Top Universities for Physics in 2020 | Top Universities

Top Universities for Physics in 2020

By Chloe Lane

Updated April 8, 2021 Updated April 8, 2021

The recently released QS World University Rankings by Subject 2020 features 601 of the top higher education institutions to study physics.

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 physics schools in each region. Alternatively, if you would like to explore the physics schools in further detail, click here to view the full table.

Top 10 Universities for Physics in the World

Based on the QS World University Rankings by Subject 2020


Name of Institution



Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)

United States


Stanford University

United States


Harvard University

United States


University of Cambridge

United Kingdom


University of Oxford

United Kingdom


University of California, Berkeley (UCB)

United States


California Institute of Technology (Caltech)

United States


Princeton University

United States


ETH Zurich (Swiss Federal Institute of Technology)



The University of Tokyo


See the full ranking for physics here >>

Top universities for physics in the US and Canada

The United States contains 118 of the 601 top physics universities in the world. Of these, six can be found in the world top ten, including the world leader Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) which earns a perfect score in both the academic reputation and employer reputation indicators. Outside of the top ten, University of Chicago rises five places to 12th, Yale University rises two places to 13th, and the University of Austin climbs an impressive eight places this year to joint 31st place.

Canada is home to 21 of these universities; three of which are located in the world top 50: University of Toronto (21st), University of British Columbia (41st) and McGill University  (falling eight places this year to joint 48th ).

Top universities for physics in Europe

255 of the world’s top universities to study physics can be found in Europe. Of these, 37 are in the United Kingdom. The University of Cambridge and University of Oxford are both featured in the top 10, in fourth and fifth place respectively. Other notable universities include Imperial College London (11th) and University College London (UCL, up eight places this year to joint 28th), the University of Manchester (up seven places to joint 37th) and University of Edinburgh (also up 7 places to 40th).

Germany’s universities score particularly well this year in the physics ranking, with 43 universities featured in the rankings and five in the top 50. Notable mentions include Germany’s highest ranked university, Technische Universität München (17th) and KIT, Karlsruher Institut für Technologie (which dropped 11 places this year to joint 42nd). France also scores well with 22 entrants this year, including three in the top 50, with Université PSL (Paris Sciences & Lettres) rising nine places this year to joint 37th.

Italy is home to 25 top universities to study physics, including top ranking Sapienza - Università di Roma in 35th place. Russia contains 17 physics universities, with Lomonosov Moscow State University in 33rd place – still the highest ranked physics university in Russia despite dropping seven places this year. Spain has 14 universities in the rankings this year and the Netherlands has 9, with Delft University of Technology, rising seven places to joint 42nd place. University of Amsterdam is also new to the top 50 this year, rising 1 place to 50th position.

Poland and Switzerland each have seven universities in the physics school rankings. Switzerland has one university in the top 10 (ETH Zurich (Swiss Federal Institute of Technology), 9th place) and another in the top 20 (Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL), in joint 15th).

Top universities for physics in Australia and New Zealand

Australia contains an impressive 18 universities in this year’s physics school rankings. Of these, seven are featured in the top 150 in the world, with the highest ranked university Australian National University (ANU) in 45th place (falling three places this year). One other notable Australian university is the University of Adelaide (101-150th), scoring particularly well in the research citations per paper indicator.

Over to New Zealand now, where five physics universities can be found. Coming out on top in New Zealand is the University of Auckland in 151-200th and scoring well in the research citations per paper indicator.

Top universities for physics in Asia

138 physics schools are found in Asia. Of these, an incredible 39 are in Mainland China. China’s 39 physics schools include three in the world top 50: Tsinghua University (rising three places to joint 15th), Peking University (18th) and Shanghai Jiao Tong University (rising three places to joint 48th). Japan also performs well in this year’s rankings, with 25 universities featured this year, including the University of Tokyo in 10th, Kyoto University (joint 25th), Tokyo Institute of Technology (up two places to 34th) Tohoku University (46th) and Osaka University (joint 50th).

South Korea has 21 universities in this year’s rankings. These include four in the top 100, including Seoul National University (SNU) in 36th place and ranking well in all of the indicators.

Indonesia, Vietnam and Bangladesh each have one ranked physics school this year, whereas Thailand, Singapore and Kazakhstan each have two. Both of Singapore’s ranked universities appear in the world top 50; National University of Singapore (NUS, 24th) and Nanyang Technological University (NTU, joint 31st).

India performs well in the physics school rankings, with 18 top institutions situated there. Five of these are in the world top 200, including Indian Institute of Science (IISc) Bangalore (up from 201-250th to 101-150th this year) and Indian Institute of Technology Bombay (IITB, 101-150th). Taiwan also performs well, with 10 universities in the rankings and two in the top 100 – National Taiwan University (NTU) and National Tsing Hua University.

Hong Kong’s six universities include the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST, rising four places to 47th).

Top universities for physics in Latin America     

Latin America has 28 physics universities in the rankings. 10 of these are in Brazil, with Universidade de São Paulo (USP) in the world top 100. There are six top physics universities in Chile, including Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile in the top 150. Peru and Puerto Rico each have a single entrant in the ranking this year.

Mexico has five top physics universities, including Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM) in 101-150th place and ranking particularly well in the employer reputation indicator. Argentina’s three universities include one in the world top 150; Universidad de Buenos Aires, which scores well in both the employer reputation indicator and the research citations per paper indicator. Columbia is also home to two physics universities.

Top universities for physics in Africa and the Middle East

In Africa there are seven physics schools in the ranking this year, including two from Egypt; Cairo University (351-400th) and Ain Shams University (451-500th). South Africa contains five top physics universities, with University of Cape Town in top place, ranking 201-250th.

Meanwhile over in the Middle East, there are 11 universities in this year’s physics schools ranking. Of these, two are from Iran, five from Israel and four are located in Saudi Arabia. Israel’s top physics schools, Technion - Israel Institute of Technology and Weizmann Institute of Science both rank 151-200th.

This article was originally published in March 2020 . It was last updated in April 2021

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Written by

A Content Writer for, Chloe has a Bachelor’s degree in Economics from the University of Reading and grew up in Leicestershire, UK. She enjoys writing articles about a wide range of topics for a student audience. 

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