mathematics are standard-setters worldwide. The university has an extensive global network allowing students to be exposed to their respective industries on a global level.

New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts and Stern School of Business are among the most renowned of the wide range of academic schools in the university. The university is welcoming of international students with a sizable proportion of the students being from over 130 universities from around the world.

FAQs: Studying in USA Universities

How Selective are the Universities in the USA?

Getting into a top-ranking university anywhere in the world is challenging. North American universities, despite their reputation for diversity, can be especially challenging because of their selection procedure. For the quality of education they offer, and for the opportunities the US provides, competition is undoubtedly higher.

Strict rules have been placed relating to the educational background, financial capabilities, command of English, and a student’s personal background to ensure that only the best students get into these prestigious institutions. Pioneering universities like MIT accept less than 10% of the applications each year, leading to fierce competition to secure a seat.

Are there Scholarship Opportunities for International Students in the USA?

However competitive it may be to get into a university in the USA, the bottom line is that both the government and the universities in the states promote diversity, and are welcoming of international students. The Diversity Visa, for example, is one such initiative of the government confirming the country’s conduciveness for expatriates.

As far as universities are concerned, there are many initiatives from the government, university authorities, and other organizations to ensure that academic talent and skills are properly nurtured. As an international student, you can make use of several scholarship opportunities to make your study period in the USA more comfortable. The popular Fulbright Scholarship for international students and the Hubert H. Humphrey Fellowship Program are two such scholarships available for international students.

Can International Students Work in the USA While Studying?

While government restrictions are very precise and cutthroat, international students can work in the USA while studying. Students with the F-1 student visa are allowed to work up to 20 hours per week when classes are in session and during the holidays, 40 hours per week is the time cap. Off-campus job roles include waiting at restaurants and customer service.

All students who are to accept payments from an employer require an SSN, which has to be applied for with the required documents. Unless a student is working on-campus, expatriates have to obtain official authorization. Failing to do so, might result in the visa being terminated.


While getting into the USA and getting enrolled at a university might seem a bit daunting as an international student, it is entirely possible. The return on investment for making the transition far outweighs any difficulty that you might have had to encounter during the process. So if you are planning to give it a shot, go all in!


We hope that this article on the best universities in the United States for international students was helpful. To know more information like this, check out the Available Programs for International Students!

About the Author: Hyun Lee

Hi! I am Hyun, and I am the founder at Global Scholarships. I've received a full-tuition scholarship at Birmingham-Southern College and a $1,000 Burger King Scholarship for my undergraduate degree and was offered a fully funded scholarship consisting of tuition, living stipend, and health insurance for computer science Ph.D. program at North Carolina State University. You can read more about my scholarship journey here. If you are interested, you can follow me on Linkedin where I regularly write about scholarship opportunities.

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