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Top Universities for PhD Study in the USA in 2022

Written by Ben Taylor

The USA has a well-earned reputation as one of the world’s most pre-eminent destinations for ambitious PhD researchers, with its universities making up the majority of several global league tables. The sheer size of the American university system means that there are countless research opportunities to be taken advantage of.

But this also means that the American higher education system can seem overwhelming for a prospective PhD student looking to find the perfect institution and research programme. One way to narrow down the options is to check out the various university league tables. This page showcases the top American universities in the world.

Top ranked American universities for PhD study

The following table illustrates the best universities in the USA, according to three of the most prominent league tables.

Top 20 American Universities in 2022
University THE 2022 QS 2022 ARWU 2021
California Institute of Technology =2 6 9
Harvard University =2 5 1
Stanford University 4 =3 2
Massachusetts Institute of Technology =5 1 4
Princeton University 7 20 6
University of California, Berkley 8 32 5
Yale University 9 =14 11
University of Chicago 10 10 10
Columbia University 11 19 8
Johns Hopkins University =13 25 16
University of Pennsylvania 13 16 15
University of California, Los Angeles 15 40 14
Cornell University 22 21 12
Duke University 23 52 32
University of Michigan-Ann Arbor =24 =23 26
Northwestern University =24 30 34
New York University 26 42 27
Carnegie Mellon University 28 =53 97
University of Washington 29 =85 19
University of California, San Diego 34 48 18
Information in this table is based on the latest Times Higher Education World University Rankings, QS World University Rankings and Academic Ranking of World Universities. Visit their websites for more information.

So, how good are universities in the USA for PhD study?

Although the above table doesn’t show any research-specific metrics, the number of American universities among the top 100 in the world shows just how dominant universities in the USA are internationally.

Both private and public universities in the USA do very well in the league tables, showing the strength in depth across the sector, as well as the importance placed by American institutions on funding world-class research – one of the key metrics in the rankings.

For more information on how the ranking system works, check out our guide to PhD rankings.

Search for a PhD in the USA

Ready to start looking for your ideal study abroad opportunity? Browse PhDs in the USA on or read our guide to studying a PhD in the USA.

Last Updated: 19 November 2021

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