THE Subject Rankings 2016/17: 14 world-class universities dominate across 8 subjects

Only 14 universities are in the elite group which made the top five in the eight subjects featured in the Times Higher Education (THE) World University Rankings 2016-2017 by subject, released on Wednesday.

Of the 14 institutions, all are based in the UK and U.S., with the exception of Switzerland’s ETH Zurich – Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich (ETH Zurich), which claims number one for computer science.

Speaking to THE, Markus Püschel, head of the computer science department at ETH Zurich, said the department’s global success was in part thanks to the Swiss government’s “generous funding” in research and education, as well as the fact that professors at the university have a “permanent” incentive to recruit PhD students and postdoctoral researchers each year.


The other institutions in the group are Stanford University, Yale University, the University of Chicago, Harvard University, Princeton University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), California Institute of Technology (Caltech), Georgia Institute of Technology, and the University of California, Berkeley in the U.S., and the University of Oxford, University of Cambridge, Imperial College London, and University College London in the UK.

These same universities are also in the top 33 places of the THE World University Rankings 2016-2017, which were published last week.

The subject rankings focus on eight broad subjects: arts and humanities; clinical, pre-clinical and health; engineering and technology; life sciences; physical sciences; and social sciences, in addition to business and economics; and computer science – the two new subject rankings introduced this year.


Oxford, which was the first UK university to top this particular league table, is present in the top five for seven of the subject rankings – more than any other institution – and is number one in the clinical, pre-clinical and health list.

American varsities Stanford and Harvard each appear in six of the top five lists. Stanford came in first for social sciences, while Harvard is the top institution in the physical sciences and life sciences lists, and both universities share the top spot for arts and humanities.

Many Asian universities have also climbed up the subject rankings since last year, reflecting the strength of the continent’s higher education sector, which was also evident in their performance in the THE World University Rankings.


China is the third most represented country in the list of best universities for engineering, ahead of Germany, Australia, and Canada. Its top-ranked institution – Peking University – is in the top 20 for engineering and also for physical sciences and for business and economics. It is also now joint 35th for social sciences, up from joint 52nd last year, while Tsinghua University is 34th for physical sciences, up from 47th.

The computer science list is one of the more diverse among all the subjects, as it features young, up-and-coming universities from the Asia-Pacific and Europe regions which have yet to feature in the top 200 for the world rankings, such as the Indian Institute of Technology Bombay at 82nd (351-400 in the World University Rankings) and the Polytechnic University of Catalonia at 93rd place (401-500 in the World University Rankings.

Here are the top five institutions for all eight subjects. For the full top 100 list for each subject, visit the link below the graphic.


Source: Times Higher Education

Source: Times Higher Education

Source: Times Higher Education

Source: Times Higher Education

Source: Times Higher Education

Source: Times Higher Education

Source: Times Higher Education

Source: Times Higher Education



Image via ETH Zurich

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