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Top Universities for Economics in 2021

By Chloe Lane

Updated March 9, 2021 Updated March 9, 2021
  • There are 500 schools offering economics programs in this year's subject rankings
  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology is the world's best school for economics this year
  • The United States contains the highest number of economics schools in this year's ranking, with 100 economics programs on offer

The recently released QS World University Rankings by Subject 2021 features 500 of the top higher education institutions to study economics.  

The QS University Rankings by Subject are based on four indicators: academic reputation, employer reputation, research citations per paper and the H-index (a way of measuring the productivity and published work of a scientist or scholar). You can find more details about the methodology behind the subject rankings here.   

Read on to learn more about the best economics schools in each region. Alternatively, if you would like to explore the economics schools in further detail, click here to view the full table.

Top 10 Universities for Economics and Econometrics in the World

Based on the QS World University Rankings by Subject 2021

Rank Name of Institution Location
1 Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) United States
2 Harvard University United States
3 Stanford University United States
4 Princeton University United States
5 University of California, Berkeley (UCB) United States
6 London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) United Kingdom
7 University of Chicago United States
8 Yale University United States
9 University of Oxford United Kingdom
10 University of Cambridge United Kingdom
See the full ranking for economics and econometrics schools

Top universities for economics in the US and Canada

With 100 universities offering economics programmes in the United States and 19 in Canada, North America has a total of 22 economics schools making it into the top 50 this year.  

The world’s best education for economics can be found at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), overtaking Harvard University this year. MIT earns a perfect score for academic reputation. MIT’s economics courses are constantly being developed to include insights from the faculty’s world-class research, which has received numerous awards including the Nobel Prize.  

Outside of the global top 10, the United States has 13 economics programmes in the top 50. Notable universities include: Columbia University (11th),  New York University (NYU, 12th), University of Pennsylvania (13th) and Northwestern University (14th). As well as being the world’s number one country in terms of economic output, the US is also ahead when it comes to quality, with three of the top five economics research papers coming out of (or in collaboration with) US institutions, our research partners at Elsevier found.  

Canada claims two universities in the top 50 for economics this year: the University of Toronto (22nd) and University of British Columbia (23rd). Both schools earn high scores for the research citations by paper index which measures the strength of the faculty’s research. In the economics department at the University of British Columbia, the faculty’s research is widely influential across Canada and has impacted public policies on issues such as taxes and minimum wage rates.

Top universities for economics in Europe

Europe is home to 214 of the world’s best economics and econometrics schools this year. Of these, 51 are situated in the  United Kingdom, including six in the top 50.

The top-ranking European economics programme can be found at the UK’s London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE). LSE’s economics department counts ten Nobel Prize winners amongst its faculty and almost every major intellectual development within economics over the past 50 years has had input from members of the department.

The highest ranked economics and econometrics programme outside of the UK and US can be found in Italy at Università Commerciale Luigi Bocconi (18th). The school maintains close links with international corporations, contributing to its high score in the employer reputation indicator. In total, Italy counts 21 universities in this year’s economics schools ranking.  

Germany claims two universities in the global top 50 for economics. Of these, the top-ranked is Universität Mannheim (joint 40th); a school which takes an international approach to teaching and is widely regarded for its strong research reputation and the quality of its economics courses. Approximately one fifth of Germany’s research papers made it into the top 10 percent of academic journals worldwide, Elsevier found.

Belgium performs well this year, with three of its six universities in the global top 100. Of these, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven performs the best in joint 60th. The Netherlands claims five universities in the top 100 and 10, with its top-ranking  Tilburg University placing in joint 28th worldwide.  

France is home to 15 of the economics universities featured in this year’s rankings, with six in the world top 100. Paris School of Economics once again takes the top spot in France (ranking joint 40th). Elsevier found that this year, France’s academic research in economics has focused mainly on entrepreneurship and digital currency, renewable energy, stock market volatility and the EU.  

Spain also performs well, with 17 schools in the index and its top-ranking school, Universidad Carlos III, in 47th place.

Seven of the world’s best economics courses can be found at Switzerland’s universities and two of these are in the global top 50. The economics courses at University of Zurich (joint 30th) combine modern economics with elements of history, political science, psychology, sociology, biology and neuroscience.

Top universities for economics in Australia and New Zealand

Australia has 21 of the best universities in the world for economics and econometrics. Five of these are in the global top 50. The economics courses at the top-ranking University of Melbourne (joint 30th) teach students problem solving and data analysis skills which can be used for a wide range of careers.  

The University of Sydney (joint 38th) earns one of the country’s highest scores for employer reputation. Its alumni include a former Prime Minister, leaders in the World and Reserve banks and many graduates have held influential positions in the Treasury and other policy departments.  

New Zealand’s universities boast seven of the world’s top economics and econometrics courses, with the University of Auckland (joint 96th) taking the top spot in New Zealand, earning a high score for employer reputation.

Top universities for economics in Asia

Asia is home to 94 of the world’s most prestigious universities to study economics and econometrics.   

Mainland China claims the majority of these, with 24 top schools, and two in the world top 50. Mainland China has seen a general improvement in our subject rankings for Economics, with many institutions moving up the ranks. This is reflective of fiercer competition from China more widely this year, as can be seen in our other subjects. Peking University ranks 24th for its economics programme which helps students build transferrable problem solving and data analysis skills. Tsinghua University places close behind in joint 25th this year, with a high score in employer reputation.

Japan has the second highest number of universities in Asia, with 13 universities in the rankings this year. The University of Tokyo (30th) is the highest ranked of these, despite dropping two places this year.

South Korea has 11 economics programmes featuring in the index, including Seoul National University (SNU), which rises three places this year to joint 45th. SNU earns its highest score in the employer reputation indicator and its graduates have been hired in many leading economic institutions around the world, including in government positions.

Hong Kong performs well this year, with three of its six economics universities in the world top 50. The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST) performs best for economics and econometrics in 27th place. HKUST earns an impressive score for the research citations per paper indicator due to the strong research published by its faculty in some of the top academic journals in economics. The Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK) and University of Hong Kong (HKU) also perform well, ranking 48th and 49th respectively.  

Of Taiwan’s seven entries this year, National Taiwan University (NTU) scores the highest in 83rd place.Singapore is home to three top universities to study economics, with all three in the world top 100, including National University of Singapore (NUS) in 17th place.

Top universities for economics in Latin America  

There are 25 Latin American economics programmes featured in the subject rankings this year.

The majority of these are located in Brazil, where there are eight top universities offering excellent economics courses. The highest ranked of these is Fundação Getulio Vargas in 101-150. It scores highly in the research citations per paper indicator and has over 90 research centers, each producing a large volume of academic research.

Colombia is home to five economics programmes in the rankings, with Universidad de Los Andes Colombia (Uniandes, 151-200) earning the best score for employer reputation in the country. Uniandes strives for academic excellence while encouraging character development amongst its students. This unique mix makes the school’s graduates very popular amongst employers.  

One of Argentina ’s three entries, Universidad de Buenos Aires scores particularly well for employer reputation. The school offers a variety of paid educational internships in companies across the country to help boost students’ career prospects.  Mexico also has three entries, with its top economics programme found at Tecnológico de Monterrey (ITESM). ITESM climbed an impressive six places in 2021 to reach 145th.  

Chile’s four entries this year include Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile in 106th and Uruguay and Peru each have a single economics programme featuring in the index this year.

Top universities for economics in Africa and the Middle East

Africa is home to seven top universities for economics and econometrics. Five of these are situated in South Africa, and two are in Egypt. Of the universities in South Africa, University of Johannesburg and University of The Witwatersrand have both risen up to 50 places in the rankings this year, both placing 351-400. 

One of Egypt's two programmes in the rankings, Cairo University, also climbed up to 50 places this year, ranking 301-350. The school’s economics courses are four years long and aim to educate students in economics, statistics and political science.  

The Middle East has eight universities in the rankings this year. Israel‘s Hebrew University of Jerusalem and Tel Aviv University rank the highest in the Middle East, both in the top 200 worldwide. 

Saudi Arabia’s King Abdul Aziz University (KAU, 201-250), the UAE’s United Arab Emirates University (451-500) and Iran’s sole entry, University of Tehran (401-450), have all climbed up to 50 places this year.

This article was originally published in March 2021 .

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Written by

As Content Editor for TopUniversities.com and TopMBA.com, Chloe creates and publishes a wide range of articles for universities and business schools across the world. Chloe has a Bachelor’s degree in Economics from the University of Reading and grew up in Leicestershire, UK. 

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