U of A holds strong in international subject rankings

Seventeen subjects make the top 100 list for excellence in research and teaching.


The 2024 QS rankings include the highest number of University of Alberta narrow subjects ever ranked. (Photo: Richard Siemens)

The University of Alberta maintains strong international rankings, according to the 2024 QS World University Rankings by Subject released today.

Five subjects offered at the U of A ranked in the top 50 internationally with 12 more in the top 100. These include 15 individual subjects and two broad subject areas. The rankings cover 55 disciplines and rank 1,559 universities using such metrics as academic reputation, citations per paper and employer reputation to gauge placement.

“These rankings consistently show that the University of Alberta is one of the top universities in Canada and the world,” says U of A president and vice-chancellor, Bill Flanagan. 

“Our strong performance in this year’s rankings reflects the excellence of our research and teaching in areas including health and wellness, energy and the environment, and agriculture and food, where our impact is felt globally.”

Excellence in Engineering 

The U of A’s Faculty of Engineering continues its high global standing, placing sixth in Petroleum Engineering and 12th in Mineral & Mining Engineering in the world, and first and fourth in Canada respectively. This comes after Petroleum Engineering placed first in Canada for four consecutive years.

“I am immensely proud of our faculty’s remarkable achievements reflected in the latest rankings,” says Simaan Abourizk, dean of the Faculty of Engineering. “Placing 100th in the world in the broad subject area of Engineering & Technology, alongside significant rankings in subjects such as Petroleum Engineering and Mineral & Mining Engineering, signifies our unwavering commitment to excellence and innovation.” 

Advancements by researchers in engineering include innovative student solutions for hard-to-sort plastics recycling, cost-effective and low-emission carbon fibre production from bitumen, and interdisciplinary research that works alongside Indigenous communities to improve access to clean water

“These accomplishments underscore our dedication to advancing the engineering industry and making impactful contributions to society,” says Abourizk.

Strength in Nursing 

Nursing continues its international ranking excellence with a seventh place this year. The program has also placed first in Canada for the past two years and ranked second in the country this year.

“We are proud to announce that our nursing program remains among the top nursing programs nationally and internationally,” says Shannon Scott, incoming dean of the Faculty of Nursing. “Our small shift in rankings from last year signifies the dynamic nature of our field and the continuous pursuit of excellence in nursing research, education and clinical practice.” 

The program is a leader in Canada as the first nursing school to offer a Master of Nursing and a PhD program for students who want to pursue research, such as how to prevent nurses from leaving the profession and how music, massage and relaxation techniques can decrease extreme psychological stress for ICU patients.

“We extend our gratitude to our dedicated faculty, teaching staff and students for their unwavering commitment to excellence. Together we will continue to uphold the highest standards of nursing research and education, and make meaningful contributions to health care around the globe,” says Scott.

Success in Sports Related Subjects

The university moved up four global spots in the Sports Related Subjects ranking to finish 15th in the world this year, and it rose two spots to finish third in Canada. The Faculty of Kinesiology, Sport, and Recreation offers a diversity of research and teaching focus areas including adapted physical activity, tourism, sport management and behavioural medicine.

“Today’s global rankings reflect our faculty’s dedicated pursuit of transformative research and education, shaping our understanding of physical activity, leisure and sport,” says Kyra Pyke, dean of the Faculty of Kinesiology, Sport, and Recreation.

Recently, members of the faculty were inducted into Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame, created programs to increase recreation opportunities in Indigenous communities, and facilitated research into neglected sport histories

“This commitment and momentum is thanks to our faculty and staff who are directly leading innovation and the experiences of our students,” says Pyke. 

Growth in Pharmacy & Pharmacology 

Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences placed 48th internationally in this year’s rankings, up from 49th, as the faculty continues to climb the global rankings. The program also placed fourth in Canada again this year.

“These rankings stand as a testament to the exceptional dedication of our esteemed faculty, staff and students,” says Christine Hughes, dean of the Faculty of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences. “Our leading efforts in discovery, innovation and practical application underscore a commitment to advancing the fields of pharmacy and pharmaceutical sciences.” 

New research partnerships in the faculty will work to expand access to primary care in pharmacies, while other researchers launch groundbreaking studies into patient treatment.

“We value the public and private partners whose steadfast support empowers our talented researchers and students to thrive. Together, we continue to push the boundaries of excellence and I can’t wait to see where we go next,” says Hughes.

The U of A featured in the Top 100 for the broad subject areas of Life Sciences & Medicine (73rd) and Engineering & Technology (100th).

Other high-performing subjects for U of A in this year’s rankings include Agriculture & Forestry (79th), Chemical Engineering (88th), Education (80th), Medicine (86th) and Environmental Sciences (96th). Anatomy & Physiology, Dentistry, Geology, Geophysics and Earth & Marine Sciences placed between 51-100 in the world this year. The 2024 QS rankings also include the highest number of University of Alberta individual subjects ever ranked.