The best student-focused US universities and colleges


How likely am I to graduate, pay off my loans and get a good job? This and other key issues are the basis of the WSJ/THE US College Rankings 2019.

Harvard University is once again the number one in the third annual edition of the Wall Street Journal/Times Higher Education College Rankings 2019. On second place is the Massachusetts Institute of Technology followed by Yale, climbing up from the sixth spot this year. Placing on the fourth and fifth positions of the table are Columbia University and the California Institute of Technology, respectively.

Unlike the THE World University Rankings, which focus on universities’ research performance, this table measures institutions’ student engagement, student outcomes, and learning environments. The student-focused classification also includes metrics such as graduation rates and graduates’ ability to repay student debt.

Surprisingly, Cornell University is not on the Top 10 club this year, falling to the 11th position. Other institutions that fall this year were Stanford University falling from the third to the sixth place; Duke University, as well as the University of Pennsylvania, dropped two spots this year.

The WSJ/THE US College Rankings 2019, based on a 200,000 student survey, also used data from other sources such as the US Department of Education’s Federal Student Aid, the College Scorecard, the Bureau of Economic Analysis, and the Elsevier bibliometric dataset.

The methodology: four key areas

  1. Resources. Does the college have the capacity to effectively deliver teaching?
  2. Engagement. Does the college effectively engage with its students?

  3. Outcomes. Does the institution add value to the students who attend?

  4. Environment. Does the college make efforts to attract a diverse student body and faculty?


Top 10 student-focused colleges and universities in the US 2019

  1. Harvard University

  2. Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)

  3. Yale University

  4. Columbia University

  5. California Institute of Technology (Caltech)

  6. Stanford University

  7. Brown University

  8. Duke University

  9. Princeton University

  10. University of Pennsylvania


For the full methodology visit the Times Higher Education.