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QS World University Rankings by Subject: Academics and employers name the world’s top universities in 36 disciplines


London, 29th April 2015: The fifth edition of the QS World University Rankings by Subject, released today on TopUniversities.com, features a record-breaking 36 disciplines making it the largest ever ranking of its kind.

The expert opinion of 85,062 academics and 41,910 employers informed the results, alongside the analysis of 17.3 million research papers and over 100 million citations (Scopus/Elsevier bibliometric database).

American universities dominate in terms of the number of subjects in which they lead, just as they do in all the global institutional rankings. Harvard and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) continue to take the lion’s share of top places, leading in 21 subjects between them. However, UK universities have improved their positions overall, with six separate institutions leading in at least one subject.

Fifteen different institutions top at least one of the subjects covered in the
 QS World University Rankings by Subject for 2015.


World's Top

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)

Physics & Astronomy


Materials Science




Engineering - Mechanical, Aeronautical & Manufacturing


Engineering - Electrical & Electronic


Engineering  Civil & Structural


Engineering - Chemical


Economics & Econometrics


Computer Science & Information Systems




Architecture / Built Environment

Harvard University





Politics & International Studies


Pharmacy & Pharmacology










Biological Sciences


Accounting & Finance

University of California, Davis (UCD)

Veterinary Science


Agriculture & Forestry

University of Oxford

Modern Languages



ETH Zurich

Earth & Marine Sciences

Karolinska Institute


London Business School

Business & Management Studies

New York University (NYU)


Royal College of Art (UK)

Art & Design

Stanford University

Statistics & Operational Research

University College London UCL                                      Institute of  Education


University of California, Berkeley (UCB)

Environmental Sciences

University of Cambridge

English Language & Literature

University of Southern California

Communication & Media Studies

University of Sussex (UK)

Development Studies


In the six NEW disciplines ranked, London Business School leads Harvard and INSEAD in Business and Management, while MIT leads The Bartlett School (UCL) and TU Delft in Architecture.  The Royal College of Art tops the table for Art & Design followed by Parsons School for Design. Sweden’s Karolinska Institute tops Dentistry while Hong Kong University takes the second spot. University of Sussex dominates Development Studies followed by Harvard and Manchester University. UC Davis, Cornell and The Royal Veterinary College take the top three spots for Veterinary Science.

Five of the 30 rankings published last year have new leaders, and there are new entries in every one. Some rankings have been enlarged, reflecting the increase in data collected by the QS Intelligence Unit (QSIU).

Ben Sowter, QS head of research says: “The growing number of academics and employers all around the world who take part in our polling has enabled us to expand the exercise considerably. We hope to cover even more subjects in future because we are keenly aware that students want to know about the course they plan to take, as well as the standing of the university.”

Sowter continues: “While US and UK remain the dominant players, our ranking shows that academic excellence is widely distributed around the globe.  The 894 universities ranked in at least one subject are based in 60 different countries. The 200 universities we list for business, for example, are in 32 nations, and the 400 we rank for medicine in 47.”

The University of Cambridge ranks among the top-ten in 31 disciplines while the University of Oxford and Stanford University follow with 29. Harvard makes the top –ten in 28 subjects, University of California, Berkeley in 26 and MIT in 19. They are followed by London School of Economics & Politics (LSE) with 11, Princeton and UCLA with ten apiece, Yale (9) Imperial College (8), UCL (6) Caltech and Columbia University (5).

The chart below features the universities achieving the most numerous placements within the top-ten outside the UK and USA.


Placements in Top 10



National University Singapore




ETH Zurich




The University of Tokyo




Australian National University




University of Hong Kong


Hong Kong


Nanyang Technological University




Karolinska Institute








Tsinghua University




Delft University of Technology




Wageningen University





Universities which have placed among the top-ten in one subject include:
Europe ( excl. UK): Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Copenhagen Business School, Sciences Po Paris, Université Paris-Sorbonne (Paris IV), INSEAD, Università Commerciale Luigi Bocconi, Politecnico di Milano, Utrecht University, Leiden University, University of Amsterdam, University of Gothenburg, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences.

ROW (excl. USA): University of Guelph, University of British Columbia, Peking University, The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST) , The University of Sydney,  University of Otago, University of Cape Town.

The chart below illustrates the proportion of universities featuring among the
Top 50 across the QS World University Rankings by Subject 2015.





Europe excl. UK








Latin America


New Zealand





To view the complete QS World University Rankings by Subject 2015:  http://www.topuniversities.com/subject-rankings


Media contacts:
Simona Bizzozero
Head of public relations
QS Quacquarelli Symonds
[email protected]
[email protected]
+ 44(0)7880620856
+44 (0) 2072847248

Natasha Marie Levanti
PR officer
QS Quacquarelli Symonds
[email protected]
[email protected]
+44 (0) 2072847207


Notes for editors


QS World University Rankings by Subject
Since 2011, QS has extended the scope of the world’s rankings to include the evaluation of 36 individual disciplines. The methodology utilizes adaptive weightings for the four criteria, to take into account the differences among disciplines. Details of the methodology can be found at http://www.iu.qs.com/university-rankings/subject-tables/
The rankings are based on research citations, alongside reputational surveys of over 126,000 academics and graduate employers worldwide.



Universities selected by academics in at least one subject


Institutions ranked in at least one subject


Within published range in at least one subject


Within top 200 in at least one subject


Within top 100 in at least one subject


Within top 50 in at least one subject


Research paper attributions counted


Citation attributions counted


Self-citations excluded


Programs verified


Total survey responses( academics and employers)


QS Quacquarelli Symonds www.qs.com
Founded in 1990, QS Quacquarelli Symonds is the leading global provider of higher education and careers information, independent research and solutions. Its activities span across 50 countries, working with over 2,000 international universities and business schools. QS’s mission is to enable motivated people around the world to fulfil their potential by fostering international mobility, educational achievement and career development. QS provides services at each key career stage; first degree, Masters, PhD, MBA, and Executive-level. The team at QS consists of over 250 highly dedicated individuals from every corner of the world; collectively speaking 35 languages. QS is headquartered in London. Main offices: Paris, Singapore, Bucharest, Stuttgart. Satellite offices: Alicante ( Spain), Beijing, Johannesburg, Philadelphia, Portland ( Oregon), Shanghai, Sydney and Washington DC.

QS Intelligence Unit www.iu.qs.com
QS has been conducting research in a range of areas since 1990 beginning with a global survey of MBA employers. The QS World University Rankings®, the most established of the range of research projects that QS operates, have been in existence since 2004. To meet the increasing public interest for comparative data on universities and organisations, and the growing demand for institutions to develop deeper insight into their competitive environment, the QS Intelligence Unit (QSIU) was formed in 2008 as a distinct and autonomous department. Committed to the key values of rigorous integrity, unique insight, undeniable value and accessible presentation, QSIU strives to be the most trusted independent source of global intelligence on the higher education sector.

Ben Sowter
Sowter is the Head of Research at QS, QS Intelligence Unit. He holds a BSc in Computer Science from the University of Nottingham, where he was also awarded the Union Prize for outstanding contribution to the student union and served as chairman of the Nottingham University Debating Society. Ben is fully responsible for the operational management of all major QS research projects and is actively involved in all the collection, compilation and tabulation of all the data that lead to, amongst others, the World University Rankings research in which he has been involved since its initial inception in 2004. A frequent contributor to the press, Ben’s opinion on global education trends and his expertise is used regularly by major global publications.

About Scopus
Scopus is the largest abstract and citation database of peer-reviewed literature and features tools to track, analyze and visualize scholarly research. Its comprehensive database contains 55+ million items indexed from 21,000 titles from more than 5,000 publishers worldwide, ensuring broad interdisciplinary coverage in the fields of science, technology, medicine, social sciences and arts and humanities. Scopus was designed and developed with input from researchers and librarians and features direct links to subscribed full-text articles, other library resources and interoperability with applications such as reference management software. Scopus is part of the Elsevier Research Intelligence portfolio which includes the SciVal tools, the Pure system, rich data assets and custom Analytical Services.

About Elsevier
Elsevier is a world-leading provider of information solutions that enhance the performance of science, health, and technology professionals, empowering them to make better decisions, deliver better care, and sometimes make groundbreaking discoveries that advance the boundaries of knowledge and human progress. Elsevier provides web-based, digital solutions — among them ScienceDirect, Scopus, Elsevier Research Intelligence and ClinicalKey — and publishes over 2,500 journals, including The Lancet and Cell, and more than 33,000 book titles, including a number of iconic reference works. Elsevier is part of RELX Group plc, a world-leading provider of information solutions for professional customers across industries.

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