2023 QS Rankings in Philosophy
The 2023 “QS World University Rankings” have been published. These contain rankings by subject matter, including philosophy.
The rankings are conducted by the London-based education firm Quacquarelli Symonds.
In the QS rankings, a school’s overall score for a particular subject is determined by a weighted formula that varies by area. In the arts and humanities, for the 2023 results, the formula used is: 60% academic reputation, 20% employer reputation, 7.5% citations per paper, 7.5% H-index, and 5% “International Research Metric“. (It is not clear why these factors are given these particular weights.)
QS does not specify whether its rankings are intended to assist prospective undergraduate or graduate students. The rankings have come under fire at various points for methodological concerns as well as conflicts of interest. Some of the results in philosophy will strike many readers as odd. So be aware that these rankings are controversial (as, of course, is the very idea of fine-grained rankings of places to study philosophy), and take note of alternative sources of information, such as departmetal websites, Academic Philosophy Data & Analysis and the Philosophical Gourmet Report (noting that various criticisms have also been made of the latter).
With those caveats in mind, here are the top 50 schools in the 2023 QS Rankings in Philosophy:
|Rank||University||Overall Score||Academic Reputation||Employer Reputation||Citations per Paper||H-index Citations|
|1||New York University (NYU)||97.6||99.6||81.6||93.4||94.8|
|2||Rutgers University–New Brunswick||96.8||100||52.5||96.7||95.3|
|3||The London School of Economics & Political Science||94.3||96||98||88.5||85.4|
|4||University of Oxford||92||91.2||98.5||87.1||100|
|5||University of Pittsburgh||90.6||95.5||57.2||82.7||78.3|
|6||University of Cambridge||89.6||89.4||96.8||84.9||92.1|
|8||Australian National University (ANU)||88.1||88.2||88.6||87.9||86.8|
|10||University of St Andrews||87.5||89.5||75.5||82.3||83.8|
|11||University of Toronto||86.4||87.1||84.4||81.2||87.6|
|12||University of Notre Dame||86.3||88.3||65||82.1||86.1|
|13||Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin||86.1||87.6||77.6||83.2||82.1|
|17||University of California, Berkeley (UCB)||83||82.6||83.9||85.4||82.9|
|18||Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)||82.5||78.5||93.4||100||89.6|
|19||King’s College London||82||81||83.2||84.5||86.8|
|20||University of Bristol||81.6||81||73.2||87.5||84.6|
|21||The University of Edinburgh||80.9||77.8||81.9||89.2||95.8|
|22||University of Chicago||80.2||80.6||83.2||80||76.1|
|23||University College London||79.9||77.8||82.5||86||88.3|
|25||Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne||79.1||81.4||77.4||72||69.8|
|27||Goethe-University Frankfurt am Main||77.8||80.4||48.2||78.6||72.5|
|28||The University of Sydney||77.6||75||91.8||83.4||83.8|
|31||National University of Singapore (NUS)||76.4||73.8||95.6||84.3||78.3|
|34||Central European University||75.2||76.6||75.6||76.3||63.2|
|34||University of Southern California||75.2||71.5||73||92.1||86.8|
|37||University of Amsterdam||74.4||70.9||79.1||85.6||86.8|
|38||Freie Universitaet Berlin||74.3||75.6||69.1||74.4||66.7|
|39||University of Leeds||73.9||70.6||66.6||87.4||88.9|
|40||University of Michigan-Ann Arbor||73.8||70.4||75.2||89.9||82.9|
|41||Lomonosov Moscow State University||73.7||73.8||97.1||64.8||69.8|
|42||Université catholique de Louvain (UCLouvain)||73.5||77.4||67.8||63.4||56.7|
|45||University of Turin||73||74.2||63.3||67.9||73.8|
|46||Universitat de Barcelona||72.8||72.1||64.7||76.9||78.3|
|48||University of Geneva||72.4||70.6||63.9||82.8||79.3|
|49||University of Vienna||72.2||69.8||72.6||80.2||82.1|
|50||Sun Yat-sen University||72.1||74.8||50.6||69.6||65|
You can see the rest of the philosophy rankings here.
As you correctly remark, Justin, fine-grained rankings should not be taken seriously. So, one shouldn’t argue about the occasional ranking surprises: Edinburgh well above Michigan and so on. Taking this into account, and given also a heavy bias toward English-speaking universities, these rankings are pretty much what one would have expected–and not particularly “odd.” If one reads the journals that most English-speaking professional philosophers consume, for instance, it’s not at all unexpected that LMU Munich and Humboldt Berlin should do the best among non-English-speaking universities. But I suspect that the rankings are wildly inaccurate for non-English speaking schools: Tokyo doesn’t appear in the top 50; nothing in Africa or South Asia; only Turin and Barcelona in Southern Europe; nothing in Scandinavia–and so on. Is just about every graduate department in England better than any department in East Asia? Dubious.Report
I’d say this ranking *overrepresents* East Asian universities, along with other Australasian universities.
Are Wuhan U and Peking U really stronger in philosophy than UT Austin, UCLA, and UNC Chapel Hill? “Dubious” is putting it mildly.Report
I don’t really know the answer to that question. I am pretty sure they are not stronger in the kinds of philosophy done in the schools you mention–philosophy of mind or analytic metaphysics, for example. But they may not be striving for excellence in that kind of philosophy. I am really not sure how one would judge that. If you’re going to give a lot of weight to “academic reputation,” then you’d need to make sure that the academics who are polled form a broad class.Report
If you “don’t really know” how to rank UCLA vs. Wuhan U, then how can you say that East Asian universities like Wuhan’s are ranked too low?
I totally agree with you, by the way, about “academic reputation.” No sense in polling only a slice of the academy. But I don’t think the “reputation” rankings here are just biased: they’re a joke.
Notre Dame’s a great school, but anyone who says it’s got a better academic reputation than Princeton, Yale, Stanford and MIT is either pulling your leg or paid off by the Pope.Report
‘Suspect’ and ‘don’t know’ are not very strong indicators of epistemic confidence! (And I didn’t actually mention Peking or Wuhan.) I do know, however, that Peking and Tokyo are elite universities. And when, by command of the Government, the World Congress In Beijing was flooded by Chinese students, I was extremely impressed by the intellectual quality of their participation in analytic philosophy q&a. That’s an aside that doesn’t prove anything to your point, but there may be more going on in those countries (academic philosophy-wise) than we know.Report
That makes sense, Mohan. Thanks for letting me know where you’re coming from!Report
It may be that the QS rankings are less biased toward English-speaking *universities* (via employer reputation, especially) while still being biased toward English-speaking *publications* (which itself might be an artifact of a more general pattern regarding citation counts across different languages of publication). If so, then it’s not too surprising for WHU and PKU to be ranked higher than other elite East Asian universities.
At any rate, you’re all welcome to visit Wuhan, check out the campus, and maybe even listen to a talk on analytic metaphysics. I think you’ll be impressed! Although I’m not sure what the visa policy is for platypuses…Report
Sounds awesome, honestly (and I happen to know and like your work, Peter)!Report
I’d say brilliant students are everywhere. I wouldn’t be surprised, for example, if Peking university has better undergrads than Princeton on some significant measures. However, it is true that Peking university is far far less prestigious and fancy than Princeton. The faculty has much lower reputation, and it is easier to get hired by the former than getting into a mid-ranged US department. Not only on the international scale, but even within china, getting hired by Peking is not as much a big deal as getting into a mid-ranged program is in the US. (No offense! My friends at Peking are great—just my honest opinion) So, if the ranking is supposed to track academic reputation it is pretty silly.Report
it may be also a little biased against more logic-y areas of philosophy; a (kinda superficial) comparison to three areas of the gourmet report indicates a certain discrepancy:
in “PHILOSOPHICAL LOGIC”, the CUNY Graduate Center is placed in group 1, tied for #1, University of Texas in Austin and the University of Maryland, College Park are in group 2, tied for #5, but in QS the first two figure in the 51-100 range, and the third is absent
in “PHILOSOPHY OF MATHEMATICS”, Brown, the Ohio State University, and Carnegie Mellon are in group 3, tied for #5, and in QS the first is in 51-100, the second in 151-200, and the third is nowhere!
the “MATHEMATICAL LOGIC” is similar, notably with Carnegie Mellon University in group 2, tied for #2, and CUNY in group 3, tied for #4
the institutions placed alongside these in these areas are basically NYU, Oxford, MIT, Princeton, Berkeley, and HarvardReport
Despite certain oddities, I think this actually makes more sense than certain parts of the PGR – both may be biased towards English speaking countries, but even within those the PGR is heavily biased towards North American programs (at the expense of UK, Australia programs), in ways that don’t always make sense. It also includes at least some quantifiable metric, for all of the problems with using citation as a metric of excellence in philosophy.Report
I did a few quick checks on the math and it’s all off, by which I mean absurdly and outrageously impossible. Doesn’t anyone bother to do simple math any more?
The Rutgers score for “employer reputation” alone (whatever that is) would lose it 9.5 points = (.2)(100-52.5) in the overall ranking. Yet they lost only 3.2 points total from an ideal 100%. Not that Rutgers isn’t good, but please don’t use use junk numbers that would actually prove it’s bad and then assert the opposite.
When AI replaces all the “peer review” and “education metrics” I don’t think anyone will notice, since the AI will be programmed by various profit seekers to accept and repeat nonsense they think no one will notice or care about.Report
Are you sure *you* are applying the correct formula? I have to doubt that. If we use your method in the case of Pitt, we get a similarly way off result for the overall number. So we have to wonder if what you are doing with the basic numbers is what they actually do to arrive at the overall number. Granted, it is unclear what that way is that they are using, and the explanation that they give is not clear. Anyhow, the more important point that emerges from these numbers (most important by far, I’d say) is that overall rating of university can be way out of line with quality of philosophy department or graduate program (as determined by the other factors that they list). This is shown not only by Rutgers but also by Pitt and NYU.Report