MIT tops global university rankings in computer science, linguistics and most engineering disciplines

The sixth edition of the QS World University Rankings by Subject, released this week on, features a record-breaking 42 disciplines, making it the largest-ever ranking of its kind. Harvard and MIT take the joint top spot this year.

The expert opinion of 76,798 academics and 44,426 employers informed the results, alongside the analysis of 28.5 million research papers and over 113 million citations sourced from the Scopus/Elsevier bibliometric database.

(TOP: Image courtesy MIT News)

Harvard and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) continue to take the lion’s share of top places, leading in 24 subjects between them. Each takes twelve leading positions. However, UK universities have improved their positions overall, with four separate institutions leading in at least one subject. The University of Oxford leads four tables, making it the UK’s most successful university in terms of first-place finishes.


Honours List

Subject 2016 Winner 2015 Winner
Accounting & Finance Harvard Harvard
Agriculture & Forestry Wageningen University University of California, Davis
Anthropology Harvard New
Archaeology University of Cambridge New
Art & Design Royal College of Art Royal College of Art
Biological Sciences Harvard Harvard
Business & Management Harvard London Business School
Chemistry MIT MIT
Communication & Media Studies University of Southern California University of Southern California
Computer Science MIT MIT
Dentistry University of Hong Kong Karolinska Institute
Development Studies Harvard Sussex University
Earth & Marine Sciences ETH Zurich ETH Zurich
Economics & Econometrics MIT MIT
Education UCL Institute of Education UCL Institute of Education
Engineering – Chemical MIT MIT
Engineering – Civil and Structural MIT MIT
Engineering – Electrical & Electronic MIT MIT
Engineering – Mechanical MIT MIT
Engineering – Mining and Mineral Colorado School of Mines New
English Language and Literature University of Oxford University of Cambridge
Environmental Sciences University of California, Berkeley University of California, Berkeley
Geography University of Oxford University of Oxford
History Universities of Oxford & Cambridge Harvard
Law Harvard Harvard
Linguistics MIT MIT
Materials Science MIT MIT
Mathematics University of Cambridge Harvard
Medicine Harvard Harvard
Modern Languages University of Oxford University of Oxford
Nursing University of Pennsylvania New
Performing Arts Juilliard New
Pharmacy & Pharmacology Harvard Harvard
Philosophy University of Pittsburgh New York University
Physics & Astronomy MIT MIT
Politics & International Studies Harvard Harvard
Psychology Harvard Harvard
Social Policy & Administration Harvard New
Sociology Harvard Harvard
Statistics & Operational Research Harvard Stanford University
Veterinary Science University of California, Davis University of California, Davis

QS Quacquarelli Symonds 2004-2016


Sixteen different institutions top at least one of the subjects covered in the QS World University Rankings by Subject for 2016. Universities that are not from the US or UK and lead a subject table include Wageningen University (The Netherlands, Agriculture & Forestry), the University of Hong Kong (Dentistry) and ETH Zurich (Switzerland, Earth & Marine Sciences).

In the six new disciplines ranked, Harvard leads Oxford and Cambridge in Anthropology, while Cambridge leads Oxford and University College London (UCL) in Archaeology.  Juilliard tops the table for Performing Arts followed by University of Performing Arts Vienna. Colorado School of Mines tops Mineral Engineering while MIT takes the second spot. University of Pennsylvania leads Nursing followed by Johns Hopkins University and the University of Toronto. Harvard, London School of Economics, and the University of Oxford take the top three spots for Social Policy and Administration.

Nine of the 36 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, Head of the QS Intelligence Unit, said: “Though the US and UK remain dominant, our most inclusive rankings ever show that excellence can be found in an ever-increasing number of places. Nations like Austria, South Africa, Finland, Brazil, China, and Sweden can be found in the top ten of our tables. Our new top 100 for Performing Arts acknowledges academic excellence in 27 different countries, while our top 100 for Mineral Engineering recognises it in 26.”

The University of Cambridge ranks among the top-ten in 36 disciplines while the University of California, Berkeley follows with 31 top-ten finishes. The University of Oxford finishes in the top ten of 33 subject rankings, as does Stanford University. Harvard follows with 30. MIT takes 22. They are followed by London School of Economics & Politics (LSE), the National University of Singapore, and UCLA with 13, Princeton University with 12, ETH Zurich (11), Yale (10), Imperial College (9), and UCL (8).

Since 2011, QS has extended the scope of the world’s rankings to include the evaluation of 42 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 here. The rankings are based on research citations, alongside reputational surveys of over 121,000 academics and graduate employers worldwide.

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