How U.S. News Calculated the Best Global Universities Rankings

Find out how we determined the world’s top universities overall and by region and country.

World University Rankings

The second annual U.S. News Best Global Universities rankings were produced to provide insight into how universities compare globally. As an increasing number of students are planning to enroll in universities outside of their own country, the Best Global Universities rankings – which focus specifically on schools’ academic research and reputation overall and not on their separate undergraduate or graduate programs – can help those students accurately compare institutions around the world.

The Best Global Universities rankings also provide insight into how U.S. universities – which U.S. News has been ranking separately for more than 30 years – stand globally. All universities can now benchmark themselves against schools in their own country and region, become more visible on the world stage and find top schools in other countries to consider collaborating with.

The overall Best Global Universities rankings encompass the top 750 institutions spread out across 57 countries – up from the top 500 universities in 49 countries ranked last year. The first step in producing these rankings, which are powered by Thomson Reuters InCitesTM research analytics solutions, involved creating a pool of 1,000 universities that was used to rank the top 750 schools.


To create the pool of 1,000, we first included the top 200 universities in the results of Thomson Reuters’ global reputation survey, described further below. Next, we added institutions that had published the highest number of articles during the most recent five-year period (2009-2013) that was used for the bibliometric data, de-duplicated with the top 200 from the reputation survey.

As a result of these criteria, many stand-alone graduate schools, including Rockefeller University and the University of California—San Francisco, were eligible to be ranked and were included in the ranking universe.

8/30/14 - Boston, Massachusetts Students move in to dorms and residences on campus on August 30, 2014. Photo by Natalia Boltukhova for Boston University Photography.

The second step was to calculate the rankings using the 12 indicators and weights that U.S. News chose to measure global research performance. Each school’s profile page on for the top 750 universities lists the overall global score as well as numerical ranks for the 12 indicators, allowing students to compare each school’s standing in each indicator.

The indicators and their weights in the ranking formula are listed in the table below, with related indicators grouped together; an explanation of each follows.

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Aarhus University

Aarhus University (Danish: Aarhus Universitet, abbreviated AU) is a prestigious public university located in Aarhus, Denmark. Founded in 1928, it is Denmark's second oldest university and the largest, with a total of 44,500 enrolled students as of 1 January 2013, after a merger with Aarhus School of Engineering. In most prestigious ranking lists of the world's best universities, Aarhus University is placed in the top 100. The university belongs to the Coimbra Group of European universities. The business school within Aarhus University, called Aarhus BSS, holds the EFMD (European Foundation for Management Development) Equis accreditation, the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) and the Association of MBAs (AMBA). This makes the business school of Aarhus University one of the few in the world to have the so-called Triple Crown accreditations. Denmark's first professor of sociology was a member of the faculty of Aarhus University (Theodor Geiger, from 1938–1952), and in 1997 Professor Jens Christian Skou received the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for his discovery of the sodium-potassium pump. In 2010, Dale T. Mortensen, a Niels Bohr Visiting Professor at Aarhus University, received the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences together with his colleagues Peter Diamond and Christopher Pissarides.

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