Stanford and MIT lead THE arts and humanities ranking

Peking University joins the top 20 of the Times Higher Education subject table for the first time

September 13, 2017
Stanford Memorial Church
Source: iStock

Browse the full list of universities in this year’s arts and humanities ranking


Two US universities renowned for their strength in technology have credited their interdisciplinary nature as the reason why they top Times Higher Education’s global ranking for arts and humanities subjects.

Stanford University takes the number one spot in the 2018 subject table for the seventh year in a row, while the Massachusetts Institute of Technology is second, after climbing seven places.

MIT improved across all five areas underlying the methodology – teaching, research, citations, knowledge transfer, and international outlook.

Harvard University, which was in joint first place last year, has fallen to third.

Richard Saller, dean of Stanford’s School of Humanities and Sciences, said that the institution regards arts and humanities subjects as essential to its “mission of inspiring creativity for innovation, and grounding it in human values and knowledge of the human experience”.

“As a result, the university has made a strong investment over the past decade in the humanities and arts, which are flourishing through interactions with scientific and technical disciplines, as well as traditional methods.” 

Melissa Nobles, Kenan Sahin dean at MIT’s School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences, also cited the institution’s collaboration between disciplines as a key strength.

“The multidisciplinary nature of the institute is certainly invaluable – not only for educating citizens, engineers, scholars, artists and scientists, but for sustaining the institute’s capacity to tackle challenges,” she said.

Professor Nobles added that all undergraduates at the university are required to study the humanities and arts, regardless of their specialism.


– Best universities for arts and humanities degrees
– Read the methodology for the arts and humanities 2018 subject ranking
– Browse Times Higher Education’s university rankings portfolio
– Search our database of global university jobs


This year’s arts and humanities ranking includes 400 institutions, up from 100 last year. The US takes more than a quarter of these places (103), 35 of which make the top 100, down from 39 last year.

Meanwhile, the UK has 56 representatives in total and 19 in the upper quartile, the same as last year.

For the first time in the history of the table, a Chinese institution makes the top 20; Peking University is 17th, up from 27th last year and joint 84th in 2016. Its Beijing neighbour Tsinghua University has also made gains, jumping 18 places to 48th.

Both institutions achieved higher scores for their teaching and research environments, driven by a rise in their reputation in both areas.

The ranking is based on the same range of 13 performance indicators used in the overall THE World University Rankings 2018, but the methodology has been recalibrated to suit the individual fields.

The weightings for teaching and research in the arts and humanities table has altered slightly this year, while the minimum publication threshold for universities to be included has increased.


THE World University Rankings 2018 by subject: arts and humanities top 10

2018 rank  2017 rank University Country WUR 2018 rank
1 =1 Stanford University United States =3
2 9 Massachusetts Institute of Technology United States 5
3 =1 Harvard University United States 6
4 3 University of Oxford United Kingdom 1
=5 5 University of Cambridge United Kingdom 2
=5 4 University College London United Kingdom 16
7 10 University of Chicago United States 9
8 =6 Princeton University United States 7
9 8 Yale University United States 12
10 =6 Columbia University United States 14

Browse the full list of universities in this year’s arts and humanities ranking


ellie.bothwell@timeshighereducation.com 

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