The best subjects to study at South Africa’s top universities in 2018

US News & World Report has released the 2018 Best Global Universities rankings – which includes a list of the top 11 tertiary learning institutions in South Africa. -The overall rankings evaluate 1,250 universities – up from 1,000 last year – across 74 countries and are the largest and most comprehensive assessment of research universities worldwide, it says.

In addition to rankings of the world’s top 1,250 universities overall and by region and country, the rankings include an examination of the leaders in key academic subject areas. US News used a separate methodology to publish the top global universities in 22 subject areas.

These subject-specific rankings – which are not of academic majors, departments or specific schools at universities, such as business or medical schools – are based on academic research performance in those subjects. US News has used various bibliometric measures, including publications and citations, as well as indicators for global and regional reputation in each specific subject.

The bibliometric indicators are based on data from the Web of Science for the five-year period from 2011-2015. The Web of Science is a web-based research platform that covers more than 18,000 of the most influential and authoritative scholarly journals worldwide in the sciences, social sciences, and arts and humanities.

Top Universities in South Africa:

Top Universities in South Africa:

SA # Global # University
1 113 University of Cape Town
2 216 University of Witwatersrand
3 336= University of Kwa-Zulu Natal
4 359= Stellenbosch University
5 453= University of Pretoria
6 457= University of Johannesburg
7 731= University of the Western Cape
8 781= North-West University
9 925= Rhodes University
10 1019= University of the Free State
11 1034= University of South Africa

On a ranking by subject basis, the country’s leading university, UCT, featured in 14 subjects including several medical related courses where it scored well, and Space Science, where it ranks in the top 150 institutions globally.

South Africa’s second placed institution, the University of the Witwatersrand, scored in seven of the report’s 22 subjects, including Social Sciences and Public Health (69th globally) while it also scored favourably in several medical subjects.

Other noticeable performances by local universities included: Stellenbosch University for agricultural related subjects in Agricultural Sciences (90th) and Environment/Ecology (125th), while the University of Pretoria scored well for Plant and Animal Science (63rd).

Ranking by subject

University of Cape Town
University of Cape Town
Subject Global ranking
Immunology 52
Microbiology 65
Social Sciences and Public Health 81
Clinical Medicine 91
Environment/Ecology 113
Plant and Animal Science 130
Space Science 149
Psychiatry/Psychology 150
Arts and Humanities 151
Geosciences 171
Physics 178
Biology and Chemistry 252
Engineering 483
Chemistry 532

Stellenbosch University

Subject Global ranking
Agricultural Sciences 90
Environment/Ecology 125
Plant and Animal Science 142
Immunology 154
Clinical Medicine 292
Social Sciences and Public Health 292
Biology and Biochemistry 386
Physics 565
Chemistry 568

University of the Witwatersrand
Subject Global ranking
Social Sciences and Public Health 69
Immunology 111
Clinical Medicine 144
Arts and Humanities 172
Physics 240
Plant and Animal Science 321
Engineering 397

University of KwaZulu Natal

Subject Global ranking
Immunology 121
Plant and Animal Science 214
Social Sciences and Public Health 230
Clinical Medicine 301
Physics 343
Chemistry 350
Engineering 422

University of Pretoria

Subject Global ranking
Plant and Animal Science 63
Microbiology 125
Agricultural Sciences 194
Social Sciences and Public Health 348
Engineering 357
Clinical Medicine 529

University of Johannesburg

Subject Global ranking
Physics 320
Social Sciences and Public Health 372
Chemistry 506

University of the Western Cape

Subject Global ranking
Space Science 172
Social Sciences and Public Health 314

North West University

Subject Global ranking
Space Science 172
Social Sciences and Public Health 314

Rhodes University

Subject Global ranking
Plant and Animal Science 334

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