QS Subject Ranking Methodology

In addition to the QS World University Ranking (WUR) published around June each year, QS also publishes the QS Subject Rankings in March/April the year following the World University Ranking. 

The QS World University Rankings by Subject cover a total of 54 disciplines, grouped into five broad subject areas. They are compiled annually to help prospective students identify the leading universities in a particular subject. Universities do not submit any additional metrics for the purposes of the Subject Rankings, instead QS takes the Research and Survey data from the previous year’s World University Rankings and maps them to their pre-defined subjects.  

There are five indicators that determine the QS World University Rankings by Subject 2023: 

Academic reputation  

Drawing on responses from over 130,000 academics, respondents are asked to list up to 10 domestic and 30 international institutions which they consider to be excellent for research in the given area. The results of the survey are then filtered according to the narrow area of expertise identified by respondents. 

Employer reputation  

The employer reputation indicator draws from the survey responses of more than 75,000 graduate employers worldwide. Employers are asked to identify up to 10 domestic and 30 international institutions they consider excellent for the recruitment of graduates. They are also asked to identify the disciplines from which they prefer to recruit.  

Research citations per paper 

All citations data is sourced from Elsevier Scopus. A minimum publication threshold is set for each subject to avoid potential anomalies stemming from small numbers of highly cited papers. 

Both the minimum publications threshold and the weighting applied to the citations indicator are adapted in order to best reflect prevalent publication and citation patterns in a given discipline.  


The H-index is a way of measuring both the productivity and impact of an academic or department at a university. The index is based on the set of the academic’s most cited papers and the number of citations they have received in other publications.  

International research network (by broad faculty area)  

The IRN Index reflects the ability of institutions to diversify the geography of their international research network by establishing sustainable research partnerships with other higher education institutions

The Weighting of each of the above indicators varies depending on discipline norms - more detail on the weighting and eligibility criteria is availble here