the logo

Best universities for social science degrees 2023

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

Rankings
Rankings for Students
October 25 2022
Lego people

Share

Top 10 universities in the world for social sciences

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

Social sciences rank 2023  Social sciences rank 2022  University Country/region
 1   2  Massachusetts Institute of Technology United States
 2   3  Stanford University United States
 3   1  University of Oxford United Kingdom
 4   4  Harvard University United States
 5   6  University of California, Berkeley United States
 6   5  Princeton University United States
 7   8  University of Cambridge United Kingdom
 8   7  London School of Economics and Political Science United Kingdom
 9   9  University of Michigan-Ann Arbor United States
 10   11  Yale University United States

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

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

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

Times Higher Education has published the 2023 ranking of the 941 best schools for social sciences across the world.

A fifth of the list is made up of US universities – 160 institutions in total. UK universities take 95 of the remaining spots while Australia, China, Singapore, Hong Kong and Japan are also represented.


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 life sciences

Best universities for physical sciences
Best universities for law degrees
Best universities for education degrees

Best universities for psychology degrees


Three UK institutions are in the top 10 (the universities of Oxford and Cambridge, and 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. 


Best universities in the world
Best universities in the United States
Best universities in the UK
Best universities in Canada
Best universities in Australia
Best universities in Europe


Top 5 universities for social sciences

5. University of California, Berkeley

Fifteen departments and programmes make up the social sciences department at the University of California, Berkeley. These include African American studies, cognitive psychology, linguistics, political economy and sociology. 

The division is the largest within the university, with 20 per cent of the total faculty members and 25 per cent of enrolled students.

4. Harvard University

Social sciences at Harvard University are taught through interdisciplinary programmes. Fields of study include 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.

3. University of Oxford

Perhaps the most famous social sciences degree at the University of Oxford is politics, philosophy 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.

2. Stanford University

The social sciences department at Stanford University offers anthropology, communication, economics, 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 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.


What can you do with a media and communications degree?
What can you do with a geography degree?
What can you do with a politics degree?
What can you do with a sociology degree?


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 2023

Click each institution to view its World University Ranking 2023 profile.

Social sciences rank 2023  Social sciences rank 2022  University Country/region
 1   2  Massachusetts Institute of Technology United States
 2   3  Stanford University United States
 3   1  University of Oxford United Kingdom
 4   4  Harvard University United States
 5   6  University of California, Berkeley United States
 6   5  Princeton University United States
 7   8  University of Cambridge United Kingdom
 8   7  London School of Economics and Political Science United Kingdom
 9   9  University of Michigan-Ann Arbor United States
 10   11  Yale University United States
 11   12  University of California, Los Angeles United States
 =12   10  The University of Chicago United States
 =12   14  University of Pennsylvania United States
 14   13  UCL United Kingdom
 15   15  Columbia University United States
 16   17  University of Amsterdam Netherlands
 17   19  National University of Singapore Singapore
 18   =26  University of Washington United States
 19   25  ETH Zurich Switzerland
 20   21  Cornell University United States
 21   =33  Tsinghua University China
 22   18  Peking University China
 =23   20  Duke University United States
 =23   29  Johns Hopkins University United States
 25   22  New York University United States
 =26   =26  University of Toronto Canada
 =26   31  Utrecht University Netherlands
 28   23  Northwestern University United States
 29   24  University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill United States
 30   16  University of Wisconsin-Madison United States
 31   28  University of Manchester United Kingdom
 32   35  University of British Columbia Canada
 33   38  Australian National University Australia
 34   30  University of Texas at Austin United States
 35   =48  Free University of Berlin Germany
 36   32  University of Mannheim Germany
 37   =33  University of Hong Kong Hong Kong
 38   =46  University of Edinburgh United Kingdom
 39   50  Sciences Po France
 =40   37  University of Melbourne Australia
 =40   65  University of Vienna Austria
 =42   52  McGill University Canada
 =42   45  University of Southern California United States
 44   70  King’s College London United Kingdom
 45   41  University of California, San Diego United States
 46   40  Humboldt University of Berlin Germany
 47   43  Aarhus University Denmark
 48   68  University of Groningen Netherlands
 49   =48  KU Leuven Belgium
 50   =46  University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign United States
 =51   =53  Arizona State University (Tempe) United States
 =51   57  Wageningen University & Research Netherlands
 =53   =63  Nanyang Technological University, Singapore Singapore
 =53   39  Ohio State University (Main campus) United States
 55   44  Leiden University Netherlands
 56   58  The University of Tokyo Japan
 57   59  University of Zurich Switzerland
 58   62  Indiana University United States
 59   42  University of Copenhagen Denmark
 =60   85  Chinese University of Hong Kong Hong Kong
 =60   =63  Lund University Sweden
 =60   =55  University of Maryland, College Park United States
 =60   51  University of Oslo Norway
 64   69  LMU Munich Germany
 =65   80  Delft University of Technology Netherlands
 =65   =72  University of Essex United Kingdom
 67   =53  Erasmus University Rotterdam Netherlands
 68   81  Hong Kong Polytechnic University Hong Kong
 69   =72  Brown University United States
 70   =60  Michigan State University United States
 71   66  University of California, Santa Barbara United States
 72   88  University of Sheffield United Kingdom
 73   84  Washington University in St Louis United States
 74   =55  University of Sussex United Kingdom
 75   36  Paris Sciences et Lettres – PSL Research University Paris France
 76   82  University of Leeds United Kingdom
 77   71  The University of Queensland Australia
 78   67  University of Minnesota United States
 79   74  University of Konstanz Germany
 80   =75  University of Warwick United Kingdom
 81   78  Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam Netherlands
 82   =95  Carnegie Mellon University United States
 83   =91  Monash University Australia
 84   =86  University of Sydney Australia
 85   94  Kyoto University Japan
 86   83  Georgetown University United States
 87   98  University of California, Irvine United States
 88   =75  Stockholm University Sweden
 89   =86  University of Twente Netherlands
 90   101–125  University of Helsinki Finland
 =91   101–125  Durham University United Kingdom
 =91   =60  Penn State (Main campus) United States
 93   99  Lancaster University United Kingdom
 =94   101–125  University of Arizona United States
 =94   79  Loughborough University United Kingdom
 =96   126–150  University of California, Davis United States
 =96   126–150  Vanderbilt University United States
 98   NR  University of Surrey United Kingdom
 99   101–125  University of Auckland New Zealand
 100   101–125  City University of Hong Kong Hong Kong
 101–125   90  University of Antwerp Belgium
 101–125   101–125  Autonomous University of Barcelona Spain
 101–125   101–125  University of Bern Switzerland
 101–125   89  Boston University United States
 101–125   101–125  University of Bristol United Kingdom
 101–125   126–150  University of Cape Town South Africa
 101–125   93  Copenhagen Business School Denmark
 101–125   101–125  Emory University United States
 101–125   101–125  University of Exeter United Kingdom
 101–125   101–125  University of Florida United States
 101–125   126–150  Georgia Institute of Technology United States
 101–125   =95  Ghent University Belgium
 101–125   126–150  University of Glasgow United Kingdom
 101–125   97  University of Gothenburg Sweden
 101–125   101–125  The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology Hong Kong
 101–125   176–200  University of Massachusetts United States
 101–125   NR  Queensland University of Technology Australia
 101–125   101–125  Rutgers University – New Brunswick United States
 101–125   151–175  Shanghai Jiao Tong University China
 101–125   126–150  University of Southampton United Kingdom
 101–125   126–150  Texas A&M University United States
 101–125   101–125  UNSW Sydney Australia
 101–125   77  Uppsala University Sweden
 101–125   151–175  Yonsei University (Seoul campus) South Korea
 126–150   126–150  Boston College United States
 126–150   126–150  Cardiff University United Kingdom
 126–150   101–125  University of Colorado Boulder United States
 126–150   101–125  Dartmouth College United States
 126–150   126–150  University of East Anglia United Kingdom
 126–150   151–175  École des Ponts ParisTech France
 126–150   126–150  Florida State University United States
 126–150   =91  Fudan University China
 126–150   101–125  George Washington University United States
 126–150   101–125  Goldsmiths, University of London United Kingdom
 126–150   126–150  University of Lausanne Switzerland
 126–150   151–175  Macquarie University Australia
 126–150   101–125  University of Montreal Canada
 126–150   126–150  Newcastle University United Kingdom
 126–150   151–175  Northeastern University United States
 126–150   101–125  University of Notre Dame United States
 126–150   NR  Purdue University West Lafayette United States
 126–150   101–125  Seoul National University South Korea
 126–150   126–150  Simon Fraser University Canada
 126–150   101–125  SOAS University of London United Kingdom
 126–150   101–125  Syracuse University United States
 126–150   101–125  Technical University of Berlin Germany
 126–150   126–150  Tilburg University Netherlands
 126–150   151–175  Vrije Universiteit Brussel Belgium
 126–150   151–175  University of Waterloo Canada
 126–150   126–150  University of York United Kingdom
 126–150   151–175  Zhejiang University China
 151–175   251–300  University of Alberta Canada
 151–175   176–200  University of Barcelona Spain
 151–175   151–175  University of Bath United Kingdom
 151–175   126–150  University of Birmingham United Kingdom
 151–175   201–250  University of Bologna Italy
 151–175   176–200  University of Bremen Germany
 151–175   151–175  University of California, Santa Cruz United States
 151–175   176–200  Charles Darwin University Australia
 151–175   126–150  City, University of London United Kingdom
 151–175   251–300  Friedrich Schiller University Jena Germany
 151–175   101–125  University of Georgia United States
 151–175   176–200  University of Kent United Kingdom
 151–175   151–175  King Abdulaziz University Saudi Arabia
 151–175   126–150  University of Nottingham United Kingdom
 151–175   126–150  Pompeu Fabra University Spain
 151–175   151–175  Radboud University Nijmegen Netherlands
 151–175   176–200  University of Reading United Kingdom
 151–175   176–200  Scuola Normale Superiore di Pisa Italy
 151–175   176–200  University of St Andrews United Kingdom
 151–175   201–250  Sun Yat-sen University China
 151–175   126–150  Trinity College Dublin Ireland
 151–175   151–175  University College Dublin Ireland
 151–175   151–175  The University of Western Australia Australia
 176–200   126–150  University of Aberdeen United Kingdom
 176–200   176–200  Beijing Normal University China
 176–200   176–200  Bielefeld University Germany
 176–200   151–175  Birkbeck, University of London United Kingdom
 176–200   151–175  University of Cologne Germany
 176–200   176–200  University of Freiburg Germany
 176–200   151–175  George Mason University United States
 176–200   176–200  University of Göttingen Germany
 176–200   151–175  Griffith University Australia
 176–200   201–250  James Cook University Australia
 176–200   201–250  Koç University Turkey
 176–200   NR  Leuphana University of Lüneburg Germany
 176–200   126–150  Université Catholique de Louvain Belgium
 176–200   NR  Macau University of Science and Technology Macao
 176–200   201–250  Murdoch University Australia
 176–200   126–150  Nanjing University China
 176–200   176–200  National Taiwan University (NTU) Taiwan
 176–200   301–400  The New School United States
 176–200   251–300  North Carolina State University United States
 176–200   126–150  Rice University United States
 176–200   251–300  Sabancı University Turkey
 176–200   176–200  University of São Paulo Brazil
 176–200   176–200  Sejong University South Korea
 176–200   176–200  Sorbonne University France
 176–200   251–300  Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University United States
 176–200   176–200  University of the Witwatersrand South Africa

Click here to view the full ranking for social science degrees

Editors note: As part of our THE statement on Ukraine published on 2 March 2022, Russian universities have been given less prominence in our rankings. Russian and Belarusian universities that met the criteria for this ranking are not displayed in the table above.


You may also like

Harvard University

Best universities in the United States 2023

Find the best universities in the United States 2023 through Times Higher Education’s World University Rankings data

October 12 2022
sticky sign up

Register free and enjoy extra benefits