Top Universities for Environmental Sciences in 2021 | Top Universities

Top Universities for Environmental Sciences in 2021

By Chloe Lane

Updated March 19, 2021 Updated March 19, 2021
  • There are 451 universities offering environmental science courses this year.
  • The best university to study environmental sciences this year is Harvard University in the United States.

The recently released QS World University Rankings by Subject 2021 features 451 of the top higher education institutions to study environmental sciences, with 54 new entries this year.

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

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

Top 10 Universities for Environmental Sciences in the World

Based on the QS World University Rankings by Subject 2021


Name of Institution



Harvard University

United States


Stanford University

United States

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)

United States

University of Oxford

United Kingdom


University of Cambridge

United Kingdom


Wageningen University


ETH Zurich (Swiss Federal Institute of Technology)


Tsinghua University


University of California, Berkeley (UCB)

United States


Imperial College London

United Kingdom

See the full ranking for environmental sciences here  

Top universities for environmental sciences in the US and Canada

There are 101 schools in the United States offering environmental science programmes in this year’s subject rankings, with four of these making it into the worldwide top ten. The US is second in terms of the global share of research done in environmental science, according to our research partners at Elsevier.  

However, the US takes the top three spots in the index, with Harvard University and Stanford University in joint first place and MIT just behind in third.

Over in Canada, there are 21 universities offering environmental science courses. These include three top 50 entries: University of British Columbia (12th), McGill University (28th) and University of Toronto (joint 31st).

Top universities for environmental sciences in Europe

Europe has 165 schools offering programmes in environmental science – the most of any region. European schools make up half of the top 10 table, with University of Oxford the highest ranked university in the region, in fourth place globally.

Overall, the United Kingdom claims 42 universities offering courses in environmental science this year. The University of Oxford, University of Cambridge (joint fifth) and Imperial College London (10th) account for 15 percent of the published research papers in Environmental science in the UK, according to our research partners at Elsevier.

Outside of the UK, China and the US, other top 10 entries include the Netherlands’ Wageningen University in joint fifth, up three places this year. The Netherlands claims eight other entries, including Delft University of Technology (14th).

Switzerland’s ETH Zurich (Swiss Federal Institute of Technology) also makes it into the top 10, in seventh place. Of Switzerland’s seven universities, two more can be found in the global top 100: Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL, joint 25th) and University of Zurich (joint 95th).

Germany is the fourth biggest location in terms of research into environmental science. This year it claims an impressive 33 universities in the subject, including three in the global top 100. Its highest ranking university this year is Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin (joint 62nd).

France performs well, with 13 schools featured. Its top environmental science programmes are found at Sorbonne University and Université de Montpellier, which both rank 101-150. Meanwhile Finland has six universities featuring.

Poland and Russia each contain one university in the subject rankings for environmental science. Poland’s new entry, Jagiellonian University, ranks 401-450. Elsewhere, the Czech Republic and Greece each claim three entries this year and Ireland claims four.

Also performing well in the index are Spain and Italy, with 13 and 12 schools respectively. Italy’s Politecnico di Milano is the best performing of these in joint 95th and earning a high score in the research citations per index indicator – a reflection of the quality of its research.

Sweden is home to three top 50 entries amongst its 10 universities featuring this year. Stockholm University is the best of these, in joint 23rd after rising eight positions this year. Belgium’s seven featured universities include new entry, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, in 61st.

Norway and Austria each count five universities in the environmental science rankings, including two new entries for each. Denmark also has five, with two of its best performing universities reaching the global top 50 for their environmental science programmes: Technical University of Denmark (38th) and University of Copenhagen (joint 41st).

Top universities for environmental sciences in Australia and New Zealand

In Australia, 24 universities offer environmental science programmes this year. Four of these can be found in the top 50 of the subject rankings for environmental science, including the University of Queensland (UQ, 17th),  University of New South Wales (UNSW, 19th), University of Melbourne (25th) and Australian National University (ANU, 34th).

Over in New Zealand there are seven universities featured. Its highest ranking university for environmental science is University of Auckland in joint 92nd.

Top universities for environmental sciences in Asia

There are 93 Asian universities offering environmental science courses. Of these, 21 are in the global 100 and eight are in the top 50. The highest ranked university in the region is Tsinghua University (eighth) in Mainland China – the only Asian university to make it into the global top 10.

Mainland China leads the way in research for the environmental sciences, with 15 percent of research in this area coming from China, Elsevier found. Many of the universities involved in this research also perform well in the rankings this year, including the two highest ranking universities: Peking University (joint 21st) and Zhejiang University (joint 39th). The location features 36 environmental science universities overall – the highest number in the region.

South Korea also performs well this year, with 12 universities offering environmental science courses. Seoul National University (SNU) is the highest ranking of these, in 55th. Meanwhile, both of Singapore’s entries make it into the top 20: National University of Singapore (NUS, 11th) and Nanyang Technological University (NTU, 13th).

Of the five schools offering environmental science courses in Hong Kong SAR this year, there are two top 50 entries: The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST, joint 41st, up nine positions) and University of Hong Kong (HKU, joint 44th).

Six of Asia’s best schools for environmental science are located in India, including new entry Indian Institute of Technology Guwahati (IITG, 401-450). The University of Tokyo is the best of Japan’s 10 entries for environmental science, in joint 29th position.

Pakistan and Thailand each claim four universities in the index while Malaysia claims five. The Philippines and Indonesia each have one entrant for environmental science and Taiwan counts seven.

Top universities for environmental sciences in Latin America  

This year, 17 Latin American schools are featured in the subject rankings for environmental science.

Brazil claims the highest proportion of these with nine universities featuring. Brazil’s best performing university is Universidade de São Paulo (USP, joint 71st) and the country has three new entries this year.

Chile’s three universities in the rankings this year include its top ranking university, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile in 151-200. Colombia also has three schools featuring in the index, with two placing in the global top 300.

Argentina’s two entries include Universidad de Buenos Aires (151-200) which scores particularly well in the employer reputation indicator this year.

Top universities for environmental sciences in Africa and the Middle East

The Middle East is home to 10 of the world’s best universities to study environmental sciences.

Two of Saudi Arabia’s universities offer environmental sciences courses this year, including the region’s highest ranked school: King Abdul Aziz University (KAU, 101-150).

The United Arab Emirates has a single entrant this year, Khalifa University in 251-300 and Qatar University (401-450) is Qatar’s only university offering an environmental science programme.

Turkey has two universities featured this year: Istanbul Technical University and Middle East Technical University, both ranking in 301-350. Israel’s highest ranked university, Hebrew University of Jerusalem, also places in the top 350.

South Africa represents Africa this year with six universities in the index. Its highest performing university, University of Cape Town, places in 151-200.

This article was originally published in March 2021 .

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Written by

As Content Editor for and, 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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