Iran Universities

Iran has a large network of private, public, and state affiliated universities offering degrees in higher education. State-run universities of Iran are under the direct supervision of Iran’s Ministry of Science, Research and Technology (for non-medical universities) and Ministry of Health and Medical Education (for medical schools). According to article 3 of the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Iran guarantees “free education and physical training for everyone at all levels, and the facilitation and expansion of higher education.”

Academic system of Iranian universities

Tehran University of Medical Sciences’ Tehran Heart Center

In 2008, Iran had over 3.5 million students enrolled in universities. Some 1.7 million in various programs in Islamic Azad university and the remainder in State universities. In addition, the new enrollment numbers for the academic year 2004 were 290 thousand in Azad universities, and 250 thousand in state universities. Iran has 54 state operated universities, and 42 state medical schools. These are primarily the top choice for students in national entrance exams, and have the largest and most prestigious programs. There are 289 major private universities operating as well. In addition, there are over 40,000 students engaged in master’s programs and 20,000 students in PhD programs. In all these schools, except for private universities such as the Islamic Azad University system, tuition and room and board is mostly paid for by the government. The universities themselves largely operate on state budgets. There are also institutes like Payame Noor University that offer degrees remotely or online.

Some schools offer degrees in conjunction with European universities. The International University of Chabahar for example offers programs under the guidance of London School of Economics and Political Science Goldsmiths University of London, and Royal Holloway. Other schools such as the Institute for Advanced Studies in Basic Sciences in Zanjan, have close collaboration with The International Centre for Theoretical Physics in Trieste, Italy for workshops, seminars, and summer schools. The Iranian government also offers intensely competitive but fully paid scholarships for successful applicants to pursue PhD-level studies in several foreign countries, mostly Great Britain.

By early 2000, Iran allocated around 0.4% of its GDP to R&D, which ranks it “far behind industrialized societies” and the world average of 1.4%. By 2009 this ratio of research to GDP reached 0.87% and the set target is 2.5%.


U.S. News & World Report published a global ranking for universities and institutes of higher education in 2018. The best global universities in Iran were ranked as follows:

Ranking of Iranian universities

Rank University City
1 University of Tehran Tehran
2 Islamic Azad University Tehran
3 Sharif University of Technology Tehran
4 Isfahan University of Technology Isfahan
5 Amirkabir University of Technology Tehran
6 Tehran University of Medical Sciences Tehran
7 Tarbiat Modares University Tehran
8 Iran University of Science and Technology Tehran
9 Ferdowsi University of Mashhad Mashhad
10 University of Tabriz Tabriz
11 Babol Noshirvani University of Technology Babol
12 Mashhad University of Medical Sciences Mashhad
13 Shahid Beheshti University of Medical Sciences Tehran
14 Technical and Vocational University Tehran
15 Iran University of Medical Sciences Tehran

Ranking by number of publications (ISI)

As per the data published on QS World University Rankings official website, Sharif University of Technology, ranked 432, Amirkabir University of Technology, ranked 498, Iran University of Science and Technology, ranked between 601 to 651, University of Tehran, ranked between 701 to 750, Shahid Beheshti University, ranked between 800 to 1000, and Shiraz University, ranked between 800 to 1000, are the top 6 Iranian universities among world-class universities.

The Times Higher Education Young University Rankings website has listed the world’s best universities that are aged 50 years or under in 2018. Three Iranian universities are included in the recent Times Higher Education Young University Rankings. Babol Noshirvani University of Technology, ranked 55, Isfahan University of Technology, ranked between 101 and 150, and University of Gilan ranked between 201 and 250, are among the young top universities worldwide.

Medical schools

ISC’s most recent list of the highest-ranked universities in the medical field for 2012 is:

  1. Tehran University of Medical Sciences
  2. Shiraz University of Medical Sciences
  3. Shahid Beheshti University of Medical Sciences (Former National University)
  4. Isfahan University of Medical Sciences
  5. Tabriz University of Medical Sciences
  6. Mashad University of Medical Sciences
  7. Ahvaz Jundishapur University of Medical Sciences

Dental schools

According to the 2007 rankings the top five rated schools in the dental field in Iran are:

  1. Shahid Beheshti University of Medical Sciences
  2. Tehran University of Medical Sciences and Mashad University of Medical Sciences
  3. Isfahan University of Medical Sciences
  4. Kerman University of Medical Sciences and Shahid Sadoughi University of Medical Sciences and Health Services and Hamedan University of Medical Sciences
  5. Ahvaz Jundishapur University of Medical Sciences and Shiraz University of Medical Sciences and Babol University of Medical Sciences

Pharmacy schools

According to the 2010 rankings the top three rated schools in the pharmaceutical field in Iran are:

  1. Tehran University of Medical Sciences
  2. Isfahan University of Medical Sciences
  3. Tabriz University of Medical Sciences

Engineering schools

According to the 2019 U.S.News university ranking  the top-ranked engineering schools in the engineering field and their rank among world universities are:

  1. Islamic Azad University 31
  2. University of Tehran 39
  3. Sharif University of Technology 92
  4. Amirkabir University of Technology 106
  5. Iran University of Science and Technology 145
  6. University of Tabriz 192
  7. Isfahan University of Technology 202
  8. Tarbiat Modares University 207
  9. Ferdowsi University of Mashhad 228
  10. Babol Noshirvani University of Technology 231
  11. Technical and Vocational University 250_300

List of universities by province

These are grouped according to their corresponding province, 28 provinces in all.

Alborz Province

  • Kharazmi University
  • Tehran University of Art
  • alborz University of Medical Sciences
  • University of Environment
  • Islamic Azad University, Karaj Branch
  • Islamic Azad University, Hashtgerd Branch
  • Islamic Azad University, Malard Branch
  • Payam Noor University Of Karaj
  • Payame Noor University Of Hashtgerd
  • Payame Noor University Of Eshtehard
  • Payame Noor University Of Nazarabad
  • Rasam Institute of Higher Education
  • Farabi Institute of Higher Education