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UNC-Chapel Hill Ranks 29th in 2021 Academic Ranking of World Universities

August 17, 2021
UNC Global

The Old Well on the campus of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. April 8, 2021. (Jon Gardiner/UNC-Chapel Hill)

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill ranked 29th in the world and 20th in the United States among global universities, according to the 2021 Academic Ranking of World Universities (ARWU) released by the ShanghaiRanking Consultancy on August 15, 2021. The University also ranks 7th among U.S. public universities. 

Carolina ranked 30th in 2020 and tied for 33rd in 2019. Harvard University, Stanford University and the University of Cambridge continue to hold the top three spots respectively. 

“I am delighted to see Carolina moving up a position in the Academic Ranking of World Universities,” said Barbara Stephenson, vice provost for global affairs and chief global officer. “We should all celebrate the exceptional work by faculty, students and staff to solidify the University’s position as a leading global public research institution.”

Global academic subject rankings were also released. This year, UNC-Chapel Hill ranked in the top 20 for 11 academic subject areas. UNC-Chapel Hill continues to rank highly in the medical sciences field and gained significant recognition in several social sciences. 

The rankings and subjects are: 

  • 2nd in dentistry and oral sciences 
  • 7th in nursing  
  • 8th in public health 
  • 9th in pharmacy and pharmaceutical sciences  
  • 9th in statistics 
  • 10th in business administration 
  • 12th in education 
  • 15th in biological sciences 
  • 16th in biomedical engineering  
  • 17th in sociology 
  • 20th in computer science and engineering  

For the overall global rankings, ARWU evaluates universities based on objective indicators, including the number of alumni and staff winning Nobel Prizes and Fields Medals, highly cited researchers, papers published in Nature and Science, papers indexed in major citation indices and the per capita academic performance of an institution. ARWU first published university rankings in 2003 and now ranks more than 2,000 universities each year. The top 1,000 universities are published annually. 

The scores are determined by the weighted indicators listed above, with the highest scoring university earning a score of 100. The other institutions are calculated as a percentage of the top score. 

For a full list of rankings, visit

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