Top Universities for Natural Sciences | Top Universities

Top Universities for Natural Sciences

By Sabrina Collier

Updated March 30, 2021 Updated March 30, 2021
  • The best university in the world to study natural sciences is Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in the US. 
  • Overall 501 universities feature in the QS World University Rankings: Natural Sciences this year. 

The recently released  QS World University Rankings by Subject 2021  features 501 of the top higher education institutions to study natural sciences

The QS 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 natural sciences in each region. If you would like to explore the schools in further detail, click  here  to view the full table. 

Top 10 Universities for the Natural Sciences subject area 

Based on the QS World University Rankings by Subject 2021 

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) 

United States 

Stanford University 

United Kingdom 

Harvard University 

United States 

University of Cambridge 

United Kingdom 

University of Oxford 

United Kingdom 

ETH Zurich (Swiss Federal Institute of Technology) 


California Institute of Technology (Caltech) 

United States 

University of California, Berkeley (UCB) 

United States 

Imperial College London 

United Kingdom 


Princeton University 

United States 

See the full natural sciences ranking > 

Top universities for natural sciences in the US & Canada 

The US is home to 102 of the world’s top universities for natural sciences, with six institutions in the global top 10. This includes the highest-ranked university in the world for this field, MIT. MIT’s course has a strong focus on experimental design and data evaluation, with all students participating in laboratory research.  

Outside the top 10, other strong US universities for natural sciences include the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA, joint 15th) and the University of Chicago (joint 18th) and Yale University (20th).  

Heading north, a further 19 top natural sciences schools are found in Canada. These include three in the global top 50: the University of Toronto (joint 18th), the University of British Columbia (joint 23rd) and McGill University (48th). There are two new Canadian entries this year: Carleton University and University of Saskatchewan, both ranking 451-500. 

Top universities for natural sciences in Europe 

There are 216 European countries offering courses in the natural sciences this year. The highest performing university in Europe is the UK’s University of Cambridge in fourth. The flexibility of the University of Cambridge’s natural sciences course makes it possible to tailor your studies to your interests. 

The UK has 37 representatives in the natural sciences ranking in total, including three top 10 entries. Outside the top 10, six more UK institutions feature in the top 100, including the University of Edinburgh (joint 43rd),  University College London(UCL, joint 57th) and University of Manchester (59th). 

Germany performs well in the natural sciences rankings, with 33 schools featured among the world’s best for the subject. Six of these are in the global top 100. The best natural science course in Germany is found at Technische Universität München (31st). The university’s interdisciplinary research includes topics from the fields of living environments, agriculture and forestry, food and nutrition as well as molecular health. 

Italy is home to 22 of the world’s top universities for natural sciences, with two schools featuring in the top 100: Sapienza - Università di Roma (64th) and Università di Bologna (UNIBO) (=72nd). 

France has 20 entries in the ranking, again with three universities in the global top 50: Sorbonne University (22nd) and Ecole Polytechnique (26th) and Université PSL (Paris Sciences & Lettres, 28th). 

Spain also performs well with 12 entrants this year, including Universidad Autónoma de Madrid in 77th. Meanwhile, the Netherlands 10 representatives are led by Delft University of Technology (joint 64th).  

Neighbouring Belgium has eight top natural sciences schools, while seven are found in Switzerland including ETH Zurich in the top 10 and Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) in 11th. 

Russia is represented by 15 universities, with Lomonosov Moscow State University the highest ranked, in 21st. Of its seven entries this year, Sweden's top performer is KTH, Royal Institute of Technology (joint 85th). 

AustriaIrelandFinland and the Czech Republic each have four top natural sciences schools, with Austria’s Technische Universität Wien the highest-ranked at joint 145th. Meanwhile, Poland has seven and Portugal has five.  

Next up are Denmark and Norway which have three top universities each for natural sciences, while Hungary has two. Of these three locations, Denmark performs best, with the University of Copenhagen featured at joint 82nd.  

Finally, RomaniaEstoniaLithuania, Serbia and Slovenia each have one institution featured among the world’s best for natural sciences. 

Top universities for natural sciences in Asia 

Asia is home to 104 schools for natural sciences this year.  

Mainland China is home to the most top natural sciences schools of any Asian country, with 35 representatives, including five in the top 50: Tsinghua University (joint 15th), Peking University (17th), University of Science and Technology of China (joint 37th), Fudan University (joint 43rd) and Nanjing University (joint 49th). 

South Korea has an impressive 21 schools offering natural science programmes, with two top 50 entries: Seoul National University (SNU, 32nd) and KAIST - Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology(46th). 

Japan claims 15 top universities in the natural sciences rankings. High-ranking Japanese universities for this subject area include the University of Toyko (13th),  Kyoto University (27th) and Tokyo Institute of Technology (40th). 

Pakistan has four entrants in the subject rankings for natural sciences, including two new entries: COMSATS University Islamabad and University of the Punjab, both ranking 451-500.   

India has 10 representatives in the natural sciences ranking, led by Indian Institute of Science (IISc) Bangalore at joint 92nd.  

Hong Kong SAR and Malaysia are each home to five top universities for natural sciences, while Taiwan has six.  Two of Hong Kong’s entrants are in the top 50: the University of Hong Kong (21st) and the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (42nd). 

Singapore may only have two entries, but both are in the top 20: National University of Singapore (NUS, 12th) and Nanyang Technological University, Singapore (NTU, 14th). 

Lastly, Thailand and Indonesia also feature in the natural sciences ranking with one representative each. 

Top universities for natural sciences in Australia & New Zealand 

Australia is home to 19 of the world’s top universities for natural sciences, six of which are in the top 100. The three highest-ranked Australian universities for this subject area are: Australian National University (ANU, joint 37th), University of Melbourne (joint 53rd) and the University of Sydney (joint 62nd). 

In nearby New Zealand, four more top natural sciences schools are found, including the University of Auckland at joint 152nd. 

Top universities for natural sciences in Latin America 

Of the 18 Latin American institutions featured in the ranking, eight are in Brazil, with Universidade de São Paulo (USP) leading the way at 75th. 

Argentina and Mexico have two entrants each, with Mexico’s Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM) the highest ranked of the four universities, in joint 92nd. Following close behind is Argentina’s Universidad de Buenos Aires (UBA) in joint 122nd place.    

Meanwhile Chile has four universities featured this year, with Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile (UC) ranked joint 143rd for natural sciences. Another Latin American country to feature is Colombia with one representative, Universidad Nacional de Colombia in joint 282nd. 

Top universities for natural sciences in Africa & the Middle East 

South Africa is home to five top natural sciences schools, led by the University of Cape Town in joint 236th. Also represented is Egypt with two entries: Cairo University (ranked 339th) and Ain Shams University (451-500) 

In the Middle EastSaudi Arabia is represented by four of the world’s top universities for natural sciences, the best of which is King Abdulaziz University (KAU) at joint 337th. Finally, Turkey has three entrants, including new one entry, Bilkent University, in 451-500. 

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

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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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