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Top Universities for Mathematics: US and UK

Top Universities for Mathematics: US and UK main image

The QS World University Rankings by Subject 2018 includes a ranking of the world’s 400 top universities for mathematics, based on a methodology which assesses employer and academic reputations as well as each institution’s research impact.

The US and the UK are particularly dominant in this ranking, with the US claiming 76 representatives while the UK has 34. All but one of the top 10 math schools is also from one of these countries. Here’s a closer look at the top universities for mathematics in the US and the UK, or click here to explore the full interactive table.

United States

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)


Ranked first in the world for mathematics in 2018, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) receives a perfect score for academic reputation, one of the four used to compile the rankings. Mathematics has played an important role at MIT since its founding and the university is now a world leader in pure and applied mathematics education and research, with many award winners among its faculty.

If you study mathematics at undergraduate level at MIT, you can choose to focus your Bachelor of Science in Mathematics on one of the three concentrations: applied mathematics, pure mathematics or general mathematics.

You may also choose another major in computer science, physics, economics or other subjects, and the department also offers a mathematics with computer science degree if you’re interested in both fields.

Harvard University


Harvard University continues to rank second in the world for mathematics, with an almost perfect score for employer reputation. Its Department of Mathematics is part of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, located in the Harvard Science Center, which also houses facilities such as the Derek Bok Center for Teaching and Learning, the Cabot Library and the Birkhoff Mathematical Library, which houses a collection of 12,000 pure mathematics monographs.

Stanford University

Ranked third in the math ranking this year, Stanford University’s Department of Mathematics offers a major and minor in mathematics, with applied and theoretical math housed under the same major. Its mathematics major is flexible, with most students able to study another major or minor, or coterm, in other areas.

Princeton University

Princeton University

Up one place this year to rank sixth in the math ranking, Princeton University’s mathematics major is one of the most versatile at the university, providing you with opportunities to work with some of the best mathematicians in the world in a wide range of the fundamental aspects of both applied and pure mathematics. At graduate level, the department’s program is unique among other top math schools in that it emphasizes independent research from the start.

University of California, Berkeley (UCB)

University of California, Berkeley

Next among the world’s top universities for mathematics is the University of California, Berkeley (UCB) at seventh, which achieved its strongest score for academic reputation. One of the broadest and liveliest academic departments, UCB’s department of mathematics has around 680 students and 55 regular faculty members and is also enriched by visiting teachers who come from all over the world to teach courses, collaborate in research, be available as consultants and give talks in the weekly Mathematics Colloquium.

University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA)


Ranked ninth for mathematics this year, the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) is the youngest of these top math schools by far, having awarded its first PhD in 1947. In close proximity to UCLA’s Department of Mathematics is the Institute for Pure and Applied Mathematics, funded by the National Science Foundation, which operates important interactions with the department and runs a unique two-month research program for undergraduate students.

United Kingdom

University of Oxford

Oxford University

The highest-ranked UK university in mathematics, placing fourth globally, continues to be the University of Oxford. Mathematics at Oxford is mostly taught via tutorials, with small groups of students taught by a world expert in mathematics, providing a flexible and personalized style of teaching. This system allows tutors to closely monitor your progress and guide you in your studies.

Mathematics graduates from Oxford are in high demand, with an average salary of £31,300 six months after graduation, working in areas such as finance, consultancy and IT.

University of Cambridge

Just one place behind its rival at fifth is the University of Cambridge, which achieved the highest score among the world’s top math schools for employer reputation. The university’s Faculty of Mathematics is housed within the Centre for Mathematical Sciences, which is also home to the Isaac Newton Institute, an international research institute named after one of Cambridge’s most celebrated alumni.

The faculty’s undergraduate course, known as the Mathematical Tripos, can be taken for three or four years, with those graduating after four years receiving BA and MMath degrees.

Imperial College London

Imperial College London

Up from 11th to 10th place in this year’s math ranking, Imperial College London achieves its strongest score for employer reputation. The Department of Mathematics boasts its own excellent library facilities, substantial computing power and outstanding level of teaching and research. In addition to projects completed as part of their students, undergraduate students are invited to apply for the summer Undergraduate Research Opportunities Programme (UROP), academic internships which allow students to work alongside the research groups in the department.

Other top math schools around the world

Also ranked in the global top 10 for mathematics this year is Switzerland’s ETH Zurich (Swiss Federal Institute of Technology), which is ranked eighth. Expanding our focus to the 20 top universities for mathematics, you’ll find several more US universities, as well as Singapore’s National University of Singapore (NUS) (13th), Japan’s University of Tokyo (17th), Canada’s University of Toronto (19th) and China’s Peking University (20th).

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Sabrina Collier's profile image
Written by Sabrina Collier
The former Assistant Editor of TopUniversities.com, 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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