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Top 10 Universities in Russia 2016

By Sabrina Collier

Updated January 3, 2018 Updated January 3, 2018

Click here to view the most recent edition of this article, based on the QS BRICS University Rankings 2018.

The recently released QS University Rankings: BRICS sees 55 Russian universities feature among the best 250 universities in the BRICS countries (BrazilRussiaIndiaChina and South Africa). The BRICS ranking, published annually since 2013, celebrates leading institutions found in these five emerging economies.

Read on for an overview of the 10 top universities in Russia in 2016, including information on how each institution performed in the recent QS World University Rankings by Subject. Or click here to view the BRICS rankings table.

1. Lomonosov Moscow State University

Lomonosov Moscow State University

Lomonosov Moscow State University is consistently the highest ranked Russian university in both the BRICS ranking and the QS World University Rankings®, placing 7th in BRICS and 108th in the world. It’s the largest of all Russian universities and one of the oldest, founded in 1755 and currently educating around 47,000 students, the majority of which are studying at graduate level. Located just outside the city center of Russian capital Moscow on Sparrow Hills, the university’s main building is said to be the largest educational building in the world, and Lomonosov’s library system is one of Russia’s largest.

Featured 24 times out of a possible 42 in the QS World University Rankings by Subject 2016, Lomonosov Moscow State University achieves top 50 positions for linguistics, mathematics, and physics and astronomy, plus several more subjects in the top 100.

2=. Saint-Petersburg State University

Saint-Petersburg State University

Ranked joint 20th in BRICS this year, Saint-Petersburg State University is the oldest of these top universities in Russia, originally established as the Saint Petersburg Academy of Sciences in 1724 by Peter the Great. It now has around 30,000 students, including over 3,000 who come from outside Russia, making it one of the largest Russian universities. Saint-Petersburg State University is a member of the Coimbra Group, an association of deep-rooted, multidisciplinary and internationally respected European universities.

The university features 11 times in the rankings by subject this year, with a position in the top 50 for mineral and mining engineering, a top-100 spot for linguistics, and positions in the worldwide top 150 for mathematics, philosophy, modern languages and history.

2=. Novosibirsk State University

Novosibirsk State University

Sharing 20th place with Saint-Petersburg State University in the BRICS ranking this year, Novosibirsk State University is also in the top 350 of the World University Rankings. One of the younger Russian universities, it was established in 1959 and is located in the educational and scientific center of Siberia, ‘Akademgorodok’ (Academic Town) – 20 kilometers from Novosibirsk, the largest city in the Asian section of Russia. It’s also a smaller institution than other top universities in Russia listed here, with 6,000 students enrolled in 13 faculties.

Novosibirsk State University is currently featured as one of the world’s best for five subjects – placing within the top 100 for physics and astronomy and the top 150 for mathematics.

4. Bauman Moscow State Technical University

Bauman Moscow State Technical University

Bauman Moscow State Technical University comes 38th in this year’s BRICS ranking and is the oldest and largest of the technical Russian universities. It has 19 departments but specializes in various fields of engineering and applied sciences, and teaches more than 19,000 students at all study levels. Bauman Moscow State Technical University is also known for granting up to 3,000 students free room and board in its halls of residence each year, as well as offering well-regarded support for hearing-impaired students.

The university’s technical focus is reflected in its performance in the subject rankings – it’s ranked among the world’s best for five subjects in 2016 (compared to just one in 2015). Its highest ranked subject is mechanical engineering, for which it’s placed in the global top 200.  

5. Tomsk State University

Tomsk State University

Heading back to Siberia for the next of these top universities in Russia, Tomsk State University comes 43rd in this year’s BRICS. Founded in 1878 but not opened to students until 1888, it’s the oldest institution in the vast ‘Russian Asia’ area. It now has around 17,000 students enrolled in 23 faculties, and offers 165 master’s programs, including some English-taught courses. Tomsk State University was designated as a National Research University in 2010 and offers its students one of the most extensive library archives of all Russian universities.

In this year’s subject rankings, Tomsk State University is ranked among the top 300 universities in the world for modern languages, and among the top 400 for physics and astronomy.

6. Moscow State Institute of International Relations – MGIMO University

Moscow State Institute of International Relations

Moscow State Institute of International Relations (MGIMO University) is ranked 44th in the BRICS ranking this year and is consistently ranked within the top 400 universities in the world. Run by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Russia, MGIMO University was previously part of Moscow State University but became a separate institution in 1944. MGIMO specializes mainly in the humanities and, although it doesn’t feature in the subject rankings, the university is particularly well known for preparing students for careers in international relations. The university also holds the distinction of appearing in the Guinness Book of World Records for offering courses in 56 languages, more than any other institution in the world.

7. Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology State University

Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology

Another of the top universities in Russia to be located in Moscow, the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology, colloquially known as PhysTech, is ranked joint 47th in the BRICS ranking this year. It was established in 1946 and is a leading institution for educating specialists in various fields of modern science and technology, and today has a fairly small student body of 5,600 students in 11 faculties. Eight of its professors are Nobel Prize winners.

Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology (State University) features among the world’s best for five subjects this year – all of which are, unsurprisingly, science subjects. Its highest position comes for physics and astronomy, in the global top 150.

8. National Research Nuclear University "Mephi" (Moscow Engineering Physics Institute)

National Research Nuclear University

Ranked 50th in BRICS, the National Research Nuclear University, or “MEPhI” was founded in 1942 as the Moscow Mechanical Institute of Munitions and is now another of the most well-respected technical Russian universities. As the name suggests, it focuses on the nuclear industry, as well as physics, engineering and mathematics. However, the institute, which counts a number of Nobel Prize winners amongst its alumni, has also been increasingly working on improving its programs in the fields of economic sciences, humanities and foreign languages.

National Research Nuclear University is internationally ranked for three subjects this year – physics and astronomy (top 100), electrical and electronic engineering (top 300) and mathematics (in the worldwide top 400).

9. Peter the Great St. Petersburg Polytechnic University

St Petersburg Polytechnic University

St. Petersburg Polytechnic University features at 61st in the BRICS ranking this year and is consistently ranked among the top 500 in the world university rankings. Located in St. Petersburg, it’s a large university, with almost 31,000 students currently enrolled. It houses one of the country's most advanced research laboratories in hydro-aerodynamics, and has 20 research centers in total, which conduct research with prominent technology corporations such as Microsoft, Siemens and Apple.

St. Petersburg Polytechnic University is included three times in the latest subject rankings, ranked as one of the world’s leading universities for electrical and electronic engineering (top 250), physics and astronomy (top 300) and computer science and information systems (top 500).

10. National Research University Higher School of Economics (HSE, Moscow)

National Research University Higher School of Economics (Hse, Moscow)

Concluding our list of the 10 top universities in Russia is the Higher School of Economics (HSE), which is also the youngest university in this list, founded as recently as 1992. It was awarded National Research University status in 2009 and specializes in the social sciences, mathematics, computer science and of course economics. Ranked 62nd in BRICS, its main campus can be found in Moscow, with three other campuses located in St. Petersburg, Nizhniy Novgorod and Perm.

The Higher School of Economics is internationally ranked for eight subjects this year, achieving positions as one of the world’s top 150 universities for economics and econometrics, politics and sociology, with three more subjects in the top 200. 

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This article was originally published in July 2016 . It was last updated in January 2018

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Written by

The former Assistant Editor of, Sabrina wrote and edited articles to guide students from around the world on a wide range of topics. She has a bachelor's degree in English Literature and Creative Writing from Aberystwyth University and grew up in Staffordshire, UK. 

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