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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.




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Comments (83)

  • 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.

    • Chirag Soni
    • December 8, 2016 at 4:52 am
    • Reply
    • One of the reasons IIIT Hyderabad is not in the list.

      • Siddhant
      • December 8, 2016 at 4:59 am
      • Reply
      • Exactly ! How come IIIT-H not there?

        • Anurag
        • December 8, 2016 at 9:17 am
        • Reply
        • It is there at 41st rank

          • Hardik
          • December 8, 2016 at 9:29 am
          • Reply
    • thats because top coders dont give a sh*t and make money instead.

      • Greg
      • December 8, 2016 at 9:44 pm
      • Reply
  • 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.

    • Slynk
    • December 8, 2016 at 1:10 pm
    • Reply
    • 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. 🙂

      • Totally agree— we need to do another piece that takes into account self-taught developers.

        • Ritika Trikha
        • December 8, 2016 at 7:28 pm
        • Reply
        • 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.

          • Slynk
          • December 8, 2016 at 10:46 pm
          • Reply
          • 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.

        • I wanted to see how each country fared in your top 50 list. Looks like India came on top by a huge margin. Take a look.

      • Yeah…. bro.. I am also a self taught developer.

        • MS Shohan
        • September 9, 2017 at 11:59 am
        • Reply
  • I believe by Russian Federation College you mean ITMO University (https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/ITMO_University), otherwise it’s the same as calling UCB an American College.

    • Konstantin
    • December 8, 2016 at 7:29 pm
    • Reply
    • Updated 🙂 Thanks.

      • Ritika Trikha
      • December 8, 2016 at 7:45 pm
      • Reply
    • Lol Interesting one !

      • Bishwajit Paul
      • July 27, 2017 at 7:30 pm
      • Reply
  • crappy article pushing crappy propaganda. unclear criteria make this article a waste of time.

    • Greg
    • December 8, 2016 at 9:42 pm
    • Reply
    • Aren’t you a bit too triggered Greg darling

      • Tom
      • December 8, 2016 at 10:44 pm
      • Reply
  • 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.

    • Microsoft
    • December 9, 2016 at 10:27 am
    • Reply
    • Yeah, Even I agree with You, College doesn’t matter. I have some friends where they studied in a normal college and are very Good at Coding when compared to some other who studies in top Colleges.

  • Here 22 Indian universities which is 44 % of the list .

    • NIKHIL
    • December 9, 2016 at 3:42 pm
    • Reply
  • 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??

    • Kumar
    • December 10, 2016 at 4:29 pm
    • Reply
    • actually most of them use this website. And yes IIT indore has many talented coders and is placed no.4 in the world in the ‘coding olympiad’ other IITs and ivy league universities though participated could’nt make it. . Though coding talent is not necessarily an indication of a good computer engineer, would only make coders more like ‘translators’ who work all day in small cubicles. Good Unis are good at producing leaders and not coders.

      • JJ
      • June 14, 2019 at 5:51 am
      • Reply
  • Did any French schools participate ? I’m surprised that Epitech and Ecole 42 aren’t ranked at all.

  • 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.

    • Ionut
    • December 11, 2016 at 8:01 am
    • Reply
    • 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!

      • gion
      • January 9, 2017 at 4:07 pm
      • Reply
  • 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.

    • Anvesh
    • December 14, 2016 at 12:33 pm
    • Reply
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    • Catherine White
    • December 18, 2016 at 9:27 am
    • Reply
  • 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.

  • We all know how good code of those “coders” from India.
    I better hire people from other places

    • JB
    • December 20, 2016 at 4:41 pm
    • Reply
  • 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.

    • A good programmer
    • December 22, 2016 at 6:16 pm
    • Reply
  • Hacking isn’t the same as coding. No surprise in the result of the top 3 hacking countries of the world.

    • Joe Blogg
    • December 23, 2016 at 10:20 am
    • Reply
  • What are the Hackerrank standards for “good/best coders”?

    • Muhsin
    • December 27, 2016 at 10:57 am
    • Reply
  • I am truly delighted to glance at this blog posts which includes plenty
    of valuable information, thanks for providing such information.

  • NSIT is there…

    • Shubham
    • December 31, 2016 at 1:49 pm
    • Reply
  • 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…

    • Google Recruiter
    • January 5, 2017 at 9:50 am
    • Reply
  • 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 ?

    • Cyril
    • January 16, 2017 at 10:26 am
    • Reply
    • 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.

      • Fabian
      • January 30, 2017 at 9:03 am
      • Reply
    • There is a difference between coding talent and creating startups. You could hire people to code for you ‘French companies also hire people from other colleges. Also you would find a high amount of colleges from India. That is because most computer science students including myself hardly ever operated computers and instead prepared for this exam called IITJEE advanced ‘The toughest exam in the world at undergraduate level’ somebody else don’t say anything else, this exam literally scares the shit out of nearly one million aspirants every year and only 10k students pass with a selection ratio of less than 1%, even these 1% students don’t get computer science as only 10% seats are available for computer science. Now these students among top 0.1% among a population of more than 1 billion are concentrated in these colleges called IITs (you mut have observed a lot of them in the list). How could you possibly compete with them? So don’t be bewildered(though even I am surprised by the fact that there is no MIT/ Harvard in the list. Also if France was the third biggest delegation let me tell you that CEOs and majority of employees of top tech companies in the world including Google, Microsoft etc are from these same IITs. The biggest example being Sundar Pichai CEO of google and an alumni of IIT kharagpur.

      • JJ
      • June 14, 2019 at 6:09 am
      • Reply
  • really i like your thoughts im exited from thank you very much

  • nice post..keep doing like this with best attractive articles

  • It expels self review and normal drive from the condition. It overlooks the splendid self trained designers in the field. It’s at last a negligible rundown since you’re not trying the educational programs, rather people who could possibly have even appeared to classes at their college.

  • Good post, keep

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    • Jonathan riise
    • April 27, 2017 at 8:34 am
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  • very helpful information about colleges codes thank you very much

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  • Hi, What is Best coders by the way!

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  • nice information about engineering institute ,it wil be helpful for students to know about engineering colleges of india

  • Thank you for sharing information with us

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  • thank you very much fir sharing the best universities here.keep posting more updates like this.

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  • You have been owned. The school on the 20th position is a primary school, kids from 6 to 10 years old. Are they really good coders? They can barely read and write in their native language.

    • Adrian B
    • July 7, 2017 at 5:59 pm
    • Reply
  • Thanks for the great collection of universities in the world and RTU is also best university in India.

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    • Adi
    • September 15, 2017 at 11:51 am
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