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University rankings have been established in Germany for a few years now. They assess the quality of research and teaching at institutions of higher education using various indicators and provide the basis for ranking lists with individual or group rankings. The University of Potsdam belongs to the national network of mid-sized universities. Diverse national and international university rankings consistently mirror the excellence of the University of Potsdam.

International Rankings

THE: Times Higher Education – World University Ranking

In the annual international university rankings by the London-based magazine Times Higher Education, the University of Potsdam successfully entered the “Times Higher Education (THE) – World University Ranking” in 2017.In the current edition of the ranking, Brandenburg's largest university again ranked in the 201-250 ranking group and 28th nationally (press release). In the THE ranking of young universities, the University of Potsdam has occupied 4th place in Germany and 24th place worldwide since the beginning of June 2019 (press release).

The world’s top universities were evaluated with 13 indicators in five core areas: Teaching, strength of research, citations, external funding from industry (knowledge transfer) and internationalization. The University of Potsdam proved itself as above-average in all of the core areas. The University of Potsdam’s research received a particularly positive evaluation, making it a high-performance, internationally visible university in terms of research and teaching.

The University of Potsdam is ranked closely to the universities of Hamburg, Constance, Kiel and Bochum, and is situated in the same cluster as its international strategic partner institutions – Tel Aviv University and Macquarie University (both 201–250).

The University of Potsdam achieved the following rankings in individual subjects: “Arts and Humanities” # 126-150, “Computer Science” # 126-150, “Life Sciences” # 176-200, “Social Sciences” # 176-200, “Physical Sciences” # 176-200, “Education” # 251-300 and “Psychology” # 101-125.

Academic Ranking of World Universities

The Academic Ranking of World Universities (ARWU), also called the Shanghai Ranking, is published each year by the Center for World-Class Universities (CWCU) at Shanghai Jiao Tong University (China). The renowned rankings compare research performance from more than 1,200 universities and publishes the 500 best. In both 2016 and 2017, the University of Potsdam made the leap to the global rankings and is therefore one of just 50 German universities listed in these rankings. The University is currently in the 501–600 group.

The world’s top universities are rated on six indicators that are divided into four categories: Quality of education (alumni), quality of subject areas (awards, highly regarded researchers), scholarly output (publications) and per capita performance.

QS World University Ranking

The World University Ranking, published annually by Quacquarelli Symonds (QS), currently ranks more than 1000 universities. The University of Potsdam is currently ranked in the 701–750 group. In national comparison within Germany, the University of Potsdam occupies 41st place out of 46 ranked universities.

The QS World University Ranking compares six different indicators and groups academic institutions on the basis of the following indicators and priorities: International reputation (40%), reputation among employers (10%), teacher-to-student ratio (20%), research performance (per capita citations of scholars in relation to faculty) (20%), and number of international associate professors and number of international students (5% each). Two of the indicators are based on subjective evaluations gathered in two surveys.

National Rankings

CHE University Ranking

The CHE University Ranking is meant primarily to provide prospective students with assistance in deciding where they want to study their selected subject. Classification is not done solely by means of a general ranking with a placement, but rather through a subject-related comparison that categorizes subject-specific strengths and weaknesses at individual universities in three different groups (top, middle or bottom group). In addition to facts about university studies, teaching, facilities and research, this ranking program also invites statements from students about conditions at their university and collects subject-specific reputation data among professors for selected disciplines.

The following subjects are published for the University of Potsdam:

  • English / American Studies (as of 2016),
  • Biology / Life Sciences (as of 2016),
  • Business Administration (as of 2017),
  • Chemistry (as of 2016),
  • Educational Science (as of 2016),
  • Geography (as of 2015),
  • Earth Sciences (as of 2015),
  • German Studies (as of 2016),
  • Computer Science (as of 2015),
  • Law (as of 2017),
  • Mathematics (as of 2015),
  • Physics (as of 2015),
  • Political Science / Social Sciences (as of 2015),
  • Psychology (as of 2016),
  • Romance Studies (as of 2016),
  • Sports / Sports Science (as of 2015),
  • Economics (as of 2017),
  • Business Informatics (as of 2017).

The Humboldt Rankings 2017

The Humboldt Rankings show how many scholars and scientists have come to Germany in recent years with funding from the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, and where they have spent their time doing research. It therefore provides an indicator for the international perception of research performance at an institution, as well as a measure of the success achieved in competition for international (young) researchers. The results are based on the funding statistics of the AvH Foundation. The number of scholarship holders and prize winners funded by the AvH Foundation is counted by institution.

Between 2012 and 2016, a total of 5,901 Humboldt fellows completed a stay in Germany; of these, 75% were at institutions of higher education and 25% were at extramural institutions. The current Humboldt Rankings (2017) put the University of Potsdam at 11th place among 79 ranked universities, which constitutes an improvement of six places since the last ranking in 2014 and makes the University one of the three most-improved institutions on the list. In this period of time, there were 57 fellows and award winners at the University of Potsdam.

German Research Foundation (DFG) Funding Atlas

The DFG Funding Atlas provides a detailed overview of the volume of publicly financed research in Germany. The Funding Atlas therefore continues a series of detailed reports on “key figures relating to publicly funded research in Germany.” The results are based on evaluations of DFG funding statistics. The current DFG Atlas identifies the University of Potsdam as among the 40 universities with the highest numbers of DFG grant application approvals in the humanities and social sciences (22nd place), life sciences (40th) and the natural sciences (34th) for 2014–2016.


The University of Potsdam placed well in the top group of the overall evaluation in the “University Rankings according to Equal Opportunity” study published in 2017. This ranking instrument is published by the Leibniz Institute for Social Sciences (gesis) and the Center of Excellence Women and Science (CEWS) and depicts the performance of universities with regard to equal opportunities for men and women at different stages of their academic careers. The rankings evaluate data from official statistics related to students, doctorates, post-doctorate qualifications (Habilitation) and staff as well as professorships. The vital factor is the proportion of women at various qualification stages in scholarly careers, related to the proportion of female students at a university. 

Founders’ Radar

The Founders’ Radar compiled by the Stifterverband compares universities on the basis of how much they support start-up companies. It therefore serves as an important instrument for assessing knowledge and technology transfer at an institution of higher education. A successful start-up culture affects a university’s attractiveness, both for students and for nearby companies or networks.

The current edition of the Founders’ Radar  (2018) ranked the University of Potsdam at third place, together with the Karlsruhe Institute for Technology (KIT). The front runner is the Technical University of Munich, second place is shared by the University of Applied Sciences Munich and the University of Saarland.