Ivy League

Ivy League - the most prestigious universities in the US
Image source: Songquan Deng / Shutterstock.com

What started out as a university sports league of eight private universities in the northeastern USA, is now the epitome of American elite universities: We’re talking about the Ivy League. Its eight members – also known as Ancient Eight – are among the world’s most renowned universities:

  • Brown University
  • Columbia University
  • Cornell University
  • Dartmouth College
  • Harvard University
  • Princeton University
  • University of Pennsylvania
  • Yale University

From the beginnings of the Ivy League to the present day

Today, the term Ivy League is used primarily in an academic context. In fact, however, the term originally referred to the merger of the football teams of the participating universities. The first Ivy Group Agreement was signed in 1945. Less than 10 years later, the eight universities extended the contract to cover all university sports. Since then, the sports teams of the US universities have been competing against each other on a regular basis. More than 8000 athletes take part in the competitions every year.

The idea of competition between the universities of the Ivy League has remained true to this day. In the meantime, however, universities are no longer only competing against each other on a sporting level, but are also competing for the highest research funds, the best students and lecturers. Today, all eight universities in the Ivy League are synonymous with academic excellence.

The origin of the term Ivy League is controversial. On the one hand, there is the assumption that the term “Ivy” refers to the old walls of the eight universities covered with ivy. On the other hand, there is the theory that “Ivy” goes back to the Roman number IV – an allusion to the four founding members of the Ivy League.

Goals of the Ivy League

Strictly speaking, the Ivy League is not a university network like the British Russel Group, so it does not have an explicit academic objective. The common interests lie in the field of sport. This explains why other renowned universities such as Stanford, Berkeley or MIT are not members of the Ivy League: They are either not old enough or they don’t feel strongly connected to football.

Ivy League in international rankings

The universities of the Ivy League are considered to be top universities not only in the USA. They also rank among the best of the best in international comparison. This is reflected in their placements in internationally significant rankings. All Ivy League universities are listed in the following rankings:

  • QS ranking
  • U. S. News Best Global Universities Ranking
  • Academic Ranking of World Universities
  • Times Higher Education World University Rankings

Six of the Ivy League’s eight universities make it into the top 20 in all four rankings, Princeton and Columbia University are even in the top 10 of the world rankings, and Harvard is consistently voted the best university in the world.

Benefits for international students

If you decide to study at one of the eight Ivy League universities, you will study at one of the world’s most prestigious universities. The enormous wealth of the universities is reflected, among other things, in their excellent facilities. In addition, courses at the universities of the Ivy League are often taught by top professors.

The fact that the Ivy League is a research university means that international students benefit from the high teaching and research standards and receive first-class education. Therefore, a degree from an elite university is always good on the resume and often brings with it a significant career advantage.

State antipole to the Ivy League: the Public Ivies

In the 1980s, the term Public Ivies was coined in the USA. The term refers to a group of currently more than 30 US state universities. These universities also stand for many years of experience and excellent education in the USA. Therefore, they are regarded as a state counterpart to the private universities of the Ivy League – with the difference that they charge lower tuition fees.

Originally Richard Moll named the following universities as Public Ivies in a book publication:

  • College of William and Mary
  • Miami University
  • University of Michigan
  • University of California (formerly referred to all
  • universities of the University of California System. Today
  • the UC Berkeley, Davis, Irvine, Los Angeles, San Diego
  • and Santa Barbara are often referred to as Public Ivies)
  • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
  • University of Texas at Austin
  • University of Vermont
  • University of Virginia

Public Ivies now include other state-run colleges such as Michigan State University, the University of Illinois, the University of Minnesota, the University of Wisconsin and the University of Wisconsin.