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50 Richest Universities in the World: University Endowment Rankings

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When it comes to assessing a university’s influence, power and prestige, a key consideration has to be university endowment rankings. The richer the institution, the more it can afford excellent facilities and up-to-date technology – and more money allows the university to undertake further important research. Universities can also use their fiscal power – which is often boosted by individual donations of money – to set up scholarships or attract some of the best educators out there to teach at their schools. Here we look at the 50 richest universities in the world, ranked according to financial endowment – which is the financial trust available to each college through cash or other assets such as property.

Top 50 University Endowment Rankings

50. The Rockefeller University – New York City, New York

The Rockefeller University, on Manhattan’s Upper East Side, was set up in 1901, when it was known as The Rockefeller Institute for Medical Research. The institute was founded by iconic American industrialist John D. Rockefeller, Sr. – who also helped establish the University of Chicago – and was given its current name in 1965. In 2005 Rockefeller’s grandson David donated a new record sum of $100 million to the university. Operating under the motto, “science for the benefit of humanity,” The Rockefeller University is known for its biological and medical research and is associated with a large number of Nobel Prize winners. In 2013 Rockefeller University’s endowment rose from $1.662 billion to $1.772 billion.

49. Nanyang Technological University – Jurong, Singapore

Nanyang Technological University (NTU) was established in 1991 when the Nanyang Technological Institute and the National Institute of Education were amalgamated. NTU’s Yunnan, Jurong campus is the biggest in Singapore, and the institution is also known for its well-ranked business school. In 2013 NTU teamed up with Imperial College London to establish the Lee Kong Chian School of Medicine at its Novena location. The medicine school was named after businessman Lee Kong Chian, whose Lee Foundation donated $118 million. In total, NTU has received a new record combined donation of $316 million for the school, including almost $16 million from the Toh Kian Chui Foundation. In 2013 NTU’s endowment was valued at $1.8 billion.

48. Boston College – Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts

From 2012 to 2013 Boston College’s endowment value soared from $1.646 billion to $1.809 billion. As far as the private research facility’s history goes, after a lengthy waiting period, it was officially chartered in 1863 on Harrison Avenue in the Boston area of South End. Then president Thomas I. Gasson subsequently helped spur on the university’s relocation to its current Chestnut Hill campus in 1909. In 2010 Fidelity Management and Research Company vice chairman and Boston College alumnus Peter Lynch along with his wife Carolyn donated $20 million to create an academy specializing in educational leadership. The couple also gave $10 million in 1999, leading to the college’s school of education being renamed in their honor. Boston College graduate and realty investor Patrick Cadigan also gifted $15 million to his alma mater in 2012. Meanwhile, the college’s Connell School of Nursing and its well-regarded Carroll School of Management are named after benefactors William F. Connell and Wallace E. Carroll, respectively.

47. Amherst College – Amherst, Massachusetts

Liberal arts school Amherst College was established in 1821 when a replacement for the struggling Williams College was being sought. Williams eventually stayed open, however, and the new school that had been built became an independent institution. According to a 2012 survey, 56.4 percent of graduates give back to the school. Meanwhile, from 2008 to 2013 an in-house Amherst fundraising campaign raised around $502 million, the total of which included two anonymous, independent gifts of $100 million and $25 million. Amherst’s Arms Music Center is named after benefactors Winifred and Robert Arms. In 2013 the college’s endowment was valued at $1.824 billion.

46. California Institute of Technology – Pasadena, California

The history of the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) dates back to the 1891-established Pasadena trade school called Throop University. In 1910 the school – then known as the Throop College of Technology – moved to its current home in Pasadena, thanks to a generous land donation by benefactor Arthur Fleming. Today, Caltech is known for its engineering and science programs and has a long history of influential and pioneering graduates. In 2001 Intel co-founder and Caltech graduate Gordon Moore and his spouse Betty bestowed an amazing $600 million. Elsewhere, Caltech’s Annenberg Center for Information Science and Technology facility was partly funded by a $25 million donation by the Annenberg Foundation, while in 2009 U.S. businessman Stewart Resnick and his wife contributed $20 million to the university. In 2013 Caltech’s endowment reached $1.849 billion.

45. University of Illinois System – Illinois

The University of Illinois System – established in 1867 – includes campuses in Springfield, Chicago and Urbana-Champaign. The centerpiece of the system, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC), was set up in 1867 as the Illinois Industrial University. UIUC’s Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology was founded in 1989 thanks to a $40 million gift from graduate Arnold O. Beckman and his spouse Mabel in 1985. In 1994 UIUC added the Grainger Engineering Library, which was named after local entrepreneur William Grainger following an $18.7 million donation by the Grainger Foundation Inc. In 2013 the foundation donated an additional $100 million to the University of Illinois’ school of engineering. Elsewhere, UIUC’s Siebel Center, which opened in 2004, was named in honor of Thomas Siebel in view of his $32 million contribution from 2001. In 2013 the system’s endowment totaled $1.925 billion.

44. Williams College – Williamstown, Massachusetts

Private liberal arts school Williams College was founded in 1791 as the Williamstown Free School. Benefactor Colonel Ephraim Williams, Jr. stipulated in his will that he would finance a new college in West Hoosac as long as the town switched its name to Williamstown. According to U.S. News & World Report’s rankings for 2014, Williams College is now the top liberal arts college in America. In 1998 graduate Herbert Allan donated $20 million to fund a new dance and drama center there. The school expanded with a new student center that was added in 2007, and this was named after graduate David S. Paresky, who gave $15.75 million in 2004. In 2012 a reunited class of ‘62 also donated $12.7 million to their alma mater. Williams College’s endowment increased from $1.779 billion to $1.996 billion in 2013.

43. Pomona College – Claremont, California

Private Claremont, California-based liberal arts school Pomona College saw its endowment swell to just under $2 billion in 2013. Way back when, the college was established in 1887 in Pomona and opened to students in 1888 – although it relocated to Claremont the following year. Pomona is extremely selective, with its academic prerequisites comparable to those of Ivy League schools. The school’s women-only Scripps College, established in 1926, is named after founding benefactor Ellen Browning Scripps. Elsewhere, benefactor and school founding trustee Donald McKenna became the namesake of Claremont McKenna College in 1981. In 2009 entrepreneur Rick Sontag and his Pomona graduate wife Susan donated $7.5 million, and the Sontags gave an additional $1 million in 2014. Meanwhile, the Fletcher Jones Foundation contributed $1 million to the school in 2013.

42. University of Wisconsin-Madison – Madison, Wisconsin

“Public Ivy” institution the University of Wisconsin-Madison (UW–Madison) was established in 1848, the same year Wisconsin was officially recognized as a state. Today, UW–Madison is known for its highly regarded engineering, public affairs, law, medical and education courses. Former Cisco Systems chairman and UW–Madison graduate John P. Morgridge and wife Tashia donated $34 million to UW–Madison in 2004, following that up two years later with a gift of $50 million. What’s more, in 2010 the couple went on to donate an incredible $175 million. Meanwhile, in 2007 a consortium of 13 graduates bestowed $85 million to UW–Madison ’s business school. And the university’s Kohl Center, which opened in 1998, was funded by a $25-million gift from U.S. senator, businessman and UW–Madison graduate Herb Kohl. In 2013 UW–Madison’s endowment rose to $2.02 billion.

41. University of Richmond – Richmond, Virginia

The University of Richmond’s history dates back to the 1830-founded Baptist school the Dunlora Academy. Shut down after the Civil War, the school – by then known locally as Richmond College – was reopened in 1866 following a $5,000 donation by local tobacconist James Thomas, Jr. It was renamed the University of Richmond in 1920. In 1969 pharmaceutical millionaire and University of Richmond graduate E. Claiborne Robins again brought the school back from the brink, this time with a $50 million gift. The Robins family went on to donate over $175 million, and Richmond’s business school was renamed the E. Claiborne Robins School of Business in 1979. Elsewhere, the Jepson School of Leadership Studies was up in 1992 after businessman and Richmond alumnus Robert S. Jepson, Jr. donated $20 million. In 2013 the University of Richmond’s endowment increased to $2.023 billion.

40. Purdue University System – Indiana

With six campuses spread out across Indiana, Purdue University’s college system is one of America’s biggest, accommodating almost 75,000 students. The system’s flagship campus is based in West Lafayette and was established in 1869 thanks to local benefactor John Purdue’s $150,000 donation. The system also includes regional sites in Hammond, Westville, Fort Wayne, Indianapolis and Columbus. Purdue University’s Krannert School of Management was established in 1962 with a $2.7 million donation by Midwest businessman Herman C. Krannert and his wife Ellnora. In 2003 the management school added Rawls Hall, after a sizable $10 million contribution by Krannert School of Management graduate Jerry S. Rawls. In 2013 the Purdue University system’s endowment was valued at $2.182 billion.

39. Kyoto University – Kyoto, Japan

The roots of Kyoto University in Japan lie in the establishment of the Chemistry School in Osaka in 1869. The Third Higher School replaced it in 1886 and then relocated to Kyoto later that year. Post-WWII, the Third Higher School merged with the Imperial University in Kyoto to form the modern-day Kyoto University. The university has three campuses in Kyoto and Uji and has earned a strong reputation for its research. It is also extremely particular when it comes to selecting potential students. In 2007, following a generous donation by Japanese entrepreneur Funai Tetsuro, Kyoto University set up the Funai Tetsuro Auditorium and Funai Center. Then in 2010 Canon donated $4.89 million to help establish the Advanced Medical Device Development and Clinical Research Center. Kyoto University’s latest endowment valuation is $2.2 billion.

38. Osaka University – Osaka, Japan

Historic Japanese institution Osaka University’s educational traditions date back to a 1724 Osaka merchant meeting place and public academy known as Kaitokudō. Slightly more recently, the college’s history is tied to the 1869-founded Osaka Prefectural Medical School, which was chartered as a university in 1919, amalgamated with Osaka Imperial University in 1931 and finally rechristened Osaka University in 1947. Today the university educates over 25,000 students spread out across three campuses in Osaka. In 2007 Osaka University merged with the Osaka University of Foreign Studies, which was established in 1921 thanks to an earlier donation by local businesswoman Choko Hayashi. Osaka’s latest endowment value is reportedly $2.3 billion, making it the richest university in Japan.

37. University of Washington – Seattle, Washington

The University of Washington (UW) opened in 1861 as the Territorial University of Washington. Today, the Public Ivy college is known for its exceptional medical school and has campuses in Seattle’s University District, Bothell, and Tacoma. In 1989 Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen contributed $10 million, which partly funded the Allen Library. Then in 2002 Allen gave another $14 million, which financed the Paul G. Allen Center for Computer Science and Engineering. In 2007 UW’s business school was renamed the Foster School of Business to honor the Foster Foundation’s gift of $36.5 million – taking the foundation’s total donations to $50 million. And in 2013 Canadian lawyer Jack Rupert MacDonald left $187 million, with the sum to be divided between the University of Washington’s law school, the Salvation Army and the Seattle Children’s Research Institute. UW’s endowment is currently $2.346 billion.

36. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill – Chapel Hill, North Carolina

In 2013 the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC) saw its endowment rise from $2.179 billion to $2.381 billion. The Public Ivy college was founded in 1789 and opened in 1795. Opened in 1949, UNC’s historic Morehead Planetarium and Science Center is named after chemist and UNC graduate John Motley Morehead III, who put $3 million into the facility and donated it to the university. In 1999 the David Benjamin Clayton estate bestowed $28.6 million to UNC, which was the school’s most sizable gift up to that point. However, in 2007 realty broker Joan Gillings and her husband Dennis donated $50 million to UNC’s school of public health, which was hence rechristened the Gillings School of Global Public Health. UNC’s highly ranked school of pharmacy was in 2008 renamed after graduate and benefactor Fred Eshelman to acknowledge his gifts, which now total over $35 million.

35. National University of Singapore – Kent Ridge, Singapore

In 2013 the National University of Singapore’s endowment increased to an estimated $2.54 billion. The university dates back to the Straits Settlements and Federated Malay States Government Medical School, which was founded in 1905. In 1912, after the King Edward VII Memorial Fund donated $120,000, it became known as the King Edward VII College of Medicine. Then in 1949 it merged with Raffles College and was renamed the University of Malaya, which became the National University of Singapore in 1962. In 2007 Tan Sri Khoo Teck Puat’s estate donated $63 million to the Duke-National University of Singapore Graduate Medical School Singapore, with this figure then equaled by the government. Then in 2012 Indonesian billionaire and National University of Singapore graduate Dato Sri Tahir – who’d already donated $3 million from 2006 to 2010 – gave the university a further $30 million.

34. Brown University – Providence, Rhode Island

Esteemed Ivy League institution Brown University was founded in Warren, Rhode Island in 1764 and was originally known as the College in the English Colony of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations. In 1804 the university was renamed after graduate and longtime benefactor Nicholas Brown, Jr. following a $5,000 gift – and Brown went on to donate more than $150,000 all told. Nowadays, the university is known for its strong growth economics and applied mathematics graduate programs. As far as donations go, in 2004 alcohol industry billionaire Sidney E. Frank made contributions totaling $120 million. Besides which, Brown’s medical school was renamed for Warren Alpert in 2007 after the entrepreneur gifted $100 million. And Brown’s Watson Institute for International Studies is named for backer and alumnus Thomas J. Watson, Jr. In 2013 Brown’s endowment swelled from $2.460 billion to $2.669.

33. King Saud University – Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

King Saud University (KSU) in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia was established as Riyadh University in 1957 by former king Saud bin Abdulaziz Al Saud. The university was eventually renamed after the late ruler in 1982. KSU features medical, science and engineering schools and boasts an impressive 18 libraries. Notable academic programs include the Prince Sultan International Program for Research Scholarships, the Riyadh Techno Valley Program and the Nobel Laureates Program. KSU’s current flagship campus – to which it moved in 1984 – cost an incredible $5 billion to build. In 2012 King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz set aside $9.6 million for King Saud University, King Abdulaziz University, and the King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals. KSU’s endowment was valued at $2.7 billion in 2013.

32. University of Minnesota, Twin Cities – Minneapolis/Saint Paul, Minnesota

In 2013 the University of Minnesota’s (U of M’s) endowment ballooned to $2.757 billion. Still, it was originally founded in 1851 as a prep school. The institution suffered financially until Pillsbury founder John Sargent Pillsbury helped pay off its debts – and the college’s Pillsbury Hall is named after him. Far more recently, U of M’s school of management was renamed for entrepreneur Curtis L. Carlson, acknowledging his $25-million gift in 1986. The Herbert M. Hanson, Jr. Hall was added in 2008 following a $10-million donation by alumnus Herbert M. Hanson, Jr. and his wife Barbara four years earlier. In 2013 the Bentson Foundation donated $10 million to U of M’s nursing school.

31. Pennsylvania State University (System Wide) – University Park, Pennsylvania

Established in 1855, Pennsylvania State University was originally known as the Farmers’ High School of Pennsylvania. The college was renamed several times over the years and was awarded university standing in 1953. From then on, enrollment boomed, and Penn State’s newly designated University Park campus grew too. The Hershey Trust Company donated $50 million in 1963, and three years later the Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center was founded in Hershey, Pennsylvania. In 2014 the university’s famous three-day dance-a-thon charity, THON, raised an impressive $13.3 million. Today, on top of its flagship University Park campus, the Public Ivy school includes five “special-mission” facilities and 19 other campuses spread across Pennsylvania. In 2013 the university’s endowment was valued at $2.956 billion.

30. University of Pittsburgh – Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Hugh Henry Brackenridge set up the Pittsburgh Academy in 1787. In 1819 the academy became a university and was renamed the Western University of Pennsylvania. In 1908 the growing school was rechristened the University of Pittsburgh, and soon afterward it consolidated its spread-out North Side campus to one location in Pittsburgh’s Oakland area. In the 1950s Dr. Jonas Salk famously developed his polio vaccine at the school. And from 1967 to 1991 long-standing chancellor Wesley Posvar helped triple the school’s endowment and increase its budget to $630 million. As a state-related institution, the university is subsidized by Pennsylvania’s government, and in 2011 it got $185.4 million in public funding. Today, according to the National Association of College and University Business Officers, it has an endowment of $2.975 billion.

29. Johns Hopkins University – Baltimore, Maryland

Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore helped establish the notion of the contemporary research college in America. The prestigious, highly ranked institution is well known internationally for its pioneering medical school and its groundbreaking teaching and research facility, the Johns Hopkins Hospital. The university was founded in 1876, after businessman and Maryland local Johns Hopkins set aside a then record-breaking $7 million in his will to establish a university and adjoining hospital in the area. Far more recently, in 2000, the university was awarded a $95.4 million research and development grant by NASA. In 2013 Johns Hopkins University’s endowment value soared to $2.987 billion. And that same year Johns Hopkins alumnus and former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg assigned a huge donation of $350 million to the university — the biggest the institution has seen.

28. New York University – New York City, New York

Swiss-born politician Albert Gallatin founded New York University (NYU) as the University of the City of New York in 1831. NYU is known for its historic law school and prestigious Leonard N. Stern School of Business, which was renamed for NYU alumnus and realty mogul Leonard Stern in 1988 after he donated $30 million. In 1998 NYU graduate Henry Kaufman donated an additional $10 million to the business school. In 2008 Home Depot founder Kenneth G. Langone and wife Elaine gave $200 million to NYU’s medical center, which was renamed in their honor. Meanwhile, in the same year realty developer Martin Kimmel’s widow Helen gave the center an additional $150 million. In 2013 billionaire investor Ronald O. Perelman pledged $50 million towards the center’s emergency wing, while Marvel’s Isaac Perlmutter and his spouse contributed $50 million to Langone’s cancer center in 2014. NYU’s endowment is currently $3.1 billion.

27. The Ohio State University – Columbus, Ohio

Set up in 1870 as the Ohio Agricultural and Mechanical College in northern Columbus,
Ohio State University has since gone from financial strength to strength. The school was given the name The Ohio State University in 1878. In 1952 graduate Ralph D. Mershon gave the school $7 million, which funded the Interdisciplinary Mershon Center for International Security Studies. More recently, in 1989, the school’s new Wexner Center for the Arts opened thanks to a $25 million donation by entrepreneur and Ohio State graduate Leslie Wexner. What’s more, in 1999 Wexner bought Pablo Picasso’s “Nude in a Black Armchair” for $45.1 million and gifted it to the center. Ohio State’s first fundraising initiative pulled in $460 million by 1987, and the second campaign raised a hugely impressive $1.23 billion by 2000. As of 2013, the school’s endowment was $3.149 billion.

26. Vanderbilt University – Nashville, Tennessee

Vanderbilt University was established in 1873 thanks to a $1 million donation by New York tycoon Cornelius Vanderbilt, who hoped that his gesture would help the U.S. heal after the divisive Civil War. Today, the school’s tree-covered Nashville campus has grown to 330 acres, and the school’s Vanderbilt University Medical Center is Middle Tennessee’s sole Level I trauma center. The university also boasts off-campus medical facilities and the Dyer Observatory – which was named in honor of benefactor Arthur J. Dyer. In 2012 the school began a $115 million initiative to establish two new central campus residential colleges that was funded by donations and internal sources. Vanderbilt University ended 2013 with an endowment value of $3.673 billion.

25. Dartmouth College – Hanover, New Hampshire

Hanover, New Hampshire-based Ivy League institution Dartmouth College dates back to pastor Eleazar Wheelock’s Connecticut-based Moor’s Charity School for Native Americans, founded in 1754. The school relocated to New Hampshire in 1770, and it was renamed Dartmouth College when the state of New Hampshire took control of it in 1817. By the middle of the 20th century, Dartmouth had established itself as one of America’s top universities, thanks in no small part to the contributions of numerous benefactors, including former U.S. Secretary of State Daniel Webster. The academic institution is Hanover’s biggest independent landowner, with a combined land and asset value of $434 million. It is known for its Geisel School of Medicine, Tuck School of Business, and the Thayer School of Engineering, which were named after benefactors Audrey and Theodor “Dr. Seuss” Geisel, Amos Tuck, and Sylvanus Thayer, respectively. In 2013 Dartmouth’s endowment reached $3.733 billion.

24. University of Southern California – Los Angeles, California

Robert M. Widney convinced benefactors and fellow founders Ozro Childs, John Gately Downey and Isaias W. Hellman to help establish the University of Southern California (USC), which first opened in 1880. Far more recently, in 1997, the Los Angeles-based university’s school of business was renamed in honor of former student and businessman Gordon S. Marshall, who had made a $35 million donation. Then in 1999 the university’s school of medicine was rechristened in honor of the W.M. Keck Foundation’s record-breaking $110 million contribution. USC’s school of engineering was rechristened in 2004 after philanthropist Andrew Viterbi and his wife Erna bestowed a sizable $52 million. And in 2011 the university’s school of public policy was renamed after the Price Family Charitable Fund donated $50 million. In 2013 USC’s endowment was valued at $3.868 billion.

23. Rice University – Houston, Texas

Rice University was founded in 1912 as the Rice Institute. Interestingly, entrepreneur William Marsh Rice specified in his will that his fortune should help establish a white-only institution in Houston. After his death in 1900, Rice’s will mysteriously redirected his money to lawyer Albert T. Patrick. Eventually, it was discovered that Patrick had forged Rice’s will and had had him killed. In 1904 $4.6 million of Rice’s money was used to found the institute. The university initiated a fundraising program in 1965, drawing in $43 million in five years. The Shepherd School of Music and the Jesse H. Jones Graduate School of Management were added in 1974, named after benefactors Jesse H. Jones and Sallie Shepherd Perkins’ grandfather Benjamin A. Shepherd, respectively. In 2013 the university’s endowment was listed as $4.836 billion.

22. University of Virginia – Charlottesville, Virginia

Armed with a vision of a public academic institution with a “national character and stature,” founding father and former U.S. president Thomas Jefferson set up the University of Virginia in 1819. The university is famous for its historic Pantheon-inspired Rotunda and also has the honor of possessing America’s only World Heritage Site-designated campus. In 2006, thanks to a $2.5 million donation by brewing company Anheuser-Busch, the school established an on-campus National Social Norms Institute. Then, following a large $100 million donation by billionaire Frank Batten, Sr., the Frank Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy was added in 2007. Elsewhere, the acclaimed McIntire School of Commerce is named after Paul Goodloe McIntire, who donated $200,000 in 1921. In 2013 Virginia’s endowment was reported as $5.166 billion.

21. Cornell University – Ithaca, New York

Cornell University’s history goes back to 1865, when New York-born businessman and former senator Ezra Cornell gave up his Ithaca farm and half a million dollars as the school’s first endowment. Cornell co-founded the school with fellow senator and the university’s first president Andrew Dickson White. Academically, the university is recognized for its world-renowned Southeast Asia studies and also has well-regarded hotel administration and architecture programs. Besides this, it is known for its highly ranked Charles H. Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management and Samuel Curtis Johnson Graduate School of Management. The schools were renamed in 2010 and 1984, respectively – following sizable donations by the families of late businessmen Charles H. Dyson and Samuel Curtis Johnson, Sr. Cornell’s latest financial records value the school’s endowment at $5.3 billion.

20. Washington University in St. Louis – St. Louis, Missouri

The brainchild of a consortium of local politicians, businesspeople and religious figures, Washington University in St. Louis (Wash. U.) was established in 1853 as the Eliot Seminary. Only one year after its founding, the university was renamed Washington Institute. Later, it was called Washington University – with the suffix “in St. Louis” added in 1976. The college’s Olin Library was founded in 1963 thanks to New York-based entrepreneur and benefactor John M. Olin, and the Olin Business School was also renamed in his honor in 1988. The highly ranked school of social work was renamed after St. Louis-based entrepreneur George Warren Brown in 1928, and subsequently Brown’s estate donated $1 million to set up the school of social work’s first endowment. The university is also known for its well-regarded law and architecture and urban design schools. In 2013 Wash. U.’s endowment stood at $5.7 billion.

19. Emory University – Druid Hills, Georgia

Named after Bishop John Emory, Emory College was founded by Methodists in Oxford, Georgia in 1836. In 1915 then Coca-Cola president Asa Candler donated land in metropolitan Atlanta and $1 million to the college – and following its relocation, it was renamed Emory University. Emory has a history of Coca-Cola-related namesakes. Its nursing school bears the name of ex-Coca-Cola president Robert W. Woodruff’s wife Nell Hodgson Woodruff, and in 1994 Emory’s business school was rechristened after the soda giant’s former CEO Roberto Goizueta. Further back, Emory suffered as a result of the Civil War, until Methodist and banker George I. Seney donated $130,000 – and Emory’s Oxford College is built around iconic Seney Hall. Elsewhere, Emory’s Michael C. Carlos Museum is named for a local businessman who has contributed more than $20 million. The university’s endowment increased to $5.816 billion in 2013.

18. Duke University – Durham, North Carolina

Duke University was founded in 1838 in Randolph County as Brown’s Schoolhouse, which went on to change its name to Union Institute, Normal College and then Trinity College. In 1892 tycoons Julian S. Carr and Washington Duke donated land and $85,000, respectively, upon which the school relocated to Durham – and Duke went on to donate $300,000 on the understanding that women would be admitted. In 1924 Duke’s son James donated $40 million to Trinity College and other institutions and the school was renamed Duke University. Other benefactors have received similar honors: Duke’s engineering school was rechristened after alumnus Edmund T. Pratt, Jr., who contributed $35 million in 1999. Meanwhile, the Nicholas School of the Environment was so-named after a $20-million donation in 1995 by businessman Peter Nicholas and his wife Ginny. And in 1980 Duke’s business school was renamed in tribute to businessman J.B. Fuqua’s $10-million donation. In 2013 Duke’s endowment was $6.040 billion.

17. University of Oxford – Oxford, U.K.

Prestigious English institution the University of Oxford is one of the oldest universities in the world. Incredibly, classes are said to have taken place at Oxford way back in 1096. The university’s comparatively new Saïd Business School was set up in 1996 and named after Syrian billionaire and founding patron Wafic Saïd, who at that point had contributed as much as $70 million to the school. The college’s even newer research facility, the Oxford Martin School, was set up in 2005 and named after pioneering computer scientist, author and backer James Martin. Martin’s one-off, $99-million donation is the largest gift in Oxford’s history. In 2013 Oxford’s endowment totaled $6.3 billion.

16. University of Chicago – Chicago, Illinois

The University of Chicago was established in 1890 owing to a $600,000 donation by oil tycoon John D. Rockefeller. Closer to the present, in 2008 Chicago’s business school was renamed for alumnus David G. Booth after the American businessman contributed a cool $300 million. Prior to that, in 1968, the university’s school of medicine was given a new moniker – after local philanthropists the Pritzker family. And in 1988 the Harris School of Public Policy Studies was founded, named after benefactor Irving B. Harris. Recently, in 2012, a new center for the arts was opened at the university thanks to a $35-million gift from graduate David Logan and wife Reva. In 2013 the school’s endowment was placed at $6.67 billion.

15. University of Pennsylvania – Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

The University of Pennsylvania’s predecessor, the Academy of Philadelphia – which owes its existence in part to Benjamin Franklin – first started accepting students in 1751. In 1755 the school was renamed the College of Philadelphia, and in 1791 it became chartered as the University of Pennsylvania. In 2011 Pennsylvania topped the list of Ivy League research spending with a whopping $814 million, much of it provided by the state. The university also benefits from individual contributions – in 2010, for example, the private sector donated nearly $400 million. Pennsylvania’s excellent business school, the Wharton School, was founded in 1881 thanks to industrialist and benefactor Joseph Wharton. And of late, in 2011, the university’s school of medicine was formally renamed after Raymond and Ruth Perelman, with respect to businessman and philanthropist Raymond G. Perelman’s $225-million donation. In 2013 the university’s endowment fund swelled to $7.7 billion.

14. Northwestern University – Evanston/Chicago, Illinois

In 2013 Northwestern University’s endowment fund rose to a considerable $7.9 billion. The college has two campuses in Illinois, in Evanston and Chicago, and established a third location in Doha, Qatar in 2008. Northwestern dates back to a fateful 1850 meeting involving nine religious leaders, businesspeople and lawyers. The university was officially founded in 1851, opening to the public in 1855. Its acclaimed school of business was rechristened the J.L. Kellogg Graduate School of Management in 1979, after former Kellogg president John L. Kellogg donated $10 million. In 2001 the name was abridged to the Kellogg School of Management. Elsewhere, the Feinberg School of Medicine was so-named in 2002 to honor the Joseph and Bessie Feinberg Foundation’s $75-million contribution. In 2013 Northwestern’s Innovation and New Ventures Office made an impressive $79.8 million through revenue from licensing.

13. University of Cambridge – Cambridge, U.K.

The University of Cambridge is among the very oldest schools in the world. It was apparently established in 1209 after a group of Oxford University academics left the school following a disagreement. Originally known as University Hall, Cambridge’s historic Clare College was renamed in 1338 in view of heiress Elizabeth de Clare’s generous contribution. Rather more recently, in 1973, Wolfson College was rechristened to acknowledge benefactor the Wolfson Foundation. And in 1990 English businessman Sir Paul Judge donated $13.3 million to Cambridge’s well-regarded business school, which was renamed in his honor. In 2000 Microsoft billionaire Bill Gates established the Gates Scholarships for international postgraduates with a $210-million endowment. Meanwhile, by 2010 the Cambridge 800th Anniversary Campaign had raised an impressive $1.72 billion. In 2013 Cambridge’s endowment fund reached $8.15 billion.

12. Columbia University – New York City, New York

Upper Manhattan-based research college Columbia University was established in 1754 under the name King’s College. The college was initially funded by the redirection of state lottery funds by New York’s general assembly and was rechristened Columbia University in 1784, following the Revolutionary War. Low Memorial Library, which was built in 1895, was overseen by then university president Seth Low, who dedicated it to his father and contributed $1 million to the project. Columbia alumnus Edward Harkness financed Columbia’s Butler Library, which was named in honor of ex-Columbia president Nicholas Murray Butler in 1946. More recently, in the 2006 financial year, Columbia made over $230 million through patent-related business. In 2013 Columbia’s endowment was valued at $8.2 billion.

11. University of Notre Dame – Notre Dame, Indiana

The University of Notre Dame’s first benefactor was ex-Bishop of Vincennes Célestine Guynemer de la Hailandière, who donated the land on which Father Edward Sorin established the school in 1842. Notre Dame is notable for its Notre Dame School of Architecture and Mendoza College of Business – which was renamed after NetApp executives and benefactors Tom and Kathy Mendoza in 2000. Meanwhile, the Joan B. Kroc Insitute for International Peace Studies, founded in 1986, was paid for by McDonald’s tycoon Ray Kroc’s widow Joan. During former Notre Dame president Theodore Hesburgh’s tenure from 1952 to 1987, the university’s budget increased from $9.7 million to $176.6 million, its endowment reached $350 million, and research funding soared from $735,000 to $15 million. Today, Notre Dame’s endowment is worth a reported $8.3 billion.

10. Texas A&M University System – Texas

The Texas A&M University System – which was founded in 1948 – is one of America’s biggest tertiary systems, incorporating 11 colleges across the state of Texas. The system’s centerpiece is Texas A&M University, which opened in 1876 and was first known as the Agricultural and Mechanical College of Texas. Texas A&M University’s College Station campus features the signature George Bush Presidential Library and Museum, which cost $43 million and was established in 1997. The university is heavily involved with research, undertaking projects financed by agencies like NASA and the National Institutes of Health – and in 2011 Texas A&M spent a massive $705 million to fund this work. From 2012 to 2013, the college ran a fundraising donation campaign that raised an incredible – and record-breaking – $740 million. In 2013 the entire system’s endowment was valued at $8.732 billion.

9. University of Michigan – Ann Arbor, Michigan

Only 20 years after it was established in Detroit in 1817 as the University of Michigania, the University of Michigan was relocated to Ann Arbor. Still, over the years it has been a recipient of some very wealthy benefactors’ donations: the Rackham Graduate School was named after an important Ford Motor Company stockholder, Horace H. Rackham, whose widow financed the institution. The university’s school of architecture was in 1999 rechristened after property developer A. Alfred Taubman, who donated $30 million. And in 2004 Michigan’s business school was renamed for real estate mogul, alumnus and Miami Dolphins owner Stephen M. Ross after he bestowed $100 million in total. In 2013 Ross gave another $200 million to the university – the biggest one-off gift in Michigan’s history. Meanwhile, from 2000 to 2008 Michigan’s “The Michigan Difference” campaign raised $3.2 billion. The university’s latest endowment value is $9.081 billion.

8. Massachusetts Institute of Technology – Cambridge, Massachusetts

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) is renowned for its contributions to science and engineering. MIT opened in 1865 in Boston and relocated to Cambridge in 1916. An anonymous donor, known only as “Mr. Smith,” helped finance the move. Later, this donor was shown to be Eastman Kodak founder George Eastman, who all told bestowed $20 million as well as stock in his company. MIT’s business school was renamed after former General Motors CEO Alfred P. Sloan in 1952. Meanwhile, the college’s eye-catching Kresge Auditorium, completed in 1955, was named for retail tycoon and principal financier Sebastian S. Kresge. The F.W. Olin Foundation helped establish the Franklin W. Olin College of Engineering in 1997 and had endowed it with around $460 million by 2005. MIT’s total endowment figure is currently $11.005 billion.

7. University of California System – California

The University of California (UC) System features ten official campuses spread out across the state of California. Its flagship college is UC Berkeley, which was established in 1868, the same year its parent system was founded. In 2007, the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation donated $113 million to Berkeley, while BP contributed $500 million to fund the university’s Energy Biosciences Institute. That year, the Dow Chemical Co. Foundation also donated $10 million towards sustainability research. Elsewhere, Berkeley’s business school was renamed the Haas School of Business, after the Walter and Elise Haas Fund contributed $23.75 million in 1989. And the Goldman School of Public Policy was renamed in honor of the Richard and Rhoda Goldman Fund’s $10 million gift from 1997. The UC system’s 2011 budget was $22.7 billion, and its latest combined endowment value is $11.227 billion.

6. Princeton University – Princeton, New Jersey

Esteemed Ivy League Princeton University dates back to 1746, when the College of New Jersey was set up in Elizabeth. The institution moved to Princeton in 1756 and was rechristened Princeton University in 1896. Princeton’s $18.2 billion endowment is funded by graduate donations and tied up in part in its art museum, which boasts pieces by Andy Warhol, Jackson Pollock, Vincent van Gogh and Claude Monet. Whitman College, which was completed in 2007, is named after ex-eBay CEO Meg Whitman, who donated $30 million. In 2011 Amazon founder Jeff Bezos and his spouse MacKenzie donated $15 million, while in 2012 Princeton graduates Bijan and Sharmin Mossaver-Rahmani gave $10 million to set up the Center for Iran and Persian Gulf Studies.

5. Stanford University – Stanford, California

Stanford University was instituted in 1885 by ex-U.S. Senator Leland Stanford and wife Jane Lathrop Stanford. In the 1940s, then dean of engineering Frederick Terman motivated staff and alumni to found companies and played a major role in the rise of Silicon Valley. Stanford is recognized as the leading American fundraising college, and it drummed up a record-breaking $1.035 billion in 2012. In 2001 the Hewlett Foundation donated $400 million, while five years later graduate Philip H. Knight gave $105 million. In 2011 Dorothy and Robert King bestowed $150 million, and in 2013 real estate tycoon and Stanford alumnus John Arrillaga donated a new single-donor record of $151 million – topping his $100-million donation from 2006. Stanford’s endowment is currently $18.7 billion.

4. University of Texas System – Texas

In 2013 the University of Texas System’s endowment swelled to $20.448 billion. Established in 1876, it now incorporates nine independent institutions across the state of Texas. The heart of the system is the University of Texas at Austin (UT Austin), which was founded in 1883. In 2011 ESPN sealed a $300 million deal with UT Austin and IMG College. Funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation, UT Austin and the college’s Board of Regents, UT Austin’s Bill & Melinda Gates Science Complex and Dell Computer Science Hall opened in 2013. Other notable benefactors include the Moody Foundation, the Hearst Corporation and the Mulva Family Foundation, as well as entrepreneur Red McCombs, the namesake of the McCombs School of Business, who donated $50 million.

3. King Abdullah University of Science and Technology – Thuwal, Saudi Arabia

The King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) in Thuwal, Saudi Arabia was established in 2009. Rather incredibly, the current king of Saudi Arabia, Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, bestowed the university with a $10 billion endowment in 2008. Since then, KAUST’s endowment has ballooned to $20 billion, making it the third wealthiest university worldwide. Historically, KAUST is Saudi Arabia’s first co-ed college campus. It is also the country’s first LEED- (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design-) accredited facility and the biggest LEED Platinum university site worldwide. KAUST has been nicknamed the “House of Wisdom” and been referred to as the “Arab MIT.” Its highly regarded research standard is comparable to that of U.S. institutions Yale University and the University of Michigan.

2. Yale University – New Haven, Connecticut

With an endowment of $20.8 billion, Yale University is the second most affluent university in the world, runner-up only to longstanding rival Harvard. Yale is well known for its extremely selective law school, which was founded in 1824, and is also recognized for its highly ranked art, medicine, nursing and management schools. Yale has a long history of generous alumni, too. In 2010 Chinese MBA graduate Zhang Lei donated $8.888 million, while media magnate and Yale graduate John C. Malone gave $50 million the following year. However, in 2013 Yale received a $250-million gift from graduate and former Franklin Resources chairman Charles B. Johnson, which was the biggest donation in its history.

1. Harvard University – Cambridge, Massachusetts

With an endowment of $32.334 billion, Harvard is the wealthiest university in the world and gets the #1 spot in our university endowment rankings. It was founded in 1636 as New College and in 1639 was rechristened Harvard College, in honor of Cambridge graduate and clergyman John Harvard – who donated $1,285 and a collection of books in his will. In 2008 Harvard graduate Hansjörg Wyss gave a then record $125 million. However, in 2014 billionaire Citadel founder and Harvard alumnus Kenneth C. Griffin donated $150 million, breaking Wyss’ record and becoming the university’s new biggest single-gift benefactor. Eli and Edythe Broad, the NFL Players Association and David Rockefeller have all made one-off contributions of $100 million or more to Harvard, while the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Emily Rauh Pulitzer have both made multiple donations of over $200 million.


Free College Courses

Nonprofit vs. For Profit Colleges

Online College Enrollment

Problems with For Profit Colleges

This concludes our feature on the top 50 university endowment rankings for the richest universities in the world.