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Which Universities Have the Best Coders in the World?

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With early college admissions under way for many universities around the country, we got to thinking: Which colleges have the best coders in the world?

While there are academic rankings, like the Top Computer Science Programs by US News & World report, there is no list that ranks colleges purely by their students’ ability to code. The criteria for the US News & World Report, for instance, includes number of research papers produced, global research reputation and number of conferences. In fact, practical coding skills aren’t even part of their methodology at all.

We decided to answer the question: Which universities have students who can roll up their sleeves and code?

At HackerRank, millions of developers, including hundreds of thousands of students, from around the world regularly solve coding challenges to improve their coding skills. In order to figure out which colleges have the best coders, we hosted a major University Rankings Competition. Over 5,500 students from 126 schools from around the world participated in the event. Companies also assess developers’ coding skills using HackerRank to hire great developers. 

According to our data, the top three best coders in the world hail from:

  1. Russian Federation College, ITMO University | Russia
  2. Sun Yat-sen Memorial Middle School | China
  3. Ho Chi Minh City University of Science | Vietnam

The University of California, Berkeley was the #1 college in America, and came in fourth overall.

First, we defined what it means to be the “best” university. We thought it would be fairest to rank universities based on both number of participants and high scores. Our engineering team created a formula* to rank each university. Each university had to have at least 10 participants to place on the leaderboard.

We narrowed the data to the top 50 colleges around the world:


Two Russian universities ranked #1 and #6, respectively in the HackerRank University Competition. Meanwhile, Russian universities aren’t listed among the top 50 universities in the traditional US News & World report list. Similarly, we found that Vietnam’s Ho Chi Minh university has talented coders, but they didn’t rank high in US News & World report either.  

This is not to say that the US News & World Report is misguided. Instead, the results of the HackerRank University Competition suggest that such traditional academic rankings aren’t the only source of the best coders in the world.

In fact, one acclaimed high school in China blew many universities out of the water.  San Yat-sun Memorial Middle School (which in the US equates to high school level of education), placed 2nd, above UC Berkeley and IIT. One Chinese blog mentions that the school is actually  bigger than most universities in China, and includes a science museum.

Wentao Weng, who ranked the #13 overall, says he first started learning how to code in what he calls “Junior 1,” which is 11-years-old. Wentao told us that computer science isn’t necessarily a standalone subject in grade school, but it’s well supported:

“It’s not one of the subjects; however, we can also try to become the one of the best coders among high school students to [get admission] into a good university,” Weng says. “So our teacher supports us in [studying] computer science, and we take some time on it. “And we have done many contests both online or offline [to] learn.”

He practices roughly 4 hours per day during school, but almost the whole day on weekends. His classmates have a similar work ethic. Cai Ziyi started coding at 12 years old. He says that most student programmers join the Olympiad in Informatics (OI) as an after school hobby.


Zeroing in on the top 25 universities in the US, eight schools cracked the top 50 overall. Many of schools listed in our competition are in line with the US News & World report, except we surfaced a few underdogs. Schools that aren’t normally seen in academic rankings, like Ohio State UC Irvine and North American University, all ranked in the top 50 worldwide in the HackerRank University Competition.

While the traditional academic rankings, like the US News & World report, are one indicator of quality of education, it’s not the only place to find great coders. Great coders can come from any university in the world. In fact, as the students at San Yat-sun prove you don’t even need a degree to be able to code well.


* To calculate the score of a school in leaderboard, we take all participants from a particular school(M) in descending order of the students’ scores and calculate using the formula below. Note: The values for α and β for this leaderboard are 0.8 and 3 respectively.

Screen Shot 2016-12-19 at 8.10.32 PM






In order for a school to be listed on the School Leaderboard, the school must have at least 10 students submitting code in University Competition. Students are ranked by score. If two students have the same score, the tie is broken by the time at which the user finishes the first correct submission of the last challenge solved.


Share your thoughts



  1. The time you took the test was when most of the indian universities had their exams going on. That resulted in very low participation. I saw a 10 times lower participation from my college and most of the top coders didn’t take part.

  2. This article presumes one effort two things.

    1) Great developers are the product of their schooling.


    2) Great developers flock to the same schools.

    Neither are even remotely logical to assume. It removes self study and natural drive from the equation. It ignores the brilliant self taught developers in the field. It’s ultimately a meaningless list because you’re not testing the curriculum, rather individuals who may or may not have even showed up to classes at their university.

    • I think self taught developers like myself would be aware of the fact that it completely ignored people like myself, would be just smiling and ignore this article. 🙂

        • An article on self taught developers would be nice. But even this article could become more meaningful with just a bit more data. I’d like an article that compared scores of students before and after university. Which schools are more effective at raising students scores? What is the rate of change for university taught coders vs self taught, especially after university. Those would be be more meaningful in my opinion.

          • Such data may not be available and hence meaningless. It would however be more interesting to see which country produces the maximum number of top coders.

  3. Yes …it is true that good coders are not necessarily available in top colleges …list proves the fact and as a IT company we too vote this list.

  4. Misleading title. Seems like most of the top American and Indian colleges don’t use your website. Where are the likes of MIT, Stanford, Harvard, IIT Bombay, IIT Delhi? Also dubious rankings of those that participated — IIT Indore is ranked higher than IIT Kanpur??

  5. The title is highly misleading since it only accounts for people using your site. You can’t rank universities with different participation. Of course a school with 10000 participants is better that one with 10 participants. You are lacking some basic knowledge about statistics.
    I’m Romanian, so for us, it’s even more retarded. You say that based on your data, a high school specialized in informatics (Grigore Moisil) is better than a tehnical university (tech uni of Cluj) which has a specialization in Automatic Control and Computer Engineering, which is a total non-sense.

    • Our school naming system is confusing for foreigners.
      A Highschool in Romania is not the same as Haute Ecole in France or Belgium and maybe even the US(I do not know that education system’s internals).
      Romanian high-school is the school before going to University, it is the period when students participate in IOI and other science olympics.
      Of course it is a bit strange to include “Grigore Moisil” among Universities, although humbling and giving those teachers much pride. Less proud that UPB is not on the list, showing how education level decreased during the years at that institution which was supposed to be the crown jewel. Humbling for Babeș-Bolyai (UBB) too, great for them, they were on an ascending slope for years!
      To the author, try to filter out these inconsistencies, it will give your work more credibility!
      And please ignore the upset tone of some, this is a tremendous amount of work, you have all my considerations! Great work!

  6. The title and the content doesn’t match at all !

    Though the content of the article is worthy, the way it’s narrated gave a wrong impression.

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  8. The Ohio State University is #43 on US News & World Report’s global university ranking. Not sure where your assessment about Ohio State as one of those universities that “aren’t normally seen in academic rankings” originates, but it does not seem rooted in fact.

  9. This article presumes that the top coders use hackerrank. I don’t know very many very serious programmers (or people who I would consider extremely talented) who do, so I think that this is skewedly capturing intro programers who are predominantly at huge universities without tight communities of mentors to guide them to better resources.

  10. I wonder where ETH Zurich shows up in your ranking. It’s at least not in the top 50, but it is on #35 globally and #5 in all of Europe in the U.S. News and Global report. Would be nice to know if they attended and how they did, same for TU Munich and EPFL Lausanne. All European Elite Tech Universities…

  11. This list is a just a joke.
    How it could be possible to have a list without any French School ???
    French Startups are the 3nd biggest delegation at the CES 2017, without any coders ?

    • Don’t forget that the more participants there are, the lowest the score gets. This would explain that any school forcing its students to participate will get a somewhat low score as enthusiast participants are more likely to have high scores.

      For example, the UMONS which I work in never told about hackerrank to its students; so the students who got the UMONS on that list were only coders that (1) like programming and (2) are sufficiently good to spend time on hackerrank rather than on their studies; I believe these two criteria favor good scores on HackerRank.