QS World University Rankings by Subject 2016 | Top Universities

QS World University Rankings by Subject 2016

By Laura Bridgestock

Updated March 27, 2023 Updated March 27, 2023

Discover the QS World University Rankings by Subject 2020.

Released today, the QS World University Rankings by Subject 2016 features a record-breaking 42 subject tables – making it the largest ever release of its kind. This year sees six subjects added to the list, with new rankings for anthropology, archaeology, mining engineering, nursing, performing arts and social policy.

Published annually since 2011, the QS World University Rankings by Subject highlights the world’s top-performing institutions in a broad spectrum of individual academic areas. The rankings aim to help prospective students identify leading universities in their chosen field of study, and are being continually expanded in response to growing demand for comparisons of this kind.

At the very top, the tables are dominated by US higher education heavyweights Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Harvard University, each of which claims the number one spot in 12 subjects. UK universities come first in eight subjects, while the Netherlands, Hong Kong and Switzerland each claim one top spot. A total of 16 universities claim at least one number one position.



Showcasing subject strengths worldwide

While the US and UK enjoy the lion’s share of number one positions, the rankings shine a spotlight on specialized excellence in a much broader selection of countries. Outside of the US and UK, top spots are claimed by the Netherlands’ Wageningen University (ranked first for agriculture & forestry), Switzerland’s ETH Zurich (first for earth & marine sciences) and the University of Hong Kong (first for dentistry).

Beyond the number one positions, the top 10s are again frequently dominated by US and UK institutions. Especially strong all-round performances are claimed by the University of Cambridge, University of California, Berkeley, University of Oxford, Stanford University, Harvard University, MIT, London School of Economics & Politics (LSE), University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), Princeton University, Yale University, Imperial College London, and UCL (University College London).

Elsewhere in the world, the National University of Singapore makes a particularly impressive showing, appearing in the top 10 of 13 different subjects. ETH Zurich is close behind with 11 appearances in the top 10, followed by the University of Hong Kong (six appearances in the top 10), University of Tokyo (five), Australian National University (four), Karolinska Institutet (four), Delft University of Technology (three) and Tsinghua University (three).

Assessing global reputation and research impact

The QS World University Rankings by Subject are compiled using indicators selected to assess institutions’ international reputation in each subject area, alongside research impact in the field. Reputation is assessed using QS’s major global surveys of academics and employers, while research impact is gauged using citations data from Elsevier’s Scopus® bibliometric database. The 2016 results draw on the opinions of 76,798 academics and 44,426 employers, alongside analysis of 28.5 million research papers and over 113 million citations.

A total of 945 universities appear in the published range of results for at least one subject, while 49 countries are home to at least one top-100 institution. Just over a third (36%) of the top-50 positions go to US universities, 15% to UK universities, and a further 15% to European universities excluding the UK. Asian universities account for 16% of the top-50 spots, while Australia claims 9% of these positions, and Canada 6%. Although Latin American and African institutions are less strongly represented, these regions’ leading institutions do feature in many different subjects.

The results are presented in interactive online tables, which can be filtered by location and by performance indicator. To explore the results on your mobile device, download the free QS World University Rankings app, available for iPhone and Android. For more in-depth analysis, download our dedicated country reports and online supplement.

This article was originally published in March 2016 . It was last updated in March 2023

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