Top Anthropology Schools in 2018 by Region | Top Universities

Top Anthropology Schools in 2018 by Region

By Sabrina Collier

Updated March 26, 2020 Updated March 26, 2020

Discover the top anthropology schools based on the QS World University Rankings by Subject 2020.

If you want to study anthropology at an internationally renowned university, the QS World University Rankings by Subject is a great way to narrow down your options. Featuring a ranking of the top 100 universities for anthropology, you can click here to explore the full interactive anthropology ranking table, or keep reading to find out the top anthropology schools by region.

North America

Harvard University


Harvard University has dropped from first to third place in this year’s anthropology ranking but is nonetheless the highest-ranked university in North America for this subject. Harvard can also lay claim to having perfect scores for two of the four indicators used to compile the rankings: employer reputation and H-index citations (a measure of research impact).

At undergraduate level, Harvard University’s Department of Anthropology offers you the choice of concentrating in archaeology, social anthropology, or a combined track that brings together both fields. Students of the archaeology or social anthropology track can also study a joint concentration with another subject such as history, classics, computer science, gender studies or African and African-American studies.

University of California, Berkeley (UCB)

University of California, Berkeley

Down from joint second to fifth in this year’s anthropology ranking, the University of California, Berkeley (UCB) receives a perfect score for citations per paper, a measure of research impact. As well as its general anthropology courses, UCB offers graduate concentrations in biological anthropology, folklore, medical anthropology and sociocultural anthropology. This breadth of fields creates a vibrant community of students with diverse goals, research approaches and backgrounds.

University of Chicago

University of Chicago

The University of Chicago retains its position of sixth in the world for anthropology this year, earning very high scores for citations per paper and employer reputation. The university’s Department of Anthropology has a longstanding commitment to both traditional and theoretical research interests in areas such as post-coloniality, human rights and neoliberalism. At postgraduate level, you can take doctoral degrees in sociocultural and linguistic anthropology and archaeology.

Top anthropology schools in Canada

Elsewhere in North America, there are six top anthropology schools in Canada, with the University of Toronto up three places to rank eighth in the world this year. Two more Canadian institutions are in the global top 50 of the anthropology ranking: the University of British Columbia (27th) and McGill University (40th).


University of Cambridge

Up one place to now rank first in the world for anthropology for the first time, the University of Cambridge’s Department of Social Anthropology offers an excellent quality of education and research as well as unparalleled facilities such as the Haddon Library, the Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, and the department’s own unique collection of ethnographic films.

Taught at Cambridge since 1900, the foundations of modern anthropology have been laid at the university over the years by celebrated figures in the field such as Henry Maine, James Frazer, Alfred Haddon, and William Rivers. The university has also led the way in some of the most pioneering innovations in the study of kinship, political systems and religious practice and symbolism.

University of Oxford


Ranked second in the world for anthropology after Cambridge, the University of Oxford receives its highest score for academic reputation. Its Institute of Social & Cultural Anthropology was the first to specialize in postgraduate teaching and research within the discipline and is now a leading center for anthropological research and education. If you study anthropology at Oxford you’ll find your time divided between lectures, tutorials and practical classes, and you’ll also undertake at least four weeks of fieldwork anywhere in the world – recent destinations for this have included South Africa, Canada and Cuba.

London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE)


Known as one of the world’s leading social-science-focused universities, London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) is ranked fourth in the world for anthropology this year, achieving a very high score for its academic reputation.

LSE’s Department of Anthropology is one of the most famous in the world, having been associated with noted anthropologists like Bronislaw Malinowski. The university offers a full tutorial system in which you’ll work in small groups or on a one-to-one basis with tutors, as well as being taught through lectures and classes by highly experienced anthropologists.

Other top anthropology schools in Europe

Other highly ranked universities for anthropology elsewhere in Europe include the Netherlands’ University of Amsterdam at 14th, Denmark’s University of Copenhagen at 17th, Norway’s University of Oslo at joint 32nd and Germany’s Freie Universitaet Berlin at 37th in the world.


National University of Singapore (NUS)


Up from 25th to rank joint 21st for anthropology this year along with the UK’s University of Edinburgh, National University of Singapore (NUS) offers anthropology courses at Yale-NUS College, a liberal arts college which was established in 2011 as a collaboration between Yale and NUS.

Students who choose to major in anthropology will develop their skills in written, verbal and visual expression, as well as in fieldwork, ethnography, and survey design. The course has a unique focus on the diversity of human experience, aiming to make the major particularly relevant in the increasingly diverse world of the 21st century.

The University of Tokyo

University of Tokyo

Based in Japan, the University of Tokyo is ranked 25th among the top anthropology schools this year. The university’s Department of Cultural Anthropology is based at its Komaba Campus and has played a crucial role as an early pioneer of anthropological education in Japan, having graduated its first students in 1957.

The department focuses its research in three main axes: singular cultural studies, applied culture research and cutting-edge culture research.

Kyoto University

Kyoto University

Kyoto University is up six places to rank 34th in the anthropology ranking in 2018. The university has a long tradition of cultural and social anthropology, with a unique, distinguished history of the close relationship between physical anthropology and primatology. However, the department of cultural anthropology itself is relatively new, having been established in 1993.

Australia & New Zealand

Australian National University


Climbing six places in the anthropology ranking this year, Australian National University (ANU) is now ranked seventh in the world for this subject and offers a wide range of courses within its School of Archaeology and Anthropology.

ANU’s faculty of 40 anthropologists are actively engaged in research and teaching across a wide range of areas including indigenous-state relations in Australia, multiculturalism, ethnographic film and visual media, visual cultural production, development, religion, violence and terror and gender and sexuality.

The University of Melbourne

University of Melbourne

Also climbing six places among the top anthropology schools in the world this year is the University of Melbourne, up to 23rd. The university’s Bachelor of Arts in Anthropology includes electives in “genders, bodies and borders”, “critical analytical skills”, “development in the 21st century”, “understanding poverty” and more.

You’ll study in an award-winning learning environment in the Arts West building, which provides undergraduates with world-class learning spaces.

The University of Sydney

University of Sydney

The University of Sydney is also up six places in this year’s anthropology ranking, to now be placed 28th in the world. The university’s Department of Anthropology was the first of its kind to be founded in Australia back in 1925 by social anthropologist Alfred Radcliffe-Brown. The department has also published the highly respected anthropology journal Oceania since 1930, which serves as a highly renowned anthropological resource on the societies and cultures of Australia and the Pacific.

Top universities for anthropology in New Zealand

Looking at New Zealand, the University of Auckland is also ranked in the global top 50 for anthropology at 41st (up three places from last year and with a very high score for employer reputation), while the University of Otago is featured at 51-100.

Latin America

Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM)

Ranked joint 32nd with the University of Oslo, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM) is the highest-ranked Latin American institution in the anthropology ranking, having earned its highest score for its academic reputation.

UNAM was established in 1910 and has seen a number of noted faculty members and alumni throughout its history, such as Paul Kirchhoff, a German-Mexican anthropologist noted for his influential work in defining the culture area of Mesoamerica, a term he coined.

Universidad de Buenos Aires (UBA)

Universidad de Buenos Aires

Argentina’s largest university, the Universidad de Buenos Aires (UBA), is ranked 38th among the world’s top anthropology schools this year. UBA’s notable alumni includes Esther Hermitte, an anthropologist noted for her fieldwork in the Mayan community of Pinola.

UBA’s Bachelor of Arts degrees take five years to complete and are taught entirely in Spanish, with the university offering Spanish courses to help international students get their proficiency to the required level.

Universidade de São Paulo

Universidade de São Paulo

The highest-ranked of Brazil’s two entries in the anthropology ranking, Universidade de São Paulo (USP) is ranked 46th in the world this year. USP’s postgraduate Social Anthropology course aims to provide students with solid theoretical training as well as research development.

Since 1988, the department has published the Revista de Antropologia, which is circulated worldwide and was the first of its kind published in the country.


University of Cape Town

University of Cape Town

The first of South Africa’s two entries in the anthropology ranking is the University of Cape Town (UCT), which is ranked 51-100 with a high score for employer reputation. UCT actively encourages anthropology students to become research assistants within the department and therefore gain practical experience in managing and conducting research projects.

Graduates of the department work in diverse fields such as medical research and activism, journalism, documentary production, psychology, advertising, urban planning, tourism, the environment and more.

University of Witwatersrand

University of the Witwatersrand

Also ranked 51-100 within the world’s top universities for anthropology is the University of Witwatersrand, which actually received higher scores than the University of Cape Town in the indicators for research impact – citations per faculty member and H-index citations. The university’s faculty are deeply engaged in solving the most important questions facing South African and global society, and frequently undertake fellowships abroad and present their work at conferences, while many international students and scholars research and teach within the department every year.  

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This article was originally published in March 2018 . It was last updated in March 2020

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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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