Best universities for arts and humanities degrees 2020

Find the best universities for arts and humanities using Times Higher Education’s World University Rankings data

October 2 2019
Person reading book, Best universities for arts and humanities subjects 2016

Deciding where to study an arts or humanities degree is not easy, with hundreds of options all over the world.

But 536 of the top universities for arts and humanities have been ranked in the?Times Higher Education?arts and humanities ranking 2020. So where should you go to study your arts or humanities major?

About a quarter of all the best arts and humanities schools are in the US, but a number of European countries are well represented too; the top 100 includes a significant number of British, German and Dutch institutions.


Best universities worldwide

Best universities in the UK
Best universities in the United States
Best universities in Canada
Best universities in Australia
Best universities in South America
Best universities in France
Best universities in Germany
Best universities in the Netherlands
Best universities in Asia


If you’re hoping to study a humanities degree in Canada or Australia, each country offers a choice of 24 and 25 universities respectively, and there are 44 institutions in the top 500 across Asia.

Times Higher Education?subject tables are based on the same 13 performance indicators?used in the overall?World University Rankings 2020.?However, the methodology is carefully recalibrated for each subject, with the weightings changed to suit the individual fields. The full methodology can be found?here.

Arts and humanities degrees covered in the ranking include history, literature, philosophy, languages and architecture (scroll down for a full list of subjects and what you can do with them).


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Top 5 universities for arts and humanities degrees

1. Stanford University

When the university was established, the Stanford family said that their aim was to educate “cultured and useful citizens” and the university still counts its humanities courses as the “soul” of a Stanford education.

The School of Humanities and Sciences awards 63 per cent of all Stanford undergraduate degrees and almost 40 per cent of doctorates. Undergraduates are taught by faculty who are pioneers in their field.

Recent achievements in the school include a complex study of race and ethnicity, an online course on classical music appreciation and an award-winning radio show hosted by Stanford philosophy professors.

Stanford is based next to Palo Alto, known as Silicon Valley because of its density of high-tech and start-up companies. The spirit of entrepreneurship in the area was encouraged by the university itself in the early 20th century, and many Stanford students and graduates are involved at the highest levels with the world’s most influential technology companies.

Many of the students live in campus residences, near the university’s faculty buildings, museums and recreation spaces.

2. University of Cambridge

The University of Cambridge is regularly ranked as a top university across a wide range of subjects. As one of the oldest universities in the world, its colleges and traditions are famous in the UK and beyond.

The university is based near London and attracts top scholars and distinguished visitors. More than 18,000 students are enrolled at the university across 31 colleges.

College life is central to the university experience. Undergraduates live in college for at least part of their time at university and are primarily taught by tutors in small groups.

Postgraduates, however, are more loosely affiliated to their college, although many participate in the recreational and academic life of college.

The School of Arts and Humanities teaches a variety of subjects, from Asian studies to history of art. Many research projects are collaborative and inform student learning at all levels.

Recent projects have explored flamenco dance and its cultural significance, and an undergraduate scheme to use architectural techniques to develop local allotments.

Notable Cambridge alumni in the arts and humanities include the philosopher Bertrand Russell, artist Quentin Blake and dramatist Christopher Marlowe.


What can you do with arts and humanities degrees?

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3. University of Oxford

As another of the world’s most prestigious institutions, the University of Oxford is hugely respected across all disciplines. The humanities division includes the faculties of music, history, classics and English language and literature, among others.?

There are about 20,000 students at the university, more than a third of whom are international. Students belong to a college, where undergraduates take the majority of their classes with just a few of their peers and a college tutor.

In line with the British higher education system, students entering Oxford are admitted for a specific course, in contrast to US institutions, where students can take a variety of courses before declaring their major.

It is possible for undergraduates to study for joint degrees, such as philosophy,?politics and economics (PPE) – a course particularly well known at Oxford – and combinations of arts and sciences.

Many writers, actors, composers and other prominent personalities in arts and culture are Oxford graduates, including the novelist Graham Greene, actor Felicity Jones and screenwriter Richard Curtis.?

4. Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Although well known as a leading university in science and technology teaching, the university also provides courses across the arts and humanities.

These include anthropology, history, linguistics, literature, media arts and sciences, and music and theatre arts. ?

The School of Architecture and Planning was the first of its kind in the US and is known for commissioning progressive buildings?on campus.?

The MIT library system is divided into five libraries, three of which are dedicated to the arts and humanities – Hayden (humanities and science), Lewis (music) and Rotch (arts and architecture). There are many notable collections within these libraries, such as the Lewis Music Library on 20th and 21st century music and electronic music.

MIT is affiliated with many thought leaders in the arts and humanities, including linguist Noam Chomsky, who used to work at the university. The institution has also produced four Pulitzer?winners, and four current or former faculty are members of the?American Academy of Arts and Letters.

5. Harvard University

Harvard is the oldest university in the?US and one of the most prestigious in the world.

The arts and humanities division offers classes on topics ranging from Celtic myths and Jazz Age novels to Plato and video art.

It has the world’s largest university library system, consisting of 79 individual libraries containing more than 18 million volumes.

The main campus, about three miles from downtown Boston, is also home to freshman dormitories and undergraduate residential houses.

The university offers 46 undergraduate majors and 134 graduate degrees. According to the Harvard Office of Career Services, the extremely high rate of acceptance for Harvard alumni to graduate medical school is similar across both the humanities and sciences.

Notable alumni include many US presidents, cultural figures and chief executive officers of top companies.


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Best universities for arts and humanities 2020

Click each institution to view its?World University Rankings 2020?profile

Arts and Humanities Rank 2020? ?Arts and Humanities Rank 2019? University Country/Region
?1? ?1? Stanford University United States
?2? ?4? University of Cambridge United Kingdom
?3? ?3? University of Oxford United Kingdom
?4? ?2? Massachusetts Institute of Technology United States
?5? ?5? Harvard University United States
?6? ?6? UCL United Kingdom
?7? ?10? Princeton University United States
?8? ?8? University of Chicago United States
?9? ?7? Yale University United States
?10? ?9? University of California, Berkeley United States
?11? ?12? University of Edinburgh United Kingdom
?12? ?11? Columbia University United States
?13? ?13? University of Pennsylvania United States
?14? ?14? University of California, Los Angeles United States
?15? ?15? University of Michigan-Ann Arbor United States
?16? ?16? LMU Munich Germany
?17? ?=18? New York University United States
?18? ?=18? University of Toronto Canada
?=19? ?20? Humboldt University of Berlin Germany
?=19? ?17? Paris Sciences et Lettres – PSL Research University Paris France
?21? ?=23? Leiden University Netherlands
?22? ?28? KU Leuven Belgium
?23? ?=23? Peking University China
?24? ?26? King’s College London United Kingdom
?25? ?25? Free University of Berlin Germany
?26? ?22? Cornell University United States
?27? ?=30? Durham University United Kingdom
?28? ?27? London School of Economics and Political Science United Kingdom
?29? ?21? Duke University United States
?30? ?=30? University of Vienna Austria
?31? ?29? University of Hong Kong Hong Kong
?32? ?35? Heidelberg University Germany
?33? ?33? Australian National University Australia
?34? ?43? University of Tübingen Germany
?35? ?32? National University of Singapore Singapore
?36? ?38? Johns Hopkins University United States
?37? ?36? University of Amsterdam Netherlands
?38? ?=48? The University of Tokyo Japan
?39? ?=54? Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey United States
?40? ?34? University of York United Kingdom
?41? ?47? University of Sydney Australia
?42? ?41? University of Melbourne Australia
?43? ?52? University of Manchester United Kingdom
?44? ?=48? University of Wisconsin-Madison United States
?45? ?51? McGill University Canada
?46? ?50? Tsinghua University China
?47? ?=54? University of St Andrews United Kingdom
?48? ?46? Panthéon-Sorbonne University – Paris 1 France
?49? ?37? ETH Zurich Switzerland
?50? ?=44? Lancaster University United Kingdom
?51? ?=44? University of Warwick United Kingdom
?=52? ?63? University of British Columbia Canada
?=52? ?42? Sorbonne University France
?54? ?53? University of Notre Dame United States
?55? ?40? Brown University United States
?56? ?=54? University of Freiburg Germany
?57? ?61? SOAS University of London United Kingdom
?58? ?71? Northwestern University United States
?59? ?=64? University of Texas at Austin United States
?60? ?=59? Carnegie Mellon University United States
?61? ?57? University of California, San Diego United States
?62? ?62? University of Sheffield United Kingdom
?63? ?58? University of Helsinki Finland
?64? ?=64? Chinese University of Hong Kong Hong Kong
?65? ?70? University of Birmingham United Kingdom
?66? ?84? Sapienza University of Rome Italy
?=67? ?81? Hebrew University of Jerusalem Israel
?=67? ?=87? University of Leeds United Kingdom
?69? ?=59? Ohio State University (Main campus) United States
?70? ?75? Utrecht University Netherlands
?71? ?68? University of Pittsburgh-Pittsburgh campus United States
?72? ?66? Lomonosov Moscow State University Russian Federation
?73? ?67? University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill United States
?=74? ?83? University of Groningen Netherlands
?=74? ?101–125? Queen Mary University of London United Kingdom
?=76? ?=77? University of Copenhagen Denmark
?=76? ?=73? University of Geneva Switzerland
?78? ?NR? Scuola Normale Superiore di Pisa Italy
?79? ?76? University of Washington United States
?80? ?101–125? University of Arizona United States
?81? ?72? University of Southern California United States
?82? ?=73? University of California, Santa Barbara United States
?83? ?98? University of Exeter United Kingdom
?84? ?79? Ghent University Belgium
?85? ?=77? University of Zurich Switzerland
?86? ?69? University of Glasgow United Kingdom
?=87? ?93? University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign United States
?=87? ?82? University of Maryland, College Park United States
?89? ?101–125? University of Queensland Australia
?90? ?=87? Université Catholique de Louvain Belgium
?91? ?86? University of Bristol United Kingdom
?=92? ?=90? Aarhus University Denmark
?=92? ?=87? Birkbeck, University of London United Kingdom
?=92? ?126–150? Fudan University China
?95? ?85? University of Oslo Norway
?96? ?92? Radboud University Nijmegen Netherlands
?97? ?100? University of Hamburg Germany
?=98? ?99? Georgetown University United States
?=98? ?80? Indiana University United States
?100? ?126–150? Macquarie University Australia
?101–125? ?126–150? University of Auckland New Zealand
?101–125? ?101–125? Autonomous University of Barcelona Spain
?101–125? ?101–125? University of Barcelona Spain
?101–125? ?101–125? University of Bologna Italy
?101–125? ?101–125? Boston University United States
?101–125? ?101–125? University of California, Irvine United States
?101–125? ?101–125? University of Cologne Germany
?101–125? ?126–150? Complutense University of Madrid Spain
?101–125? ?NR? Goldsmiths, University of London United Kingdom
?101–125? ?126–150? Hong Kong Polytechnic University Hong Kong
?101–125? ?101–125? Kyoto University Japan
?101–125? ?94? Lund University Sweden
?101–125? ?101–125? University of Massachusetts United States
?101–125? ?101–125? Michigan State University United States
?101–125? ?101–125? Monash University Australia
?101–125? ?101–125? Nanyang Technological University, Singapore Singapore
?101–125? ?126–150? National Autonomous University of Mexico Mexico
?101–125? ?=90? University of Nottingham United Kingdom
?101–125? ?101–125? Penn State (Main campus) United States
?101–125? ?126–150? University of Southampton United Kingdom
?101–125? ?95? Stockholm University Sweden
?101–125? ?126–150? Tilburg University Netherlands
?101–125? ?96? Trinity College Dublin Republic of Ireland
?101–125? ?97? Uppsala University Sweden
?101–125? ?101–125? University of Virginia (Main campus) United States
?126–150? ?101–125? Aalto University Finland
?126–150? ?126–150? Arizona State University (Tempe) United States
?126–150? ?151–175? Bar-Ilan University Israel
?126–150? ?101–125? University of Bern Switzerland
?126–150? ?101–125? University of California, Santa Cruz United States
?126–150? ?151–175? City University of Hong Kong Hong Kong
?126–150? ?126–150? Emory University United States
?126–150? ?126–150? Georgia Institute of Technology United States
?126–150? ?101–125? University of G?ttingen Germany
?126–150? ?126–150? University of Leicester United Kingdom
?126–150? ?201–250? Loughborough University United Kingdom
?126–150? ?126–150? University of Montreal Canada
?126–150? ?126–150? University of Münster Germany
?126–150? ?101–125? Nanjing University China
?126–150? ?101–125? National Taiwan University Taiwan
?126–150? ?176–200? University of Padua Italy
?126–150? ?NR? University of Paris France
?126–150? ?126–150? Pompeu Fabra University Spain
?126–150? ?126–150? University of Potsdam Germany
?126–150? ?176–200? Royal Holloway, University of London United Kingdom
?126–150? ?126–150? Sun Yat-sen University China
?126–150? ?126–150? Technical University of Berlin Germany
?126–150? ?101–125? Tel Aviv University Israel
?126–150? ?126–150? UNSW Sydney Australia
?126–150? ?151–175? Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam Netherlands
?126–150? ?101–125? Zhejiang University China
?151–175? ?101–125? University of Aberdeen United Kingdom
?151–175? ?176–200? University of Antwerp Belgium
?151–175? ?126–150? University of Basel Switzerland
?151–175? ?NR? Beijing Normal University China
?151–175? ?151–175? Boston College United States
?151–175? ?176–200? Cardiff University United Kingdom
?151–175? ?151–175? Charles University in Prague Czech Republic
?151–175? ?151–175? Erasmus University Rotterdam Netherlands
?151–175? ?151–175? University of Fribourg Switzerland
?151–175? ?176–200? Goethe University Frankfurt Germany
?151–175? ?151–175? University of Hawai’i at Mānoa United States
?151–175? ?151–175? University of Lausanne Switzerland
?151–175? ?NR? University of Macau Macao
?151–175? ?151–175? University of Minnesota United States
?151–175? ?126–150? Newcastle University United Kingdom
?151–175? ?151–175? University of Otago New Zealand
?151–175? ?126–150? Polytechnic University of Milan Italy
?151–175? ?151–175? Queen’s University Belfast United Kingdom
?151–175? ?126–150? University of Reading United Kingdom
?151–175? ?151–175? Rice University United States
?151–175? ?151–175? University of S?o Paulo Brazil
?151–175? ?176–200? Shanghai Jiao Tong University China
?151–175? ?151–175? University of Sussex United Kingdom
?151–175? ?176–200? University College Dublin Republic of Ireland
?151–175? ?126–150? Victoria University of Wellington New Zealand
?151–175? ?201–250? Western Sydney University Australia
?151–175? ?151–175? University of the Witwatersrand South Africa
?176–200? ?201–250? University of Adelaide Australia
?176–200? ?126–150? University of Bergen Norway
?176–200? ?151–175? University of Bordeaux France
?176–200? ?201–250? University of Bremen Germany
?176–200? ?151–175? University of California, Davis United States
?176–200? ?151–175? University of Cape Town South Africa
?176–200? ?201–250? University of Colorado Boulder United States
?176–200? ?176–200? University of Connecticut United States
?176–200? ?176–200? Dartmouth College United States
?176–200? ?251–300? école Normale Supérieure de Lyon France
?176–200? ?201–250? University of Gothenburg Sweden
?176–200? ?201–250? Higher School of Economics Russian Federation
?176–200? ?151–175? University of Konstanz Germany
?176–200? ?176–200? La Trobe University Australia
?176–200? ?151–175? University of Liverpool United Kingdom
?176–200? ?201–250? Renmin University of China China
?176–200? ?NR? RWTH Aachen University Germany
?176–200? ?176–200? Seoul National University South Korea
?176–200? ?176–200? Simon Fraser University Canada
?176–200? ?176–200? University of Wollongong Australia
?176–200? ?201–250? University of Würzburg Germany
?176–200? ?151–175? York University Canada

Click here to view the entire arts and humanities ranking?

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