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Top Universities in Canada by Province

Top Universities in Canada by Province main image

26 Canadian universities are featured in the QS World University Rankings® 2019, including three in the top 50. A further 10 are in the global top 300, all ranked based on a methodology which considers each institution’s rating among employers and academics, as well as its research impact and other factors.

Read on to discover how the top universities in Canada were ranked this year, narrowed down by province.

University of Toronto

Top universities in Ontario

More than a third of the top universities in Canada can be found in Ontario, and it’s also the most populous province in the country, home to more than 38 percent of Canada’s overall population. Four top Canadian universities are found in Canada’s largest city, Toronto, and two are based in capital city Ottawa, which were both featured in the top 50 of the QS Best Student Cities 2018. Ontario’s highest ranked institutions are:

1. University of Toronto

Up three places to rank 28th in the world and number one in Canada this year, the University of Toronto gets its highest score in the ‘academic reputation’ indicator (18th in the world) and is known for its research innovations, having been the birthplace of insulin and stem cell research.

2. McMaster University

Based in the city of Hamilton, McMaster University is ranked 146th in the world, and was established in 1887, taking its name from the Honorable William McMaster, a prominent Canadian Senator and banker who bequeathed C$900,000 to its founding.

3. University of Waterloo

Ranked joint 163rd in the world alongside Taiwan’s National Tsing Hua University, the University of Waterloo is known for its cooperative education (co-op) programs, which allow students to integrate their education with relevant work experience.

4. Western University

Previously known as the University of Western Ontario, Western University is ranked joint 214th in the world this year and is a member of the U15, a group of 15 research-intensive Canadian universities.

5. Queen’s University

Queen’s University, based in Kingston, is ranked joint 239th in the world in 2019. Founded in 1841 via a royal charter issued by Queen Victoria, Queen’s boasts more than 1,400 hectares (3,500 acres) of land throughout Ontario.

6. University of Ottawa

The highest-ranked university in Canada’s capital city, the University of Ottawa is placed joint 289th in the world this year alongside the French Université Grenoble-Alpes, and is the largest bilingual university in the world, with around 42,000 students.

7. York University

Another of the top Canadian universities located in Toronto, York University is ranked joint 481st in the world and is known for its prestigious film school, which is considered one of the best in Canada.

8. University of Guelph

The University of Guelph, based in the city from which it takes its name, is ranked 581-590 in the world this year and is considered particularly prestigious for veterinary science.

9. Carleton University

Based in Ottawa, Carleton University is ranked 651-700 in the world this year, and joint 22nd in Canada.

10. University of Windsor

In the city of Windsor, Canada’s southernmost city, the University of Windsor is also placed 651-700 in the world and joint 22nd in Canada in 2019.

11. Ryerson University

Ryerson University, in downtown Toronto, is ranked 801-1000 in the world rankings this year and is one of Canada’s largest universities, with 43,000 students.

McGill University

Top universities in Quebec

Quebec is the largest province in Canada and the second most-populous. French is the official language here and the region’s largest city, Montréal, is home to four of the top universities in Canada.

1. McGill University

McGill University, based in Montréal, is the second highest-ranked of the top universities in Canada this year at 33rd. Established in 1821, McGill currently has around 33,500 students, with around 35 percent coming from outside Canada.

2. Université de Montréal

Ranked joint 149th in the world this year, the Université de Montréal is known for its research, with over CA$500 million in research funding and one of the highest volumes of research for any university in Canada.

3. Laval University

Based in Quebec City, Laval University is placed joint 402nd in the world this year, and is the oldest higher education institution in Canada, with roots going back to 1663. It was also the first French-speaking university in North America.

4. Concordia University

Concordia University is ranked joint 464th in the world in 2019 and is in the global top 200 for both indicators which measure on-campus diversity: percentage of international faculty members and international students.

5. Université du Québec

The Université du Québec is ranked 541-550 in the world in 2019 and made up of 10 constituent public universities which collectively have 87,000 students, the largest of which is in Montréal.

6. Université de Sherbrooke

Based in the city of Sherbrooke, the Université de Sherbrooke is ranked 651-700 in the world in 2019 and also runs a campus in the Longueuil suburb of Montréal.

University of British Columbia

Top universities in British Columbia 

British Columbia is the westernmost province in Canada and is known for its breath-taking natural beauty. One of Canada’s most mountainous regions, British Columbia boasts the largest ski resort in North America, making it a popular choice with students keen on snow sports. Several top Canadian universities can also be found here.

1. University of British Columbia

The University of British Columbia is consistently ranked third among the top universities in Canada and climbed four places in the World University Rankings to now rank 47th, achieving its highest rank for the academic reputation indicator (29th). It has around 62,900 students at its campuses in Vancouver and Kelowna.

2. Simon Fraser University

Ranked 11th among the top Canadian universities, Simon Fraser University is placed joint 264th in the world and has its main campus in Burnaby, just east of Vancouver. It was established in 1965 and named after Simon Fraser, a North West Company fur trader and explorer.

3. University of Victoria

The University of Victoria is ranked joint 359th in the world and 14th in Canada, and is located in the capital of British Columbia, Victoria. It’s home to roughly 21,700 students, 4,000 of whom are international.

University of Alberta

Top universities in Alberta 

Alberta is the most populous of Canada’s ‘prairie provinces’ and is no less mountainous than British Columbia to its west. Two of the 10 highest-ranked universities in Canada are based here:

1. University of Alberta

Ranked fourth in Canada and 109th in the world, the University of Alberta is mainly based in the city of Edmonton and is a major economic driver to the province, accounting for five percent of its annual GDP (Gross Domestic Product).

2. University of Calgary

The University of Calgary is ranked 229th in the world and ninth in Canada in 2019 and is one of the younger top Canadian universities, founded in 1966. It’s been at the forefront of numerous innovations in its history, such as the invention of the neurochip.

Dalhousie University

Other top universities in Canada

The list of top Canadian universities doesn’t end there, with the provinces of Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Nova Scotia and Newfoundland and Labrador each hosting one internationally ranked university.

1. Dalhousie University, Nova Scotia

Ranked joint 279th in the world and 12th in Canada, Dalhousie University has three campuses in Halifax, and has its medical school in the city of Saint John, in the neighboring province of New Brunswick.

2. University of Saskatchewan

Located in the city of Saskatoon in the central prairie province of Saskatchewan, the University of Saskatchewan is ranked joint 461st in the world in 2019.

3. University of Manitoba

The University of Manitoba is located in province capital and largest city, Winnipeg, and is ranked 601-650 in the world this year.

4. Memorial University of Newfoundland

Finally, in Newfoundland you’ll find the largest university in the ‘Atlantic Canada’ region with 18,200 students, the Memorial University of Newfoundland, ranked 651-700 in the world.

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Sabrina Collier's profile image
Written by Sabrina Collier
The Assistant Editor of, Sabrina edits and publishes articles which guide students from around the world on a wide range of topics. She has a bachelor's degree in English Literature and Creative Writing from Aberystwyth University and grew up in Staffordshire, UK. 

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Am from Ghana with HND, can I get admission in Canada university to do postgraduate or master's? Please help me out or would it be schoorlarship for me if possible?

Hi Joseph, our complete guide on How to Study Abroad in Canada includes advice on how to get admitted, and you can find a range of scholarships to study in Canada here

Hi am from Kenya....i want to study a bachelor's course in journalism for undergraduate ....please inform me of the best universities to study..

Hi Luvai, we don't currently rank journalism, but you could check our latest communication and media studies ranking (the results can be narrowed down to show only Canadian universities). 

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