Happy Diwali! In honour of this special day in India, we’ve compiled a list of the ten best universities in this fascinating country. Check it out!
India has a population of about 1.4 billion inhabitants, and according to some estimates, it has bypassed China as the most populous country in the world. Knowing this, it’s no wonder that also some of the best universities in the world are located in India. If you’d like to study in this huge and fascinating country, either for your whole degree or for a year abroad, check out this post for some ideas on what university might be the most suitable place for you.
The rankings in this article are based on the prestigious QS rankings and their World University Rankings 2024.
1. Indian Institute of Technology Bombay (IIT Bombay)
Global university rank: 149th
IIT Bombay was founded in 1958. Today it has about 13,000 students and is the most popular choice for Indian students who want to study the STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics). The university has especially strong programmes in many engineering subjects, such as mineral & mining, electrical, and civil engineering. IITC has a very beautiful green campus, thanks to the proximity of the Sanjay Gandhi National Park: there have been over 200 different species of birds recorded on the campus.
2. Indian Institute of Technology Delhi (IIT Delhi)
Location: New Delhi
Global university rank: 197th
Another university that’s part of the Indian Institute of Technology umbrella, IIT Delhi is similar in style to IIT Bombay: it’s strong on STEM subjects and its best-ranked programmes are in the engineering sciences. The university’s main campus is located in Hauz Khas in southern Delhi. Notable alumni include Vinod Khosla, the co-founder of Sun Microsystems and Chetan Bhagat, the author who was listed as one of the 100 most influential people by Time magazine in 2010.
3. Indian Institute of Science
Global university rank: 225th
The Indian Institute of Science was established in 1909 and granted university status in 1958. Its founding was supported by the industrialist Jamsetji Tata, and because of this, it’s still sometimes referred to as the Tata Institute. As the name suggests, IISc is another Indian university that is very strong in the STEM subjects, with especially strong programmes in materials sciences, chemistry, and mechanical engineering. It’s also very strong in academic research, and has one of the highest citation-faculty ratios of any university in the world.
4. Indian Institute of Technology Kharagpur (IIT Kharagpur)
Global university rank: 271st
IIT Kharagpur was founded in 1951 with the goal of educating engineers after India became independent in 1947. It was the first of the Indian Institutes of Technology to be founded and is located in the semi-planned town of Kharagpur in West Bengal. It was originally an engineering school, but today the university offers a more diverse range of programmes, even though it’s strongest programmes are still in the engineering sciences. It also has a strong computer science programme.
5. Indian Institute of Technology Kanpur (IIT Kanpur)
Global university rank: 278th
IIT Kanpur is one of the oldest Indian Institutes of Technology, having been established in 1959 with the help of a group of American research universities. IIT Kanpur was the first university in India to offer teaching in computer science, already back in 1963. Still today the computer science programme is one of its most highly-rated programmes, along with electrical engineering and statistics. Notable alumni of IIT Kanpur include Arvind Krishna, the current CEO of IBM, and Bhaskar Pramanik, the former CEO of Microsoft India.
6. Indian Institute of Technology Madras (IIT Madras)
Global university rank: 285th
IIT Madras was founded in 1959 with help and funding from the West German government, after the signing of an Indo-German agreement in Bonn, West Germany. It’s the third-oldest of the Indian Institutes of Technology, and like the other IITs on this list, it has just over 10,000 students. It’s strongest programme is in petroleum engineering, where IIT Madras is ranked as the 21st best university in the world. Notable alumni of the university include Prabhakar Raghavan, a senior vice president of Google, and Ramanathan V. Guha, the inventor of the RSS feed.
7. Indian Institute of Technology Guwahati (IIT Guwahati)
Global university rank: 364th
Located in the northeastern corner of India in the state of Assam, IIT Guwahati is one of the seven Indian Institutes of Technology to make this list. It’s a bit smaller than most IITs, with only about 8,000 students. Like most Indian universities, it has very few international students, only a few dozen. It’s strongest programmes are in the fields of petroleum, civil, and chemical engineering, with the petroleum engineering programme ranked among the best 100 in the world.
8. Indian Institute of Technology Roorkee (IIT Roorkee)
Global university rank: 369th
IIT Roorkee has a long history dating back to 1847, when it was established as the College of Civil Engineering at Roorkee. The goal back then was to train engineers for the construction of the Ganges Canal. It became the University of Roorkee a hundred years later in 1947, and joined the Indian Institutes of Technology umbrella in 2001, thus becoming the Indian Institute of Technology Roorkee. In addition to many good engineering programmes, IIT Roorkee also has a high-rated programme in architecture. The architect Nilmani Mitra is one notable IIT Roorkee alumni, as is the former Google vice president Amit Singhal.
9. University of Delhi
Location: New Delhi
Global university rank: 407th
The first university on this list that isn’t mainly focused on the STEM subjects, and the second that is not part of the Indian Institutes of Technology umbrella, the University of Delhi was established in 1922. Today it’s one of the largest university systems in the world, with hundreds of thousands of students across all of its departments and programmes. Some of the most prestigious and highly-rated programmes include development studies, sociology and modern languages. Two Delhi University alumni have won the Nobel Prize: Aung San Suu Kyi (peace prize in 1991) and Amartya Sen (economics prize in 1998).
10. Anna University
Global university rank: 427th
Anna University is the third university on this list that is not part of the Indian Institutes of Technology, and the second one that is located in Chennai. Even though it’s not a part of the IIT umbrella, Anna University does specialise in the STEM subjects. Its highest ranked programmes are in petroleum, mechanical, and chemical engineering. The petroleum engineering programme is ranked among the best 100 in the world. Anna University’s famous alumni include Ayyalasomayajula Lalitha, India’s first female engineer, and Sivaramakrishnan Somasegar, a former senior vice president of Microsoft.
So there we are, the 10 best universities in India. As we can see from this list, STEM subjects and especially the Indian Institutes of Technology dominate, with seven IIT universities and nine universities that heavily focus on STEM subjects making the list. Geographically the best Indian universities are quite well spread out, with only New Delhi and Chennai getting two universities to this list. Every university that made the list is judged by QS to be among the best 500 in the world, so you can get a high-quality education in any one of them. So all that’s left to do is choose the right university and the right degree programme for you and apply. Good luck!