Rankings Split on Which School Is Better: MIT or Harvard University

The annual U.S. News rankings have Harvard way above MIT, but the QS World University Rankings have MIT in the top spot.

Photos via Flickr.com

Photos via Flickr.com

Two separate university rankings that came out Tuesday have differing reports on where two Massachusetts universities fall on the list.

In the coveted U.S. News & World Report’s annual ranking of the nation’s colleges and universities, Harvard is the No. 2 school on the list— which was national rather than worldwide—and MIT fell to the No. 7 position.

But MIT and Harvard took first and second place respectively in the latest QS World University Rankings list, an annual report of the best schools on the globe based on areas of interest to prospective students, such as research, teaching, employability, and international outlook.

Both rankings looked at different variables when comparing schools, however.

Harvard nudged out MIT in the U.S. News ranking—putting MIT in a three-way tie with Duke University and the University of Pennsylvania—based on the Cambridge schools mission statement, student retention, data source, and other variables outlined here, in this six-page explanation of the databases methodology.

According to the criteria for the QS World University Rankings, MIT took top honors for its academic reputation, employer reputation, student-to-faculty ratio, citations per faculty—meaning how often works from a school are used as a reference—and international faculty and student ratios. The school received a perfect score from the researchers who compiled the list. MIT has been the No. 1 school for the last two years, and in 2012, we posited that it had edged out Harvard to become the most important university in the world. But from 2007 to 2009, it just barely made the top 10.

QS World University Rankings has been compiling lists of the top schools since 2004, and has become one of the leading sources for comparing and contrasting schools around the world based on their strengths and weaknesses. In the 2013-14 edition, 800 universities are ranked. However, more than 2,000 are assessed, according to the QS World University Rankings website. To view all of the criteria and universities ranked, visit the QS World University Rankings website.

A total of seven area schools made the national rankings list of top colleges according to the U.S. News report, placing them in the top 50, including Boston College, Brandeis, Northeastern University, Tufts, and Boston University. To see their list, go here.

Below is the list of top schools according to both sources. The takeaway from both rankings, despite the bout between Harvard and MIT? Massachusetts has a lot of top schools, according to both national, and international sources.

Here is the national ranking according to U.S. News & World Report’s annual list:


From the QS World University Rankings: