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The 50 Most Prestigious Graduate Schools in The World in 2020

A college education is a good foundation for students to kick start their career. But for many who want to stand out from the highly competitive job market, additional reinforcements are needed.

For those who aim to elevate their professional qualifications, take in more significant responsibilities, and increase their income, the best option is to earn a graduate degree. While many pursue graduate studies for the love of learning, it cannot be denied that further education poses a wealth of benefits that a college diploma can’t provide.

It could be that their profession requires a graduate degree. It could also be rooted in one’s desire to change their career paths or position themselves for better prospects.

Whatever the reason is, pursuing a graduate degree requires careful thinking, mainly because this step involves commitment, determination, time, and effort. It can also mean added cost after one earns a college degree.

In a way, getting a master’s degree can be considered a lifetime investment. It is not merely a postponement of work life. Graduate studies can help shape a person’s future, enabling them to grow to their fullest potential and arming them with the right knowledge in all the right places.

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What to Consider in Graduate Schools

Before one jumps into the challenging world of graduate school, it is crucial to be prepared financially, mentally, and emotionally. It can have lifetime rewards but also poses risks that can affect one’s life. Hence it should not be taken lightly.

One of the major concerns is the expensive tuition fees. College is costly enough, and student loans can be crippling. Before one decides, it is wise to weigh the pros and cons first. How does one plan to pay for graduate school expenses? Is there enough emotional and financial support? Are the prospects bright for one’s future career after graduate school?

Knowing the answers to all of these can help one minimize future mistakes and ensure success. It is good to be prepared before entering the battle, after all.

How to Choose a Graduate School

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There is a myriad of graduate studies in various fields worldwide. However, not all graduate schools are one-size-fit-all institutions. One can very quickly waste their time, money, energy, hopes, and dreams if they are not careful.

That is why choosing the best school that suits your needs is the ideal course of action. What do you need to consider in choosing your graduate school?

  • Knowing and understanding your professional goals.
  • Taking the time to explore a wide range of possibilities before committing to one.
  • Learning more about the school that one is considering.

One small mistake can make or break your graduate school experience. To be sure, take a closer look at all your options! Explore this list using these quick links:

Methodology
World’s Most Prestigious Grad Schools
* Stanford University
* Yale University
* Harvard University
* Johns Hopkins University
* University of Pennsylvania
* University of California-Berkeley
* Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)
* University of Oxford
* University of Cambridge
* ETH Zurich (Swiss Federal Institute of Technology)
* Imperial College London
* National University of Singapore
* Princeton University
* University College London
* Tsinghua University
* Cornell University
* Columbia University
* University of Edinburgh
* Peking University
* University of Hong Kong
* University of Tokyo
* University of Manchester
* Northwestern University
* Australian National University
* McGill University
* Kyoto University
* University of Melbourne
* University of Sydney
* Duke University
* University of British Columbia
* Technical University of Munich
* Universite PSL
* Delft University of Technology
* Brown University
* University of Bristol
* University of Malaya (UM)
* University of Amsterdam
* University of Warwick
* Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München
* Ruprecht-Karls-Universitat Heidelberg
* Universidad de Buenos Aires (UBA)
* Ecole Polytechnique
* University of Zurich
* Lomonosov Moscow State University
* University of Copenhagen
* University of Glasgow
* University of Auckland
* University of Toronto
* Carnegie Mellon University
* University of Sheffield


METHODOLOGY

In developing our list of the 50 Most Prestigious Graduate Schools in the World, we considered the most important university attributes that, when combined, create a culture of academic excellence that is distinctively world-class. These factors were taken into account:

  • A complete and comprehensive range of graduate degree programs that, individually, have earned a reputation for outstanding quality. On this profiled list, we name each of the university’s master’s or doctorate degree programs that produce highly skilled professionals who thrive in and contribute significantly to, their fields of expertise.
  • Evidence of coursework comprehensiveness and academic rigor. This list specifically focuses on the world-leading universities’ graduate programs that are delivered on-campus. A faculty of industry professionals teach the courses to ensure top-quality instruction.
  • Excellent learning experience and learning outcomes based on general student feedback and as demonstrated by the students’ ease of transition to the professional field after graduation.
  • Global recognition and dominance in academic rankings. The world’s leading graduate schools on this list are consistently ranked as top universities, demonstrating the quality of education and that their students receive.

It is our goal that, as you peruse our list of the 50 Most Prestigious Graduate Schools in the World, you can narrow down your choices and make a well-informed decision.


THE WORLD’S MOST PRESTIGIOUS GRADUATE SCHOOLS

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Stanford University

450 Serra Mall
Stanford, California 94305
United States
https://www.stanford.edu/

Founded by California senator Leland Stanford and his wife, Jane, Stanford University has a storied history that goes back to 1885. Future U.S. president Herbert Hoover helped put the university into the sound financial footing.

Stanford houses the most extensive research center, the multidisciplinary Stanford Humanities Center, along with 30 other humanities-related centers on campus. It is also home to the Stanford Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (SAIL), where the world’s first office desktop computer displays appeared in 1971.

Today, Stanford University is made up of seven schools and 18 interdisciplinary institutes with more than 16,000 students, 2,100 faculty and 1,800 postdoctoral scholars. It is an international institution that welcomes students from all 50 U.S. states and 91 other countries.

Graduate Programs Offered:

Acceptance Rate: 5%

Retention Rate: 98%

Graduation Rate: 94%

did you know

Stanford University is an athletics powerhouse, accumulating 128 national titles and 22 consecutive Learfield Sports Directors’ Cups. The university also boasts a total of 32 Nobel Laureates and one U.S.  president. It is one of the world’s pioneering universities for research, sponsoring more than 6,000 externally sponsored projects with a total budget of $1.63.

Discover the top-of-the-line graduate degree programs and courses at Stanford University.

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Yale University

New Haven, Connecticut 06520
United States
https://www.yale.edu/

Yale University was founded in 1701, boasting over 300 years of milestones and traditions. It is the country’s third oldest university and part of the prestigious Ivy League schools.

Yale’s top-ranked schools include the School of Management, School of Medicine, and School of Art. It is home to several important buildings, including the Yale University Library and Peabody Museum of Natural History.

As one of the nation’s highly rated schools in terms of academic and social prestige, the university is extremely selective in its admissions. It offers advanced degrees with both local and international reach, promoting cultural understanding and training the next generation of world leaders.

Graduate Programs Offered:

Acceptance Rate: 6.9%

Retention Rate: 99%

Graduation Rate: 97%

did you know

Yale University produced several U.S. presidents, including William Howard Taft, Gerald Ford, George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, and George W. Bush. It is also home to distinguished Nobel Prize-winning graduates such as Ernest Lawrence, Murray Gell-Mann, Joshua Lederberg, and Robert J. Shiller.

Discover the top-of-the-line graduate degree programs and courses at Yale University.

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Harvard University

Massachusetts Hall
Cambridge, Massachusetts 02138
United States

https://www.harvard.edu/

Harvard University, established in 1636 by a vote of the Great and General Court of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, is known as the oldest institution of higher education in the country. It was named after the Puritan minister, John Harvard, who left his 400-book library and half of his estate to the young school.

The university has 13 degree-granting Schools, including the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, John F. Kennedy School of Government, Business School, Medical School, among many others. From nine students with a single master, it has grown to an enrollment of 20,000 candidates for undergraduate, graduate, and professional degrees. The university has 11 principal academic units and ten faculties overseeing programs and courses and awarding academic degrees. To date, graduate degrees are offered in 58 programs, including terminal master’s degrees.

To say that Harvard is extremely selective when it comes to admission is not far off the mark. Students who got admitted often have a very high GPA and test scores. The university also employs a holistic evaluation procedure that requires one to be exceptional, standing out from the massive pool of accomplished applicants.

Graduate Programs Offered:

Acceptance Rate: 5.2%

Retention Rate: 99%

Graduation Rate: 98%

did you know

Harvard University is known for many things. It owns the most extensive private library system in the world, with 17 million volumes and 55 miles of shelving. It has affiliations with more than 150 Nobel laureates, 32 heads of states, and 48 Pulitzer winners.

Discover the top-of-the-line graduate degree programs and courses at Harvard University.

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Johns Hopkins University

Baltimore, Maryland 21218
United States
https://www.jhu.edu/

Claiming the distinction as America’s first research university, Johns Hopkins University has been at the forefront of revolutionizing higher education in the country since its establishment in 1876.

It is divided into ten schools, with five of them serving undergraduate and graduate students. Its prestigious graduate programs include the top-ranked Bloomberg School of Public Health and the highly ranked School of Education, Whiting School of Engineering, School of Medicine, and the well-regarded Peabody Institute for music and dance.

While it primarily makes its home in the four campuses in and around Baltimore, Johns Hopkins University has additional campuses for its School of Advanced International Studies in Washington, D.C.; Bologna, Italy; and Nanjing, China.

The university enrolls more than 24,000 full- and part-time students across 260 degree-granting programs.

Graduate Programs Offered:

Acceptance Rate: 12.5%

Retention Rate: 97%

Graduation Rate: 94%

did you know

The university is closely interlinked to Johns Hopkins Hospital. This top-ranked medical institution also serves as a biomedical research facility and a teaching hospital of the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. Among Johns Hopkins University’s most notable alumni is former president Woodrow Wilson, Pulitzer Prize-winning historian, and author James McPherson, physicist John A. Wheeler, and founder of Bloomberg L.P., Bloomberg News, and Bloomberg Radio Michael R. Bloomberg.

Discover the top-of-the-line graduate degree programs and courses at Johns Hopkins University.

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University of Pennsylvania

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19104
United States
https://www.upenn.edu/

Since its foundation in 1740, the University of Pennsylvania has advanced the concept of innovation. Its founder Ben Franklin, one of the founding fathers of the United States, was known to have invented everyday items like bifocals, lightning rods, and swim fins. The spirit of innovation is still fostered within the pillars of the university, boasting 165 research centers, and institutes on campus.

The university’s faculty, students, and alumni continue to make breakthroughs in research, scholarship, and education. It has a research budget of nearly $1 billion and more than 4,000 active faculty members. Made up of four undergraduate and two graduate schools, Penn offers an unparalleled education informed by inclusivity, intellectual rigor, research, and the impetus to create new knowledge to the benefit of individuals and communities around the world.

Graduate Programs Offered:

Acceptance Rate: 9%

Retention Rate: 98%

Graduation Rate: 95%

did you know

Penn holds the distinction of being home to 8 MacArthur Award recipients, 4 National Medal of Science recipients, 4 Nobel Prize recipients, and 2 Pulitzer Prize recipients. It never fails to rank as one of the best universities in the US and the world. The university established the world’s first collegiate business school, Wharton, and the world’s first electronic, large-scale, general-purpose digital computer, ENIAC.

Discover the top-of-the-line graduate degree programs and courses at the University of Pennsylvania.

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University of California-Berkeley

Berkeley, California 94701
United States
https://www.berkeley.edu/

A public institution founded in 1868, the University of California-Berkeley was formed when two institutions merged – the private College of California in Oakland and a new state land-grant institution, the Agricultural, Mining, and Mechanical Arts College. It has become the flagship institution of the ten research universities affiliated with the University of California system.

The university has grown from 10 faculty members, 40 students, and three fields of its study during its founding into a prestigious public university with at least 1,600 faculty, and 5,000 students. It consists of more than 350 degree programs in 130 academic departments and 80 interdisciplinary research units.

Berkeley has 14 schools and colleges, including several graduate and professional schools, including the School of Optometry and the Graduate School of Journalism. Among its graduate schools are the highly ranked Haas School of Business, Graduate School of Education, College of Engineering, and School of Law.

Graduate Programs Offered:

Acceptance Rate: 17.1%

Retention Rate: 97%

Graduation Rate: 92%

did you know

The University of California-Berkeley is home to some of the world’s renowned research institutes, including the Mathematical Sciences Research Institute and the Space Sciences Laboratory. Its notable alumni followed their founder’s footsteps by making breakthroughs in industry and leading social change. Among them are Olympic medalists, Nobel Prize winners, and highly acclaimed scientists and researchers, including J. R. Oppenheimer, Hamilton Smith, Jonny Moseley, and many others.

Discover the top-of-the-line graduate degree programs and courses at the University of California-Berkeley.

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Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)

77 Massachusetts Ave.
Cambridge, Massachusetts 02139
United States
https://www.mit.edu/

Established in 1861 to help accelerate the nation’s industrial revolution, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) has been famous for its scientific and technological training and research.

The school has a rich heritage, weathering turbulent periods in history, from the American Civil War to World War II and the Great Depression. It has maintained strong ties with the military and corporate patrons who supported its basic and applied research in various fields, including physical sciences, computing, aerospace, and engineering.

MIT cultivates a culture of learning by doing through its undergraduate and graduate schools, including the School of Engineering, School of Science, and Sloan School of Management. Though it offers a variety of degree programs in a range of subjects, its emphasis has always been on science and technology disciplines.

Graduate Programs Offered:

Acceptance Rate: 7.2%

Retention Rate: 99%

Graduation Rate: 90%

did you know

As a global educational institution, MIT is a magnet for talent from around the world, owing to its exceptional brand of teaching, research, and innovation. Living up to its commitment to academic excellence, MIT boasts 95 Nobel laureates, 59 National Medal of Science winners, 29 National Medal of Technology and Innovation winners, 77 MacArthur Fellows, and 15 A. M. Turing Award winners.

Discover the top-of-the-line graduate degree programs and courses at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

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University of Oxford

Wellington Square
Oxford
United Kingdom
http://www.ox.ac.uk/

Known as the oldest university in the English-speaking world, the University of Oxford has been in existence since 1096. Throughout its storied history, the institution has gone through transformations that solidified its modern form.

The University of Oxford has a distinctive collegiate structure. Students become part of a globally renowned institution that has a 24,000 student population consisting of 11,930 undergraduates and 11,813 postgraduates.

A competitive university, Oxford offers more than 350 different graduate degree programs. It is welcoming to international students who comprise 43% of their total student body, numbering over 10,000.

Based in the United Kingdom, the University of Oxford is a world-leading research institute, as assessed by the 2014 Research Excellence Framework. Its research activity engages the colleges, 70 departments, 1,800 academic staff, 5,500 research staff, and 6,100 graduate research students.

Graduate Programs Offered:

Acceptance Rate: 17.5%

Retention Rate: 98%

Graduation Rate: 99%

did you know

The University of Oxford’s prestige is apparent in its numerous accolades. Its academic community includes more than 80 Fellows of the Royal Society and over 170 Fellows of the British Academy. The university has also won ten Queen’s Anniversary Prizes for Higher Education, more than any other university. It has consistently ranked among the Times Higher Education World University Rankings, topping it in 2017 and 2018.

Discover the top-of-the-line graduate degree programs and courses at the University of Oxford.

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University of Cambridge

Trinity Lane
Cambridge CB2 1TN

United Kingdom
https://www.cam.ac.uk/

As one of the oldest and leading academic centers in the world, the University of Cambridge is a collegiate public research institution. With 18,000 students from all cultures and corners of the globe, it is made up of 31 autonomous Colleges with their internal procedures and over 150 departments, faculties, schools, and other institutions.

Also, there are six schools from an administrative grouping of Faculties and other institutions, including Humanities and Social Sciences, Arts and Humanities, Clinical Medicine, Physical Sciences, and Technology, and Biological Sciences.

It has an outstanding reputation for academic achievement. It has built on its reputation for enterprise, science, and technology, later partnering with United States’ Massachusetts Institute of Technology to create the Cambridge-MIT Institute.

Graduate Programs Offered:

Acceptance Rate: 21%

Retention Rate: 83%

did you know

Having 800 years of history under its belt, the University of Cambridge is no stranger to accolades and achievements. As the university with the highest endowment in Europe at an estimated £3.1 billion, Cambridge has produced a significant portion of Britain’s most prominent mathematicians, scientists, and writers! Its affiliates have been awarded 81 Nobel Prizes, the most of any university in the world.

Discover the top-of-the-line graduate degree programs and courses at the University of Cambridge.

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ETH Zurich (Swiss Federal Institute of Technology)

Trinity Lane
Cambridge CB2 1TN

United Kingdom
https://ethz.ch/en.html

Founded in 1855, ETH Zurich is one of the world’s leading universities in science and technology. It is referred to as the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology.

Home to more than 18,000 students, researchers, and academics, the university is known for its cutting-edge research and innovation. Its distinction lies in its excellent research conditions and state-of-the-art infrastructure. The university considers engineering, sciences, architecture, mathematics, sports, and military sciences as its core disciplines. It has also put its focus on the conservation of the earth’s ecosystem for future generations.

It has stood for world-class academic excellence for research, which benefits industries and societies, and for the education of highly qualified subject specialists. The university has also partnered with some of the most prestigious universities in the world on numerous international cooperation projects, providing students with valuable opportunities to complete their education abroad.

At present, the university serves 21,400 students, including 4,180 doctoral students, from over 120 countries.

Graduate Programs Offered:

Acceptance Rate: 27%

did you know

A regular feature in many international rankings, ETH Zurich is in the first twelve for Science and Engineering in the QS listings. The university can count 21 Nobel Prizes that have been awarded to researchers who have or had a connection with ETH Zurich.

Discover the top-of-the-line graduate degree programs and courses at ETH Zurich (Swiss Federal Institute of Technology).

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Imperial College London

South Kensington
London SW7 2BU
United Kingdom
https://www.imperial.ac.uk/

One of the world’s top universities, Imperial College London is known for its excellence in teaching and research. It was formed in 1907 when the Royal College of Science, the Royal School of Mines, and the City & Guilds College were combined into one institution.

With a focus on four main disciplines, namely science, engineering, medicine, and business, Imperial is known as a multidisciplinary spot for education, research, translation, and commercialization, harnessing science and innovation to tackle global challenges. The college makes it a point to apply these skills to industry and enterprise.

Imperial is home to roughly 17,000 students and 8,000 staff. Every year, the university awards 6,700 degrees from the UK and beyond. To date, it attracts students from more than 125 countries!

Graduate Programs Offered:

Acceptance Rate: 14.3%

did you know

Imperial College London was awarded the prestigious Silver Athena Swan award, recognizing its commitment to promoting women’s careers in the fields of science, technology, engineering, maths and medicine in academia. The university also has a list of distinguished members under its belt, including 14 Nobel laureates, three Fields Medalists, and numerous Royal Society Fellows.

Discover the top-of-the-line graduate degree programs and courses at Imperial College London.  

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National University of Singapore

21 Lower Kent Ridge R.
11907
Singapore
http://www.nus.edu.sg/

Starting as a modest school in 1905 with 23 students, the school that was founded by businessmen and led by Tan Jiak Kim has become Singapore’s flagship university.

Singapore University came to be with the merger of the University of Singapore and Nanyang University. Since then, it has continued to provide transformative education and multidisciplinary research that nurtured effective global leaders and impacted society. Presently, it has three campuses: Kent Ridge, Bukit Timah, and Outram. The university is comprised of 13 undergraduate schools, four graduate schools, and 29 university-level research institutes and centers.

The National University of Singapore’s innovative programs and multi-disciplinary curricula have attracted students all over the globe. Its wide range of graduate programs characterized by intellectual rigor and cutting-edge scholarship makes it one of the most prestigious graduate schools not only in Asia but also in the world.

Graduate Programs Offered:

Acceptance Rate: 7%

did you know

Known for its high impact research activities across multiple disciplines, the National University of Singapore is home to three of Singapore’s five Research Centers of Excellence (RCE). It shares a close affiliation with 16 national-level research institutes and centers. Some of the university’s most notable alumni include the second president of Singapore Benjamin Sheares, second Prime Minister of Malaysia Abdul Razak Hussein, and the seventh Secretary-General of the United Nations Kofi Anan, among many others.

Discover the graduate degree programs and courses at the National University of Singapore.

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Princeton University

Princeton, New Jersey 08544
United States
https://www.princeton.edu/

Established in 1746, Princeton University is the fourth-oldest college in the United States, providing undergraduate and graduate instruction in arts and humanities, the social sciences, natural sciences, and engineering.

As far as graduate programs go, Princeton offers the best through its Woodrow Wilson School of Engineering and Applied Science, and School of Public and International Affairs. It has consistently ranked among the top universities in both the national and international arena. To date, Princeton has 37 academic concentrations, 1,261 faculty, and a stunning 5 to 1 undergraduate student-to-faculty ratio.

While it is known for its top academic programs, its most famous majors are mathematics, physics, and English departments.

Graduate Programs Offered:

Acceptance Rate: 6.4%

Retention Rate: 96.8%

Graduation Rate: 98%

did you know

Princeton is home to some of the most outstanding alumni who received numerous awards in different fields, including the prestigious Nobel Prize, National Humanities Medal, Fields Medal, and Pulitzer Prize. Currently, they have 11 Nobel Laureates in their faculty.

Discover the top-of-the-line graduate degree programs and courses at Princeton University.

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University College London

Gower St., Bloomsbury
London WC1E 6BT
United Kingdom
https://www.ucl.ac.uk/

Founded in the heart of London, the University College of London has been a leading multidisciplinary university, with more than 13,000 staff and 42,000 students from 150 different countries.

Since its establishment in 1826, it has shown exceptional commitment to a progressive approach to teaching and research. The university has championed independent thought by attracting and nurturing the world’s best minds. Currently, it serves 42,100 students across 440 undergraduate programs and 675 postgraduate programs.

UCL was the highest-rated university in the UK and earned the Research Excellence Framework award in 2014. The university aims to equip students with the necessary skills and knowledge to think differently, integrating research and education.

Graduate Programs Offered:

Acceptance Rate: 63%

Retention Rate: 94.8%

did you know

Being among the world’s top-ranked schools, UCL has numerous distinctions under its name. It is the first university in England to welcome women to university education. It is also the first educational institution to teach English, German, Chemistry, and Engineering. Committed to academic excellence, UCL has a total of 29 Nobel laureates among its notable alumni.

Discover the top-of-the-line graduate degree programs and courses at University College London.

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Tsinghua University

30 Shuangqing Rd
Haidian District, Beijing
China
https://www.tsinghua.edu.cn/en/index.htm

As one of the most esteemed universities in China, Tsinghua University is situated in northwest Beijing, surrounded by several historical sites. When it was established in 1911, the original name was “Tsinghua Xuetang.” It was later renamed to “Tsinghua School” in 1912.

During the nationwide restructuring of universities in 1952, Tsinghua University was molded into a polytechnic institute focusing on engineering. It has become the national center for training engineers and scientists, both for professional proficiency and personal integrity. The university has developed into a comprehensive research university. Today, it has 20 schools, 59 departments with faculties in science, engineering, humanities, law, medicine, history, philosophy, economics, management, education, and art.

Tsinghua University aims to promote the internationalization of its Graduate education. As of 2019, more than 2,000 international students from 118 different countries are pursuing master’s or doctoral degrees at Tsinghua. The university is hoping to expand its graduate degree offering to 100 master’s degree programs and 90 doctoral degree programs for international students.

Graduate Programs Offered:

Acceptance Rate: 2%

did you know

In China, Tsinghua University’s strong scientific research ability saw it obtain more than 2,000 domestic patents and about 400 foreign patent authorizations. It is known as the number one university of science and technology in the country. Among its many notable alumni include Hu Jintao and Xi Jinping.

Discover the top-of-the-line graduate degree programs and courses at Tsinghua University.

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Cornell University