Top Universities for Politics in 2021

Top Universities for Politics in 2021

By H. Young

Updated August 29, 2023 Updated August 29

The recently released QS World University Rankings by Subject 2021 features 203 of the top higher education institutions to study politics and international relations around the world.

The QS University Rankings by Subject are based on four indicators: academic reputation, employer reputation, research citations per paper and the H-index (a way of measuring the productivity and published work of a scientist or scholar). You can find more details about the methodology behind the subject rankings here.

Read on to learn more about the best politics schools in each region. Alternatively, if you would like to explore the politics schools in further detail, click here to view the full table.

Top 10 Universities for Politics in the World

Based on the QS World University Rankings by Subject 2021


Name of Institution



Harvard University

United States


Sciences Po Paris




University of Oxford

United Kingdom


Princeton University

United States


London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE)

United Kingdom


University of Cambridge

United Kingdom


Stanford University

United States


Yale University

United States


Australian National University (ANU)



National University of Singapore (NUS)




University of California, Berkeley (UCB)


United States

See the full ranking for politics schools here >

Top universities for politics in the US and Canada

The United States is home to 44 of the 200 universities featured in this year’s politics rankings with Canada claiming seven.

Harvard University bags the top spot for the best politics school in the world for the sixth consecutive year. It earns perfect scores several indicators including the H-index, which measures the productivity and impact of the work produced by scholars at the school.

The US is also home to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT,14th) which scores exceptionally well in the employer reputation indicator, despite dropping five places this year in the index. A number of prestigious internship opportunities are open to MIT politics undergraduates, including the MIT Washington DC Summer Internship program. These internships provide opportunities for students to network with government executives and leaders and gain first-hand experience of political and policy activity.

Canada’s highest ranked politics program is found at the University of Toronto (27th) which earns a strong score in the H-index this year. The University of Toronto’s faculty frequently publishes high quality research used by academics around the world. Several faculty members have won Governor-General’s awards (a prestigious Canadian book award), and many are Fellows of the Royal Society of Canada.

Other noteworthy Canadian universities include McGill University (36th), University of British Columbia (43rd ) and Université de Montréal (51-100).

Top universities for politics in Europe

Europe has an impressive total of 90 politics programs featuring in the subject rankings this year, including 15 in the global top 50.

The United Kingdom is home to 27 of these universities, with four politics programs in the top 20 this year. The University of Oxford’s politics program ranks first in the UK for another year running.

Another notable UK university is SOAS - School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, ranking in 21st place this year. The school earns a particularly high score in the academic reputation indicator and is widely regarded for its critical approach to the study of international politics of the Global South. The University of Essex has largest change in the UK this year, falling 19 places to joint 48th.

Sciences Po Paris takes the title of the best continental European university to study politics. In second place globally, it earns a perfect score for academic reputation. Sciences Po Paris’ politics programs aim to bridge the gap between theory and practice and students are taught by some of the world’s best academics and global leaders. France has three other politics programs in the index in 2021, including Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne which also places in the top 100.

Eight of Europe’s politics programs are located in Germany, whose top politics school this year is Freie Universität Berlin in 20th place. Denmark’s three featured universities include University of Copenhagen in joint 33rd place. Meanwhile Ireland and Belgium each have two universities featured in this year’s politics subject rankings.

Switzerland and Spain each boast six universities in this year’s rankings. Switzerland’s ETH Zurich (Swiss Federal Institute of Technology) performs particularly well in 37th. It earns a high score in the research citations indicator, with its politics department issuing around 500 publications every year.

Also counting six universities in the index this year are Netherlands and Italy. These include the Netherlands’ Leiden University (22nd) and University of Amsterdam (26th). Italy’s European University Institute and Luiss Guido Carli University both place in the top 50 for politics, ranking 40th and joint 48th respectively.

Russia and Sweden each have four politics programs in the rankings this year, including Russia’s Moscow State Institute of International Relations (MGIMO, 41st). MGIMO earns a high score for employer reputation this year, with many of its politics graduates finding work in government and international organizations and several going on to work in the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

PolandNorwayHungaryFinlandEstoniaCzech Republic and Austria each only have a single entry in the politics subject rankings this year. Of these seven locations, Hungary performs the best, with Central European University ranking 25th worldwide for its politics program.

Top universities for politics in Australia and New Zealand

Australia is home to nine top universities offering politics courses. Three of these are in the worldwide top 50, including Australian National University (ANU, 9th) which earns a near-perfect score for academic reputation this year. ANU’s politics students enjoy the program’s wide-ranging curriculum with options to specialize in different areas of politics, from human rights and globalization to European and Latin American studies.

Other notable Australian universities include the University of Sydney (44th, falling 20 places this year) and the University of Melbourne (joint 46th).

New Zealand has four politics universities in this year’s subject rankings, with Victoria University of Wellington placing in the worldwide top 100. The university teaches students about politics both in the past and the contemporary world, with a broad curriculum taught by world-leading scholars.

The University of Auckland also places in the global top 100 for politics this year.

Top universities for politics in Asia

There are 30 Asian politics universities in the index this year.

Asia’s highest ranked school is the National University of Singapore (NUS, 10th) which earns a high score for the employer reputation indicator. The diversity of NUS’ politics courses means its graduates have gone into a wide range of careers in many sectors, including government, business, teaching and the foreign service. Also located in Singapore is Nanyang Technological University (NTU) ranking 31st.

Mainland ChinaJapan and South Korea each have six politics universities in this year’s rankings. Mainland China has three schools in the top 50, including its top ranking Tsinghua University (joint 33rd).

Japan’s University of Tokyo (joint 29th) earns a particularly strong score in the employer reputation indicator. Politics students can benefit from the University of Tokyo’s connections within Japan’s academic, political and governmental circles, as well as its political research in Japan and Asia.

IndiaIndonesiaMalaysia, the Philippines and Thailand each have a single entrant in the rankings this year. India’s Jawaharlal Nehru University (101-150) scores well for academic reputation, having one of the largest and most prestigious politics departments in the country.

Taiwan’s two entrants include National Taiwan University (NTU, 51-100) and South Korea’s Seoul National University (SNU) ranks joint 46th.

The University of Hong Kong (HKU, joint 29th) ranks amongst Hong Kong’s three entries in the politics school index this year. The university has been teaching political science since 1915 and has contributed to advancements in its field both locally and internationally through its research and teaching.

Top universities for politics in Latin America  

There are 15 top politics programs offered in Latin America in 2021. Brazil and Colombia each boast four universities in this year’s rankings, with Brazil’s Universidade de São Paulo (USP) the highest ranked university for politics in Latin America, ranking 50th.

Chile has two politics universities in the index, including Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile which ranks in the top 100 and earns a high score for employer reputation.

Mexico has two new entries this year for politics: Tecnológico de Monterrey (ITESM, 101-150), which scores well for employer reputation this year, and Instituto Tecnológico Autonomo de México (ITAM) ranking at 151-200.

Top universities for politics in Africa and the Middle East

Africa’s sole entrant for politics this year is University of Cape Town in South Africa ranking 151-200. The University of Cape Town’s research is widely respected has been frequently published both in scholarly and research journals.

Over in the Middle East, Lebanon and Israel each have a single entry in the politics schools ranking this year.

This article was originally published in March 2021 . It was last updated in August 2023

Written by