QS World University Rankings – Methodology


Discover the world's top universities with the QS World University Rankings® 2023.

This year’s QS World University Rankings include almost 1,500 institutions from around the world. It’s not just iconic institutions that take the top spots: this year’s highest rankings include universities from diverse locations across Europe, Asia and North America.

Our rankings are the fast and easy way to compare institutions on a host of different criteria: from academic reputation to the number of international students enrolled. You’ll find even more information about each university on their dedicated QS profile page, where you can explore the full range of study options available and enquire with their admissions team.

Share your opinion of this year’s results and join the #QSWUR conversation onLinkedIn and Weibo.

By Craig OCallaghan

Updated April 7, 2024 Updated April 07

This 20th edition of our rankings comes at a time when priorities in higher education are evolving. QS sits in the privileged position of being a nexus point in the higher education sector – connected to millions of students, hundreds of thousands of academics and employers, and thousands of institutions worldwide. We have seen the focus of these different stakeholder’s shift in response to wider trends in education and society, and to reflect this collective intelligence in our QS performance insights, we have incorporated three new indicators into the QS World University Ranking.



Sustainability has become a touchpoint for global institutions as they come to realise their impact on the world, and students have come to expect institutions to tackle issues related to social and climate justice. The QS International Student Survey 2022 found that 80% of students think universities could do more for the environment. This is reflective of a wider trend of younger students who advocate strongly for social and environmental activism. We have recognised this call to action by adding a 5% weight Sustainability lens to our flagship world ranking, the first of the major rankings to do so to reflect the crucial role universities play in charting the course and driving change towards a more sustainable future.


We have also continued to strengthen our insight on employability and remain the only major ranking to enshrine the importance of employability in our methodology. To do this, we have boosted the weight of Employer Reputation to 15% and added Employment Outcomes at 5%.

International Research Network

Our third new metric, International Research Network, is another way of recognising the importance of research in changing the world. This metric specifically provides insight on how internationally connected an institution’s research is as well as recognising the importance of collaborative research more broadly.



Performances Lenses 2024 Edition Weights  Change from previous editions
Academic Reputation 30% 10% deducted
Employer Reputation 15% 5% added
Faculty Student Ratio 10% 10% deducted
Citations per Faculty 20% No change
International Faculty Ratio 5% No change
International Student Ratio 5% No change
International Research Network 5% New
Employment Outcomes 5%  New
Sustainability 5% New


To be eligible for this ranking, institutions must fulfil our Eligibility Criteria.

If an institution is eligible, it then must pass the following 3 thresholds to be analysed as part of the sample. Note that "being analysed" does not necessarily mean "being published" (see Inclusion Criteria).


1 New Entrants A new entrant should be in the global Top 20% in academic reputation.*1
2 Paper Threshold

For the QS World University Rankings, an institution should have at least 100 papers indexed by Scopus and published over a 5-year window. Only papers of relevant paper types and after affiliation cap is applied are considered.

3 Small Size

If an institution is of small size (fewer than 5,000 students), then we look at the performance in Academic Reputation, Employer reputation and Citations per Faculty. More specifically, we need at least one of following conditions to be met for the last few editions:

  • to be in the top 1,000 by all the indicators in the triple
  • to be in the top 900 by all indicator pairs in the triple
  • to be in the top 800 by any indicator in the triple


This article was originally published in January 2020 . It was last updated in April 2024

Written by

As editor of TopUniversities.com, Craig oversees the site's editorial content and network of student contributors. He also plays a key editorial role in the publication of several guides and reports, including the QS Top Grad School Guide.


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