Education and Skills

These are the world's best universities by subject

A student uses her laptop computer on the steps to Memorial Church at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts September 21, 2009.   REUTERS/Brian Snyder

US universities holding the top spot for virtually all subjects. Image: REUTERS/Brian Snyder

Charlotte Edmond
Senior Writer, Forum Agenda
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United States

If you want to pick the the best university for your chosen field of study, go to the U.S.

The QS World University Rankings show U.S. universities hold the top spot for virtually all subjects.

Harvard, Stanford and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology dominate in engineering and technology; natural sciences; and social sciences and management.

 Memorial Hall, Harvard University
Memorial Hall, Harvard University Image: Wikimedia Commons, Jacob Rus

Arts and humanities and life sciences and medicine are the exceptions, with two UK universities – Oxford and Cambridge – in the top three for those areas.

The rankings group 48 disciplines into the five broad subject categories. They highlight the best universities in each category using research citations and surveys of employers and academics. In total, 1,200 universities in 78 locations are listed.

Outside of the top slots, Asian universities also get a good showing, in particular Nanyang Technological University Singapore and the National University of Singapore.

A view of the Nanyang Technological University campus in Singapore July 29, 2016. REUTERS/Edgar Su              AUNI - S1BETTGHHQAA
A view of the Nanyang Technological University campus in Singapore. Image: REUTERS/Edgar Su

Western universities have dominated the top tier of higher education tables for years, but providers in Asia are becoming increasingly visible players in the elite and funding for education is on the rise.

Have you read?

Globalisation is rapidly changing the education sector. As the global middle class expands, there will be increasing demand for higher education, particularly in China and India.

The battle to host international students – and benefit from the income and expertise they bring – is already on. Governments from the UK to Japan are bringing in measures to attract the best minds.

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