the logo

Best universities for life sciences degrees 2023

Find the best universities for life sciences using Times Higher Education’s World University Rankings 2023 data

Rankings
Rankings for Students
October 25 2022
Looking through a microscope

Share

Top 10 universities in the world for life sciences degrees

Scroll down for the full list of the best universities in world for life sciences degrees

Life sciences rank 2023 Life sciences rank 2022 University Country/region
1 1 Harvard University United States
2 2 University of Cambridge United Kingdom
3 =3 Massachusetts Institute of Technology United States
4 =3 University of Oxford United Kingdom
5 7 Stanford University United States
6 6 California Institute of Technology United States
7 8 Yale University United States
8 5 Princeton University United States
9 9 University of California, Berkeley United States
10 10 Johns Hopkins University United States

If you’re choosing where to study pharmacy, biochemistry, zoology or other related subjects, Times Higher Education’s ranking for life sciences can help you find the best universities in the world for your degree.

register- wide
Join the THE Student community and unlock free benefits

The top colleges for life sciences are concentrated in the US and the UK: 199 of the 1,017 universities in the THE ranking for life sciences are in these two countries.

Older prestigious institutions take the top spots, including Harvard University in first place, with the University of Cambridge, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the University of Oxford following closely behind.


Best universities for arts and humanities
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 physical sciences

Best universities for social sciences
Best universities for law
Best universities for education degrees

Best universities for psychology degrees


Life sciences takes in a range of subjects, from forestry to biotechnology. A full list of degrees and what you can do with them appears below.

Graduates of life sciences degrees go on to work in a variety of fields. Many jobs directly use life science research and knowledge, such as roles in pharmaceutical companies, environmental work and even forensic science.

The life sciences ranking assesses universities using 13 indicators of excellence that evaluate teaching, research, research influence, innovation and international outlook. The full methodology can be found here.


Best universities for life sciences degrees in Canada
Best universities for life science degrees in the US
Best universities for life sciences degrees in the UK
Best universities for life sciences degrees in Australia


Top five universities for life sciences degrees

5. Stanford University

Stanford University is particularly renowned for science and innovation, and university researchers, students and alumni contribute significantly to technological development in Silicon Valley, which is located right near the university.

Stanford’s department of biology leads the way for life sciences research, while the bioengineering department creates a fusion of engineering and life sciences by inventing new technologies.

The biology department offers courses in biochemistry, biophysics, computational biology, conservational biology and many other subdisciplines.

Many Stanford alumni have won prestigious accolades, such as Nobel prizes, Rhodes scholarships and Turing awards.

Of the more than 15,000 students, more than 20 per cent are international.

4. University of Oxford

Life sciences degrees at the University of Oxford are spread across a number of specialised departments within both the science and the clinical divisions of the university.

Many world-leading academics work at the university. Richard Dawkins, the famous evolutionary biologist, is affiliated to the university and can often be seen around town or at public events.

Oxford students belong to a college, where they live, eat and attend small-group tutorials with teachers. Postgraduate students are more likely to live off campus and will not necessarily be taught within their college.

In general, Oxford graduates progress to high-profile careers, and many prominent politicians, cultural figures and award-winning scientists are associated with the university.


What can you do with an agriculture degree?
What can you do with a biology degree?
What can you do with a sports science degree?
What can you do with a veterinary science degree?


3. Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Many academic departments at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology offer courses in life sciences subjects, to contribute towards a major or minor degree subject.

Courses range from biological engineering – a pioneering new discipline that combines principles of engineering and biological systems – to “Science, technology and society”, which offers a more comprehensive overview of life sciences and its applications.

The university offers undergraduate and postgraduate life sciences degrees. Although an undergraduate major in a life science subject is excellent preparation for many jobs, further study in health sciences or engineering is a common post-graduation option.

Many life sciences graduates will continue on to medical school. Other career paths suggested by the School of Life Sciences are finance, intellectual property law and forensics.

2. University of Cambridge

The University of Cambridge’s School of Biological Sciences contains nine departments and various research centres, including the departments of biochemistry, pharmacology and zoology.

There is also a Graduate School of Life Sciences, which is responsible for master’s degrees and doctorates.

Four major undergraduate programmes in life sciences are offered: biological sciences as a natural science specialism, a pre-clinical veterinary science programme, a psychological and behavioural sciences programme, and medical science.

Students have close interaction with teachers through the tutorial system and are automatically members of their college community, where they eat meals, live in college-owned buildings and attend recreational activities.

Charles Darwin, perhaps the most famous life scientist of them all, was an alumnus of Christ’s College, Cambridge, and many other prominent biologists have studied or taught at the university.

1. Harvard University

As is the case at many US colleges, undergraduates at Harvard University have the opportunity to take a variety of different courses before declaring a major subject.

Within life sciences, there are many interdisciplinary foundational courses grouped in nine concentrations to help students “explore the diversity of living systems”. The majors include biomedical engineering, neurobiology and human evolutionary biology.

According to the university, life science graduates often go on to postgraduate work, including medical or scientific research. Other graduates have recently pursued careers in business, consulting and environmental advocacy.

Harvard is perhaps the world’s best-known university; it regularly takes the top spot in global reputation surveys. It has built its reputation, wealth and influence over more than 400 years, having been founded in 1636.

Although tuition is expensive, students from low-income families are fully supported by university grants.


Trading America for Australia: my mother sent me to study 9,000 miles away!
Women in STEM: undertaking PhD research in cancer
Pursuing a PhD in neuroscience
Why I chose to study at Osaka City University
Why I chose to study at the National University of Singapore
Attending a small agricultural university


Best universities for life sciences 2023

Click each institution to view its World University Rankings 2023 profile

Life sciences rank 2023 Life sciences rank 2022 University Country/region
 1   1  Harvard University United States
 2   2  University of Cambridge United Kingdom
 3   =3  Massachusetts Institute of Technology United States
 4   =3  University of Oxford United Kingdom
 5   7  Stanford University United States
 6   6  California Institute of Technology United States
 7   8  Yale University United States
 8   5  Princeton University United States
 9   9  University of California, Berkeley United States
 10   10  Johns Hopkins University United States
 11   13  Tsinghua University China
 12   11  Columbia University United States
 13   14  ETH Zurich Switzerland
 14   15  Imperial College London United Kingdom
 15   17  University of California, San Diego United States
 16   18  University of Washington United States
 17   12  The University of Chicago United States
 18   =19  Peking University China
 19   16  Cornell University United States
 20   =19  Wageningen University & Research Netherlands
 21   23  University of Pennsylvania United States
 22   22  UCL United Kingdom
 23   24  National University of Singapore Singapore
 =24   =19  University of California, Los Angeles United States
 =24   25  University of Toronto Canada
 26   26  Duke University United States
 27   34  Heidelberg University Germany
 28   30  University of California, Davis United States
 29   31  University of Edinburgh United Kingdom
 30   27  University of Michigan-Ann Arbor United States
 31   =28  Karolinska Institute Sweden
 32   40  The University of Queensland Australia
 =33   33  University of British Columbia Canada
 =33   =28  LMU Munich Germany
 35   =43  Technical University of Munich Germany
 36   32  Washington University in St Louis United States
 37   35  University of Melbourne Australia
 38   37  The University of Tokyo Japan
 39   39  King’s College London United Kingdom
 40   36  New York University United States
 41   42  University of Hong Kong Hong Kong
 42   =49  Fudan University China
 =43   52  University of Göttingen Germany
 =43   46  Kyoto University Japan
 45   38  École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne Switzerland
 46   =60  University of Sydney Australia
 =47   48  Ghent University Belgium
 =47   64  Nanyang Technological University, Singapore Singapore
 =49   =49  McGill University Canada
 =49   51  Northwestern University United States
 =49   =43  University of Wisconsin-Madison United States
 52   =56  Uppsala University Sweden
 53   41  Paris Sciences et Lettres – PSL Research University Paris France
 54   63  Monash University Australia
 55   58  KU Leuven Belgium
 56   45  Sorbonne University France
 =57   54  Humboldt University of Berlin Germany
 =57   =60  University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill United States
 =57   62  University of Tübingen Germany
 60   65  Australian National University Australia
 61   =66  University of Manchester United Kingdom
 62   =69  University of Freiburg Germany
 63   47  Utrecht University Netherlands
 64   59  Zhejiang University China
 65   =56  University of Zurich Switzerland
 66   73  Emory University United States
 67   151–175  Shanghai Jiao Tong University China
 68   80  Seoul National University South Korea
 =69   55  University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign United States
 =69   71  University of Minnesota United States
 =71   53  Université Paris-Saclay France
 =71   81  Vanderbilt University United States
 73   74  University of California, Santa Barbara United States
 74   =66  University of Science and Technology of China China
 75   68  Boston University United States
 =76   =69  Free University of Berlin Germany
 =76   83  University of Helsinki Finland
 78   =92  University of Massachusetts United States
 79   =98  University of Basel Switzerland
 80   101–125  Pohang University of Science and Technology (POSTECH) South Korea
 81   79  The University of Western Australia Australia
 82   77  University of Groningen Netherlands
 =83   84  Institut Polytechnique de Paris France
 =83   =75  Lund University Sweden
 =83   85  Stockholm University Sweden
 =86   =100  Aarhus University Denmark
 =86   =89  University of Bonn Germany
 =88   101–125  University of Glasgow United Kingdom
 =88   =98  University of Southern California United States
 =90   =100  University of Bristol United Kingdom
 =90   72  University of Florida United States
 92   151–175  Chinese University of Hong Kong Hong Kong
 93   88  UNSW Sydney Australia
 94   =89  University of Vienna Austria
 =95   =86  University of Dundee United Kingdom
 =95   91  University of Würzburg Germany
 97   82  Trinity College Dublin Ireland
 =98   126–150  University of Lausanne Switzerland
 =98   =75  Michigan State University United States
 =100   101–125  University of California, Santa Cruz United States
 =100   126–150  The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology Hong Kong
 =100   94  Osaka University Japan
 101–125   95  University of Aberdeen United Kingdom
 101–125   126–150  University of Adelaide Australia
 101–125   101–125  University of Amsterdam Netherlands
 101–125   =86  University of Birmingham United Kingdom
 101–125   126–150  University of California, Irvine United States
 101–125   101–125  University of California, Riverside United States
 101–125   126–150  City University of Hong Kong Hong Kong
 101–125   101–125  University of Cologne Germany
 101–125   =96  Dartmouth College United States
 101–125   =92  University of East Anglia United Kingdom
 101–125   101–125  University of Exeter United Kingdom
 101–125   151–175  King Abdulaziz University Saudi Arabia
 101–125   =96  University of Leeds United Kingdom
 101–125   101–125  McMaster University Canada
 101–125   101–125  Newcastle University United Kingdom
 101–125   126–150  Université Paris Cité France
 101–125   126–150  University of Pittsburgh-Pittsburgh campus United States
 101–125   101–125  Queen Mary University of London United Kingdom
 101–125   301–400  Sichuan University China
 101–125   101–125  University of Tasmania Australia
 101–125   101–125  Technical University of Denmark Denmark
 101–125   78  University of Texas at Austin United States
 101–125   126–150  TU Dresden Germany
 101–125   251–300  Yonsei University (Seoul campus) South Korea
 126–150   101–125  University of Alberta Canada
 126–150   126–150  University of Bremen Germany
 126–150   126–150  Brown University United States
 126–150   201–250  Cardiff University United Kingdom
 126–150   101–125  University of Colorado Boulder United States
 126–150   176–200  Friedrich Schiller University Jena Germany
 126–150   101–125  University of Geneva Switzerland
 126–150   NR  Hong Kong Polytechnic University Hong Kong
 126–150   101–125  James Cook University Australia
 126–150   101–125  University of Luxembourg Luxembourg
 126–150   151–175  Nanjing University China
 126–150   101–125  Ohio State University (Main campus) United States
 126–150   151–175  University of Oslo Norway
 126–150   126–150  Penn State (Main campus) United States
 126–150   NR  Purdue University West Lafayette United States
 126–150   126–150  Radboud University Nijmegen Netherlands
 126–150   126–150  University of Reading United Kingdom
 126–150   151–175  Rice University United States
 126–150   126–150  University of Sheffield United Kingdom
 126–150   126–150  University of Southampton United Kingdom
 126–150   126–150  Southern University of Science and Technology (SUSTech) China
 126–150   101–125  Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences Sweden
 126–150   126–150  Texas A&M University United States
 126–150   101–125  Wuhan University China
 151–175   126–150  University of Antwerp Belgium
 151–175   151–175  University of Auckland New Zealand
 151–175   176–200  University of Barcelona Spain
 151–175   151–175  University of Bern Switzerland
 151–175   176–200  University of Cape Town South Africa
 151–175   126–150  Colorado State University, Fort Collins United States
 151–175   151–175  Delft University of Technology Netherlands
 151–175   151–175  École Normale Supérieure de Lyon France
 151–175   126–150  University of Hamburg Germany
 151–175   126–150  Iowa State University United States
 151–175   176–200  University of Konstanz Germany
 151–175   151–175  Université Catholique de Louvain Belgium
 151–175   151–175  University of Maryland, College Park United States
 151–175   101–125  Montpellier University France
 151–175   126–150  University of Nottingham United Kingdom
 151–175   201–250  Qatar University Qatar
 151–175   201–250  Queen’s University Belfast United Kingdom
 151–175   126–150  University of São Paulo Brazil
 151–175   151–175  University of St Andrews United Kingdom
 151–175   151–175  University of Stuttgart Germany
 151–175   151–175  University of Tartu Estonia
 151–175   176–200  University of Technology Sydney Australia
 151–175   201–250  Temple University United States
 151–175   176–200  Tohoku University Japan
 151–175   176–200  Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam Netherlands
 176–200   201–250  University of Arizona United States
 176–200   151–175  Arizona State University (Tempe) United States
 176–200   201–250  Autonomous University of Barcelona Spain
 176–200   201–250  Bangor University United Kingdom
 176–200   201–250  University of Bergen Norway
 176–200   176–200  Goethe University Frankfurt Germany
 176–200   201–250  University of Gothenburg Sweden
 176–200   201–250  University of Guelph Canada
 176–200   251–300  University of Hawai’i at Mānoa United States
 176–200   176–200  Hokkaido University Japan
 176–200   151–175  University of Iceland Iceland
 176–200   201–250  University of Kiel Germany
 176–200   151–175  Lancaster University United Kingdom
 176–200   176–200  Université Libre de Bruxelles Belgium
 176–200   201–250  University of Liverpool United Kingdom
 176–200   126–150  University of Macau Macao
 176–200   151–175  University of Montreal Canada
 176–200   101–125  National Taiwan University (NTU) Taiwan
 176–200   176–200  University of Padua Italy
 176–200   201–250  Queensland University of Technology Australia
 176–200   251–300  Semmelweis University Hungary
 176–200   151–175  University of Stirling United Kingdom
 176–200   176–200  Tallinn University of Technology Estonia
 176–200   151–175  Vrije Universiteit Brussel Belgium
 176–200   151–175  University of York United Kingdom

Click here to view the full life sciences ranking


You may also like

The University of Oxford

Best universities in the UK 2023 - University Rankings

The University of Oxford is top in a list of the best universities in the UK 2023, which includes institutions in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland

October 12 2022
sticky sign up

Register free and enjoy extra benefits