Deciding where to study an arts or humanities degree is not easy, with hundreds of options all over the world.
But 500 of the top universities for arts and humanities have been ranked in the Times Higher Education Arts and Humanities Ranking 2019. 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 36 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 2019. 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. 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 include many notable collections, 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.
What can you do with arts and humanities degrees?
What can you do with an archaeology degree?
What can you do with an architecture degree?
What can you do with a design degree?
What can you do with an art degree?
What can you do with a performing arts degree?
What can you do with a history degree?
What can you do with a linguistics degree?
What can you do with a languages degree?
What can you do with a philosophy degree?
What can you do with an English literature degree?
What can you do with an English language degree?
What can you do with a theology degree?
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. 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 college 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 the 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.
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 home to freshman dormitories, undergraduate residential houses and academic buildings.
In total, 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.
Universities by degree subject
Best universities for business and economics
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Best universities for life sciences
Best universities for physical sciences
Best universities for social sciences
Best universities for arts and humanities 2019
Click each institution to view its World University Rankings 2019 profile
|Arts and humanities rank 2019||Arts and humanities rank 2018||University||Country|
|1||1||Stanford University||United States|
|2||2||Massachusetts Institute of Technology||United States|
|3||4||University of Oxford||United Kingdom|
|4||=5||University of Cambridge||United Kingdom|
|5||3||Harvard University||United States|
|7||9||Yale University||United States|
|8||7||University of Chicago||United States|
|9||11||University of California, Berkeley||United States|
|10||8||Princeton University||United States|
|11||10||Columbia University||United States|
|12||14||University of Edinburgh||United Kingdom|
|13||12||University of Pennsylvania||United States|
|14||13||University of California, Los Angeles||United States|
|15||=15||University of Michigan||United States|
|17||32||Paris Sciences et Lettres – PSL Research University Paris||France|
|=18||19||New York University||United States|
|=18||=15||University of Toronto||Canada|
|20||18||Humboldt University of Berlin||Germany|
|21||23||Duke University||United States|
|22||=25||Cornell University||United States|
|25||24||Free University of Berlin||Germany|
|26||20||King’s College London||United Kingdom|
|27||NR||London School of Economics and Political Science||United Kingdom|
|29||28||University of Hong Kong||Hong Kong|
|=30||29||Durham University||United Kingdom|
|=30||41||University of Vienna||Austria|
|32||30||National University of Singapore||Singapore|
|33||33||Australian National University||Australia|
|34||42||University of York||United Kingdom|
|36||31||University of Amsterdam||Netherlands|
|38||36||Johns Hopkins University||United States|
|39||NR||Delft University of Technology||Netherlands|
|40||34||Brown University||United States|
|41||35||University of Melbourne||Australia|
|43||38||University of Tübingen||Germany|
|=44||=55||Lancaster University||United Kingdom|
|=44||37||University of Warwick||United Kingdom|
|46||=39||Panthéon-Sorbonne University – Paris 1||France|
|47||58||University of Sydney||Australia|
|=48||45||The University of Tokyo||Japan|
|=48||=55||University of Wisconsin-Madison||United States|
|52||50||University of Manchester||United Kingdom|
|53||43||University of Notre Dame||United States|
|=54||47||University of Freiburg||Germany|
|=54||52||Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey||United States|
|=54||44||University of St Andrews||United Kingdom|
|57||=63||University of California, San Diego||United States|
|58||57||University of Helsinki||Finland|
|=59||69||Carnegie Mellon University||United States|
|=59||62||Ohio State University||United States|
|61||=77||Soas, University of London||United Kingdom|
|62||67||University of Sheffield||United Kingdom|
|63||49||University of British Columbia||Canada|
|=64||59||Chinese University of Hong Kong||Hong Kong|
|=64||66||University of Texas at Austin||United States|
|66||51||Lomonosov Moscow State University||Russian Federation|
|67||68||University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill||United States|
|68||53||University of Pittsburgh||United States|
|69||70||University of Glasgow||United Kingdom|
|70||80||University of Birmingham||United Kingdom|
|71||=75||Northwestern University||United States|
|72||71||University of Southern California||United States|
|=73||72||University of California, Santa Barbara||United States|
|=73||90||University of Geneva||Switzerland|
|76||=75||University of Washington||United States|
|=77||=63||University of Copenhagen||Denmark|
|=77||88||University of Zurich||Switzerland|
|80||61||Indiana University||United States|
|81||101–125||Hebrew University of Jerusalem||Israel|
|82||=77||University of Maryland, College Park||United States|
|83||79||University of Groningen||Netherlands|
|84||74||Sapienza University of Rome||Italy|
|85||101–125||University of Oslo||Norway|
|86||=91||University of Bristol||United Kingdom|
|=87||97||Birkbeck, University of London||United Kingdom|
|=87||=85||University of Leeds||United Kingdom|
|=87||=85||Université Catholique de Louvain||Belgium|
|=90||126–150||University of Nottingham||United Kingdom|
|92||87||Radboud University Nijmegen||Netherlands|
|93||95||University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign||United States|
|96||81||Trinity College Dublin||Republic of Ireland|
|98||99||University of Exeter||United Kingdom|
|99||89||Georgetown University||United States|
|100||101–125||University of Hamburg||Germany|
|101–125||101–125||University of Aberdeen||United Kingdom|
|101–125||NR||University of Arizona||United States|
|101–125||96||Autonomous University of Barcelona||Spain|
|101–125||126–150||University of Barcelona||Spain|
|101–125||101–125||University of Bern||Switzerland|
|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||=91||University of California, Santa Cruz||United States|
|101–125||=91||University of Cologne||Germany|
|101–125||=91||University of Göttingen||Germany|
|101–125||=82||University of Massachusetts||United States|
|101–125||101–125||Michigan State University||United States|
|101–125||126–150||Nanyang Technological University, Singapore||Singapore|
|101–125||126–150||National Taiwan University||Taiwan|
|101–125||101–125||Pennsylvania State University||United States|
|101–125||101–125||Queen Mary University of London||United Kingdom|
|101–125||126–150||University of Queensland||Australia|
|101–125||101–125||Tel Aviv University||Israel|
|101–125||101–125||University of Virginia||United States|
|126–150||126–150||Arizona State University||United States|
|126–150||151–175||University of Auckland||New Zealand|
|126–150||101–125||University of Basel||Switzerland|
|126–150||151–175||University of Bergen||Norway|
|126–150||151–175||Complutense University of Madrid||Spain|
|126–150||101–125||Emory University||United States|
|126–150||151–175||Georgia Institute of Technology||United States|
|126–150||126–150||Hong Kong Polytechnic University||Hong Kong|
|126–150||101–125||University of Leicester||United Kingdom|
|126–150||151–175||University of Montreal||Canada|
|126–150||101–125||University of Münster||Germany|
|126–150||126–150||National Autonomous University of Mexico||Mexico|
|126–150||176–200||Newcastle University||United Kingdom|
|126–150||126–150||University of New South Wales||Australia|
|126–150||176–200||Polytechnic University of Milan||Italy|
|126–150||126–150||Pompeu Fabra University||Spain|
|126–150||151–175||University of Potsdam||Germany|
|126–150||176–200||University of Reading||United Kingdom|
|126–150||126–150||University of Southampton||United Kingdom|
|126–150||101–125||Sungkyunkwan University (SKKU)||South Korea|
|126–150||NR||Sun Yat-sen University||China|
|126–150||126–150||Technical University of Berlin||Germany|
|126–150||101–125||Victoria University of Wellington||New Zealand|
|151–175||176–200||University of Bordeaux||France|
|151–175||176–200||Boston College||United States|
|151–175||126–150||University of California, Davis||United States|
|151–175||126–150||University of Cape Town||South Africa|
|151–175||201–250||Charles University in Prague||Czech Republic|
|151–175||176–200||City University of Hong Kong||Hong Kong|
|151–175||151–175||Eindhoven University of Technology||Netherlands|
|151–175||151–175||Erasmus University Rotterdam||Netherlands|
|151–175||151–175||University of Fribourg||Switzerland|
|151–175||126–150||University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa||United States|
|151–175||126–150||University of Konstanz||Germany|
|151–175||151–175||University of Lausanne||Switzerland|
|151–175||176–200||University of Liverpool||United Kingdom|
|151–175||176–200||University of Minnesota Twin Cities||United States|
|151–175||151–175||University of Otago||New Zealand|
|151–175||151–175||Queen’s University Belfast||United Kingdom|
|151–175||151–175||Rice University||United States|
|151–175||126–150||University of São Paulo||Brazil|
|151–175||151–175||University of Sussex||United Kingdom|
|151–175||151–175||Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam||Netherlands|
|151–175||126–150||Washington University in St Louis||United States|
|151–175||176–200||University of the Witwatersrand||South Africa|
|176–200||151–175||University of Alberta||Canada|
|176–200||176–200||University of Antwerp||Belgium|
|176–200||176–200||Autonomous University of Madrid||Spain|
|176–200||126–150||University of Bonn||Germany|
|176–200||151–175||Cardiff University||United Kingdom|
|176–200||151–175||University of Connecticut||United States|
|176–200||151–175||Dartmouth College||United States|
|176–200||151–175||Goethe University Frankfurt||Germany|
|176–200||201–250||University of Jyväskylä||Finland|
|176–200||151–175||University of Kiel||Germany|
|176–200||126–150||Korea University||South Korea|
|176–200||176–200||La Trobe University||Australia|
|176–200||176–200||National Taiwan Normal University||Taiwan|
|176–200||201–250||University of Padua||Italy|
|176–200||176–200||Paris Diderot University – Paris 7||France|
|176–200||176–200||University of Rochester||United States|
|176–200||151–175||Royal Holloway, University of London||United Kingdom|
|176–200||126–150||Saint Petersburg State University||Russian Federation|
|176–200||101–125||Seoul National University||South Korea|
|176–200||176–200||Shanghai Jiao Tong University||China|
|176–200||176–200||Simon Fraser University||Canada|
|176–200||201–250||University of South Australia||Australia|
|176–200||151–175||University College Dublin||Republic of Ireland|
|176–200||176–200||University of Western Australia||Australia|
|176–200||176–200||University of Wollongong||Australia|