Best universities for arts and humanities degrees 2019

Find the best universities for arts and humanities using Times Higher Education’s World University Rankings 2018 data

October 31 2018
Person reading book, Best universities for arts and humanities subjects 2016

Deciding where to study an arts or humanities degree is not easy, with hundreds of options all over the world.

But 500 of the top universities for arts and humanities have been ranked in the Times Higher Education Arts and Humanities Ranking 2019. So where should you go to study your arts or humanities major?

About a quarter of all the best arts and humanities schools are in the US, but a number of European countries are well represented too; the top 100 includes a significant number of British, German and Dutch institutions.


Best universities worldwide

Best universities in the UK
Best universities in the United States
Best universities in Canada
Best universities in Australia
Best universities in South America
Best universities in France
Best universities in Germany
Best universities in the Netherlands
Best universities in Asia


If you’re hoping to study a humanities degree in Canada or Australia, each country offers a choice of 24 and 25 universities respectively, and there are 36 institutions in the top 500 across Asia.

Times Higher Education subject tables are based on the same 13 performance indicators used in the overall World University Rankings 2019. However, the methodology is carefully recalibrated for each subject, with the weightings changed to suit the individual fields. The full methodology can be found here.

Arts and humanities degrees covered in the ranking include history, literature, philosophy, languages and architecture (scroll down for a full list of subjects and what you can do with them).


Students studying the arts and humanities 

How to make an award-winning student film project
Studying an English major at Yale University
Why study a PhD in English literature?
What it's like to study a modern languages degree
Here's why I did a master's in journalism
So you want to be a writer? Top tips from those who know
Why are there so few women in the arts?
Why study German?
Switching from an international relations major to English 
A week in the life of a digital media student in the US 


Top 5 universities for arts and humanities degrees

1. Stanford University

When the university was established, the Stanford family said that their aim was to educate “cultured and useful citizens” and the university still counts its humanities courses as the “soul” of a Stanford education.

The School of Humanities and Sciences awards 63 per cent of all Stanford undergraduate degrees and almost 40 per cent of doctorates. Undergraduates are taught by faculty who are pioneers in their field.

Recent achievements in the school include a complex study of race and ethnicity, an online course on classical music appreciation and an award-winning radio show hosted by Stanford philosophy professors.

Stanford is based next to Palo Alto, known as Silicon Valley because of its density of high-tech and start-up companies. The spirit of entrepreneurship in the area was encouraged by the university itself in the early 20th century, and many Stanford students and graduates are involved at the highest levels with the world’s most influential technology companies.

Many of the students live in campus residences, near the university’s faculty buildings, museums and recreation spaces.

2. Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Although well known as a leading university in science and technology teaching, the university also provides courses across the arts and humanities.

These include anthropology, history, linguistics, literature, media arts and sciences, and music and theatre arts.  

The School of Architecture and Planning was the first of its kind in the US and is known for commissioning progressive buildings on campus. 

The MIT library system is divided into five libraries, three of which are dedicated to the arts and humanities – Hayden (humanities and science), Lewis (music) and Rotch (arts and architecture).There are many notable collections within These libraries include many notable collections, such as the Lewis Music Library on 20th and 21st century music and electronic music.

MIT is affiliated with many thought leaders in the arts and humanities, including linguist Noam Chomsky, who used to work at the university. The institution has also produced four Pulitzer winners, and four current or former faculty are members of the American Academy of Arts and Letters.


What can you do with arts and humanities degrees?

What can you do with an archaeology degree?
What can you do with an architecture degree?
What can you do with a design degree?
What can you do with an art degree?
What can you do with a performing arts degree?
What can you do with a history degree?
What can you do with a linguistics degree?
What can you do with a languages degree?
What can you do with a philosophy degree?
What can you do with an English literature degree?
What can you do with an English language degree?
What can you do with a theology degree?


3. University of Oxford

As another of the world’s most prestigious institutions, the University of Oxford is hugely respected across all disciplines. The humanities division includes the faculties of music, history, classics and English language and literature, among others. 

There are about 20,000 students at the university, more than a third of whom are international. Students belong to a college, where undergraduates take the majority of their classes with just a few of their peers and a college tutor.

In line with the British higher education system, students entering Oxford are admitted for a specific course, in contrast to US institutions, where students can take a variety of courses before declaring their major.

It is possible for undergraduates to study for joint degrees, such as philosophy, politics and economics (PPE) – a course particularly well known at Oxford – and combinations of arts and sciences.

Many writers, actors, composers and other prominent personalities in arts and culture are Oxford graduates, including the novelist Graham Greene, actor Felicity Jones and screenwriter Richard Curtis. 

4. University of Cambridge

The University of Cambridge is regularly ranked as a top university across a wide range of subjects. As one of the oldest universities in the world, its colleges and traditions are famous in the UK and beyond.

The university is based near London and attracts top scholars and distinguished visitors. More than 18,000 students are enrolled at the university across 31 colleges.

College life is central to the university experience. Undergraduates live in college for at least part of their time at university and are primarily taught by college tutors in small groups.

Postgraduates, however, are more loosely affiliated to their college, although many participate in the recreational and academic life of college.

The School of Arts and Humanities teaches a variety of subjects, from Asian studies to the history of art. Many research projects are collaborative and inform student learning at all levels.

Recent projects have explored flamenco dance and its cultural significance, and an undergraduate scheme to use architectural techniques to develop local allotments.

Notable Cambridge alumni in the arts and humanities include the philosopher Bertrand Russell, artist Quentin Blake and dramatist Christopher Marlowe.

5. Harvard University

Harvard is the oldest university in the US and one of the most prestigious in the world.

The arts and humanities division offers classes on topics ranging from Celtic myths and Jazz Age novels to Plato and video art.

It has the world’s largest university library system, consisting of 79 individual libraries containing more than 18 million volumes.

The main campus, about three miles from downtown Boston, is home to freshman dormitories, undergraduate residential houses and academic buildings.

In total, the university offers 46 undergraduate majors and 134 graduate degrees. According to the Harvard Office of Career Services, the extremely high rate of acceptance for Harvard alumni to graduate medical school is similar across both the humanities and sciences.

Notable alumni include many US presidents, cultural figures and chief executive officers of top companies.


Universities by degree subject

Best universities for business and economics
Best universities for clinical, pre-clinical and health
Best universities for computer science
Best universities for engineering and technology
Best universities for life sciences
Best universities for physical sciences
Best universities for social sciences 


Best universities for arts and humanities 2019

Click each institution to view its World University Rankings 2019 profile

Arts and humanities rank 2019 Arts and humanities rank 2018 University Country
 1  1 Stanford University United States
 2  2 Massachusetts Institute of Technology United States
 3  4 University of Oxford United Kingdom
 4  =5 University of Cambridge United Kingdom
 5  3 Harvard University United States
 6  =5 UCL United Kingdom
 7  9 Yale University United States
 8  7 University of Chicago United States
 9  11 University of California, Berkeley United States
 10  8 Princeton University United States
 11  10 Columbia University United States
 12  14 University of Edinburgh United Kingdom
 13  12 University of Pennsylvania United States
 14  13 University of California, Los Angeles United States
 15  =15 University of Michigan United States
 16  21 LMU Munich Germany
 17  32 Paris Sciences et Lettres – PSL Research University Paris France
 =18  19 New York University United States
 =18  =15 University of Toronto Canada
 20  18 Humboldt University of Berlin Germany
 21  23 Duke University United States
 22  =25 Cornell University United States
 =23  =25 Leiden University Netherlands
 =23  17 Peking University China
 25  24 Free University of Berlin Germany
 26  20 King’s College London United Kingdom
 27  NR London School of Economics and Political Science United Kingdom
 28  22 KU Leuven Belgium
 29  28 University of Hong Kong Hong Kong
 =30  29 Durham University United Kingdom
 =30  41 University of Vienna Austria
 32  30 National University of Singapore Singapore
 33  33 Australian National University Australia
 34  42 University of York United Kingdom
 35  27 Heidelberg University Germany
 36  31 University of Amsterdam Netherlands
 37  46 ETH Zurich Switzerland
 38  36 Johns Hopkins University United States
 39  NR Delft University of Technology Netherlands
 40  34 Brown University United States
 41  35 University of Melbourne Australia
 42  NR Sorbonne University France
 43  38 University of Tübingen Germany
 =44  =55 Lancaster University United Kingdom
 =44  37 University of Warwick United Kingdom
 46  =39 Panthéon-Sorbonne University – Paris 1 France
 47  58 University of Sydney Australia
 =48  45 The University of Tokyo Japan
 =48  =55 University of Wisconsin-Madison United States
 50  48 Tsinghua University China
 51  =39 McGill University Canada
 52  50 University of Manchester United Kingdom
 53  43 University of Notre Dame United States
 =54  47 University of Freiburg Germany
 =54  52 Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey United States
 =54  44 University of St Andrews United Kingdom
 57  =63 University of California, San Diego United States
 58  57 University of Helsinki Finland
 =59  69 Carnegie Mellon University United States
 =59  62 Ohio State University United States
 61  =77 Soas, University of London United Kingdom
 62  67 University of Sheffield United Kingdom
 63  49 University of British Columbia Canada
 =64  59 Chinese University of Hong Kong Hong Kong
 =64  66 University of Texas at Austin United States
 66  51 Lomonosov Moscow State University Russian Federation
 67  68 University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill United States
 68  53 University of Pittsburgh United States
 69  70 University of Glasgow United Kingdom
 70  80 University of Birmingham United Kingdom
 71  =75 Northwestern University United States
 72  71 University of Southern California United States
 =73  72 University of California, Santa Barbara United States
 =73  90 University of Geneva Switzerland
 75  60 Utrecht University Netherlands
 76  =75 University of Washington United States
 =77  =63 University of Copenhagen Denmark
 =77  88 University of Zurich Switzerland
 79  73 Ghent University Belgium
 80  61 Indiana University United States
 81  101–125 Hebrew University of Jerusalem Israel
 82  =77 University of Maryland, College Park United States
 83  79 University of Groningen Netherlands
 84  74 Sapienza University of Rome Italy
 85  101–125 University of Oslo Norway
 86  =91 University of Bristol United Kingdom
 =87  97 Birkbeck, University of London United Kingdom
 =87  =85 University of Leeds United Kingdom
 =87  =85 Université Catholique de Louvain Belgium
 =90  65 Aarhus University Denmark
 =90  126–150 University of Nottingham United Kingdom
 92  87 Radboud University Nijmegen Netherlands
 93  95 University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign United States
 94  84 Lund University Sweden
 95  =82 Stockholm University Sweden
 96  81 Trinity College Dublin Republic of Ireland
 97  98 Uppsala University Sweden
 98  99 University of Exeter United Kingdom
 99  89 Georgetown University United States
 100  101–125 University of Hamburg Germany
 101–125  176–200 Aalto University Finland
 101–125  101–125 University of Aberdeen United Kingdom
 101–125  NR University of Arizona United States
 101–125  96 Autonomous University of Barcelona Spain
 101–125  126–150 University of Barcelona Spain
 101–125  101–125 University of Bern Switzerland
 101–125  101–125 University of Bologna Italy
 101–125  101–125 Boston University United States
 101–125  101–125 University of California, Irvine United States
 101–125  =91 University of California, Santa Cruz United States
 101–125  =91 University of Cologne Germany
 101–125  =91 University of Göttingen Germany
 101–125  100 Kyoto University Japan
 101–125  =82 University of Massachusetts United States
 101–125  101–125 Michigan State University United States
 101–125  101–125 Monash University Australia
 101–125  101–125 Nanjing University China
 101–125  126–150 Nanyang Technological University, Singapore Singapore
 101–125  126–150 National Taiwan University Taiwan
 101–125  101–125 Pennsylvania State University United States
 101–125  101–125 Queen Mary University of London United Kingdom
 101–125  126–150 University of Queensland Australia
 101–125  101–125 Tel Aviv University Israel
 101–125  101–125 University of Virginia United States
 101–125  101–125 Zhejiang University China
 126–150  126–150 Arizona State University United States
 126–150  151–175 University of Auckland New Zealand
 126–150  101–125 University of Basel Switzerland
 126–150  151–175 University of Bergen Norway
 126–150  151–175 Complutense University of Madrid Spain
 126–150  101–125 Emory University United States
 126–150  NR Fudan University China
 126–150  151–175 Georgia Institute of Technology United States
 126–150  126–150 Hong Kong Polytechnic University Hong Kong
 126–150  101–125 University of Leicester United Kingdom
 126–150  101–125 Macquarie University Australia
 126–150  151–175 University of Montreal Canada
 126–150  101–125 University of Münster Germany
 126–150  126–150 National Autonomous University of Mexico Mexico
 126–150  176–200 Newcastle University United Kingdom
 126–150  126–150 University of New South Wales Australia
 126–150  176–200 Polytechnic University of Milan Italy
 126–150  126–150 Pompeu Fabra University Spain
 126–150  151–175 University of Potsdam Germany
 126–150  176–200 University of Reading United Kingdom
 126–150  126–150 University of Southampton United Kingdom
 126–150  101–125 Sungkyunkwan University (SKKU) South Korea
 126–150  NR Sun Yat-sen University China
 126–150  126–150 Technical University of Berlin Germany
 126–150  126–150 Tilburg University Netherlands
 126–150  101–125 Victoria University of Wellington New Zealand
 151–175  251–300 Bar-Ilan University Israel
 151–175  176–200 University of Bordeaux France
 151–175  176–200 Boston College United States
 151–175  126–150 University of California, Davis United States
 151–175  126–150 University of Cape Town South Africa
 151–175  201–250 Charles University in Prague Czech Republic
 151–175  176–200 City University of Hong Kong Hong Kong
 151–175  151–175 Eindhoven University of Technology Netherlands
 151–175  151–175 Erasmus University Rotterdam Netherlands
 151–175  151–175 University of Fribourg Switzerland
 151–175  126–150 University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa United States
 151–175  126–150 University of Konstanz Germany
 151–175  151–175 University of Lausanne Switzerland
 151–175  176–200 University of Liverpool United Kingdom
 151–175  176–200 University of Minnesota Twin Cities United States
 151–175  151–175 University of Otago New Zealand
 151–175  151–175 Queen’s University Belfast United Kingdom
 151–175  151–175 Rice University United States
 151–175  126–150 University of São Paulo Brazil
 151–175  151–175 University of Sussex United Kingdom
 151–175  151–175 Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam Netherlands
 151–175  126–150 Washington University in St Louis United States
 151–175  176–200 University of the Witwatersrand South Africa
 151–175  126–150 York University Canada
 176–200  151–175 University of Alberta Canada
 176–200  176–200 University of Antwerp Belgium
 176–200  176–200 Autonomous University of Madrid Spain
 176–200  126–150 University of Bonn Germany
 176–200  151–175 Cardiff University United Kingdom
 176–200  151–175 University of Connecticut United States
 176–200  151–175 Dartmouth College United States
 176–200  151–175 Goethe University Frankfurt Germany
 176–200  201–250 University of Jyväskylä Finland
 176–200  151–175 University of Kiel Germany
 176–200  126–150 Korea University South Korea
 176–200  176–200 La Trobe University Australia
 176–200  126–150 Maastricht University Netherlands
 176–200  176–200 National Taiwan Normal University Taiwan
 176–200  201–250 University of Padua Italy
 176–200  176–200 Paris Diderot University – Paris 7 France
 176–200  176–200 University of Rochester United States
 176–200  151–175 Royal Holloway, University of London United Kingdom
 176–200  126–150 Saint Petersburg State University Russian Federation
 176–200  101–125 Seoul National University South Korea
 176–200  176–200 Shanghai Jiao Tong University China
 176–200  176–200 Simon Fraser University Canada
 176–200  201–250 University of South Australia Australia
 176–200  151–175 University College Dublin Republic of Ireland
 176–200  176–200 University of Western Australia Australia
 176–200  176–200 University of Wollongong Australia

Click here to view all 500 top universities for arts and humanities degrees 

Read more: unsure of which subject to study at university? This comprehensive guide can help you out

 

Have your say

Log in or register to post comments

Related articles