Harvard University is the standard by which all other research universities are measured. No school has ever challenged its position as the world’s premier academic institution in the history of the Shanghai rankings.
Founded in 1636 (only 16 years after the Mayflower touched down at Plymouth Rock), Harvard is the oldest school in the world’s richest nation, and it has capitalized on the benefits this grants. Under manager Jack Meyer’s leadership, the school’s endowment fund grew from $4.6 billion to $25.8 billion in 15 years. Today, the university possesses over $36 billion, and its fortune is still growing.
But there is much more to Harvard than massive wealth. The school has produced 47 Nobel Laureates, 32 heads of state, and 48 Pulitzer Prize winners. It boasts the largest academic library in the world (Widener Library, home to some 6 million volumes), as well as leading medical, law, and business schools. It has an integrated alumni network that stretches around the globe.
It would be invidious to single out any of Harvard’s many academic departments for its excellence, for the school’s principal claim on the #1 position lies in the fact that it is at or very near the top in nearly every field across the entire spectrum of the sciences and the humanities!
Not only is Harvard dominant across a multitude of academic fields, it is also ideally situated to work alongside a variety of other schools. The most obvious example is MIT, but the greater Boston metropolitan area is also home to Boston College, Boston University, Northeastern, Tufts, Brandeis, and several other research universities. This fact equips both students and faculty with endless opportunities for collaborative research.