The United States is the most popular destination for students around the world when it comes to education. The search is not for anything! According to the Times Higher Education (THE) ranking, 40 of the top 100 universities globally are American.

Interested? Discover the benefits of graduating in the North American territory and discover the 15 best universities in the United States.

Why study in the US?

Studying at one of the best universities in the United States has numerous advantages for students’ academic, professional, and personal lives. “These institutions have the largest number of professors who are references in their fields or with Nobel and Pulitzer prizes¹. The faculty also stands out for being very accessible. The student can schedule a time for lunch and do a project with important researchers. In addition, these institutions invest a lot in research and infrastructure, with excellent sports courts, gym, theater, etc.”, says Cristina Tavares, coordinator of the International Sector of Colégio Stage São Paulo.

Another highlight is that North American universities have holistic graduation, which makes the curriculum more flexible. “I attended some classes and explored the university and only later declared my course. I also took more than one course and, despite having chosen Computing. I took part in classes in History, Philosophy, Psychology, etc.” highlights Henrique Vaz, who took the major 2 in Computer Science and the minor 3 in Statistics at Harvard.

This freedom to pursue two degrees simultaneously also caught the attention of Mario Curiki, who majored in economics and statistics at Columbia University. “In Brazil, I would probably have to take two courses of four years each, which would be less viable”, he compares.

The experience of living on campuses was one of the differences that led the former student of the Stage, Fabio Arai, to choose the USA. He earned a bachelor’s and master’s degree in electrical engineering from the California Institute of Technology (Caltech). “I loved the idea of ​​student life in the US, living in dorms and participating in extracurricular activities,” he says.

The cultural issue is another reason why many Brazilians choose the United States. “Since Brazilians visit a country a lot, there is great cultural proximity with the North Americans. In addition, English is part of our curriculum, a facilitator”, explains the International Sector of Colégio Stage coordinator.


Discover the 15 best universities in the United States

There are more than 4,000 higher education institutions in the North American territory. In this post, we will present the Top 15, according to the Times Higher Education, one of the world’s most respected higher education rankings. Check out!

  1. Ivy League:

The Ivy League was created in 1954 as a sports league of eight private universities in the Northeastern US. But starting in the 1960s, this concept was updated. Today, the league is best known for the academic excellence of its institutions.

Brown, Columbia, Cornell, Dartmouth, Harvard, Princeton, University of Pennsylvania, and Yale are the colleges that make up the league. These institutions are not only among the best universities in the United States but also in the world.

Cristina Tavares points out some factors that explain the good ranking of these institutions. “Ivy League universities are among the best in terms of academics, infrastructure, and scientific production. The student will have many opportunities within any of them”, he says.

“The possibility of working at the unicorn four company I’ve always wanted or even opening a startup with friends in the future is much greater for students at these institutions. It is also possible to exchange programs with the best universities in Europe, Canada, and the East”, says Edmilson Motta, general coordinator of Colégio Stage.

Henrique Vaz, who graduated from Harvard, confirms. “Many professional opportunities that I have now emerged thanks to exceptional people I met at the university,” he says.

The university still has other differentials, as Tim Linden, the David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies (DRCLAS), Harvard’s office in Brazil.

Another alumnus of the Stage who confirms the wide range of Ivy League possibilities is Mario Curiki, who graduated from Columbia. “Every year, the United Nations General Assembly invites state leaders to speak at the university, so I had access to presidential candidates and former presidents, as well as recognized academics and businessmen. And this opportunity I probably wouldn’t have in Brazil”, he highlights.

On the other hand, Beatriz Arruda, a former student at Colégio Stage, who graduated in Biomedical Engineering and Neurosciences at Brown, highlights the flexibility of her curriculum at the university.

Cristina Tavares emphasizes that the chances of applying for scholarships are good at these universities. “Ivy League institutions are often extremely generous with financial aid. If the student is approved, these universities can cover 100% of the family’s financial needs”, he informs.


The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) is recognized as one of the world’s leading science, engineering and technology research centers. Founded in 1861, the university is located in Cambridge, Massachusetts, in the northeastern United States.

MIT is considered the second-best institution of higher education in the US by the Times Higher Education. It is not by chance. MIT alumni and professors have already won, together, 85 times the Nobel Prize.

And important discoveries are also accredited to the institute, such as the invention of the magnetic core memory, which allowed the development of digital computers. Today, MIT is at the forefront of research aimed at Artificial Intelligence and treating diseases such as cancer and the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV), for example.

The university has six schools: Administration; Architecture and Planning; Sciences; Computing; Engineering; Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences. And degrees in Mechanical Engineering, Computer Science and Mathematics are the most popular.

And on campus, students find 12 museums and art galleries, 33 sports, 500 student organizations, and various extracurricular activities, including music, dance, theater, health care services, and more.

With so many options, young people worldwide dream of studying at MIT: in all, international students make up 10% of the institution’s graduates.

Former Stage student Karine Yuki highlights the benefits of MIT, where she graduated in Physics and Political Science. “It was an experience of unparalleled personal and academic growth. MIT has incredible resources and tools in several areas, and this, combined with an intellectual and scientific community with a deep level of expertise, is a powerful combination”, he says.

To study at MIT, an investment of approximately US$ 51,000 per year is required, including food, housing and tuition, and fees 5.



The California Institute of Technology (Caltech) is an internationally recognized university for research and teaching in Science, Engineering, and Technology. Founded in 1891, the institution is located in Pasadena, in California, a few kilometers from Los Angeles – capital of the film and music industry.

According to the Times Higher Education, Caltech is the fifth-best university in the United States, with international students accounting for 7% of its undergraduates.

Together, the institution’s former students and professors have already won 35 Nobel prizes, in addition to awards in other important awards, such as the Fields Medal 6 and the Turing Awards 7.

Caltech also has high-tech facilities, such as the Rocket Propulsion Laboratory of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) – the US Federal Government agency responsible for researching and developing space exploration technologies and programs.

Altogether, the institute has six academic divisions: Biology and Biological Engineering; Geological and Planetary Sciences; Engineering and Applied Sciences; Physics, Mathematics, and Astronomy; Humanities and Social Sciences and Chemistry and Chemical Engineering. In total, there are 24 majors and six minors. Degrees in Mechanical Engineering, Physics and Computer Science are considered to be the best in the university.

The former student of the Stage, Fabio Arai, points out that Caltech also has benefits beyond academic life. “Although the studies are very demanding, I have had many opportunities to explore the other aspects of campus life. I was able to take advantage of the Los Angeles area and participate in extracurricular activities, such as the tennis team and a capella 8 group from the university”, he says.

Arai also claims that the university has differences from other US institutions. “Life in Caltech’s dorms is different from other institutions. As each one has a different personality, we have a process called Rotation, which helps students choose which dorm they want to live in”, he says.

To study at Caltech, an investment of approximately US$49,000 per year is required, including all fees.


Stanford University is one of the most prestigious institutions of higher education in the world. According to the Times Higher Education, the university founded in 1891 is the seventh-best in the United States. The institute is located in Palo Alto, a California city home to major Silicon Valley companies.

The university is at the forefront of important advances in the fields of Science and Technology, such as the first successful lung and heart transplant in the world.

Its community has 21 Nobel Prizes – 19 of which are professors at the institution –, 19 Turing Awards and 4 Pulitzer Prizes and personalities who founded internationally recognized companies such as Google and Netflix. In total, international students make up 15% of Stanford University graduates.

Its campus has 18 research centers, in addition to three undergraduate and graduate schools – Earth Sciences, Energy and Environment; Engineering and Humanities and Sciences – with more than 65 courses and four graduate studies 9 – Law; Education; Medicine; and Business. Courses in Human Biology, General Biology and Economics are the most popular.

The university also stands out for its sporting performance and cultural encouragement. With 32 sports and more than 1,200 athletes, the institution has won 280 medals in the Olympic games.

To study at Stanford University, an investment of approximately US$51,000 per year is required, including food, housing, and tuition, and fees.


Duke University is a prestigious research center in the United States. Founded in 1883 in Trinity, North Carolina, the institution was transferred in 1892 to its current city: Durham, in the same state. Its name is a reference to the philanthropist Washington Duke, also honored in the name of the university’s foundation, The Duke Endowment, one of the richest funds in the world.

Duke was named the 10th best university in the US by the Times Higher Education. Its alumni community includes two Pulitzer Prize winners and leaders from Apple, JPMorgan Chase, and PepsiCo. Altogether, international students make up 10% of graduates at Duke.

The institution has ten undergraduate and graduate academic divisions, including Science and Arts, Law, Nursing, Engineering, Medicine, Environment, Business, and Public Policy. The most popular courses are Economics, Public Policy, and Biological Sciences.

In addition, in 2014, a campus was opened in China, and a partnership with the National University of Singapore was established in 2017.

To study at Duke University, an investment of approximately US$55,000 per year is required, considering all fees.


Northwestern University is an institution located on the shores of Lake Michigan, more precisely in the city of Evanston, Illinois. The university, founded in 1851, ranks 11th in the United States and 22nd in the Times Higher Education world ranking.

The institution stands out for its courses in Human Sciences. Degrees in Economics, Psychology, and Political Science are the most popular.

In addition to offering more than 100-degree programs, the university has respected graduate schools in Biological Sciences; Education and Social Policy; Engineering and Applied Sciences; Management; Journalism; and Medicine. The institute also has two other smaller campuses in Chicago (USA) and Doha (Qatar).

Among his former students are seven Nobel Prize winners and important personalities from the North American political and world cinematographic universe. One of the university’s differentials is the vast list of options for sports and cultural activities. Altogether, international students make up 9% of Northwestern graduates.

To study at Northwestern University requires an investment of approximately $56,000 per year, including all fees.

Johns Hopkins:

Johns Hopkins University is the first research center in US history. In 1876, the university ranked 12th among US higher education institutions in the Times Higher Education ranking.

The four campuses are located in Baltimore, a major port city in Maryland, while its Biotechnology center is located in Washington, the nation’s capital. Altogether, international students correspond to 10% of the institution’s graduates.

Considering alumni, professors, and researchers, Johns Hopkins University has 36 Nobel Prizes and a Pulitzer Prize. Your community is responsible for remarkable scientific discoveries, such as landing the first rocket on an asteroid.

The institution’s Applied Physics Laboratory is currently building a probe with NASA to deflect an asteroid that will pass close to Earth in 2021.

Johns Hopkins University has ten academic divisions: Science and Arts; Education; Nursing; Engineering; Advanced International Studies; Applied Physics; Medicine; Song; Business and Public Health. And the university is well known for courses in the area of ​​Biological Sciences, with degrees in Nursing, Public Health, and Biomedicine being the most popular.

The university also has an extensive study abroad program covering 150 countries.

To study at Johns Hopkins University, an investment of approximately US$ 53,000 per year is required, including food, housing, and tuition, and fees.

University of Chicago:

The University of Chicago is one of the most respected institutions of higher education in the world. Founded in 1890, the university is named the 14th best in the United States by the Times Higher Education. Altogether, international students account for 13% of the institution’s graduates.

Located in the southern region of the city of Chicago, the institution has 50 MacArthur Fellows 10 and 91 Nobel Prizes – 30 in Economics – as well as American personalities such as former President Barack Obama, who taught at the Law School for 12 years old.

University of Chicago students have undergraduate and graduate management schools; Biological, Physical, Human and Social Sciences; Law, Molecular Engineering; Medicine and Theology. Degrees in Economics, Biology and Political Science are the most popular.

In addition, the university has global centers in cities such as Delhi, Hong Kong, Paris, and Beijing and manages important international laboratories. Some examples are the Marine Biological Laboratory and the Giant Magellan Telescope.

To study at the University of Chicago requires an investment of approximately $57,000 per year, adding up all costs.

Now that you know the top 15 universities in the United States, you may wonder which one is best for your child?

“US institutions are very different from each other. So it is important for the student to understand which environment makes sense to him and how he can add value to the university environment”, says the former student of the Stage Henrique Vaz.

“I visited Columbia as a tourist a few years before, and it was one of the factors that made me apply for a position at the institution. But not everyone can visit the university before, so it is important to talk to undergraduates or former students who have already graduated from the institution of interest to understand the advantages and disadvantages”, highlights the former student of the Mario Curiki Stage.

Another common question that may arise is regarding the admissions process for each of these universities. “The preparation is the same for all applications 11. It is important to perform well during high school, and on the tests you choose, such as the SAT or ACT, in addition to having an excellent level of English, to do well on all the tests”, says Ariel Setton, college counselor for the Sector International of Colégio Stage São Paulo.

Want to know more about the application? So, check out our infographic below with a step-by-step guide to how your child can apply to higher education institutions abroad.

The extracurricular activities are key in the selection process of US universities. “Just having a strong academic level is not enough. It is essential that students carry out extracurricular activities from the beginning of high school”, explains Setton.

“Caltech has a strong emphasis on research and excellence in the Exact area. Therefore, demonstrating capability in this area was essential. I participated in the scientific Olympics and two summer camps, 12 in the USA, one in Mathematics and Robotics. These experiences made a difference in the application of the former student of the Stage, Fabio Arai. I also spent a month researching in a laboratory at Texas Tech University”, he highlights.

Coordinator Cristina Tavares emphasizes that it is essential to show dedication and passion for extracurricular activities. “There is no extra-class activity that is better than the other. The student needs to be involved in something they love and give 100% of themselves. It’s not what you do, but how you do it,” he says.

Stage former student Karine Yuki agrees. “The ability to attract the attention of a university in the US is intrinsically related to the ability to demonstrate both talent and passion, not just fulfilling a series of prerequisites. Studying abroad is an admirable goal, but don’t forget to have fun and fall in love with what you’re doing along the way,” he concludes.