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Top Universities for Arts and Humanities

By Sabrina Collier

Updated April 9, 2021 Updated April 9, 2021
  • The QS World University Rankings by Subject features 502 of the best schools to study arts and humanities.
  • The UK's University of Oxford is the best school in the world to study an arts and humanities programme in 2021.

The recently released QS World University Rankings by Subject 2021 features 502 of the top higher education institutions to study arts and humanities, with 20 new entries this year. 

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

Top 10 Universities for the Arts & Humanities subject area 

Based on the QS World University Rankings by Subject 2021 

World ranking Name of Institution  Location

University of Oxford 

United Kingdom 

Harvard University 

United States 

University of Cambridge 

United Kingdom 

4= 

University of California, Berkeley (UCB) 

United States 

4= 

Yale University 

United States 

Stanford University 

United States 

New York University (NYU) 

United States 

Princeton University 

United States 

University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) 

United States 

10 

Columbia University 

United States 

See the full arts and humanities ranking > 

Top universities for arts and humanities in the US & Canada 

The US boasts 101 universities offering arts and humanities programmes this year, with eight institutions making it into the top 10. A total of 28 US universities are found in the global top 100.  

The highest-ranking US university for the subject is Harvard University, offering a total of four undergraduate courses in the subject and earning excellent scores in the employer reputation and academic reputation indicators. The school says that its arts and humanities courses are designed to help students better understand the world and make the most of it. 

Outside of the top 100 for this broad subject area, high performing universities include Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and University of Chicago (both placing in joint 13th); Cornell University (joint 27th) and University of Michigan-Ann Arbor (rising two places to 29th). The US also claims five new entries this year. 

Heading north, Canada claims 21 of the world’s top universities for arts and humanities, led by the University of Toronto (17th). Other top Canadian institutions for this area include the University of British Columbia (20th, rising four places this year) and McGill University (33rd, climbing three places). 

Top universities for arts and humanities in Europe 

In Europe there are 196 of the world’s best universities for arts and humanities. Of these, 57 are found in the United Kingdom; 19 of which are in the top 100.  

The prestigious Oxbridge duo are in the global top 10. The world’s best university for arts and humanities is Oxford University, which offers world-class teaching and research for the subject with an increasing emphasis on interdisciplinary study.  

Outside of the top 10, noteworthy universities this year include London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE, up four places this year to 16th); King's College London (KCL, falling five positions to 30th); Durham University and the University of Manchester which both drop six places to joint 45th. 

Germany also performs well this year and is represented by 23 of the world’s top universities for arts and humanities, including five in the top 100. Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin (19th, up four places) continues to be the highest-ranked German institution for this broad subject area, and is joined in the top 50 by Freie Universitaet Berlin (joint 24th) and Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München (joint 49th).  

Italy’s 22 entries in the arts and humanities subject rankings include two new programmes added this year, with Universita' IUAV di Venezia and University of Milano-Bicocca both ranking 451-500. Italy’s top ranked university is once again Università di Bologna (UNIBO, joint 53rd), closely followed by Sapienza - Università di Roma in 65th. 

Spain has 15 entries this year, including the University Complutense Madrid at joint 67th, rising an impressive nine positions this year. France’s 14 universities offering arts and humanities programmes this year include top 50 entries Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne (joint 31st) and Sorbonne University (rising 18 places to 34th).   

Meanwhile, the Netherlands has 11 top arts and humanities schools, with two in the top 100: University of Amsterdam (26th) and  Leiden University (35th).  

Elsewhere, Belgium and Sweden each have seven top universities for arts and humanities this year, including Belgium’s KU Leuven (rising seven places to 66th) and Sweden’s Stockholm University (80th). Ireland’s six entries include Trinity College Dublin (TCD, joint 59th). 

Russia’s 11 entries this year include one top 100 entry: Lomonosov Moscow State University in joint 53rd. In Switzerland, six universities offer arts and humanities courses, with University of Zurich coming out on top in joint 93rd.   

Portugal has five entries this year although none of these are in the top 100. Denmark and Finland each have four arts and humanities schools. Of these, Finland’s University of Helsinki ranks the highest, in joint 59th.  

Austria and Poland each have three schools featured, including top 50 entry Universität Wien (joint 47th). Czech RepublicGreeceHungary and Romania each have two schools featured. 

Finally, EstoniaLithuania, Serbia and Slovenia all each have one university offering arts and humanities courses. 

Top universities for arts and humanities in Asia 

Asia is home to 82 of the world’s best universities to study arts and humanities. The region’s best university for the subject is National University of Singapore (NUS). NUS gives students the freedom and flexibility to explore different topics within this broad subject area. It is one of Singapore’s two featured universities this year. 

ThailandKazakhstan and Indonesia also each have two universities featured in the rankings. Of these three locations, Kazakhstan’s Al-Farabi Kazakh National University is the most highly ranked university for arts and humanities in 156th position, up an incredible 121 places this year.  

Mainland China has the most top universities for arts and humanities in Asia with 19, of which two are in the top 50: Peking University (joint 36th), Tsinghua University (joint 47th). Both of these institutions score highly in the research citations per paper indicator, reflecting the quality of the universities’ research output.  

Japan also performed well this year with 15 universities featuring. Three of these are found in the global top 100, including the top-ranking University of Tokyo in 22nd. Meanwhile, Hong Kong SAR’s seven universities offering arts and humanities courses include the University of Hong Kong (HKU) in joint 27th.  

Taiwan contains eight universities featuring in the arts and humanities rankings this year and South Korea has 12. The highest-ranked Taiwanese institution is National Taiwan University (NTU, joint 84th). Over in South KoreaSeoul National University (SNU) performs well in 38th. 

Malaysia and India each count five arts and humanities universities amongst them. Malaysia’s highest performing school is Universiti Malaya (UM, joint 105th) and India’s is Jawaharlal Nehru University (joint 159th). The Philippines claim three entries this year. 

Top universities for arts and humanities in Australia & New Zealand 

Of the 23 top arts and humanities schools in Australia, six are in the top 100. The University of Melbourne is the best university in Australia for the subject area, in 18th. Other Australian universities to perform well include the Australian National University (ANU, 21st), University of Sydney (23rd) and Monash University (joint 49th). 

Seven more top universities for arts and humanities are found in New Zealand, led by the Victoria University of Wellington at joint 72nd. This is closely followed by the University of Auckland (joint 79th). 

Top universities for arts and humanities in Latin America 

Of the 32 top arts and humanities schools in Latin America, nine are found in Brazil, led by Universidade de São Paulo (USP) in 57th, up six positions this year. 

Chile has seven entries in the rankings, including Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile (UC) at joint 53rd. Colombia has five, including new entry Universidad de Los Andes Colombia in 139th.  

Mexico has six representatives in the subject rankings for arts and humanities. It’s highest-ranked entrant is also the best performer in the whole of Latin America for this subject area: Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM) in joint 24th.  

Lastly, Argentina has three top arts and humanities schools, led by Universidad de Buenos Aires (UBA) in 39th. Uruguay and Peru each only have a single entrant this year. 

Top universities for arts and humanities in Africa & the Middle East 

Five of the world’s best universities for arts and humanities can be found in South Africa, led by the University of Cape Town at joint 174th. Egypt has two representatives in the ranking, including the American University in Cairo in joint 200th. 

In the Middle East, Turkey is home to five institutions featured among the most prestigious for arts and humanities. These include new entry Koç University (451-500) and Turkey’s highest ranked university Bogaziçi Üniversitesi in 337th. Lebanon’s single entry, American University of Beirut (AUB), ranks in joint 195th.  

Saudi Arabia has one entry this year: King Abdul Aziz University (KAU, 295th) and the United Arab Emirates has two.  

Israel has three universities featured in the arts and humanities subject rankings, led by Hebrew University of Jerusalem in joint 192nd.  

This article was originally published in April 2017 . It was last updated in April 2021

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Written by

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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