Which Universities can Claim the Most Famous Scientists?

Which Universities can Claim the Most Famous Scientists?


Universities are melting pots for peoples and ideas and provide fertile ground for world-changing research and scientific breakthroughs. Certain universities have become renowned for their contributions to political discourse. Others specialize in law or business or the arts. But which universities did most famous scientists study at? As you might expect, most are located in US and Europe. However, we have tried to be more inclusive of worldwide institutions.

A comprehensive list is out of the scope of this article so let’s take a quick tour of these esteemed institutions.

University of Tokyo, Japan

Ranked as Asia’s top college, Tokyo University, or “Todai” is also the world’s 21st best-rated school.

Founded in 1877, it has produced 15 Japanese Prime Ministers, 7 Nobel-Prize winning Alumni as well as some influential architects. The school’s highest-rated subjects are civil and structural engineering, chemical engineering, mechanical engineering, physics, politics, and chemistry.

Scientific Alumni include Nobel prize winners Leo Esaki, Masatoshi Koshiba and Yoichiro Nambu and the discoverer of MSG, Kikunae Ikeda.

Dartmouth College, New Hampshire, USA

Founded in 1769, it ranked 10th of the top US Universities in 2013 in World Report Magazine. Alumni include Nobel-prize winning Owen Chamberlain, Karl Sharpless and George Daves Snell. Dartmouth prides itself on its cutting-edge research, and through the school’s “D-Plan,” students can customize their annual academic schedules.

Dartmouth College [Image Source: Pixabay]

University of Toronto, Canada

Also known as U of T, The University of Toronto was founded in 1827. U of T is the birthplace of the first electron microscope and institute where insulin was discovered. U of T has notable alumni including many Nobel prize winners. Graduates include J. J. R Macleod, Frederick Banting, Lester B. Pearson, former Canadian prime minister Stephen Harper, and former president of Doctors Without Borders and Nobel Peace Prize-winning activist James Orbinksi.

Duke University, North Carolina, USA

Founded in 1838, Forbes listed the university as a “power factory” college. Its undergraduate programs ranked 7th in the US in 2014. Alumni include Nobel Prize-winning physicists Robert Coleman Richardson and Charles Townes and Facebook designer Soleio Cuervo, to name a few.

Imperial College London, UK

Founded in 1907, Imperial is acknowledged as one of the world’s top ranking institutions for higher education. UCL is well known for its Biomedical research and emphasis on engineering, science and business. Notable alumni include Nobel Prize-winning pharmacologist and discoverer of penicillin Alexander Fleming, Nobel Prize-winning chemists Derek Barton and Geoffrey Wilkinson and Queen guitarist and astrophysicist Brian May.

University of Edinburgh, U.K.

Founded in 1583, Edinburgh University came to be known as the “Athens of the North” during the enlightenment.

In the mid-nineties, Edinburgh staff created Dolly the cloned sheep. Edinburgh has a long history of making waves in science, technology and societal research. Alumni include James Hutton (father of modern geology), Robert Sterling (of engine fame) and of course Charles Darwin. It’s probably safe to say your education is in good hands here.

University of Paris, France

Also known as Sorbonne, the University of Paris was founded in the mid 12th Century. The University of Paris has produced a wealth of influential modern thinkers. Notable famous scientists include Marie Curie, Claude Levi-Strauss as well as former presidents of France, Canada, Kosovo and Tunisia.

King’s College London, U.K.

Founded in 1829, King’s College London generally places emphasis on research and played a vital part in the discovery of DNA’s structure and technological advances in Radio, Television and cell phones. Nobel Prize winning alumni include physicist Peter Higgs and biophysicist Michael Levitt.

Kings College [Image Source: Pixabay]

University College London, U.K.

Founded in 1826 and more commonly known as UCL, University College London has some big hitting alumni scientists. Ranked fourth in the world in 2013 by The World University Rankings, UCL has created some great scientists. Graduate famous scientists include Alexander Graham Bell, Francis Crick and more. UCL’s location amidst museums, libraries and other professional associations provides fertile ground for research and development.

ETH Zürich, Switzerland

Founded in 1855, ETH Zurich has some highly esteemed alumni including none other than Albert Einstein. More recently, the school has made academic headlines with Swiss biophysicist and chemist Kurt Wüthrich’s 2002 joint Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 2002.

Princeton University, USA

Founded in 1746, Princeton is the fourth-oldest US university. High-profile famous scientists include Nobel Prize-winning physicist Richard Feynman, John Barden, Amazon CEO and founder Jeff Bezos, Forbes CEO and president Steve Forbes, Google executive chairman Eric Schmidt, U.S. First Lady Michelle Obama, and acclaimed filmmaker Ethan Coen.

Princeton University [Image Source: Pixabay]

University of Cambridge, U.K.

Founded in 1209, Cambridge is the third oldest university in the world and needs little introduction. Cambridge has produced an incredible 90 Nobel Prize Winners, impressive. Notable alumni include famous scientists like Stephen Hawking (postgraduate), Jane Goodall, Francis Bacon, Henry Cavendish, Charles Darwin (yep he was also at Edinburgh) and of course, Sir Isaac Newton.

University of Oxford, U.K.

Oxford comprises around 38 constituent colleges and has historically excelled in various fields. Evidence suggests that teaching began at Oxford around 1096. Like it “bitter” rival Cambridge, Oxford needs little introduction. Former notable famous scientists include acclaimed physicist Stephen Hawking (undergraduate), inventor of the internet Tim Berners-Lee and astronomer Edwin Hubble.

Massachusetts Institute of Technology, USA

Opening in 1865, MIT has long been synonymous for advancements in engineering and physical sciences.

MIT is a fertile institution for research and was ranked number one by the QS World University Rankings. Esteemed famous scientists graduates include Nobel Prize winners Carl Wieman for physics, Sidney Altman for chemistry. Alumni also include no less than twenty-seven others. Former students also include Steve Russel who is famed for creating the fist computer game.

MIT [Image Source: Pixabay]

Harvard University, USA

Ranked the world’s number one college since 2003 by the Academic Ranking of World Universities, Harvard has a rich history. Founded in 1636, Harvard fostered many great minds from Presidents to famous scientists alike. It even has its fair share of famous dropouts, including Microsoft’s Bill Gates and Facebook CEO and founder Mark Zuckerberg. Notable famous science graduates include Neil deGrasse Tyson, Ulysses S. Grant IV, Michio Kaku and more.