Published by S. N. McGannon, Feb. 18, 2021

This is a ranking of the top 25 universities in Germany ranked relative to each other by average world rank for the year 2020-2021. 

The ranking was created by using metadata sourced from the four prominent rankings of world universities (each ranking released in 2020): Academic Ranking of World Universities (ARWU), Quacquarelli Symonds (QS), Times Higher Education (THE), and U.S. News & World Report (USNWR).

Rank was checked on each list for every university in Germany ranked on each of the lists. Then for each university all its rank placements were averaged across lists to create the new list of average ranking for each university. The universities were then ranked according to their average ranking. The university with the highest average is thus ranked 1st, the one with the second highest average 2nd, and so on. 

Finally, the results were tabled, and are shown below (Table 1.). The leftmost column shows the final relative placement (relative placement based on average rank, i.e.), the “institution” column shows the institution ranked, the next four rightward columns (ARWU, QS, THE, USNWR) show the rank for each given institution in each of those selected world rankings, and the rightmost column (“Average World Rank”) averages the four ranking lists’ rank placement for each university. 

A final note about the table below: because of a dispute regarding Nobel prize attribution, ARWU does not rank Humboldt University Berlin or Free University of Berlin. However, because both universities average so highly between the other three rankings, I previously made the choice to display these universities with their three-rank average among the ranked universities in the place they would occupy were the three-rank average their overall average (see some previous explanation here; and for reference see here). I again chose to undertake this procedure for this ranking. Their rank is simply listed as ‘(NR)’ ( = not ranked). Additionally, another university also unranked by ARWU (University of Mannheim) ends up in the top 25 under this procedure. While I don’t know why ARWU doesn’t rank this university, because it is the only other university which averages in the top 25 when its three-rank average is taken as its average, I have included this university in its would-be place as well.

Some observations —

  • The original ranking which best predicts the summed average is USNWR.
  • The original ranking which most poorly predicts the summed average is QS.
  • QS is the only ranking which fails to place LMU Munich 1st.

If anything appears to be in error, please email me at

RankInstitutionARWUQSTHEUSNWRAverage World Rank
1LMU Munich5163324648
2Heidelberg University5764425454.25
3Technical University of Munich5450417655.25
(NR)Humboldt University Berlin(NR)117808293
(NR)Free University of Berlin(NR)130118111~120
4University of Freiburg10117583168131.75
5University of Bonn87240114114138.75
6=University of Tuebingen15117578180146
6=University of Goettingen101195130158146
8RWTH Aachen University201145107184159.25
9Technical University of Dresden201173152186178
10University of Hamburg201228135155179.75
11Karlsruhe Institute of Technology201131201197182.5
12University of Cologne151282145232202.5
13Goethe University Frankfurt101311251222221.25
14Technical University of Berlin301148140338231.75
15University of Muenster151356195236234.5
16University of Erlangen-Nuremberg201317198238238.5
17University of Wuerzburg201437140186241
18University of Ulm301344140316275.25
19University of Mainz201403301214279.75
20University of Kiel201501251274306.75
21University of Jena401323251395342.5
22Ruhr University Bochum401439251372365.75
23Technical University of Darmstadt401267301543378
(NR)University of Mannheim(NR)307140706~384
24University of Duisburg-Essen301751201285384.5
25University of Stuttgart301333351564387.25
Table 1.


The header image is under the Creative Commons license.

One thought on “Ranking of Universities in Germany, 2020-21

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