Picking the right university entails a myriad of different things from reputation to its location and job prospects. However, while prestige plays an important role, one factor that we often overlook when choosing a university is its wealth.
The wealth of a university determines the quality of its facilities and research capabilities and guarantees top-notch academia. Moreover, universities with large endowments have access to a world-class faculty and provide financial aid to their students. We take a look at the top 20 richest universities in the world that are considered to be some of the best and most exclusive educational institutions a student can attend.
Harvard University: $36 Billion
Harvard University is without a doubt one of the finest educational institutions in the nation if not the world. This esteemed college has an estimated endowment of $36 billion and $1.8 billion of this amount was used to fund its operating expenses this past year.
Harvard University, founded by John Harvard was established in 1638. An institution that saw 9 graduates in its first year, now boasts 12 schools and over 35,000 students. It also houses one of the biggest libraries and museums in the world with 28 million artifacts. Given its large endowment and world-class faculty, Harvard University continues to remain one of the top universities in the world.
Yale University: $29.4 Billion
Set in the picturesque backdrop of New Haven, Connecticut, Yale University, is the second richest university in the world. This university has a collective endowment of $29.4 billion and a research budget of over $881 million. Yale University is one of the oldest educational institutions in the United States.
Originally named the Collegiate School, it was renamed Yale University after a generous donation by Elihu Yale, who was considered to be one of the richest men in the world during his time. Today, this university has a well-known art program and is known for its medical, law, and management schools.
University of Texas: $26.5 Billion
While the first two positions on this list were claimed by private institutions, the third title goes to the University of Texas at Austin. This public school system constitutes eight colleges and six healthcare facilities. The total endowment for this university system stands at $26.5 billion.
The University of Texas has a student body of over 236,000 and grants one-third of all the undergraduate degrees and two-thirds of graduate degrees in the state of Texas. In addition to this, they are also a leader in cancer research with three research institutions on its campus and two new medical schools that were opened in 2016.
Stanford University: $26.5 Billion
Although this university is not a member of the Ivy-League, the school’s esteemed reputation stretches far and wide. A stunning university campus that sits in the heart of Silicon Valley, Stanford University is one among the top richest universities in the world. It has an endowment of $26.5 billion.
The university was founded by the former governor of California, Leland Stanford on an agricultural farm. Today, this university is considered prime real estate in Silicon Valley. Stanford is known for its well-reputed engineering, law and medical schools and a leader in artificial intelligence research. The total enrollment at this world-class institution is 17,178 students.
Princeton University: $23.8 Billion
Princeton University is a prestigious school located in New Jersey and a member of the Ivy League. Being one of the oldest universities in the nation, this university has a large endowment that currently sits at $23.8 billion and an annual research budget of $305 million.
Princeton University is not only one of the richest schools in the world but its campus also holds a lot of historical value. The esteemed Nassau Hall was once the meeting place for the Continental Congress and has a highly acclaimed art museum that hosts over 10,000 artworks by artists such as Jackson Pollock and Andy Warhol. Princeton’s research labs also included Albert Einstein as a staff member.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology: $14.8 Billion
The Massachusetts Institute of Technology, commonly known as MIT, was started with the aim to accelerate the industrial revolution. It’s total endowment to-date amounts to $14.8 billion. The university is the beneficiary of anonymous donations, the first being from George Eastman and more recently a $140 million donation in 2014.
The name MIT is synonymous with science and technology and has world-renowned programs in these fields. This prestigious school has a current student population of 11,574 students and touts 90 Noble Laureates and 59 National Medal of Science recipients as members of its alumni. In addition to being one of the richest universities, it also ranks as the third best university in the world.
University of Notre Dame: $13.1 Billion
A charming campus located in South Bend, Indiana, University of Notre Dame is a private Catholic institution that was founded in 1842. This university has a current endowment of $13.1 billion and prides itself as being one of the top schools in the nation for business and architecture.
The university values public service and uses it as a focal point for all its teachings and nearly half its students spend a semester studying abroad. In addition to being one of the richest universities in the world, the school also ranks number 18 in the nation in terms of academics. The current student enrollment is at 12,467 students.
University of Pennsylvania: $12.2 Billion
The first President of the University of Pennsylvania was Benjamin Franklin, one of the Founding Fathers of the United States of America. The university was created to provide a world-class education for both the upper and middle-class children in the fields of business and public service.
Today, the University of Pennsylvania has a total endowment of $12.2 billion and an annual research budget of $928 million. The university has achieved far beyond what it set out to and remains the top business school in the nation, if not the world. The university has a total student-body population of 25,860.
Texas A&M University: $11.55 Billion
Texas A&M University is a public school system that has 11 universities located in different parts of Texas and seven research institutions. The school has received funding since 1862, bringing its endowment to a grand total of $11.55 billion today. Its annual research budget currently sits at $996 million.
Texas A&M is one of the premier research universities in the nation and has been a part of numerous projects that were funded by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the Department of Defense. In addition to its world-class research facilities, the university also ranks number 16 nationwide.
University of Michigan: $10.9 Billion
What started out a single building in Detroit, the University of Michigan is now a world-class university that is one among the best colleges in the nation. The school became a university in 1835, which was around the same time Michigan joined the nation as a state.
The University of Michigan is home to the first chemistry lab and college of dentistry in the country with three campuses across the state. The university’s current endowment sits at $10.9 billion with the Ford Motor Company being one of its first donors. Funding has helped accelerate the universities research facilities earning its title as the top public research university in America.
Columbia University: $10.87 Billion
Located in the heart of New York City, Columbia University is a member of the prestigious Ivy League institutions. The university was once called Kings College and was renamed Columbia University in 1784. It is the fifth oldest college in the country and one of the richest in the world with an endowment of $10.87 billion.
The university boasts some of the top business, journalism and medical schools in the nation and has a world-class faculty that includes 84 Noble Prize winners. In addition to its generous endowment, the university also earns approximately $200 million from patents that it owns. It currently ranks number three among the top universities in the United States.
Northwestern University: $9.8 Billion
This gorgeous campus of Northwestern University is located on the shores of Lake Michigan near Illinois. The university has a total of three campuses, two in Illinois and one in Doha, Qatar that was established after a generous donation by the founder’s widow. Today, the university’s endowment is at nearly $9.8 billion.
With over 21,000 students across all its campuses, Northwestern University prides itself as being one of the best schools in the nation for business and law. The school also has a generous financial aid program with over $741 million of its funds directed towards scholarships for students.
University of California: $9.78 Billion
The University of California is one of the largest public school systems in California with ten campuses across the state. The first campus was set up in Berkley, California and had a graduating class of 38 students. Since then the campus has grown to accommodate 238,700 students.
The school has a total endowment of $9.78 billion with an annual research budget of $4.4 billion, one of the highest for a public research university. Five out of the ten University of California campuses rank among the top 50 schools in the country and many of the university’s alumni noted for their work in computer science and biotechnology.
University Of Virginia: $9.5 Billion
With an endowment of $9.5 billion, the University of Virginia supports an enrollment of 16,655 students at its Charlottesville campus. Founded in 1819 by Thomas Jefferson, the school has a storied history that includes various secret societies and historic foundations.
The university’s top majors include economics, biology, business and commerce, international relations and affairs, and psychology. The student also boasts a 97% student satisfaction rate. US News & World Reports ranks this university as #3 out of all public universities in the United States.
Duke University: $8.5 Billion
Duke University located in North Carolina was first established in 1838 by the Quaker communities. It earned its name after a generous donation by the Duke family who amassed their massive fortune in the tobacco and electrical industries. The donation was made with the agreement that women and men would be admitted to the institution.
The university’s total endowment is at $8.5 billion and an annual research budget of $1.06 billion. Some of Duke University’s top programs include business, medicine, and law among others. With over 16,294 students, the university ranks number eight in the nation.
University Of Chicago: $7.9 Billion
The University of Chicago has an endowment of $7.9 billion. The university, with its primary location in Chicago, Illinois, has a total enrollment of 6,310 students. Founded in 1890, the school’s main 217-acre campus in located in Chicago’s Hyde Park neighborhood.
The school features a culturally-rich environment with plenty of top-notch programs to choose from in the areas of Econometrics and Quantitative Economics;, Biology/Biological Sciences, Mathematics, Political Science and Government, and more.
Washington University: $7.86 Billion
Washington University was established with the goal of educating immigrants in basic industrial jobs in the mid-1800s. It soon grew to become a full-fledged university with course offerings that included science and liberal arts.
Today, the university is spread across two campuses and has an enrollment of 15,303 students. Its total endowments sit at $7.86 billion and are used to fund the university’s top-tier research program. Washington University is noted for its medical and agricultural courses and is one of the best schools in the nation for entrepreneurs. In addition to its renowned academia, the school has a world-class art collection with pieces by Jackson Pollock and Picasso.
Emory University: $6.9 Billion
Emory University’s history dates back to the Civil War when the school suffered from numerous damages to its infrastructure. A generous contribution of $130,000 was made by George I. Seney for its restoration costs. Since then, Emory University has excelled academically in the fields of engineering and business.
The university is largely influenced by Coca-Cola who relocated the university to Atlanta in 1915 and also donated money to Emory’s nursing school that was named after the founder’s wife. In recent years, the university’s endowment has grown rapidly and its endowment is just over $6.9 billion with an annual research budget of $6 million.
Cornell University: $6.75 Billion
The prestigious Cornell University, founded in 1865, has a stunning campus located in Upstate New York. The university was built with a generous donation of $500,000 by the former senator, Ezra Cornell. Today, Cornell University is one of the most well-regarded universities in the world and is known for its architecture and hotel administration programs among others.
The university’s current endowment stands at $6.75 billion and most of its wealth is generated from its land and building assets. Sizable donations have been made by individuals like Samuel Curtis Johnson and Charles H. Dyson. Cornell University currently ranks #12 worldwide.
Rice University: $6.3 Billion
Located in Houston, Texas, Rice University, founded in 1912, is a private research university with an endowment of $6.3 billion. The university’s endowment increased by 8% from 2017 to 2018 and its enrollment currently stands at 4,001.
Located on 300-acres, the University is known for its majors that focus on research and development, specifically Computer and Information Sciences, Chemical Engineering, Biochemistry, Kinesiology and Exercise Science, and Mechanical Engineering.
University Of Southern California: $5.5 Billion
Founded in 1880 the University of Southern California (USC) now provides top-notch education to 19,170 students across various campuses, including the university’s main campus located in Los Angeles, California. The university’s endowment stands at $5.5 billion, an 8.1% year-over-year increase.
With programs that include business, law, engineering, social work, occupational therapy, pharmacy, and medicine, USC lays claim to 11 Rhodes Scholars and nine Nobel laureates. Six MacArthur fellows and one Turing Award winner are also associated with the university.
Dartmouth: $5.5 Billion
Located in Hanover, New Hampshire, Dartmouth is a private university with an enrollment of 4,410 and an impressive endowment that has reached $5.5 billion. The university was founded in 1797 and is home to the Geisel School of Medicine, one of the top-ranked medical schools in the country.
The university has an excellent track record for graduating successful students including 24 U.S. governors, 10 billionaires, three Nobel prize laureates, 79 Rhodes Scholars, two U.S. Supreme Court Justices, and a U.S. Vice President.
The Ohio State University: $5.2 Billion
Founded in 1870, The Ohio State University currently features an undergraduate enrollment rate of 45,946 students who are supported by a massive endowment of $5.2 billion. The university is located in Columbus, Ohio. The universities endowment increased by an impressive 22.5% from 2017 through 2018. Started as the Ohio Agricultural and Mechanical College, the university is now best known for its innovation and business programs.
US News & World Reports ranks Ohio State at #18 for most innovative school and #17 in top public schools for business programs. The university also ranks #3 for best public online degree programs.
Vanderbilt University: $4.6 Billion
Vanderbilt University was founded in 1873. The private research university is located in Nashville, Tennessee and is named after New York shipping magnate Cornelius Vanderbilt. The school’s $4.6 billion endowment has come a long way since Vanderbilt’s $1 million initial donation helped found the private institution.
Vanderbilt currently features an enrollment of 6,885, many of whom attend the university’s programs in education, psychology, and music. The university also features top-ranked programs in biology, engineering, business, and more.
Johns Hopkins University – $4.3 Billion
With its main campus in Baltimore, Maryland, the prestigious Johns Hopkins University had an undergraduate enrollment of 6,109 in 2017. The private research university had an endowment of $4.3 billion in 2018, which represented a 12.5% increase from the previous year.
The school was named for its first benefactor, the American abolitionist, entrepreneur, and philanthropist Johns Hopkins, whose $7 million gift was the largest philanthropic gift in U.S. history at that time. In today’s dollars, that $7 million would be roughly $144.5 million!
Pennsylvania State University – $4.3 Billion
Also referred to as Penn State or PSU, Pennsylvania State University was founded in 1855 as the Farmers’ High School of Pennsylvania. It currently boasts an undergraduate enrollment of 40,552
Penn State is the home of the world’s largest student-run philanthropy, the annual Penn State IFC/Panhellenic Dance Marathon, which raised $13.3 million in 2014! The university itself received a 2018 endowment of $4.3 billion, representing a 6.9% increase over the previous year.
New York University – $4.3 Billion
New York University saw a 6.9% increase in its endowment in 2018, which totaled $4.3 billion. With its main campus located in the heart of New York City, New York, the school’s 2017 undergraduate enrollment was 26,417 students.
The private research university has academic centers throughout the world, in cities such as Madrid, Tel Aviv, Buenos Aires, Accra, Berlin, London, Prague, Florence, Los Angeles, Paris, Prague, Sydney, and Washington, D.C.
University Of Pittsburgh – $4.2 Billion
In 1787, The University of Pittsburgh was founded on the edge of the American frontier. It was initially called the Pittsburgh Academy. The institution has endured two devastating fires and multiple relocations over the years, with its primary campus located in urban Pittsburgh today.
“Pitt,” as it’s affectionately known, received a $4.2 billion endowment in 2018, up 6.5% from the year prior. The school had an undergraduate enrollment of nearly 20,000 students as of 2017.
Oxford University: $4 Billion
Oxford University is one of the oldest educational institutions in the world but its exact founding date is virtually unknown. A majority of the students at the university are part of the graduate program that includes fields such as arts, humanities, and physical sciences. Oxford University is made up of a central university and 38 colleges.
The university has a notable alumni network that includes 26 Noble Prize Winners, 120 Olympic medalists and 30 world leaders including Bill Clinton and Indira Gandhi. The university prides itself on its world-class research facilities especially in the sciences. Oxford University’s endowment is nearly $4 billion.
Cambridge University: $3.9 Billion
Cambridge University is one of the top educational institutions in the world and has six academic programs including humanities, sciences, and technology. The university was founded in the year 1209, making it one of the oldest in the world. In addition to the world-class academics, the university also houses 100 libraries and nine museums.
Cambridge University ranks as one of the top schools in the world and has produced 98 Noble Laureates and numerous politicians, mathematicians, writers, and actors. It is also known for its research programs and international outlook reports. Given the university’s long history, its current endowment stands at $3.9 billion.
The University Of Minnesota – $3.7 Billion
This public research university consists of two campuses, located about three miles apart from each other. One of them is in Minneapolis and the other is in Saint Paul. The total undergraduate enrollment in 2018-2019 was 50,943, making it the sixth-largest main campus student body in the country.
The University of Minnesota and its various foundations were on the receiving end of $3.7 billion in endowments in 2018, a 6.4% increase from the previous year. Notable University of Minnesota alumni include two U.S. vice presidents and musician Bob Dylan.
Brown University – $3.6 Billion
Located in Providence, Rhode Island, the prestigious Brown University is one of the oldest institues of learning, and is one of only nine colonial colleges that were chartered before the American Revolution.
Notable alumni and associated individuals include eight billionaires, a U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice, 56 Rhodes Scholars, various royals and nobles, and quite a few celebrities. Brown University had approximately 7,000 undergraduate students in 2017, and received $3.6 billion in endowments in 2018.
Michigan State University - $3.2 Billion
Founded in 1855, Michigan State University was the nation’s first land-grant institution. MSU offers more than 200 academic programs through 17 degree-granting colleges. It also has some of the top-rated graduate programs in the country, including its schools of elementary teacher’s education, secondary teacher’s education, industrial and organizational psychology, rehabilitation counseling, African history, and more. U.S. News & World Report has named many of these programs as among the top 10 percent in the U.S.
In 2018, Michigan State University had 38,996 undergraduate students and endowments totaling $3.2 billion.
University Of Illinois – $3.4 Billion
The University of Illinois comprises three campuses: one in Springfield, one in Chicago, and its flagship campus in Urbana-Champaign. The university system is best known for its business, engineering, and agricultural programs, and is currently ranked at #34 in the world.
Thirty 30 Nobel laureates, two Turing Award winners, and one Fields medalist have been involved with the school. According to Wikipedia, the university’s current endowment is $3.46 billion.
The University Of North Carolina At Chapel Hill – $3.4 Billion
The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill is the flagship of the 17 campuses of the University of North Carolina system. Opening its doors in 1795, it’s one of three schools that claim to be the oldest public university in the United States.
UNC-Chapel Hill had a 2017 undergraduate enrollment of 18,862 students. In 2018 it received $3.4 billion in endowments. Among its esteemed alumni and associated dignitaries are a U.S. president and vice president, several state governors, nine World Cup winners, and three astronauts!
California Institute Of Technology - $2.9 Billion
Located in Pasadena, the California Institute of Technology was founded as Throop University, a vocational school, in 1891. With some of the best engineering and science programs in the world, Cal Tech is ranked as the 38th-best university today. As of 2015, the school was listed as number one in the U.S. for the percentage of its graduates who go on to receive a Ph.D.
Notable alumni and professors include 73 Nobel Laureates, four Fields Medalists, six Turing Award winners, and four Chief Scientists of the U.S. Air Force. As of 20118, the institute’s endowment was $2.93 billion.
The University Of Wisconsin - $2.7 Billion
The University of Wisconsin has been ranked as the 14th-best in the world, thanks to its excellent schools of law, public affairs, medicine, and engineering. The “public Ivy” had a 2.76 million endowment in 2017, representing a large increase over previous years.
One alumni, former U.S. Senator Herb Kohl donated $25 million in the 1990s, which established the university’s Kohl Center. In 2007, a group of 13 graduates gave the school a gift totaling a whopping $25 million.
Purdue University – $2.5 Billion
U.S. News & World Report has ranked Purdue University as the 56th-best in the world. The public research institute was founded in 1869 and now offers over 200 majors for undergraduates. Its alumni include 25 American astronauts and 13 Nobel Prize-winners.
Purdue University received its largest single donation ever in 2015, when the Lilly Endowment Inc. gave the school $40 million. Its current endowment is $2.424 billion.
University Of Washington – $2.5 Billion
Best known for its excellent medical school, the University of Washington was founded in 1861 as the Territorial University of Washington. Ranked the 27th best school in the world, the University of Washington consists of campuses across the entire state.
Paul Allen, the co-founder of Microsoft, is a frequent donor to the school and donated $10 million to partly fund the Allen Library in 1989. The 2017 endowment was $2.5 billion.
St. Mary’s University – South Bend: $133 Million
St. Mary’s University is a private liberal arts college located in Indiana. The university was founded in 1844 and has a campus that stretches over 100 acres of land. The university offers more than 30 educational programs in fields such as data science, nursing, and speech-language pathology.
The goal of the university is to empower women to make a change in society with the skills and values they gain over the course of four years at St. Mary’s. The university also offers numerous study abroad programs in Asia, Africa, and Europe to explore multicultural programs. St. Mary’s University has an endowment of $133 million.