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Best universities for social science degrees 2024

Find the best colleges for social sciences using Times Higher Education’s World University Rankings 2024 data

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October 26 2023
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Top 10 universities in the world for social sciences 2024

Scroll down for the full list of best universities in the world for social science degrees.

Social science rank 2024Social science rank 2023UniversityCountry/region
=11Massachusetts Institute of TechnologyUnited States
=12Stanford UniversityUnited States
33University of OxfordUnited Kingdom
44Harvard UniversityUnited States
56Princeton UniversityUnited States
67University of CambridgeUnited Kingdom
75University of California, BerkeleyUnited States
88London School of Economics and Political ScienceUnited Kingdom
99University of Michigan-Ann ArborUnited States
1010Yale UniversityUnited States

The social sciences include a range of subjects, from international relations to politics to geography.

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Graduates of social science degrees go on to pursue a wide range of careers in the public and private sectors.

Times Higher Education has published the 2024 ranking of the 997 best schools for social sciences across the world.

A sixth of the list is made up of US universities – 155 institutions in total. UK universities take 95 of the remaining spots, while Australia, China, Singapore, Hong Kong and Japan are also represented.

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Three UK institutions are in the top 10 (the universities of Oxford and Cambridge, and the London School of Economics and Political Science), while the rest of the top 10 is dominated by US universities.

The social sciences ranking uses the same methodology as the World University Rankings, but with less weight given to citations and more to research and teaching metrics. The full methodology can be found here.

Scroll down for a full list of degrees covered by the ranking and what you can do with them.

Top 5 universities for social sciences

5. Princeton University

There are both undergraduate and graduate degree programmes available in the social sciences at Princeton University. Students can choose to study courses from a range of disciplines such as American studies, economics, European cultural studies, gender and sexuality studies, and health policy.

Princeton has a number of institutes, centres and schools that facilitate research into society and politics, including the Princeton School of Public and International Affairs and the Kahneman-Treisman Center for Behavioral Science and Public Policy.

4. Harvard University

Social sciences at Harvard University are taught through interdisciplinary programmes. Fields of study include economics, government, law, sociology, gender studies and psychology.

For all these subjects, both undergraduates and postgraduates are expected to conduct empirical research and analyse data. Senior thesis projects can involve qualitative or quantitative research methods, or both.

The Regan Fund at the university is used to invite famous speakers to Harvard to deliver lectures on economics, government and social problems around the world. These lectures are primarily aimed at undergraduates.

The social sciences division has relationships with a number of museums and research centres, including the Harvard-MIT Data Center and the Institute for Quantitative Social Science.

3. University of Oxford

Perhaps the most famous social sciences degree at the University of Oxford is philosophy, politics and economics (PPE). The social sciences division also tackles issues such as environmental change, poverty, cybercrime, political turmoil, social inequality and immigration.

A number of influential politicians and public figures have earned an Oxford PPE degree, including a significant number of British prime ministers. Nobel Peace Prize winner and advocate for women’s education Malala Yousafzai recently completed a PPE degree at the institution.

Much of the social science research at Oxford is aimed at influencing policy in the UK and around the world.

Particular research strengths include big data, future cities, resource management and global economic performance.

Aside from PPE, undergraduate courses within the division include geography, archaeology and anthropology, and law and human sciences.

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=1. Stanford University

The social sciences department at Stanford University offers anthropology, communication, economics, law, political science, psychology and sociology courses. Many programmes are interdisciplinary, including ethics in society; democracy, development and the rule of law; and urban studies.

In political science classes, undergraduates study US politics and international political systems and relate them to conflict, social activism, ideology and race issues.

The curriculum covers five subject areas: US politics, comparative politics, international relations, political methodology, and political theory.

The department of anthropology is known for an innovative approach that insists that the subject must be studied in relation to contemporary affairs.

Students learn research methods and theory to carry them through the course of their choice.

=1. Massachusetts Institute of Technology

The School of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) offers a wide selection of subjects, including politics and women’s and gender studies.

The school’s roots lie in the university’s founding, when courses in psychology and political science were taught.

The school produces a magazine called Said and Done, which highlights research undertaken within the faculty.

All students at MIT are expected to take social science classes to help them solve “some of the world’s most challenging problems”.

Current faculty members include four Nobel laureates, seven MacArthur fellows and five Pulitzer prizewinners.

Best universities for social sciences degrees in the UK
Best universities for social sciences degrees in the US
Best universities for social sciences degrees in Canada
Best universities for social sciences degrees in Australia

Best universities for social science degrees 2024

Click each institution to view its World University Ranking 2024 profile.

Social science rank 2024Social science rank 2023UniversityCountry/region
=11Massachusetts Institute of TechnologyUnited States
=12Stanford UniversityUnited States
33University of OxfordUnited Kingdom
44Harvard UniversityUnited States
56Princeton UniversityUnited States
67University of CambridgeUnited Kingdom
75University of California, BerkeleyUnited States
88London School of Economics and Political ScienceUnited Kingdom
99University of Michigan-Ann ArborUnited States
1010Yale UniversityUnited States
11=12The University of ChicagoUnited States
1215Columbia UniversityUnited States
13=12University of PennsylvaniaUnited States
1414UCLUnited Kingdom
1511University of California, Los AngelesUnited States
1617National University of SingaporeSingapore
1722Peking UniversityChina
=1816University of AmsterdamNetherlands
=18=23Johns Hopkins UniversityUnited States
2020Cornell UniversityUnited States
2121Tsinghua UniversityChina
2218University of WashingtonUnited States
2325New York UniversityUnited States
24=26University of TorontoCanada
=2519ETH ZurichSwitzerland
=2530University of Wisconsin-MadisonUnited States
2732University of British ColumbiaCanada
2831University of ManchesterUnited Kingdom
29=23Duke UniversityUnited States
3029University of North Carolina at Chapel HillUnited States
=3133Australian National UniversityAustralia
=3128Northwestern UniversityUnited States
3344King’s College LondonUnited Kingdom
3434University of Texas at AustinUnited States
3537University of Hong KongHong Kong
3635Free University of BerlinGermany
3755Leiden UniversityNetherlands
=3838University of EdinburghUnited Kingdom
=38=42McGill UniversityCanada
=4049KU LeuvenBelgium
=4056The University of TokyoJapan
=4246Humboldt University of BerlinGermany
=42=42University of Southern CaliforniaUnited States
44=51Wageningen University & ResearchNetherlands
45=40University of ViennaAustria
4647Aarhus UniversityDenmark
47=53Ohio State University (Main campus)United States
4845University of California, San DiegoUnited States
=4948University of GroningenNetherlands
=49=53Nanyang Technological University, SingaporeSingapore
5184University of SydneyAustralia
5272University of SheffieldUnited Kingdom
53=60Lund UniversitySweden
5436University of MannheimGermany
5558Indiana UniversityUnited States
5650University of Illinois at Urbana-ChampaignUnited States
5759University of CopenhagenDenmark
58=60Chinese University of Hong KongHong Kong
59=40University of MelbourneAustralia
6082Carnegie Mellon UniversityUnited States
=61=65Delft University of TechnologyNetherlands
=6164LMU MunichGermany
=61=60University of OsloNorway
=6157University of ZurichSwitzerland
65=51Arizona State University (Tempe)United States
6639Sciences PoFrance
6769Brown UniversityUnited States
6874University of SussexUnited Kingdom
=6976University of LeedsUnited Kingdom
=69=60University of Maryland, College ParkUnited States
7178University of MinnesotaUnited States
7281Vrije Universiteit AmsterdamNetherlands
7386Georgetown UniversityUnited States
74=65University of EssexUnited Kingdom
=7585Kyoto UniversityJapan
=7583Monash UniversityAustralia
=7771University of California, Santa BarbaraUnited States
=7777The University of QueenslandAustralia
7967Erasmus University RotterdamNetherlands
8068Hong Kong Polytechnic UniversityHong Kong
81=91Durham UniversityUnited Kingdom
8273Washington University in St LouisUnited States
8380University of WarwickUnited Kingdom
84=91Penn State (Main campus)United States
85101–125Autonomous University of BarcelonaSpain
8670Michigan State UniversityUnited States
8775Paris Sciences et Lettres – PSL Research University ParisFrance
8889University of TwenteNetherlands
=89=96University of California, DavisUnited States
=8988Stockholm UniversitySweden
9190University of HelsinkiFinland
92=94University of ArizonaUnited States
=9387University of California, IrvineUnited States
=93101–125Uppsala UniversitySweden
9579University of KonstanzGermany
96101–125Yonsei University (Seoul campus)South Korea
97=94Loughborough UniversityUnited Kingdom
=98100City University of Hong KongHong Kong
=98101–125University of SouthamptonUnited Kingdom
=100101–125University of Cape TownSouth Africa
=100101–125UNSW SydneyAustralia
101–125151–175University of BarcelonaSpain
101–125101–125University of BernSwitzerland
101–125101–125Boston UniversityUnited States
101–125101–125University of BristolUnited Kingdom
101–125101–125Emory UniversityUnited States
101–125101–125University of FloridaUnited States
101–125126–150Fudan UniversityChina
101–125126–150George Washington UniversityUnited States
101–125101–125University of GlasgowUnited Kingdom
101–125101–125University of GothenburgSweden
101–125101–125The Hong Kong University of Science and TechnologyHong Kong
101–12593Lancaster UniversityUnited Kingdom
101–125101–125University of MassachusettsUnited States
101–125126–150University of MontrealCanada
101–125126–150University of Notre DameUnited States
101–125126–150Purdue University West LafayetteUnited States
101–125101–125Queensland University of TechnologyAustralia
101–125176–200University of São PauloBrazil
101–125101–125Shanghai Jiao Tong UniversityChina
101–125176–200Sorbonne UniversityFrance
101–12598University of SurreyUnited Kingdom
101–125101–125Texas A&M UniversityUnited States
101–125=96Vanderbilt UniversityUnited States
101–125126–150Vrije Universiteit BrusselBelgium
101–125126–150Zhejiang UniversityChina
126–150101–125University of AntwerpBelgium
126–15099University of AucklandNew Zealand
126–150151–175University of BirminghamUnited Kingdom
126–150151–175University of BolognaItaly
126–150126–150Cardiff UniversityUnited Kingdom
126–150101–125Copenhagen Business SchoolDenmark
126–150101–125University of ExeterUnited Kingdom
126–150126–150Florida State UniversityUnited States
126–150151–175University of GeorgiaUnited States
126–150101–125Georgia Institute of TechnologyUnited States
126–150101–125Ghent UniversityBelgium
126–150201–250Goethe University FrankfurtGermany
126–150101–125HSE UniversityRussian Federation
126–150126–150University of LausanneSwitzerland
126–150176–200Nanjing UniversityChina
126–150126–150Newcastle UniversityUnited Kingdom
126–150151–175University of NottinghamUnited Kingdom
126–150201–250Université Paris-SaclayFrance
126–150126–150Seoul National UniversitySouth Korea
126–150126–150Simon Fraser UniversityCanada
126–150126–150SOAS University of LondonUnited Kingdom
126–150151–175Sun Yat-sen UniversityChina
126–150126–150Syracuse UniversityUnited States
126–150126–150Technical University of BerlinGermany
126–150126–150University of YorkUnited Kingdom
151–175151–175University of AlbertaCanada
151–175151–175University of BathUnited Kingdom
151-175176-200Birkbeck, University of LondonUnited Kingdom
151–175126–150Boston CollegeUnited States
151–175151–175University of BremenGermany
151–175151–175University of California, Santa CruzUnited States
151–175176–200Université Catholique de LouvainBelgium
151–175151–175City, University of LondonUnited Kingdom
151–175176–200University of CologneGermany
151–175126–150University of Colorado BoulderUnited States
151–175126–150Dartmouth CollegeUnited States
151–175251–300Drexel UniversityUnited States
151–175176–200Griffith UniversityAustralia
151–175201–250Lomonosov Moscow State UniversityRussian Federation
151–175201–250Maastricht UniversityNetherlands
151–175126–150Northeastern University, USUnited States
151–175151–175Pompeu Fabra UniversitySpain
151–175NRUniversity of RochesterUnited States
151–175201–250University of Technology SydneyAustralia
151–175126–150Tilburg UniversityNetherlands
151–175151–175Trinity College DublinIreland
151–175151–175University College DublinIreland
151–175126–150University of WaterlooCanada
151–175176–200University of the WitwatersrandSouth Africa
151–175301–400Wuhan UniversityChina
176–200251–300Aalborg UniversityDenmark
176–200176–200University of AberdeenUnited Kingdom
176–200176–200Beijing Normal UniversityChina
176–200201–250Dublin City UniversityIreland
176–200126–150University of East AngliaUnited Kingdom
176–200126–150École des Ponts ParisTechFrance
176–200176–200University of FreiburgGermany
176–200151–175Friedrich Schiller University JenaGermany
176–200176–200George Mason UniversityUnited States
176–200126–150Goldsmiths, University of LondonUnited Kingdom
176–200176–200Koç UniversityTurkey
176–200126–150Macquarie UniversityAustralia
176–200176–200North Carolina State UniversityUnited States
176–200201–250University of Pittsburgh-Pittsburgh campusUnited States
176–200NRUniversity of PotsdamGermany
176–200151–175Radboud University NijmegenNetherlands
176–200151–175University of ReadingUnited Kingdom
176–200201–250RMIT UniversityAustralia
176–200101–125Rutgers University – New BrunswickUnited States
176–200176–200Sabancı UniversityTurkey
176–200151–175Scuola Normale Superiore di PisaItaly
176–200151–175University of St AndrewsUnited Kingdom
176–200176–200Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State UniversityUnited States
176–200201–250University of WaikatoNew Zealand
176–200251–300Western UniversityCanada


Editor's note: This table was updated in December 2023 to retroactively include Birkbeck, University of London based on their provided data submission. More information on the university's inclusion can be found here

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