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Top universities for arts & humanities subjects 2022

By Craig O

Updated April 8, 2022 Updated April 8, 2022

The QS World University Rankings by Subject 2022 reveal the top degree programmes in 51 different subjects across five broad subject areas.

11 of these subjects fall within the arts & humanities subject area, ranging from architecture to theology. Below is a look at the top-ranked universities for each of these 11 subjects, as well as for the overall arts & humanities subject ranking which assesses institutions at a faculty level.

What are the top universities for arts & humanities?

QS World University Rankings by Subject 2022: Top universities for arts & humanities

Rank University Location
1 University of Oxford United Kingdom
2 University of Cambridge United Kingdom
3 Harvard University United States
4 University of California, Berkeley (UCB) United States
5 Stanford University United States
6 Yale University United States
7 Columbia University United States
8 New York University (NYU) United States
=9 The University of Edinburgh United Kingdom
=9 University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) United States

Unsurprisingly, the UK and US dominate the arts & humanities ranking with other English-speaking locations featuring in the top 20. Oxford take the bragging rights over their arch-rivals Cambridge at the top of the ranking, with the University of Edinburgh the only other UK representative.

What are the top universities for archaeology?

QS World University Rankings by Subject 2022: Top universities for archaeology

Rank University Location
1 University of Cambridge United Kingdom
2 University of Oxford United Kingdom
3 UCL United Kingdom
4 Harvard University United States
5 University of California, Berkeley (UCB) United States
6 Stanford University United States
7 Leiden University Netherlands
8 Durham University United Kingdom
9 University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) United States
10 Sapienza University of Rome Italy

The Netherlands and Italy both get representation in the top 10 universities for archaeology but otherwise this is another top 10 dominated by the UK and the US. 

What are the top universities for architecture & built environment?

QS World University Rankings by Subject 2022: Top universities for architecture & built environment

Rank University Location
1 Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) United States
2 Delft University of Technology Netherlands
3 UCL United Kingdom
4 ETH Zurich - Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Switzerland
5 Harvard University United States
6 National University of Singapore (NUS) Singapore
7 Manchester School of Architecture United Kingdom
8 University of California, Berkeley (UCB) United States
9 Tsinghua University Mainland China
10 Politecnico di Milano Italy

This year's architecture top 10 is extremely diverse, with seven different study destinations across three continents. This geographical spread should mean most students are able to find a top architecture programme near them, which may even be at a specialist institution like the Manchester School of Architecture.

What are the top universities for art & design?

QS World University Rankings by Subject 2022: Top universities for art & design

Rank University Location
1 Royal College of Art United Kingdom
2 University of the Arts London United Kingdom
3 The New School United States
4 Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) United States
5 Politecnico di Milano Italy
6 Aalto University Finland
7 Pratt Institute United States
8 Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) United States
=9 Design Academy Eindhoven Netherlands
=9 School of the Art Institute of Chicago United States

Art & design is another subject ranking which prominently features specialist institutions, with the Royal College of Art topping the table for yet another year.

What are the top universities for classics & ancient history?

QS World University Rankings by Subject 2022: Top universities for classics & ancient history

Rank University Location
1 Sapienza University of Rome Italy
2 University of Oxford United Kingdom
3 University of Cambridge United Kingdom
4 Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München Germany
5 Ruprecht-Karls-Universität Heidelberg Germany
6 Scuola Normale Superiore Italy
7 Sorbonne University France
8 Harvard University United States
9 Leiden University Netherlands
10 Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne France

Whether it's the ancient Roman buildings or the ruins of Pompeii, you don't have to go far when in Italy to encounter a remnant of the country's rich history. Given this, Sapienza University of Rome's position at the top of the classics & ancient history ranking makes a lot of sense. Germany, France and the UK are also well-represented in the top 10.

What are the top universities for English language & literature?

QS World University Rankings by Subject 2022: Top universities for English language & literature

Rank University Location
1 University of Oxford United Kingdom
2 University of Cambridge United Kingdom
3 Harvard University United States
4 University of California, Berkeley (UCB) United States
5 Yale University United States
6 Stanford University United States
7 Princeton University United States
8 University of Edinburgh United Kingdom
=9 Columbia University United States
=9 University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) United States

Oxford and Cambridge continue to lead the way in English language & literature, holding off the challenge from several top US universities to be ranked first and second respectively. Further down the ranking, both Canada and Australia are also represented in the top 20.

What are the top universities for history?

QS World University Rankings by Subject 2022: Top universities for history

Rank University Location
1 Harvard University United States
=2 University of Cambridge United Kingdom
=2 University of Oxford United Kingdom
4 Yale University United States
=5 Stanford University United States
=5 London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) United Kingdom
7 University of California, Berkeley (UCB) United States
8 Columbia University United States
9 University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) United States
10 Princeton University United States

History is another subject ranking dominated by UK and US universities, with Harvard scoring just ahead of both Oxford and Cambridge which are tied in second place. American students or international students looking to study in the US have plenty of top universities to choose from.

What are the top universities for linguistics?

QS World University Rankings by Subject 2022: Top universities for linguistics

Rank University Location
1 Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) United States
2 University of Massachusetts Amherst United States
3 University of Cambridge United Kingdom
4 University of Oxford United Kingdom
5 University of Edinburgh United Kingdom
6 Harvard University United States
7 Stanford University United States
8 University of California, Berkeley (UCB) United States
9 University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) United States
=10 National University of Singapore (NUS) Singapore
=10 The University of Hong Kong Hong Kong SAR

Our linguistics top 10 is actually a top 11 with two Asian universities tied in 10th place. At the very top of the ranking, Massachusetts is clearly the linguistics capital of the world with the top two universities for linguistics both based there.

What are the top universities for modern languages?

QS World University Rankings by Subject 2022: Top universities for modern languages

Rank University Location
1 University of Oxford United Kingdom
2 University of Cambridge United Kingdom
3 Harvard University United States
4 Stanford University United States
5 University of California, Berkeley (UCB) United States
6 Yale University United States
7 The University of Tokyo Japan
8 University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) United States
9 Princeton University United States
10 The University of Edinburgh United Kingdom

The University of Tokyo is the one institution in our modern languages top 10 that isn't located in either the UK or the US. At the very top of the ranking, the University of Oxford just manages to outperform its rival the University of Cambridge.

What are the top universities for performing arts?

QS World University Rankings by Subject 2022: Top universities for performing arts

Rank University Location
1 Royal College of Music United Kingdom
2 Universität für Musik und darstellende Kunst Wien Austria
3 The Juilliard School United States
4 Conservatoire national supérieur de musique et de danse de Paris (CNSMDP) France
5 Royal Conservatoire of Scotland (Formerly Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama) United Kingdom
6 Guildhall School of Music and Drama United Kingdom
7 Royal Academy of Music United Kingdom
8 Norwegian Academy of Music Norway
9 Curtis Institute of Music United States
10 Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts Hong Kong SAR

While many of the world's prestigious universities excel in a wide range of subjects, it's clear that the best universities to study performing arts are specialist institutions. All of this year's top 10 offer specialised teaching in performing arts rather than covering a broader academic curriculum.

What are the top universities for philosophy?

QS World University Rankings by Subject 2022: Top universities for philosophy

Rank University Location
1 New York University (NYU) United States
2 Rutgers University - New Brunswick United States
3 The Australian National University Australia
4 The London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) United Kingdom
5 University of Pittsburgh United States
6 University of Oxford United Kingdom
7 University of Cambridge United Kingdom
8 Harvard University United States
9 King's College London United Kingdom
10 University of Toronto Canada

English-speaking study destinations dominate the philosophy ranking - as they have for several arts & humanities subjects. The Australian National University in Canberra becomes the first university from Australia to be mentioned in this rundown of top 10 universities.

This article was originally published in April 2022 .

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Written by

As Head of Content, Craig is responsible for all articles and guides published across TopUniversities and TopMBA. He has nearly 10 years of experience writing for a student audience and extensive knowledge of universities and study programs around the world.

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