The world’s best art and design universities ranked for 2020

The Royal College of Art remains at the top of the QS World University Rankings for the subject, while the US boasts five of the top ten institutions.

4 March 2020
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2 minute read


The QS World University Rankings have been announced for 2020, with the Royal College of Art topping the rankings for art and design for the sixth year running. The top 20 for art and design actually remains almost identical to last year, with UAL and Parsons in second and third and five US institutions in the top ten. The top ten is as follows:

  1. Royal College of Art (UK)
  2. University of the Arts London (UK)
  3. Parsons School of Design at The New School (US)
  4. Rhode Island School of Design (US)
  5. Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) (US)
  6. Politecnico di Milano (Italy)
  7. Aalto University (Finland)
  8. The Glasgow School of Art (UK)
  9. School of the Art Institute of Chicago (US)
  10. Pratt Institute (US)

Places 11-20 feature Australia’s RMIT University, Hong Kong Polytechnic University, two universities on mainland China, Tongji and Tsinghua, Design Academy Eindhoven in the Netherlands, London’s Goldsmiths, and four more in the US: Stanford, Carnegie Mellon, Art Center College of Design, and California Institute of the Arts, which has leapfrogged The Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts (KADK) – now placed at 21 – to make its way into the top 20.

MIT also topped the overall World University Rankings for 2020, with Stanford coming second, Harvard third, Oxford fourth and Caltech fifth.

The QS rankings are compiled by a survey of academic and industry opinion, and are considered the definitive publisher of lists of this type. Jack Moran, QS spokesperson, said in a statement: “As the UK higher education sector prepares for its post-Brexit existence, our latest dataset continues to illuminate the enduring quality of its constituent institutions. 2,212 universities offering art and design programmes were assessed in the compilation of this ranking: a testament to both the analytical scope of QS’s Intelligence Unit and the unique educational experience provided by the RCA.”

The RCA’s vice chancellor Paul Thompson said part of the institution’s success was down to “embracing new areas of expertise and innovation from robotics and AI to computing and materials science.”


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Jenny Brewer

After five years as It’s Nice That’s news editor, Jenny became online editor in June 2021, now overseeing the website’s daily editorial output. Contact her with stories, pitches and tips relating to the creative industries on

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