HackerRank Reveals Which Universities Have Best Coders
Written by Janet Swift   
Wednesday, 07 December 2016

Which colleges have the best coders in the world? HackerRank, the largest online learning and competition community for programmers with a global reach asked this question. Make a guess before reading on to find the answer.


As its name suggests HackerRank runs coding challenges and assigns scores based on a combination of accuracy and speed. Its recent University Rankings Competition was intended to find where the best coders go to school. And the headline result is:

  1. Russian Federation College | Russia
  2. Sun Yat-sen Memorial Middle School | China
  3. Ho Chi Minh City University of Science | Vietnam
  4. University of California, Berkeley | United States
  5. University of Waterloo | Canada

Reporting this on the HackerRank blog, Ritika Trikha explains why this study was needed:

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?

For the University Rankings Competition universities were ranked on the number of participants and high scores, and only universities with 10 participants were included in the leaderboard. The blog post has the formula used if you are interested and a full listing of theTop 50 Colleges with their scores.

Look closely and you'll see that the institution in second place isn't actually a university -  San Yat-sun Memorial Middle School equates to high school level of education in the US - though it is bigger than most universities in China and its campus includes a science museum.

HackerRank has a comment from one of its students Wentao Weng, who came 13th in the individual rankings. He first learned to code aged 11 and practices roughly 4 hours per day during school, but almost the whole day on weekends. He explained that while Computer science isn't necessarily taught in school it is considered important by students and their teachers and opportunities like those offered by HackerRank are valued;

“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. Our teachers support us in [studying] computer science, and we take some time on it. And we have done many contests both online or offline [to] learn.”

Given that previous results analysis by HackerRank have shown China and Russia right at the top of the league it isn't surprising to find Russia came out top in this ranking. Not only is it first it's also in 6th place (St. Petersburg). China, on the other hand, doesn't reappear in the list. This is an artifact of the methodology:

HackerRank told me:

there were a number of Chinese university students who competed in the coding challenge (and many of them were in the top 100 participants) but in order for a school to be ranked (for the purposes of the leader boards), there had to be at least 10 students from that school who participated. This goal here was to avoid comparing schools that had 100 students with varying scores with a school that only had one or two extremely high or low performers that would then skew the results... Anyway, it looks like Chinese universities weren't included in the leaderboard because they didn't meet the 10 participant minimum.

Inspecting the top 50 India is far the most numerous. It first appears ranked 8th, 9th, 11th and 12th - in total occupying 22 places in the table.

The US had 8 places in the top 50 with Georgia Institute of Technology (13th) and University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (14th) being high scorers. Others included could be regarded as "underdogs" leading Trikha to comment:

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 Northern and Eastern Europe were well represented - Ukraine (7th), Sweden (10th) Czech Republic (16th) Romania (19th, 20th, 33rd), Poland (25th), Estonia (42nd), Bosnia & Herzegovina (48th); Western Europe was noticeable by its absence - only Belgium (27th) appeared.

Querying this situation I was told:

The reason the UK, France and Germany don't show up is more a function of the fact that they didn't participate in this specific challenge. There are thousands of developers from those countries that use HackerRank's platform, but it looks like there weren't many that participated in this code challenge.

A UK participant was 24th overall and if you look back at HackerRank's country rankings, based on several contests, the UK was 29th, just below the US, which placed in 28th position.

HackerRanks seems to be a great resource  - and not just for students. As we reported in HackerRank - Advance Your Coding Through Problem Solving, its mission objectives are to help developers improve their coding, make personal connections through interest sharing and team working, and, for high achievers, even the opportunity of job offers. 


hackerrank logo

More Information

Which Universities Have the Best Coders in the Word? 

Related Articles

HackerRank Reveals Where To Find Programming Talent 

HackerRank - Advance Your Coding Through Problem Solving

Russian Students Break Contest Records


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