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Top Universities for Physics in 2019

physics

Physics is one of the oldest scientific disciplines, and the most fundamental to understanding how the universe behaves. The QS World University Rankings by Subject 2019 includes a physics and astronomy ranking, extended to feature 600 of the world’s best institutions for this subject, all ranked according to this methodology.

If you’re interested in comparing the best physics schools, and on a global scale, then read on for a regional breakdown of this year’s top universities for the subject – including a brief overview of the top 10 – or click here for the full table.

Top 10 Universities for Physics and Astronomy

Based on the QS World University Rankings by Subject 2019

Rank

Name of Institution 

Location

1

2

US

3

US

4

5

US

6

UK

7

US

8

US

9

10

Top universities for physics in the US & Canada

The North American region currently claims a total of 116 institutions in the physics university ranking, 21 of which are based in Canada.

Six out of four of the world’s top 10 universities for physics and astronomy are based in the US, with a further four of the nation’s representatives making the global top 20, and 10 more in the top 50 – with impressive performance in the range from both the University of Maryland, College Park and the University of Michigan; the first climbing 11 places this year to rank in 30th place, while the latter climbed up a total of eight spots, now placing joint 32nd for the subject worldwide. 

11 more US universities make the global top 50 in the physics ranking, and in the top 100, Rice University moved up from its former position in the 101-150 range.

Traveling north to Canada, a few Canadian universities improved their spot this year, with its overall best performer being the University of Toronto, which moved up two places to rank 21st. Next is the University of British Columbia, which now ranks 38th after climbing a total of five places, followed by another improved institution for the subject, McGill University (40th, up from 51-100).

Top universities or physics in Europe

Europe dominates the physics university ranking this year, with a total of 254 entrants – led by Germany and the UK, with 45 and 38 entrants, respectively.

Of Germany’s 45 representatives, five are ranked in the global top 50: Technische Universität München (up five places to rank 16th), Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München (20th), Ruprecht-Karls-Universität Heidelberg (up four places to rank joint 28th), KIT Karlsruher Instituts für Technologie, (also up four places to 31st), and Rheinisch-Westfälische Technische Hochschule Aachen (climbing from 51-100 to now rank 43rd).

Aside from Oxford and Cambridge in the top 10, the UK has four more entrants in this year’s top 50 universities for physics worldwide, with Imperial College London maintaining its position in 11th place, followed by UCL (University College London) in joint 36th place, the (44th) and the University of Edinburgh (joint 47th).

Up next with a total of 26 entrants in the physics university ranking is Italy – the nation’s highest-ranked institution for the subject, Sapienza Università di Roma, also happened to improve its position in the ranking by five places this year, now placing joint 34th.

France is home to 22 top universities for physics and astronomy, its best performer being Ecole Polytechnique in joint 32nd place, followed by new highly-ranked entrants – Univeristé PSL (Paris Sciences & Lettres) in 46th place, and Sorbonne University (joint 49th).

Of Russia’s 17 representatives this year, Lomonosov Moscow State University is the best performer, in 26th place.

Heading back to southern Europe, Spain is home to 15 ranked universities for physics, led by Universidad Autónoma de Madrid at 51-100.

Another of the world’s top 50 universities for physics is based in the Netherlands – Delft University of Technology, which retains its position of joint 49th this year.

Sweden and Belgium both host eight entrants each, with Sweden’s best performers, KTH, Royal Institute of Technology and Lund University, both maintaining their places in the 51-100 range; while Belgium’s highest-ranked institution, Université Libre de Bruxelles (ULB), continues to rank at 101-150.

With six representatives each, Ireland, Austria, Finland, Poland and Greece also claim some of the world’s top universities for physics: Ireland’s Trinity College Dublin (TCD) remains at 101-150, and Austria’s highest-ranked, Universität Wien, climbed from 151-200 to 101-150. Both Finland and Poland claim their best performers – the University of Helsinki and the University of Warsaw – in the top 200.

Meanwhile, Portugal’s five entrants this year are led by the University of Lisbon (151-200), while the University of Copenhagen continues to be the highest ranked of Denmark’s four top universities for physics and astronomy, at 51-100.

Each home to three entrants are the Czech Republic and Norway, though it’s the Czech Technical University in Prague performing the most notably at 201-250.

Slovenia, Hungary, Ukraine and Romania have two entrants each, with Slovenia’s University of Ljubljana leading the lot at an improved ranking of 201-250.

And finally, with just one representative apiece are Lithuania, Serbia, Croatia, Slovakia, Estonia, and new entrant Belarus.

Top universities for physics in Asia

China has the most representatives of any Asian location in this year’s physics university ranking, with 36 institutions in total. Two make the global top 20, with Tsinguia University ranking the highest in 18th place, directly followed by Peking University (19th). A further five Chinese universities rank in the top 100 worldwide, with Zhejiang University being the most improved, having gone up from placing the 151-200 range, followed by Nanjing University (up from 101-150).

Next up in Asia is Japan, with 24 entrants. In addition to the University of Tokyo in the top 10, other top Japanese universities for physics and astronomy include Kyoto University (24th), Tokyo Institute of Technology (joint 36th), Tohoku University (41st), and Osaka University (45th).

South Korea is currently home to 21 top universities for physics, with a total of four in the global top 100, led by Seoul National University (SNU) in joint 34th place.

India follows with 16 representatives, led by the Indian Institute of Technology Bombay (IITB) at 101-150 (up from 151-200). The nation’s second-best institution for the subject, the Indian Institute of Technology Madras (IITM), also saw an improvement in the ranking this year (up from 201-250 to now rank 151-200). 

Of Taiwan’s 10 top physics schools this year, the National Taiwan University (NTU) and the National Tsing Hua University are the nation’s best, both ranked 51-100.

Hong Kong has six representatives in the physics university ranking this year, also with two in the 51-100 range: the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST) and the University of Hong Kong (HKU).

Malaysia and Pakistan both claim five institutions each, though it’s Malaysia’s prestigious Universiti Malaya (UM) that achieves the top spot, at 151-200 (up from 201-250). Also with five entrants is Pakistan, with National University of Sciences and Technology (NUST) Islamabad climbing from 451-500 to 351-400.

Elsewhere, Thailand is home to three of the world’s top physics schools, led by Chulalongkorn University, which climbed from 301-350 to 251-300. Singapore and Indonesia meanwhile have two entrants each, with Singapore’s National University of Singapore (NUS) ranked 25th, while Nanyang Technological University (NTU) (also in Singapore) is joint 28th place after climbing an impressive 10 spots. 

And finally, Indonesia is new to this year’s ranking with two representatives, while Vietnam and Kazakhstan each have one top physics school – the former being a new entrant to this year’s physics university ranking.

Top universities for physics in Australia & New Zealand

In the Australasian continent, Australia dominates the physics university ranking, with 16 ranked institutions for the subject. The Australian National University (ANU) is the highest achiever and the only Australian university to rank in the top 50 for physics (42nd). The University of Melbourne and the University of Sydney both follow at 51-100, sharing the title of second-best.  

Meanwhile in New Zealand, the University of Auckland ranks the highest, at 151-200, and is followed by the University of Canterbury which made a drastic improvement this year (from 251-300 to 201-250).

Top universities for physics in Latin America

In the Latin American region, it’s Brazil that dominates the physics university ranking, with 11 representatives in total. The nation’s best ranked university for the subject is Universidade de São Paulo, which retains its position in the global top 51-100, alongside Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile (with a total of six entrants in Chile).

Mexico follows with seven entrants, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM) ranking the highest, at 101-150.

Argentina’s three top universities for physics are led by the notable Universidad de Buenos Aires (101-150), while Colombia’s only two entrants this year both managed to improve their positions in the ranking: the nation’s highest-ranked, Universidad de Los Andes Colombia (at 251-300, up from 301-350) and Universidad Nacional de Colombia (301-350, up from 351-400).

Peru and Puerto Rico are both new to this year’s physics university ranking, with one entrant each.  

Top universities for physics in Africa & the Middle East

Traveling to Africa, the continent is home to a total of seven top universities for physics – five of which are based in South Africa, with the University of Cape Town preserving its spot as the nation’s top-ranked institution for the subject, despite dropping from 151-200 to now place 201-250. Egypt meanwhile is home to two top physics schools, with Cairo University ranking the highest (351-400).

Heading to the Middle East, Turkey leads with the most entrants (seven), the Middle East Technical University being the nation’s best performer (up from 301-350 to 251-300).

However, it’s Israel which is home to the region’s highest-ranked universities for physics and astronomy, with Technion – Israel Institute of Technology and Weizmann Institute of Science both up from 151-200 to 101-150. Four more Israeli universities are featured among the world’s best for this subject.

Of Saudi Arabia’s four world-renowned representatives, two are new entrants this year – including the highest-ranked, King Abdulaziz University (KAU) (301-350). And finally, Iran is new this year, with Sharif University of Technology coming 451-500 for physics and astronomy.

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Written by Belkis Megraoui
A former content writer for TopUniversities.com, Belkis published a range of articles for students and graduates across the globe. She has a zeal for history and a natural flair for the arts and sports. She also holds a bachelor’s degree in English Language & Communication with Journalism from the University of Hertfordshire and is a native speaker of the Arabic language.

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