Top 10 Universities for Natural Sciences 2015/16 | Top Universities

Top 10 Universities for Natural Sciences 2015/16

By Sabrina Collier

Updated April 5, 2017 Updated April 5, 2017

Click here to discover the top universities for natural sciences in 2017.

Want to study a natural sciences subject at one of the world’s highest performing universities in the field? The QS World University Rankings by Faculty highlights the world’s top universities in five major subject areas: arts & humanities, engineering & technology, life sciences & medicine, natural sciences, and social sciences & management. These rankings are compiled using data on research citations, as well as the results of QS’s global surveys of academics and employers. Read on to discover the 10 top universities this year in the faculty of natural sciences.

1. Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) 

As an institution which counts 34 astronauts among its successful alumni, MIT has firmly established itself as a prestigious place to study, and has now been ranked first in the overall QS World University Rankings® for four years in a row. Its physics department is consistently ranked among the best in the world, while the university’s Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences (EAPS) offers an expansive range of study unlike any in the country.

2= Harvard University 
Harvard University

Currently second in the overall world rankings, Harvard University excels across all faculty areas, including natural sciences. Its department of physics has 10 Nobel Prize winners to its name, while the notable alumni of the university include eight US presidents. In 2004, Harvard created the Harvard Stem Cell Institute, a unique academic community for researchers and students in stem cell science and the largest collaboration of its kind.

2= University of Cambridge 

The University of Cambridge’s renowned natural sciences faculty offers students the opportunity to gradually hone their knowledge through a series of electives. First-year students choose three fields of natural science (from a choice of eight) and one mathematics specialization from a choice of three. They then select three out of 19 options in their second year, before specializing in a single subject in their third year. Cambridge’s notable alumni in natural sciences are pretty tough to beat, including Charles Darwin, Stephen Hawking and Sir Isaac Newton.

4. Stanford University 
Stanford University

Another high ranking university for the faculty of natural sciences is Stanford University, which is also currently joint third in the overall world rankings alongside Cambridge. Three Stanford professors in a row won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 2012, 2013, and 2014. Meanwhile, independent labs account for 10% of Stanford University’s research, involving about 300 faculty members and 800 students.

5. University of Oxford 

Ranked 6th in the overall world rankings, Oxford University was awarded a top ranking in the 2014 Research Excellence Framework (REF), a national scheme which evaluates the quality of research in UK higher education institutions. Oxford’s four-year course in chemistry includes a fourth year devoted entirely to research, linking the university’s teaching with highly regarded research innovations.

6. ETH Zurich 

Switzerland’s ETH Zurich ranks at 9th in the world rankings this year, entering the top 10 for the first time. It has a large department of chemistry and applied biosciences, including an international faculty of 54 research professors and offering excellent research and teaching facilities. 10 Nobel Prizes have been awarded to researchers connected to the university in the field of chemistry. In the field of physics, ETH Zurich conducts research ranging from fundamental physical insights into nature, to the development of innovative technology for society.

7. University of California, Berkeley (UCB) 

Ranked 26th in the world overall, the University of California, Berkeley (UCB) is known for excellence in a wide range of subjects, including the natural sciences. In the college of chemistry, 13 faculty and alumni have been awarded Nobel Prizes, while 131 are members of the National Academy of Science, and in 1941 two professors at UCB discovered plutonium. The university’s campus is noted for the size and quality of its libraries and laboratories.

 8. California Institute of Technology (Caltech) 

The California Institute of Technology (Caltech) is currently ranked 5th in the world overall, and is renowned for the innovative research conducted by its academics and students. Despite its small size, it claims 31 Nobel laureates among its past and current faculty and alumni. Its mission is to “expand human knowledge and benefit society through research integrated with education”. A recent example of possibly life-changing research is the discovery of an antibody that can attack HIV in new ways.

9= National University of Singapore (NUS) 

Ranked 13th in the world overall, the National University of Singapore (NUS) has a large faculty of science, and offers its own award to encourage and recognize undergraduate research – the Outstanding Undergraduate Researcher Prize. On top of the rigorous training provided by the basic degree programs, the faculty also offers a host of special programs, such as the Special Program in Science and the Science Academic Mentorship.

9= University of Tokyo 
University of Tokyo

The University of Tokyo (often known as Todai) is ranked 39th in the overall world rankings this year. Its faculty of science pursues pioneering research whilst also focusing on the nurturing the students who will lead the next generation in science. For example, its Earthquake Research Institute works with the involvement of graduate students on advanced research techniques to further develop knowledge and understanding of seismic/volcanic activities.

This article was originally published in October 2015 . It was last updated in April 2017

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Written by

The former Assistant Editor of, 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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