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Top Universities for Physics & Astronomy in 2017

Top Universities for Physics & Astronomy in 2017 main image

The QS World University Rankings by Subject features a ranking of the top universities for physics and astronomy, extended this year to now feature over 500 institutions from around the world.

Read on for an overview of the top physics schools in each world region, or click here to view the full interactive table.

Top 10 Universities for Physics & Astronomy Worldwide

Based on the QS World University Rankings by Subject 2017


Name of Institution



















Top universities for physics in the US & Canada

The US boasts 95 representatives in the physics ranking, including the same six universities in the top 10 as last year. A further 10 US institutions feature in the top 50, including the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) (12th), the University of Chicago (13th), Yale University (=14th) and Columbia University (=19th).

18 more of the world’s best universities for physics can be found in Canada, including three in the top 50:  University of Toronto (=25th), the University of British Colombia (34th) and McGill University (39th, up from 51-100).

Top universities for physics in Europe

An impressive 231 top universities for physics are found in Europe, with Germany boasting the most entries out of any European country featured, with 41 institutions in the ranking. There are five German universities in the top 50, including Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München (=16th),  Technische Universität München (TU Munich) (=19th) and KIT, Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (=31st).

A further 37 of the world’s best universities for physics and astronomy are based within the UK, with Imperial College London again missing out on a top 10 position for physics (it’s ranked 11th). The other two UK universities ranked in the top 50 for this subject are the University of Manchester (=40th) and UCL (University College London) (=44th).

Italy also performs well, with 23 representatives in the physics ranking, including Sapienza - Università di Roma (=44th).

Another 19 of the world’s best universities for physics are found in France, including Ecole Polytechnique ParisTech in the top 50 and three other institutions in the top 100.

Russia has 16 top physics schools, including six new entries. Three of Russia’s institutions are in the global top 50 for this subject: Lomonosov Moscow State University (21st), Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology (MIPT) (=42nd) and Novosibirsk State University (50th).

Spain has 12 representatives in the physics ranking, including  Universidad Autónoma de Madrid and Universitat de Barcelona in the top 100.

Belgium, the Netherlands and Sweden are home to eight top universities for physics each, with three of the Netherlands’ entries featuring in the top 100, including Delft University of Technology. Sweden’s highest-ranked institution is KTH, Royal Institute of Technology (also ranked 51-100), while Belgium’s is Université catholique de Louvain (UCL) (101-150). 

Switzerland is another strong country for physics and astronomy, with seven representatives in the ranking. Outside of ETH Zurich in the top 10, Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) has also performed well and is ranked joint 14th.

Austria has six top physics schools, including Vienna University of Technology at 101-150, while Finland, Poland and Portugal have five entrants in the physics ranking each, with the Finnish University of Helsinki the best-performing university from these countries at 101-150.

Fellow Nordic nation Denmark has four top universities for physics, with the University of Copenhagen the highest-ranked at 51-100. Greece and Ireland also have four entrants, with Ireland’s University College Dublin a notable performer with a ranking of 151-200.

Elsewhere, Norway and the Czech Republic have three representatives in the physics ranking each, while Hungary, Romania and Slovenia have two apiece. Of these five countries, the Czech Republic’s Charles University and Czech Technical University In Prague are the two highest-ranked at 151-200.

Finally, six European countries joined the physics ranking this year, all with one entrant: Belarus, Croatia, Estonia, Serbia, Slovakia and Ukraine.

Top universities for physics in Asia

China claims the largest share of Asia’s best universities for physics again this year, with 26 representatives, including six new entries. China’s highest-ranked universities for physics and astronomy are Peking University (18th) and Tsinghua University (24th).

South Korea is next with 20 top universities for physics, including five new entries. The highest-ranked South Korean institutions are Seoul National University (SNU) (30th) and KAIST - Korea Advanced Institute of Science & Technology (=44th).

Japan is home to 18 of the world’s top physics schools, with six of these boasting top 50 positions. As well as the University of Tokyo in the top 10, other high-ranking Japanese institutions for physics and astronomy include: Kyoto University (=16th), Tokyo Institute of Technology (29th) and Tohoku University (=31st).

India also performs well, with 13 entrants in the physics ranking, the highest-ranked of which is Indian Institute of Technology Bombay (IITB) at 101-150. Taiwan is home to eight of the world’s top physics schools, led by National Taiwan University in 37th place.

Hong Kong and Malaysia have five entrants each, with the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST) and the University of Hong Kong (HKU) both ranked 51-100.

Although Singapore has just two universities in the physics ranking, they shouldn’t be written off, as both institutions achieve positions in the top 50. The National University of Singapore (NUS) is joint 25th, while the Nanyang Technological University is placed 47th. Also with two top physics schools is Pakistan, while Kazakhstan and Thailand both enter the ranking this year with one representative each.

Top universities for physics in Australia & New Zealand

A total of 16 Australian universities feature in the physics ranking, including five new entries. The  University of Melbourne continues to be the highest-ranked Australian university for physics and astronomy, ranked 48th this year. Also ranked well are the Australian National University and the University of Sydney at 51-100.

Four more of the world’s best universities for physics are found in New Zealand, with the University of Auckland the highest-ranked of these at 101-150.

Top universities for physics in Latin America

Of the 23 top physics schools across Latin America, 11 are found in Brazil, including Universidade de São Paulo (USP), Universidade Estadual de Campinas (Unicamp) and Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro all ranked 101-150.

Chile has five top physics schools, including the highest-ranked institution in Latin America for this subject: Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile (UC) (51-100). Mexico has three representatives in the ranking, led by Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM) at 101-150.

Argentina and Colombia both have two top universities for physics each, with the Argentinian Universidad de Buenos Aires a strong performer with a place in the top 150. 

Top universities for physics in Africa & the Middle East

Israel and Turkey are home to four of the world’s best universities for physics each, with Israel’s Technion – Israel Institute of Technology ranked 101-150. Saudi Arabia is new to the physics ranking this year with two entrants, including King Abdullah University of Science & Technology at 401-450.

Meanwhile in Africa, South Africa has three top universities for physics, led by the University of Cape Town at 201-250. Egypt joins it in the ranking with one entrant, Cairo University, which is placed 401-450 for physics and astronomy.

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Written by Sabrina Collier
Sabrina is a content writer for, providing guidance on a wide range of topics. A graduate of Aberystwyth University, Sabrina is originally from the West Midlands but now lives in London. 

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