London, England, is home to some of the best schools in Europe and the world.
Most students earn their undergraduate degrees in three years, meaning it costs significantly less to earn a college degree than at many prominent United States peer institutions.
Students attending college in London can anticipate a rigorous curriculum in whichever department they are interested in joining.
Outside of the classroom, the city of London promises an abundance of social and cultural engagement.
London includes a smattering of museums, theaters, and cultural centers among its architectural wonders.
There are also many lovely outdoor spaces for sports, recreation, picnicking, and sunbathing. The gardens are essentially the equivalent of United States national parks.
The city has a reputation for its rich cultural diversity.
More than 300 languages are spoken within London city limits, and college students can enjoy cuisines from many different ethnicities on any given day of the week, in addition to the standard fish and chips platter.
Walk to class along the river Thames. Get lost reading a classical novel in a quiet, dimly lit pub. Dare to invest in your own start-up enterprise. For students attending college in London, the possibilities are endless.
We’ve created a list of the top ten best colleges in London. These schools are ranked according to each institution’s placement in the U.S. News Best Global Universities ranking.
Ahead, we’ll distinguish among the best of the best by sharing interesting facts about each school’s notable alumni, featured programs of study, and contributions to the broader research community.
10. Birkbeck, University of London
Birkbeck’s flexible learning options are significant in drawing students to the university.
Most students are only required to be on campus for one or two nights out of the week! Undergraduates attend in-person classes supplemented by asynchronous online interactions.
The school places a heavy emphasis on research and collaborative learning; in fact, Birkbeck won the Silver Award in the Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF), the UK’s university rating system.
Birkbeck differs from other universities, where faculty experts typically attend to graduate students. Instead, Birkbeck assigns their best experts to teach undergraduate students.
The faculty investment – in addition to a wealth of learning resources – undoubtedly plays a part in the promising career prospects for Birkbeck alumni.
95% of Birkbeck’s graduates are hired or pursuing graduate work within six months of commencement.
9. City, University of London
Recently named the top London university for student satisfaction, the university comprises five distinct schools, including the Bayes Business School and the City Law School, the first London school to instruct students at all stages of legal education.
Just this year, City announced the opening of two new schools: the School of Policy & Global Affairs and the School of Communication & Creativity.
The latter institution is dedicated to conducting interdisciplinary research that shapes professional practice, with particular attention given to students from underrepresented backgrounds.
Research is at the core of a City education, where students can choose from more than 60 undergraduate courses.
Most degree tracks also extend the chance to work in an internship or study abroad for a semester.
8. London Business School
The London Business School was recently named the #2 Business School in all of Europe by the Financial Times European Business Rankings.
Its full-time Masters in Finance and international MBA program have been ranked #1, as well.
The Masters in Finance is easily customizable to students’ career goals, and the school grants access to various international business experiences and events.
The Executive MBA program is operated by LBS and the Columbia Business School. In under two years, students enroll in classes at both institutions (with the latter located in New York).
LBS also offers 35 executive education courses for industry professionals interested in growing their leadership, finance, and strategy talents.
For example, the “Leading Teams for Emerging Leaders” course is perfect for professionals preparing to assume their first-ever leadership role. Most students in the class have minimal management experience.
7. St. George’s, University of London
With fewer than 6,000 students enrolled, St. George’s maintains a comfortable 12:1 student-to-faculty ratio. Founded in 1733, it served as the second institution in England to offer doctoral training classes.
Some of the school’s trailblazing alumni include Edward Jenner – the creator of the world’s first-ever vaccine (for smallpox) – and Patrick Steptoe, who played a significant role in developing in vitro fertilization (IVF).
St. George’s reputation is clearly predicated on its contributions to the medical field. It is currently the only university in the United Kingdom to reside inside a hospital and specialize in healthcare and medicine. Its four-year graduate Medicine degree first took in students (35 to be exact) in 2000.
6. London School of Economics and Political Science
For the eleventh year in a row, the London School of Economics and Political Science takes the cake as the best university in London, according to the 2023 Complete University Guide.
It is ranked #3 in the UK out of 130 total institutions.
LSE is known for its research and scholarship in the realm of the social sciences.
Its alumni network includes senior leaders of global organizations, 36 previous or current national leaders, and 18 Nobel Prize laureates in the field of economics.
Students attending LSE hail from more than 150 different countries. In addition to its 40 bachelor’s degree tracks, the institution offers 140 advanced degree programs and 30 distance-learning undergraduate courses.
Many students choose to attend summer programs in partner schools located in places like Cape Town, South Africa, or Beijing, China.
5. London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine
The accolades continue to stream in for the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. Students worldwide endeavor to attend this university, which is ranked #1 in the UK for Public Health and #4 in the world for Infectious Diseases.
LSHTM is also known for its research contributions to the health policy field. It is ranked #1 worldwide for the proportion of open-access research papers and #1 for the percentage of research published by female authors.
For example, in 2014-2015, LSHTM staff facilitated a response to the Ebola outbreak, which involved leading clinical trials for novel vaccines. A year later, the school jointly operated the UK Public Health Rapid Support Team in response to various disease outbreaks.
4. Queen Mary, University of London
In 1785, Queen Mary became England’s first medical school. At the time, it was called The London Hospital Medical College. Centuries later, the school enrolls more than 32,000 students representing 170+ nationalities.
Queen Mary is also known for its inclusivity and social mobility.
It was the first Russell Group institution to offer apprenticeship programs, and many students participate in collaborative research during their time there.
In fact, a start-up developed at Queen Mary – ApaTech – sold for $330 million! The school has research partnerships with organizations like Pfizer and IBM.
Students can expect to learn from knowledgeable professors who are experts in their fields.
Nine former staff and students have won Nobel Prizes, and various faculty from Queen Mary took part in a genome sequencing endeavor involving 100,000 genomes!
3. King’s College London
Graduates of King’s College enjoy promising employment opportunities; in fact, the school is ranked 7th in the United Kingdom for graduate employability.
The connections stemming from a near-200,000-member alumni network are an added benefit!
Internships play a significant role in a King’s College student’s collegiate experience. Undergraduates across all departments enjoy placements with well-known companies like the Ford Motor Company, Deloitte, AstraZeneca, and the Royal Opera House.
The school maintains partnerships with over 150 local, regional, and global organizations and offers various study-abroad opportunities.
Some of the best writers in the world attended King’s College London, including author Virginia Woolf, playwright Sir W. S. Gilbert of Gilbert & Sullivan, and poet John Keats.
Representing the arts, alumnus John Deacon played the bass for the infamous band Queen.
The school also boasts several pioneers in the science and medical fields, such as Florence Nightingale (the founder of modern nursing) and Maurice Wilkins and Rosalind Franklin, who helped identify the structure of DNA.
2. Imperial College London
Having gained its independence from the University of London in 2007, Imperial has established its place at the forefront of groundbreaking research in the sciences.
All undergraduates can check out nearly 400 clubs and sports teams outside the classroom.
Imperial College London is the only university in the UK to focus exclusively on science, engineering, medicine, and business.
Regularly featured on lists honoring the top ten universities in the world, they are also known for optimistic career prospects.
According to The Guardian, Imperial graduates earn the highest salaries in the United Kingdom within a year of graduating (that’s more than their peers at Oxford and Cambridge).
Computer Science is a particularly popular major at Imperial, and it also happens to be the highest-paying degree in the UK.
The school maintains a close relationship with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the United States.
Within the sciences, Imperial faculty and alumni are responsible for the creation of fiber optics, holography, and various successful start-up companies.
1. University College London
In an effort to stem further interdisciplinary research, University College London has committed to the pursuit of six “Grand Challenges,” which include building sustainable cities, improving global health, and innovating transformative technology.
The school comprises a diverse undergraduate student body: 53% of students hail from over 150 countries outside the United Kingdom. It is very common for students to participate in study-abroad programs as part of their degree tracks.
As of 2020, UCL can claim 34 Nobel Prize laureates and various inventors from the past few centuries.
Mahatma Gandhi – the Father of India and leader of the Indian independence movement – graduated from UCL, as did telephone inventor Alexander Graham Bell, film director Christopher Nolan, and all of the musicians who make up the world-famous band Coldplay.