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Which Schools Have the Most Nobel Prizes?

Harvard seal.
Campanile at the University of California at Berkeley.
Hoover Tower at Stanford University.
King's College chapel at Cambridge University.
Iceland is one of 30 countries with only one Nobel Prize winner.
Nobel Peace Center in Oslo, Norway.
One of the medals awarded to Nobel Prize winners.
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  • Originally Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Revised By: Rachel Catherine Allen
  • Edited By: Niki Foster
  • Last Modified Date: 15 November 2014
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According to official counts, the University of Cambridge is associated with more Nobel Prize laureates than any other university or institute. Defining which school has the most Nobel Prizes is difficult, since some only count prizes given to people who were actively working at the university when the prize was given, while others count researchers and alumni. Also, some count prizes by separate campuses, like the University of California. Other universities with many laureates include the University of Chicago, Columbia University, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). In total, people from around 340 different universities and research institutes had received Nobel Prizes by 2012.

Official Counts

The University of Cambridge was associated with the most Nobel Prizes as of 2012, with 90 prizes awarded to its students, staff, alumni, and researchers. Some of the best known laureates include the physicist Nils Bohr, geneticist James Watson, philosopher Bertrand Russell, and economist Joseph Stiglitz. The University of Chicago has the next most laureates, with an official count of 87, followed by Columbia University with 82, MIT with 77, and Oxford University, with an official count of 48.

Unofficial Counts and Different Standards

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Unofficial counts sometimes come up differently than the official ones because of the different criteria that each university takes into consideration when claiming laureates. Oxford, for example, only counts people who received the prize after attending the university, and doesn't count people to whom it gave honorary degrees. That means that although its official count is 48, its unofficial count is 59.

Other universities have different standards when it comes to counting someone who is staff or a researcher. While some only count people who work at the university on a full time basis, or for at least a year, others count people who worked at the university in any capacity for less than a year. Additionally, several universities or associations of universities have their parts counted separately, but would rank much higher if all of the parts were considered together. For instance, the University of London, which consists of over 30 different colleges, institutes, and bodies, has 72 prize winners associated with it in total.

Other Nobel Prize Statistics

Almost 850 Nobel Prizes had been awarded between 1901 and 2012, with fewer than 50 going to women. The average age of the winners was 59 years old, and more Americans had won than those of any other nationality. People from over 72 countries had been awarded prizes, with the US, the UK, and Germany receiving the most, followed by France, Sweden, Switzerland, and Russia. About 30 countries had only one prize winner, including Iceland, Ghana, and Yemen.

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anon949492
Post 29

I like Nobel for hard sciences as opposed to intangible research and discovery.

anon353194
Post 28

Yes, UT Southwestern Medical School in Dallas has six living Nobel laureates on its faculty. I believe this makes it the top as far as active med school faculty goes.

irontoenail
Post 27

@pleonasm - But, by that same ticket, Harvard (or where ever) is going to attract the best students as well, so really the whole thing is a little bit pointless.

I think it's more interesting to look at the peace prize and the Nobel prize for literature, since those are ones that can be and are awarded to people who haven't had any study at all.

If those people did chose to go to university and found their talents nurtured there, I find that more interesting and telling than if a very bright student goes to a top university and eventually wins a prize when placed against other people who did the exact same thing.

pleonasm
Post 26

@anon296013 - That's a really good point and one I was thinking myself. I mean, Harvard has such a reputation, of course they are going to be able to attract the best of the best scientists to work and teach their students.

It seems kind of like a person claiming to have the best garden in the world because they were rich enough to hire the best gardeners. It's kind of a no-brainer.

anon296013
Post 23

I would be more interested in where the prize winners were educated rather than knowing where they taught or did research.

anon155117
Post 21

Actually, it was Theodore Roosevelt who won the first Noble Prize as an American, for his diplomatic actions that brought an end to the Russo-Japanese War.

Fun fact: Roosevelt also held the record for most hands shaken in the shortest amount of time, until he was beaten by Bill Richardson in 2002.

anon134152
Post 20

These are all great schools. Getting caught up in the glory of others is the wrong way to go. Instead, worry about which school has the best program for your major, campus life, and other factors to the calculus.

anon85701
Post 18

the double nobel laureate is actually credited to Oregon State University.

anon47243
Post 11

Washington University School of Medicine in St Louis: 17

anon37352
Post 9

But what medical school has the most living nobel prize winners in medicine on its active medical staff?

The University of Texas, Southwestern Medical School with six

anon30285
Post 8

How about U Penn?

anon28239
Post 7

What about the university of Berlin? They won 29 prizes?

anon16104
Post 6

What about MIT with its 61 laureates?

anon4571
Post 2

What about California Institute of Technology (Caltech) with its 32 prizes, which includes a double Nobel Laureate and Peace prize winner Linus Pauling?

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