Top 10 Public US Universities

August 01, 2017

Here’s a rundown of the top public universities in the US, according to the QS World University Rankings® 2018.


1. University of Michigan


Location: Ann Arbor, Michigan

Intakes: 3 terms per year

US Ranking: 12th

World Ranking: 21st

The University of Michigan, frequently referred to simply as “Michigan”, is a public research university. It is the state’s oldest university. Considered one of the foremost research universities in the United States, Michigan is classified as a Doctoral University with Very High Research by the Carnegie Foundation. Its comprehensive graduate program offers doctoral degrees in the humanities, social sciences, and STEM fields (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) as well as professional degrees in architecture, business, medicine, law, pharmacy, nursing, social work, public health, and dentistry.

2. University of California, Berkeley


Location: Berkeley, California

Intakes: 3 terms per year

US Ranking: 14th

World Ranking: 27th

The University of California, Berkeley is a public research university that was founded in 1868. It is  the oldest of the ten research universities in the University of California system, and is often cited as one of the top public universities in the United States.

3. University of California, Los Angeles


Location: Los Angeles, California

Intakes: 4 terms per year

US Ranking: 16th

World Ranking: 33rd

The University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) is a public research university. It became the Southern Branch of the University of California in 1919, making it the second-oldest undergraduate campus of the ten-campus University of California system. It offers 337 undergraduate and graduate degree programs in a wide range of disciplines.

4. University of California, San Diego


Location: San Diego, California

Intakes: 3 terms per year

US Ranking: 17th

World Ranking: 38th

The University of California, San Diego is a public research university. UC San Diego is organized into six undergraduate residential colleges (Revelle, Muir, Marshall, Warren, Roosevelt, and Sixth), three graduate schools (Jacobs School of Engineering, Rady School of Management and School of Global Policy and Strategy), and two professional medical schools (UC San Diego School of Medicine and Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences).

5. University of Wisconsin-Madison


Location: Madison, Wisconsin

Intakes: 2 semesters per year

US Ranking: 21st

World Ranking: 55th

The University of Wisconsin–Madison is a public research university founded when Wisconsin achieved statehood in 1848. UW–Madison is the official state university of Wisconsin, and the flagship campus of the University of Wisconsin System. It was the first public university established in Wisconsin and remains the oldest and largest public university in the state.

6. University of Washington


Location: Seattle, Washington

Intakes: 4 terms per year

US Ranking: 22nd

World Ranking: 61st

The University of Washington is a public research university whose largest and original campus is in Seattle, Washington, United States. Founded in 1861, Washington is one of the oldest universities on the West Coast. The University offers bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees through its 140 departments, themselves organized into various colleges and schools.

7. University of Texas at Austin


Location: Austin, Texas

Intakes: 2 semesters per year

US Ranking: 23rd

World Ranking: 67th

The University of Texas at Austin is a public research university and the flagship institution of the University of Texas System. The university houses seven museums and seventeen libraries, including the Lyndon Baines Johnson Library and Museum and the Blanton Museum of Art, and operates various auxiliary research facilities, such as the J. J. Pickle Research Campus and the McDonald Observatory. Among university faculty are recipients of the Nobel Prize, Pulitzer Prize, the Wolf Prize, the Emmy Award, the Turing Award, and the National Medal of Science, as well as many other awards.

8. University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign


Location: Urbana and Champaign, Illinois

Intakes: 4 terms per year

US Ranking: 24th

World Ranking: 69th

The University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign is a public research-intensive university in the U.S. state of Illinois. Founded in 1867 as a land-grant institution in the twin cities of Champaign and Urbana (together known as Champaign-Urbana), it is the flagship campus of the University of Illinois system and a founding member of the Big Ten Conference. The university comprises 17 colleges that offer more than 150 programs of study. Additionally, the university operates an extension[13] that offers educational programs to more than 1.5 million registrants per year around the state of Illinois and beyond.

9. Georgia Institute of Technology


Location: Atlanta, Georgia

Intakes: 3 terms per year

US Ranking: 25th

World Ranking: 70th

The Georgia Institute of Technology is a public research university in Atlanta, Georgia, in the United States. It is a part of the University System of Georgia and has satellite campuses in Savannah, Georgia; Metz, France; Athlone, Ireland; Shenzhen, China; and Singapore.  Georgia Tech is organized into six colleges and contains about 31 departments/units, with emphasis on science and technology. It is well recognized for its degree programs in engineering, computing, business administration, the sciences, design, and liberal arts.

10. University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill


Location: chapel Hill, North Carolina

Intakes: 2 semesters per year

US Ranking: 26th

World Ranking: 80th

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, also known as UNC,  is a public research university. After being chartered in 1789, the university first began enrolling students in 1795, which also allows it to be one of three schools to claim the title of the oldest public university in the United States. The university offers degrees in over 70 courses of study through fourteen colleges and the College of Arts and Sciences. All undergraduates receive a liberal arts education and have the option to pursue a major within the professional schools of the university or within the College of Arts and Sciences from the time they obtain junior status.

See also: Top 10 Private US Universities