QS World University Rankings 2023 methodology

QS World University Rankings methodology: Using rankings to start your university search

By Laura L

Updated November 3, 2022 Updated November 3, 2022

The QS World University Rankings 2023 feature over 1,400 universities from around the world, our biggest university ranking yet.  

Institutions are assessed across six categories (or indicators) to effectively capture university performance – including academic and employer reputation, faculty/student ratio and research citations – to help you make the best decision for your future. 

How do I use the rankings to find a university? 

The QS World University Rankings provide a starting point for you to discover your dream university, by easily finding and comparing the institutions that interest you. You can compare the reputation of universities across the world, and filter the selection by category and region.  

You can even see each institution’s score for their efforts in working towards the United Nations’ sustainable development goals (SDGs.) The SDG score doesn’t impact on the rankings, but it can help to see which universities are having a real impact on creating a more sustainable world.  

The rankings can give you an idea of teaching quality, student population, employability factors, research and diversity, but they can’t make the choice for you. Further research is recommended to gain a bigger picture of what it’s really like to study at the university’s you’re interested in.  

Once you’re ready to start shortlisting, you can visit each university’s profile page on TopUniversities.com to find out more about their programmes, facilities and tuition fees.  

What do the indicators mean? 

The six indicators that determine the QS World University Ranking 2023 are: 

Academic reputation – Accounting for 40 per cent of the overall score, academic reputation looks at the teaching and research quality at the world’s universities. We collate over 130,000 expert opinions from the higher education space, creating the largest survey of academic opinion in the world.  

Employer reputation – We know that students want to graduate with the skills and knowledge required for the employment market. We assess how institutions prepare students for successful careers, and which institutions provide the most competent, innovative, and effective graduates.  

Faculty/student ratio – This indicator recognises that a high number of academics per student reduces the teaching burden and creates a more supportive student experience. We assess how institutions provide students with meaningful access to lecturers and tutors.  

Citations per faculty – We measure university research quality with a citation per faculty metric, taking the total number of academic citations in papers produced by a university in a five-year period. 

International student ratio & International faculty ratio – A highly international university creates a number of benefits. It demonstrates the ability to attract quality students and staff from across the world, and it implies a highly global outlook. Strong international institutions provide a multinational environment, building international sympathies and global awareness. 

Find out more information about how each category is assessed. 

How to filter the rankings 

You can easily filter the QS World University Rankings by region and indicator. For example, if you want to discover universities in the US with strong employer reputation, you can use the drop-down menu to choose the region and location.  

Once you’ve filtered the list into US universities, you can click the ‘Rankings indicator’ tab and scroll through the indicators at the top of the rankings table to find the one you want. Click ‘employer reputation’ and the table will be automatically filtered from highest to lowest based on that indicator.  

Adithyan, from India, used the QS World University Rankings to find both his bachelor’s and master’s courses. They said: “Using the region filter helped me to understand the quality and value of universities in different parts of the world. By using the rankings, I found a programme I wanted to study in Warsaw, Poland.” 

What do I do next?  

Once you’ve used the rankings to create a shortlist of possible universities for you, we recommend exploring their profile pages on TopUniversities.com, where you can find out more about what they offer, the programmes available and the facilities you could study in. 

The QS World University Rankings are helpful as a starting point, but it’s important to visit university websites, attend open days, watch videos and chat to students about their experiences.  

Once you’ve done as much research as you can and understand what you want to achieve from your university experience, then you (and only you) can make the right decision for your future.  

Good luck! 

This article was originally published in August 2016 . It was last updated in November 2022

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Written by

As Senior Content Editor for TopUniversities.com and TopMBA.com, Laura publishes articles for our student audience around the world, working with ambassadors and alumni to provide helpful content to those looking for study options. Laura has six years' experience in Higher Education marketing and writing for a student audience. 

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