Best universities for social science degrees 2017

Find the best colleges for social sciences using Times Higher Education’s World University Rankings data
September 28 2016

Studying social sciences at university includes a range of subjects, from international relations to politics to law.

Graduates of social science degrees go on to wide range of careers in the public and private sector, including policy, analysis and service jobs.

Times Higher Education has published the 2016-2017 ranking of 101 best schools for social sciences across the world.

Almost half the list is made up of American universities – 45 institutions in total. European universities take 43 of the remaining spots and Australia, China, Singapore, Hong Kong and Japan are also represented


Resources: rankings by subject

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The University of Oxford is the only top-10 universities outside the US. A stand-out entrant top the top five is the University of Chicago at position four, ahead of Harvard University.

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.

Scroll down for a full list of degrees covered by the ranking.


Resources: best universities worldwide

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Top five universities for social sciences

1. Stanford University

At Stanford, the social sciences department covers anthropology, communication, economics, political science, psychology and sociology.

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 department splits studies into five disciplines: American politics, comparative politics, international relations, political methodology and political theory.

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

Students across the range of subjects are taught research methods and theory to carry them through the course of their choice.

2. University of Oxford

Perhaps the most famous social sciences degree at Oxford is PPE: politics, philosophy and economics.

A number of influential politicians and public figures have graduated from Oxford’s PPE degree, including a significant number of British prime ministers.

The social sciences division also tackles issues such as environmental change, poverty, cybercrime, political turmoil, social inequality and immigration.

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 degrees within the division include geography, archaeology and anthropology, law, human sciences, and other combinations.

3. Yale University

There are 20 departments that fall within the social sciences division at Yale.

These range from statistics to archaeological studies. A separate law school also teaches a graduate programme in law.

Undergraduates receive a liberal arts education that aims to cover a broad range of topics. Students are required to take a diverse collection of classes, and everyone must take writing, quantitative reasoning and a foreign language.

Many students go abroad for at least a semester as part of their degree. Within social sciences, there are options to study for a multidisciplinary degree. These include education studies, energy studies, human rights and global health studies.

4. University of Chicago

At Chicago undergraduates can declare a major in one of eight different social science degree programmes.

These programmes are anthropology, comparative human development, economics, history, political science, psychology, social thought, and sociology.

The university is known for its excellent intellectual environment, with a specific focus on theoretical problems and research.

In addition to the undergraduate degrees, the division offers nine different PhD programmes and five master’s programmes. A new master’s degree added recently is a programme in computation social science.

Recent projects within the departments range from studies on gang violence to intellectual property laws.

5. Harvard University

Social sciences at Harvard is essentially interdisciplinary.

Fields of study include African studies, economics, government, sociology, gender studies and psychology.

For all these subjects, both undergraduates and graduates 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 give 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.


Resources: European universities

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Best universities for social science degrees 2016-2017

Click each institution to view its profile

Rank 2016-2017

University

Country

1

Stanford University

United States

2

University of Oxford

United Kingdom

3

Yale University

United States

4

University of Chicago

United States

5

Harvard University

United States

6

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

United States

7

University of Michigan

United States

8

Princeton University

United States

9

University of California, Los Angeles

United States

10

University of California, Berkeley

United States

11

University of Cambridge

United Kingdom

12

Columbia University

United States

13

University of Pennsylvania

United States

14

University College London

United Kingdom

15

London School of Economics and Political Science

United Kingdom

16

Cornell University

United States

17

Duke University

United States

18

University of Wisconsin-Madison

United States

19

University of Toronto

Canada

20

University of British Columbia

Canada

21

King’s College London

United Kingdom

22

New York University

United States

23

University of Melbourne

Australia

24

Northwestern University

United States

25

University of Washington

United States

26

University of Amsterdam

Netherlands

27

University of California, San Diego

United States

28

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

United States

29

The University of Texas at Austin

United States

30

McGill University

Canada

31

University of Hong Kong

Hong Kong

32

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

United States

33

Humboldt University of Berlin

Germany

34

Australian National University

Australia

=35

Michigan State University

United States

=35

Peking University

China

37

National University of Singapore

Singapore

38

ETH Zürich – Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich

Switzerland

=39

University of Minnesota

United States

=39

Ohio State University

United States

41

Freie Universität Berlin

Germany

42

Johns Hopkins University

United States

43

University of Edinburgh

United Kingdom

44

Katholieke Universiteit Leuven

Belgium

45

Vanderbilt University

United States

46

Pennsylvania State University

United States

47

Carnegie Mellon University

United States

48

Georgetown University

United States

49

University of Southern California

United States

50

Utrecht University

Netherlands

51

University of Manchester

United Kingdom

52

Washington University in St Louis

United States

53

University of California, Santa Barbara

United States

54

University of Sussex

United Kingdom

55

Universität Mannheim

Germany

56

University of Sydney

Australia

57

Indiana University

United States

58

University of Maryland, College Park

United States

59

Arizona State University

United States

60

Durham University

United Kingdom

61

The University of Tokyo

Japan

62

Brown University

United States

63

University of California, Irvine

United States

64

University of California, Davis

United States

65

Maastricht University

Netherlands

66

University of New South Wales

Australia

67

University of Queensland

Australia

68

University of Bristol

United Kingdom

=69

University of Copenhagen

Denmark

=69

University of Groningen

Netherlands

=71

University of Sheffield

United Kingdom

=71

LMU Munich

Germany

=71

Tsinghua University

China

=74

Universität Heidelberg

Germany

=74

University of Warwick

United Kingdom

76

University of Virginia

United States

77

University of York

United Kingdom

78

University of Twente

Netherlands

79

Aarhus University

Denmark

80

Hong Kong University of Science and Technology

Hong Kong

81

University of Rochester

United States

82

Nanyang Technological University (NTU Singapore)

Singapore

83

University of Essex

United Kingdom

84

University of Konstanz

Germany

=85

University of Exeter

United Kingdom

=85

Leiden University

Netherlands

=87

Erasmus University Rotterdam

Netherlands

=87

Stockholm University

Sweden

=87

University of St Andrews

United Kingdom

90

Purdue University

United States

=91

Dartmouth College

United States

=91

Lancaster University

United Kingdom

=93

Lund University

Sweden

=93

Georgia Institute of Technology

United States

95

University of Oslo

Norway

=96

University of Zurich

Switzerland

=96

Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey

United States

=96

University of Pittsburgh

United States

99

University of Freiburg

Germany

=100

Monash University

Australia

=100

University of Helsinki

Finland

Social sciences degrees:

  • Area studies
  • Anthropology
  • Behavioural sciences
  • Biomedical social sciences
  • Communication
  • Criminology and penology
  • Demography
  • Decision support/statistics
  • Education and educational research
  • Ethnic studies
  • Family studies
  • Geography
  • International relations
  • Law
  • Library science
  • Mathematical methods in social sciences
  • Political science
  • Psychology
  • Public administration
  • Social issues
  • Social work
  • Sociology
  • Urban studies
  • Women’s studies
  • Social sciences – other topics

Resources: universities by region

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