Spending a semester or a year abroad is about more than academic learning. It’s about broadening one’s horizons. It can help a student discover unexpected career paths, become independent, appreciate new cultures and adopt new traditions.
There are innumerable options for a student who wants to expand their worldview of culture and tradition. Whether it’s watching the flamenco dance in Spain or the northern lights in Norway, there are so many options. The best places for studying abroad don’t just have great academic programmes that the student wants to pursue. It also serves you culture on a platter. Keeping one’s mind open to places, ideas and people will definitely be a life-changing experience.
As said above, there are so many options out there. So, how do you choose the best one out of an ocean of options? Here’s a list of the top universities across the world for studying abroad.
How to choose the best place to study abroad?
Studying in a foreign country might seem to be filled with opportunities, but choosing the right place is a lot more daunting than that. It is important to base your option after weighing all the pros and cons of a country where you plan to advance your studies.
Each university and place has something unique to offer. The first thing to consider is, of course, whether the university has a great academic programme. Not every study abroad programme is created equal. Some of the schools offer faculty-led, hand-tailored that are academically more demanding. Other schools may focus more on cultural extension, job networking and social bonding. Here, a list of the top universities across the world has been prepared, along with the reasons why they are considered the top ones.
Harvard University, Cambridge, USA
This wouldn’t have come as a surprise. Established in 1636, Harvard is the oldest university in the United States. It was named after John Harvard, its benefactor, and is considered the most prestigious university in the world.
So what makes Harvard so prestigious? This Ivy League institution has connections to many Nobel laureates, Pulitzer Prize winners and heads of the state. Harvard was the first university in America and earned its reputation as the only place where students could earn their degrees. And during those times, only the elite could afford to attend university. To this day, the university has upheld its status as an elite institution of higher education.
However, those are only a tiny fraction of the reasons why students all over the world vie for a spot at the university. First of all, Harvard is deemed prestigious due to the top education it offers. Whatever the interest of the student is, be it medicine, law, sociology, astronomy etc., Harvard has it.
As for the professors who teach there, they are highly accomplished scholars. Many of those who work there have bagged Nobel Prizes and are members of the Academy of Sciences. And being taught or mentored by such prominent scholars increases the student’s chances of success. For example, many of the Nobel Prize winners started their research under the mentorship of a Nobel Prize winner. In addition, Harvard produces high-impact research in numerous fields, right from the sciences to the humanities. The huge external funds make it possible to afford all the best equipment, infrastructure and libraries. The money is also used to support the most top-notch research and students can learn using the latest technologies.
It is true that there are other prestigious universities. Yet, why do students compete for a spot at Harvard? This is why: a degree from Harvard can deem a scholar a member of the intellectual elite in all countries. Moreover, most of the Harvard graduates go on to have successful careers in business, politics or the sciences. Part of this success can be attributed to a network of high-profile contacts established during their student days while at the university.
Attending Harvard isn’t cheap either. However, for those who can afford to, it has everything. A beautiful campus, excellent teaching, great infrastructure and the promise of a great career.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, USA
Ranked second among the world’s best universities, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) is a coeducational, independent and private university. MIT was established in 1861 and aims to further knowledge and prepare students in the fields of science, technology and science. The motto of MIT is Mens et Manus, which when translated, is ‘Mind and Hand’.
MIT lays claim to dozens of Nobel Laureates, National Medal of Science winners, MacArthur Fellows and National Medal of Technology and Innovation winners. Among its impressive alumni is the former secretary-general of the United Nations, Kofi Annan. The university boasts of scientific discoveries and advances in technology, such as the development of radar, the first chemical synthesis of penicillin, the invention of magnetic core memory (which made possible the development of digital computers) and the discovery of quarks.
Currently, the university is organized into 5 different schools. These are engineering, architecture and planning, management, science and humanities and social sciences. MIT is home to approximately 1000 faculty members and more than 11,000 undergraduate and graduate students. The current areas of research at MIT include Big Data, digital learning, sustainable energy, human health and a lot more.
Besides highlighting innovation and entrepreneurship, the university has a vibrant and diverse campus environment. Spread over 168 acres within Cambridge, MIT has 26 acres of playing fields, more than 100 public works of art, 20 garden and green-space areas and student residences.
Stanford University, Stanford, USA
Established in 1885, Stanford University may be more than a hundred years younger than many of the other prestigious Ivy League colleges. However, this does not make Stanford any less prestigious than the other universities. It is tough to get into Stanford. In fact, this university is a lot more selective than most Ivy League colleges. This is due to the university’s highly respectable and reputable faculty, educational offerings and countless opportunities. Despite the competition to get into Stanford, the university receives countless applications every year. Let’s see why.
Since its establishment, Stanford has upheld its ability to maintain a reputable faculty. The university has been applauded as one of the top ten universities in undergraduate teaching. The student to faculty ratio also ensures that the students and professors have ample opportunities to establish meaningful mentorships and connections. Stanford’s interdisciplinary focus encourages students to take advantage of the school’s different programmes. This gives students a lot of freedom to explore diverse fields while still receiving credit for their diplomas. While other universities do offer the same, what makes Stanford different is the availability of mini-courses. These courses last for two or three weeks. This makes it possible for students to explore various disciplines without spending too much precious time on one discipline.
Stanford is equidistant from San Francisco and San Jose. This unique location from any major city has given the university a reputation for being a sort of bubble. It gives the students a safe haven away from the hustle and bustle of the outside world. It doesn’t just give the students a better chance of pursuing their academic and professional goals in peace, but also makes it easier for them to integrate into the Stanford community. The location gives the university a welcoming and homey feeling. Having a safe haven and being surrounded by like-minded, ambitious people makes the student more likely to pursue their dreams.
California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, USA
California Institute of Technology, based in Pasadena, is one of the world’s leading private research universities. The university was established in 1891 as a vocational school. Back then, it was known as Throop University after its founder, Amos G. Throop. In 1910, the vocational and preparatory schools were disbanded. A decade later, the college was given its present name of Caltech. The name is based on the institution’s expertise in engineering and natural science.
Primarily, Caltech is organized into six academic divisions: Chemistry and Chemical Engineering, Biology and Biological Engineering, Engineering and Applied Science, Humanities and Social Sciences, Geological and Planetary Sciences, Mathematics, Physics and Astronomy. The university offers graduate, undergraduate and doctoral degree programmes in chemistry, biology, physics, computer science and earth sciences. There are approximately 3900 employees at the university, including both alumni and non-alumni academic faculties. The alumni include dozens of Nobel Laureates. The professors are eminent experts in science and applied sciences.
Within the university campus, the Millikan Library is the highest building. Apart from the campus in Pasadena, Caltech also has its campuses in Hawaii, Louisiana, Switzerland and Washington. Covering over 124 acres of land, the university has seven buildings on campus that serve as student and family residences. The university also has many athletics teams in soccer, tennis, basketball, volleyball, fencing and swimming.
University of Oxford, Oxford, UK
The University of Oxford offers great academic opportunities, which results in the university being ranked as one of the top universities in the world. But it isn’t just due to Oxford’s prominent academic record. Outstanding teaching standards, excellent student satisfaction and leading quality of research are just a few reasons that put Oxford at the top. The university also offers a great wealth of provisions to support its students in academic studies and more.
What makes Oxford earn a spot at the top is its tutorial system. The tutorials at the university are lessons with your tutor, a few other students and yourself. Every week, the essay or problem sheet that you have completed that week. Often, the tutors themselves would have authored the books which they recommend for preparing for the tutorials. So the system really knows how to make you get a grip on the topic you’re dealing with. While it does sound rather intimidating, the opportunity to be mentored by a leading academician always helps in understanding some tough concepts and ideas.
And it’s not just the academic life where you can shine too. Oxford offers a plethora of opportunities for developing one’s interests beyond academics. Whether it is rowing for university or playing on college open mic nights or writing for the student newspaper, Oxford isn’t just about beating your brains out to be at the top of the class. And while life after university seems daunting and scary, a degree from Oxford is invaluable. There are plenty of recruitment fairs and events where employers actively seek out students from Oxford. The university’s careers service services assist students in finding internships and graduate jobs in different fields.
University of Cambridge, UK
The University of Cambridge was established in 1209, which makes it the world’s fourth oldest university and the second oldest one in the English-speaking world. Located fifty miles from London in the city of Cambridge, the University of Cambridge serves students from all across the world. Consisting of various listed buildings, the university is divided into 31 autonomous colleges. Many of the older buildings are situated on the river Cam. Applications are made to individual colleges.
The university comprises six academic schools-Biological Sciences, Arts and Humanities, Clinical Medicine, Physical Sciences, Humanities and Social Sciences, and Technology. Cambridge is considered one of the best and most vibrant places to be a student. The university houses more than 100 libraries with millions of books. It is famous for its academic excellence and scholarly values. Ranked as one of the top universities for teaching and research, Cambridge has produced many eminent scientists, mathematicians, lawyers, politicians, writers, philosophers and heads of state. Many Nobel laureates and British prime ministers have affiliations with the university as students, alumni or faculty.
There are also extracurricular activities that give the students a chance to be involved in something more than academics, like music, politics, drama societies and hundreds of other clubs. Cambridge also boasts a huge sports team, which both novices and experts can join.
Yale University, New Haven, USA
Established in 1701, Yale University is one of the oldest institutions of higher education in America. It is located in New Haven, Connecticut and is approximately 80 miles northeast of New York City. Students hail from each corner of the world, with at least 20% of the total student body international.
The university’s central campus covers 260 acres. It includes buildings from the middle of the 18th century. Yale is organized into fourteen schools, which includes the original undergraduate college, the Yale Graduate School of Arts and twelve other professional schools. The university allows undergraduates to follow a liberal arts curriculum which permits them to learn across disciplines before finally deciding on a major. As for college life, it reflects the diversity of the cultures and nationalities present on campus. And to be part of the university is to be part of a great company. The American Declaration of Independence was signed by four Yale graduates. Five US presidents have been educated at Yale-William Howard Taft, Gerald Ford, George H. W. Bush, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush.
Beyond academic life, there are hundreds of student groups, a Tony Award-winning theatre, Yale Cabaret (a theatre-restaurant that is run by students) and many other activities to involve oneself with. In addition to this, there are also many high-quality sports facilities, with centres for polo, tennis, sailing, ice hockey and more.
National University of Singapore, Singapore
The National University of Singapore (NUS) is one of Asia’s best and Singapore’s flagship universities. It offers a global approach to research, education and entrepreneurship, while at the same time focusing on Asian perspectives and expertise.
There are 17 faculties across 3 campuses- Bukit Timah, Outram and Kent Ridge. The university is the pioneer of many innovative academic programmes. These include student exchange, double, joint and concurrent degree programmes. Other than this, NUS also offers entrepreneurial internships at 12 NUS Overseas Colleges. NUS’s approach towards research, education and entrepreneurship enables students to work closely with academia, industry and governments, to address important issues connected to Asia and the world. The latest research focus of the university is to use operations research, data science and cybersecurity for supporting the country’s Smart Nation initiative.
The NUS comprises 17 schools. They include Business, Arts and Social Sciences, Computing, Dentistry, Design and Environment, Law, Medicine, Science, Public Policy, Public Health, Continuing and Lifelong Education, Music, University Scholars Programme, Engineering, Duke-NUS Medical School, Integrative Sciences and Engineering and Yale-NUS College.
Listed above are only a few of the world’s top universities. Each of the universities is unique in its own sense. Some of them may appeal to you more than others. The important thing is, wherever you choose to go, make the most of the opportunity. Excel academically, imbibe the culture and explore new traditions and graduate with more than just a degree.