ELTE in the subject rankings of the Times Higher Education

ELTE in the subject rankings of the Times Higher Education HU
Eötvös Loránd University achieved higher positions in two disciplines in the 2020 Times Higher Education World University Rankings by subject compared to last year’s table.

The Times Higher Education (THE) annually publishes rankings of the world’s top universities in every field of studies, in October and November. On November 19, the British organisation released the ranking list of the final four areas, making thus the subject rankings for 2020 complete. These rankings are based on the same indicators as the overall World University Rankings, but the methodology is recalibrated for each subject to suit the individual fields. Eötvös Loránd University appears in six of the eleven subject rankings. In three areas (i.e., arts and humanities, psychology, and life sciences), it has maintained its former standing. In two fields (i.e., social sciences and physical sciences), it has climbed one band, and in one case (i.e., computer science), it has fallen one band since last year.

ELTE has proved to be the best higher education institution in Hungary in the fields of arts and humanities, psychology, as well as life and physical sciences.

From the eleven tables, the subject rankings for law and education do not include any Hungarian university. In addition to the place of ELTE in the rankings, our summary below presents the positions of other Hungarian universities, the absolute winners of each field of study, as well as some marked global tendencies. The subject rankings of the Times Higher Education can be browsed by year, by country/region, and by field of study on the website of the organisation.


In 2020, the ranking list of the best psychological training institutions includes 494 universities, up from 463 last year. Similarly to 2019, this year, ELTE is the only Hungarian institution to appear on the table for psychology. It has finished in the 251-300 band. Stanford University, Princeton University, and the University of Pennsylvania are the top three institutions in the World University Rankings. Newcomers in the top ten are the University of Michigan and Canada’s University of British Columbia, whereas the London School of Economics and Political Science and Duke University have dropped to twelfth and thirteenth places, respectively. Among the psychological training institutions, New York University and the University of Amsterdam are the biggest risers in 2020. The former finished in the 11th and the latter in the 14th place. A total of eight institutions from Asia are included in the table, and Singapore University is the highest-ranking (45th) among them.

Arts and humanities

ELTE is the only Hungarian university in the 2020 Times Higher Education World University Rankings table for arts and humanities rating the best 536 higher education institutions. Retaining its last year’s position, Eötvös Loránd University is ranked 301-400. The arts and humanities ranking list highlights the performance of universities in the fields of art, performing arts, design, foreign languages, linguistics, literature, history, philosophy, theology, architecture, and archaeology.

Stanford University tops the ranking, followed in second and third places by the Universities of Cambridge and Oxford, respectively. Dropping out of the top three, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) has finished in fourth place, while Harvard University rounds out the top five. Germany’s Ludwig Maximilian University Munich, Canada’s University of Toronto, and France’s Paris Sciences et Lettres are the only institutions outside the UK and US to make the top 20.

Life sciences

The 2020 ranking list of life sciences includes 821 institutions in the areas of biological sciences, veterinary science, agriculture and forestry, and sports science. This ranking list comprised four Hungarian universities last year and six this year. Retaining its last year’s position (301-400.), Eötvös Loránd University is still the best of them. ELTE is followed, in order, by Semmelweis University (301-400), the University of Debrecen, the University of Pécs, the University of Szeged (501-600), as well as by Szent István University (601+).

Since the introduction of the currently used methodology (in 2011), Cambridge is at the top of the world rankings for the first time, knocking Harvard University down to second place in the table. The third, fourth, and fifth places remain unchanged from last year, they are held by the University of Oxford, MIT, and Stanford University, respectively. Special mention must be made of Australia’s Monash University that has climbed 23 places to 55th since last year. The University of Bonn enters the ranking for the first time, at 86th place.

Physical sciences

The 2020 table for physical sciences – assessing several disciplines, including chemistry, physics, astronomy, geology, mathematics, and statistics – comprises 1054 higher education institutions. Since last year, ELTE has leapt one band forward to land at 401-500, maintaining thus its leading position among universities in Hungary. The University of Szeged (501-600) has also made progress since last year. The standing of the Budapest University of Technology and Economics has not changed (601-800), while the University of Debrecen has climbed one band (601-800). The University of Pécs, ranked 801+, is a new Hungarian university in the table.

Princeton University tops the table for physical sciences for a third consecutive year. It is followed by the California Institute of Technology taking second place and the University of Cambridge finishing in third place. The Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETZ Zurich) is the only institution outside the UK and US to feature in the top ten, ranking eighth. France’s École Polytechnique (17th), Japan’s University of Tokyo (29th), and Italy’s Scuola Normale Superiore di Pisa (71st) have made strong progress in the table since last year.

Social sciences

This year’s table for social sciences – assessing the areas of communication and media studies, politics, sociology, geography, and international studies – includes 720 institutions. While the 2019 Times Higher Education World University Rankings table for social sciences comprised only three Hungarian universities (the Corvinus University of Budapest, the Budapest University of Technology and Economics, and Eötvös Loránd University), this year’s ranking list also includes the University of Debrecen (301-400). In 2020, ELTE is ranked 501-600, having risen one band since last year. The global ranking in this area is led by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). The University of Oxford is ranked second, and Harvard University takes third place. China’s Beijing University has gained the best position (18th) from Asia. Overall, eleven Asian higher education institutions appear in the top 100, the same number as last year.

Computer science

This year’s table for IT training institutions includes 749 universities, up from 684 last year. ELTE and the University of Szeged are the only two institutions from Hungary to appear in the table; both ranked 601+. The University of Oxford tops the global ranking once again, Stanford takes second place, and the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH Zurich) is ranked third. Two institutions from Singapore have finished in prominent places, the National University of Singapore in 11th and the Nanyang Technological University in 13th place. From the Middle East, Iran has the highest-ranked institution in this field, the Sharif University of Technology debuting in the 201-250 band.