Best universities for social science degrees 2022

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

Rankings for Students
October 13 2021
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The social sciences include a range of subjects, from international relations to politics to geography.

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

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Times Higher Education has published the 2022 ranking of the 870 best schools for social sciences across the world.

Almost a fifth of the list is made up of US universities – 161 institutions in total. UK universities take 93 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 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
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Best universities in the UK
Best universities in Canada
Best universities in Australia
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Top 5 universities for social sciences

1. University of Oxford

Perhaps the most famous social sciences degree at the University of Oxford is politics, philosophy and economics (PPE).

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

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 courses within the division include geography, archaeology and anthropology, and law and human sciences.

2. Massachusetts Institute of Technology

The School of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology 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 some of the 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.

3. 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.

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4. Harvard University

Social sciences at Harvard University is interdisciplinary.

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.

5. Princeton University

There are 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.

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 2022

Click each institution to view its World University Ranking 2022 profile

Social Sciences Rank 2022 Social Sciences Rank 2021 University Country/region
1 2 University of Oxford United Kingdom
2 1 Massachusetts Institute of Technology United States
3 3 Stanford University United States
4 4 Harvard University United States
5 7 Princeton University United States
6 5 University of California, Berkeley United States
7 8 London School of Economics and Political Science United Kingdom
8 6 University of Cambridge United Kingdom
9 9 University of Michigan-Ann Arbor United States
10 11 The University of Chicago United States
11 10 Yale University United States
12 12 University of California, Los Angeles United States
13 14 UCL United Kingdom
14 13 University of Pennsylvania United States
15 =17 Columbia University United States
16 15 University of Wisconsin -Madison United States
17 21 University of Amsterdam Netherlands
18 =17 Peking University China
19 22 National University of Singapore Singapore
20 =17 Duke University United States
21 20 Cornell University United States
22 16 New York University United States
23 23 Northwestern University United States
24 24 University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill United States
25 25 ETH Zurich Switzerland
=26 =27 University of Toronto Canada
=26 31 University of Washington United States
28 29 University of Manchester United Kingdom
29 32 Johns Hopkins University United States
30 30 University of Texas at Austin United States
31 33 Utrecht University Netherlands
32 =38 University of Mannheim Germany
=33 26 University of Hong Kong Hong Kong
=33 34 Tsinghua University China
35 =27 University of British Columbia Canada
36 35 Paris Sciences et Lettres – PSL Research University Paris France
37 50 University of Melbourne Australia
38 36 Australian National University Australia
39 46 Ohio State University (Main campus) United States
40 =40 Humboldt University of Berlin Germany
41 =38 University of California, San Diego United States
42 55 University of Copenhagen Denmark
43 60 Aarhus University Denmark
44 37 Leiden University Netherlands
45 43 University of Southern California United States
=46 =44 University of Edinburgh United Kingdom
=46 47 University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign United States
=48 56 Free University of Berlin Germany
=48 =40 KU Leuven Belgium
50 68 Sciences Po France
51 61 University of Oslo Norway
52 49 McGill University Canada
=53 66 Arizona State University (Tempe) United States
=53 =58 Erasmus University Rotterdam Netherlands
=55 =58 University of Maryland, College Park United States
=55 42 University of Sussex United Kingdom
57 =71 Wageningen University & Research Netherlands
58 48 The University of Tokyo Japan
59 =64 University of Zurich Switzerland
=60 67 Michigan State University United States
=60 =44 Penn State (Main campus) United States
62 51 Indiana University United States
=63 81 Lund University Sweden
=63 =52 Nanyang Technological University, Singapore Singapore
65 =71 University of Vienna Austria
66 =79 University of California, Santa Barbara United States
67 57 University of Minnesota United States
68 92 University of Groningen Netherlands
69 73 LMU Munich Germany
70 54 King’s College London United Kingdom
71 =62 The University of Queensland Australia
=72 =64 Brown University United States
=72 =52 University of Essex United Kingdom
74 88 University of Konstanz Germany
=75 =82 Stockholm University Sweden
=75 78 University of Warwick United Kingdom
77 =79 Uppsala University Sweden
78 69 Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam Netherlands
79 =74 Loughborough University United Kingdom
80 86 Delft University of Technology Netherlands
81 =82 Hong Kong Polytechnic University Hong Kong
82 =96 University of Leeds United Kingdom
83 77 Georgetown University United States
84 89 Washington University in St Louis United States
85 =62 Chinese University of Hong Kong Hong Kong
=86 76 University of Sydney Australia
=86 101–125 University of Twente Netherlands
88 70 University of Sheffield United Kingdom
89 =90 Boston University United States
90 101–125 University of Antwerp Belgium
=91 101–125 Fudan University China
=91 99 Monash University Australia
93 101–125 Copenhagen Business School Denmark
94 =90 Kyoto University Japan
=95 84 Carnegie Mellon University United States
=95 101–125 Ghent University Belgium
97 101–125 University of Gothenburg Sweden
98 101–125 University of California, Irvine United States
99 =96 Lancaster University United Kingdom
100 176–200 HSE University Russian Federation
101–125 =96 University of Arizona United States
101–125 101–125 University of Auckland New Zealand
101–125 101–125 Autonomous University of Barcelona Spain
101–125 126–150 University of Bern Switzerland
101–125 101–125 University of Bristol United Kingdom
101–125 =93 City University of Hong Kong Hong Kong
101–125 126–150 University of Colorado Boulder United States
101–125 101–125 Dartmouth College United States
101–125 85 Durham University United Kingdom
101–125 126–150 Emory University United States
101–125 101–125 University of Exeter United Kingdom
101–125 126–150 University of Florida United States
101–125 101–125 George Washington University United States
101–125 126–150 University of Georgia United States
101–125 101–125 Goldsmiths, University of London United Kingdom
101–125 126–150 University of Helsinki Finland
101–125 =74 The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology Hong Kong
101–125 101–125 University of Montreal Canada
101–125 101–125 University of Notre Dame United States
101–125 100 Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey United States
101–125 126–150 SOAS University of London United Kingdom
101–125 126–150 Seoul National University South Korea
101–125 95 Syracuse University United States
101–125 151–175 Technical University of Berlin Germany
101–125 87 UNSW Sydney Australia
126–150 201–250 University of Aberdeen United Kingdom
126–150 101–125 University of Birmingham United Kingdom
126–150 176–200 Boston College United States
126–150 151–175 University of California, Davis United States
126–150 101–125 University of Cape Town South Africa
126–150 101–125 Cardiff University United Kingdom
126–150 101–125 City, University of London United Kingdom
126–150 101–125 University of East Anglia United Kingdom
126–150 151–175 Florida State University United States
126–150 101–125 Georgia Institute of Technology United States
126–150 126–150 University of Glasgow United Kingdom
126–150 151–175 University of Lausanne Switzerland
126–150 101–125 Université Catholique de Louvain Belgium
126–150 126–150 Maastricht University Netherlands
126–150 126–150 Nanjing University China
126–150 151–175 Newcastle University United Kingdom
126–150 126–150 University of Nottingham United Kingdom
126–150 126–150 Pompeu Fabra University Spain
126–150 151–175 Rice University United States
126–150 126–150 Simon Fraser University Canada
126–150 101–125 University of Southampton United Kingdom
126–150 126–150 Texas A&M University United States
126–150 101–125 Tilburg University Netherlands
126–150 126–150 Trinity College Dublin Republic of Ireland
126–150 126–150 Vanderbilt University United States
126–150 =93 University of York United Kingdom
151–175 151–175 University of Bath United Kingdom
151–175 201–250 Birkbeck, University of London United Kingdom
151–175 151–175 University of California, Santa Cruz United States
151–175 176–200 University of Canberra Australia
151–175 NR University of Cologne Germany
151–175 151–175 Curtin University Australia
151–175 176–200 École des Ponts ParisTech France
151–175 176–200 George Mason University United States
151–175 151–175 Griffith University Australia
151–175 201–250 King Abdulaziz University Saudi Arabia
151–175 126–150 University of Klagenfurt Austria
151–175 NR Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) South Korea
151–175 201–250 Macquarie University Australia
151–175 201–250 Northeastern University United States
151–175 151–175 University of Otago New Zealand
151–175 151–175 Queen Mary University of London United Kingdom
151–175 176–200 Radboud University Nijmegen Netherlands
151–175 176–200 Shanghai Jiao Tong University China
151–175 151–175 University College Dublin Republic of Ireland
151–175 126–150 Vrije Universiteit Brussel Belgium
151–175 176–200 University of Waterloo Canada
151–175 151–175 The University of Western Australia Australia
151–175 251–300 Yonsei University (Seoul campus) South Korea
151–175 151–175 Zhejiang University China
176–200 176–200 Auckland University of Technology New Zealand
176–200 201–250 University of Barcelona Spain
176–200 176–200 Beijing Normal University China
176–200 151–175 University of Bergen Norway
176–200 201–250 Bielefeld University Germany
176–200 201–250 University of Bremen Germany
176–200 201–250 University of Canterbury New Zealand
176–200 301–400 Charles Darwin University Australia
176–200 176–200 University of Freiburg Germany
176–200 176–200 University of Göttingen Germany
176–200 151–175 University of Hawai’i at Mānoa United States
176–200 176–200 University of Kent United Kingdom
176–200 251–300 Linköping University Sweden
176–200 301–400 Lomonosov Moscow State University Russian Federation
176–200 201–250 University of Luxembourg Luxembourg
176–200 151–175 University of Massachusetts United States
176–200 151–175 National Taiwan University (NTU) Taiwan
176–200 NR Université Paris-Saclay France
176–200 NR University of Reading United Kingdom
176–200 126–150 University of São Paulo Brazil
176–200 151–175 Scuola Normale Superiore di Pisa Italy
176–200 176–200 Sejong University South Korea
176–200 176–200 Sorbonne University France
176–200 151–175 University of St Andrews United Kingdom
176–200 201–250 University of Waikato New Zealand
176–200 126–150 University of the Witwatersrand South Africa

Click here to view the full ranking for social science degrees

Read more: The most detailed subject guide you will ever see to help you pick your degree 

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