Ranks the Top Colleges & Universities in the U.S. for 2021

FORT WORTH, Texas, March 9, 2021 /PRNewswire/ — Each fall, more than two million American high-school graduates will enroll in colleges and universities across the nation. They face a daunting challenge: choosing a college or university that meets their needs from among nearly 3,000 4-year schools. provides a better way to make that choice.

By using machine learning to objectively measure a school’s thought leadership, finds the institutions that employ the most influential professors and produce the most influential graduates. The results:

50 Best Colleges and Universities of 2021

“With a selection baseline of 1,000 students minimum and full accreditation, our unique ranking technology tracked the influence of 637 public and 755 private colleges and universities,” says Dr. Jed Macosko, academic director of and professor of physics at Wake Forest University. “These 50 schools stand out from the rest in terms of their impact worldwide over the past decade.”

Colleges and universities featured in the ranking:

  • Amherst College
  • Bard College
  • Barnard College
  • Brandeis University
  • Brown University
  • Bryn Mawr College
  • California Institute of Technology
  • Carnegie Mellon University
  • The Catholic University of America
  • Claremont McKenna College
  • Columbia University
  • Cooper Union
  • Cornell University
  • Dartmouth College
  • Duke University
  • Emory University
  • George Washington University
  • Georgetown University
  • Hampshire College
  • Harvard University
  • Haverford College
  • Johns Hopkins University
  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • Morehouse College
  • The New School
  • New York University
  • Northwestern University
  • Oberlin College
  • Pomona College
  • Princeton University
  • Reed College
  • Rice University
  • Sarah Lawrence College
  • Smith College
  • Stanford University
  • Swarthmore College
  • Tufts University
  • University of California, Berkeley
  • University of Chicago
  • University of Michigan
  • University of Pennsylvania
  • University of Rochester
  • Vanderbilt University
  • Vassar College
  • Washington University in St Louis
  • Wellesley College
  • Wesleyan University
  • Williams College
  • Yale University
  • Yeshiva University

For the final ranking order, top schools by state, and additional rankings, follow the link above. gives small and mid-sized schools an opportunity to shine by taking away the size advantage of larger universities. Using a metric called “Concentrated Influence,” takes the influence score of a school’s top academic influencers (including faculty and alums) and divides it by the school’s total number of undergraduates. This approach allows undergraduate schools to truly rank for excellence, regardless of size.

“Students are looking for trustworthy ways to find schools that not only excel in academics but also meet their personal needs,” says Macosko. “ is responding to this need with the best tools on the internet, from our College Strategist and Desirability Score to our Custom College Rankings and fact-packed articles. Visit our site and see how we can help make your college search more effective and satisfying.”

Founded in October 2016, with funding assistance from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), Influence Networks created the InfluenceRanking Engine, the core technology that enables’s rankings. The InfluenceRanking Engine generates impact mappings of a school’s thought leadership across a wide set of disciplines. See the About page for further details on the unique capabilities and advantages of this advanced ranking system. is the preeminent technology-driven rankings site dedicated to students, researchers, and inquirers from high school through college and beyond, offering resources that connect learners to leaders. is a part of the EducationAccess group, a family of sites dedicated to lifelong learning and personal growth, including Influence Networks, (nonfiction publishing and publishers of Bright Notes), (instructional video library), (free, online library and reader), and soon, Success Portraits (personalized strengths inventory for college and career).


Jed Macosko, Ph.D.
Academic Director

(682) 302-4945