Which universities have the most top-ranked programs in the world?
Is it possible for one university to excel in so many areas? Source: Caleb Woods on Unsplash

It will be hard, and most likely impossible to pick one university as the overall best in the world.

There are far too many yardsticks – research, student satisfaction, reputation among employers, etc – even if one could come up with the most sophisticated calculation to combine them all. On top of that, there is a seemingly infinite list of rankings and sub-rankings to add to the mixture.

And if you’re an international student without the option of being able to visit the universities you are interested in, things get a little fuzzier still (pro tip: focus on the student satisfaction rate, as one of our writers argue). Furthermore, there are areas where rankings alone are just incapable of helping!

UK-based higher education analytics company Quacquarelli Symonds (QS), however, is suggesting one approach: Using subjects.

QS crunched data from hundreds of universities worldwide to see which had the strongest performance in 48 different subjects, which ranged from archaeology to computer science to nursing.

Four components – Academic reputation, Employer reputation, Research citations per paper and H-index i.e. the productivity and impact of the published work of a scientist or scholar – were used to come up with the results for each of the subject rankings, with weightings adapted for each discipline. The full methodology can be found here.

Guess which university is the most over-achieving of them all? Source: Unsplash

It aims to “help prospective students identify the world’s leading schools in their chosen field”.

The result? There are 10 universities that perform consistently well in the top 10 places of these subject rankings.

Here they are:

No. University Country No. of
Top 10 Programs
Top 10 programs include
=9 National University of Singapore Singapore 11 Civil & Structural Engineering,
Chemistry, Pharmacy and Pharmacology
=9 Yale University US 11 Law, Medicine, Nursing
8 London School of Economics (LSE) UK 13 Business and Management Studies, Development Studies, Social Policy
and Administration
7 University of California,
Los Angeles (UCLA)
US 14 Chemistry, Communication and
Media Studies, Psychology
6 Massachusetts Institute of
Technology (MIT)
US 24 Art and Design, Computer Science,
5 Stanford University US 32 Biological Sciences, Economics and
Econometrics, Mechanical, Aeronautical
and Manufacturing Engineering
=3 University of California,
US 34 Architecture, Chemistry, Environmental
=3 Harvard University US 34 Accounting and Finance, Business and
Management, Economics and Econometrics
2 University of Oxford UK 35 Anatomy and Physiology, Classics and
Ancient History, Politics and International
1 University of Cambridge UK 37 Anthropology, English Language
and Literature, History

Source: CNBC/QS

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