Which Universities Spent the Most Money on Research Last Year?

Academic institutions spent $89.9 billion on research and development in the 2021 fiscal year, up 4 percent from the year before.

Nearly all of the $3.4-billion increase in research spending was funded by the federal government, according to a report on the National Science Foundation’s newly released Higher Education Research and Development survey.

As in previous years, universities that had at least $1 billion in research and development expenditures in the 2021 fiscal year dominated the top 30 institutions that reported the highest spending totals. No longer in that top group is the University of California at Berkeley. New to the top 30: Vanderbilt University and Vanderbilt University Medical Center, which moved from 31 to 24 after accounting changes that contributed to a $115-million increase in spending, the report says.

Federally supported research and development rose 6.6 percent in the 2021 fiscal year to $49 billion, and now accounts for 55 percent of research funding at all universities. The next largest source of research-and-development funds, 25 percent, came from institutions themselves, for a total of $459 million. That’s a 2.1-percent increase from 2020.

The foundation collected data for the survey from 910 institutions that award bachelor’s degrees or higher and that spent at least $150,000 on research and development in the 2021 fiscal year. The survey is sponsored by the National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics.

Here’s a closer look at the data:

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