U.S. News & World Report's annual Best Colleges list says the top academic school in L.A. is ranked 10th nationally. It's Caltech.

The U.K. publication Times Higher Education begs to differ in its own influential list, called the World University Rankings. There, the Pasadena institution rules the planet.

It has topped the global field for five consecutive years. Why?

Caltech is obviously geeked out to the Nth, but check this out: With only 2,243 students, the institution has one instructor for every three students. What is this, home schooling?

Times Higher Education says it looks at “13 carefully calibrated performance indicators,” including teaching, research and citations, to come up with its rankings. Schools are scored 0 to 100 on those indicators.

On citations, Caltech almost aced the test, throwing 99.8 on the board. 

“The Times Higher Education ranking emphasizes the areas where Caltech is renowned: venturing into unexplored realms, defining new fields in science and engineering, and pushing interdisciplinary boundaries in the service of discovery,” Caltech president Thomas F. Rosenbaum said. “It also points to the competitive nature of higher education, where maintaining a culture of intellectual risktaking is essential to attract the most creative and original scholars, scholars who have choices among many exceptional academic institutions across the world.”

Oxford (2), Stanford (3), Cambridge (4) and MIT (5) rounded out the top five.

UC Berkeley came in 13th place. UCLA came in 15th, down from 12th on the last World University Rankings list. UC San Diego and UC Santa Barbara tied for 39th.

USC came in at No. 68.

Despite the strength here of American schools, Times Higher Education said that the rest of the world is catching up. There were 63 United States universities in the Times' latest top 200, compared to 77 in 2013.

Simon Marginson, professor at University College London's Institute of Education, said, “Other countries are improving and crowding into the top 200 space.”

U.S. News & World Report has launched its own world college rankings. Its latest list is due next week.

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