China Subject Ratings 2023: results announced

German universities are the best in the world, according to China’s classification of higher education subjects

March 29, 2023

Browse the full results of the China Subject Ratings 2023

Institutions in mainland China are the highest-performing universities in four out of 83 subjects, but German universities top the most subjects, according to the latest edition of the global ratings based on the nation’s own classification system.

The Times Higher Education China Subject Ratings reveal how 1,777 universities from 104 countries or states are performing across 83 different subjects classified by the Chinese Ministry of Education. Institutions are given a grade between A+ and C− in each subject, based on their performance across five core areas: teaching, research, citations, international outlook and knowledge transfer.

Analysis reveals that Germany achieves the highest average grade in 24 subjects, beating last year’s top scorer, Australia, by four subjects. Australia is now in second place, with the top average score in 20 subjects, followed by the Netherlands (19) and the UK (8). China shares fifth place with the US, with four top scores each.

Pillar-level analysis

We have grouped the 83 subjects into 13 pillars, in line with China’s classification (excluding the military pillar because we have not rated performance for subjects in this area).


The Netherlands tops the table for philosophy studies, with an average grade of A, based on data from 10 universities. Four of the universities in the Netherlands received an A+, three gained an A and three secured an A−.

Twelve mainland Chinese universities are rated for philosophy, with Peking University receiving the top grade of A+.


The UK has the highest average grades for the two economics subjects (theoretical economics and applied economics), based on 74 and 75 universities, respectively, scoring an average grade of A− for both subjects.

Germany also received an average grade of A− in theoretical economics (although with a lower numerical score than the UK), based on 17 universities.

The average grade for Chinese institutions in theoretical economics is B+ and in applied economics is B, based on 37 and 64 universities, respectively.


The Netherlands is the number one country for the two law subjects, scoring an A+ for both political science and sociology. None of the 11 universities ranked from the Netherlands received a grade lower than an A− in either subject.

China scores an average grade of B for political science and a B+ for sociology. Peking University and Tsinghua University score A+ for both law subjects; Shanghai Jiao Tong University scores an A+ for political science; and Nanjing University scores an A+ for sociology.


There are three subjects within the education pillar: education, physical education and psychology. China tops the education subject with an average grade of A−. Physical education is topped by Canada, with an average grade of A−. Psychology is topped by Germany, with an average grade of B+.

Four Chinese universities received an A+ for education: Peking University, Beijing Normal University, Zhejiang University and East China Normal University.


The UK tops one of the two literature subjects, foreign language and literature, with an average grade of B+ based on 76 universities ranked. The second subject, media/communications/journalism is another one led by the Netherlands, with an average grade of A, based on 12 universities. China scores a B for both subjects. Peking University, Shanghai Jiao Tong University and Tsinghua University all received an A+ for both literature subjects.


The Netherlands is the top-performing nation for world history (the only subject in this pillar), with an average grade of A, based on 10 universities. Four universities in the country received an A+ grade, with the country’s lowest rated institution gaining a B+.

The average grade across mainland China is a B, based on 13 universities ranked.

Physical science

There are 13 subjects within the physical science pillar. The Netherlands is the top for five of them (mathematics, chemistry, geology, systems sciences and statistics); Germany is top for three (physics, geophysics and ecology); the UK tops two (geography and marine sciences); China is top for one (astronomy); Sweden tops biology; and Australia tops atmospheric sciences.

Five universities in mainland China achieved an A+ for astronomy (Peking University, Nanjing University, Shanghai Jiao Tong University, Tsinghua University, University of Science and Technology of China). Overall, 21 Chinese universities received an A+ for at least one physical science subject.


Of the 35 subjects that fall within the engineering pillar, Australia is number one for 15 and Germany for 12.

The Netherlands tops four subjects, while the UK, the US, China and Saudi Arabia are all number one for one engineering subject each (forestry engineering, agricultural engineering, aerospace science and technology and materials science and engineering, respectively).


There are nine subjects under the agriculture pillar. Germany leads five of them (crop science, agricultural resources and environment, plant protection, animal husbandry and aquatic production/aquatic science); the US leads two (horticulture and grass science/turf grass science). The UK leads one (veterinary science), as does Canada (forest science/forestry).


There are seven subjects under the medical pillar. The Netherlands is top for three (public health and preventive medicine, medical technology and nursing); Germany for two (basic medicine/medical science and clinical medicine); and Australia and China one each (pharmacy and stomatology, respectively).

Eleven universities in mainland China received an A+ for at least one medical subject, with Peking University, Shanghai Jiao Tong University and Sichuan University achieving an A+ for all seven.


There are five subjects under the management pillar. The Netherlands is top for two (public administration and library information and archives management), while Australia, the US and the UK all top one each (management science and engineering, agriculture and forestry economic management and business administration, respectively).


In the one interdisciplinary subject, integrated circuit science and engineering, Germany tops the table with an average grade of A−, based on 23 universities. China also does well, with an average grade of A− (but a lower numerical grade than Germany), based on 15 universities.

Note: We have excluded the arts pillar in the article analysis because the data quality was not sufficient for country-level comparisons.

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