Top Universities in Canada by Province 2015/16 | Top Universities

Top Universities in Canada by Province 2015/16

By Sabrina Collier

Updated October 3, 2019 Updated October 3, 2019

Click here to view the latest version of this article, based on the QS World University Rankings® 2019.

This year’s QS World University Rankings® features a total of 26 Canadian universities ranked among the world’s best. Three of the top universities in Canada are ranked within the global top 50, while a further 10 are included in the top 300. Read on to discover the highest ranking universities in Canada this year, broken down by province…

Top universities in Quebec

Quebec is Canada’s largest province, with the second-largest population. French is the official language and the region’s largest city, Montréal, is home to four of the top universities in Canada, including the highest-ranking Canadian university this year.

1. McGill University  

Quebec Canada

Montréal-based McGill University has overtaken the University of Toronto to be the highest ranking university in Canada once again, ranked at 24th in the world. Founded in 1821, McGill has international students from 150 countries and has been voted first in Canada among medical-doctoral universities for 10 consecutive years.

2. Université de Montréal

The Université de Montréal is one of Canada's major research centers, allocating nearly $524 million to studies conducted in more than 150 research centers as of 2011. It ranks 115th in the world and 5th in Canada this year, and has an international community of over 7,000 students.

3. Laval University

Based in Quebec City, Laval University ranks at joint 324th in the world this year, and is the oldest center of education in Canada and the fourth oldest in North America. It was also the first institution in North America to offer higher education in French.

4. Concordia University

Ranked 411-420 in the world, Concordia University in Montréal has been steadily rising in the world rankings in recent years.

5. Université du Québec

Ranked 431-440 in the world, Université du Québec has made a good leap from its ranking of 501-550 last year, placing 17th among the top universities in Canada.

6. Université de Sherbrooke

Based in the city of Sherbrooke, the Université de Sherbrooke is ranked at 601-650 in the world this year and 24th in Canada. It was established in 1954 as a French-speaking Catholic university in a region that was principally English-speaking.


Top universities in Ontario 
Ontario, Canada

The most populous of all Canadian provinces, Ontario is home to 40% of Canada’s entire population and 11 of the top Canadian universities. Two of the top universities in Canada are found in the national capital, Ottawa, and four in the country’s largest city, Toronto.

1. University of Toronto

Ranked 34th in the world and second in Canada this year, the University of Toronto is known for its work in literary criticism and communication and theory, as well research innovations, including being the birthplace of insulin and stem cell research.

2. McMaster University

In the city of Hamilton, McMaster University ranks joint 149th in the world, and is named after the Honorable William McMaster, a prominent Canadian Senator and banker who bestowed C$900,000 (US$682,000) for the founding of the university.

3. University of Waterloo

Ranked 152nd in the world this year – 17 places higher than last year – the University of Waterloo is a member of the U15, a group of research-intensive universities in Canada. It’s found in the city of Waterloo, and lays claim to having Canada’s leading psychology department, based on research citations.

4. Western University

Otherwise known as the University of Western Ontario, Western University is ranked 192nd in the world this year and is known for its medicine, science and business courses, with its largest faculty being the social sciences.

5. Queen’s University

Queen’s University, in Kingston, Ontario, is ranked 206th in the world this year, and is spread across more than 1,400 hectares (3,500 acres) of land throughout Ontario.

6. University of Ottawa

Ottawa Canada

The University of Ottawa, based in Canada’s capital city, is ranked joint 284th in the world this year alongside Australia’s Curtin University, and comes 13th among top Canadian universities.

7. York University

Another of the top Canadian universities based in Toronto, York University is ranked 441-450 in the world this year and 18th in Canada.

8. University Of Guelph

The University of Guelph, based in the city from which it takes its name, is ranked 471-480 in the world and 20th in Canada.

9. Carleton University 

Based in Ottawa, Carleton University is ranked 501-550 in the world this year, and 21st in Canada.

10. University of Windsor

In the city of Windsor, Canada’s southernmost city, the University of Windsor is ranked 651-700 in the world and 25th in Canada.

11. Ryerson University

Ryerson University, in downtown Toronto, is ranked 701+ in the world rankings this year and 26th in Canada.


Top universities in British Columbia 
British Columbia Canada

Canada’s westernmost province, British Columbia is known for its outstanding natural beauty. It is one of Canada’s most mountainous regions and is home to the largest ski resort in North America, making it a popular choice among students keen on snowsports. It’s also home to several of the top universities in Canada.

1. University of British Columbia

The University of British Columbia ranks 50th in the world this year, retaining its place as the country’s third-highest ranked university. It has almost 60,000 students, of which almost 12,000 are international, at its campuses in Vancouver and Kelowna.

2. Simon Fraser University

Ranked 225th in the world rankings, Simon Fraser University places 11th among top Canadian universities. Located to the east of Vancouver in Burnaby, it’s named for Simon Fraser, a North West Company fur trader and explorer.

3. University of Victoria

The University of Victoria, ranked joint 319th in the world, is located in Greater Victoria, the metropolitan area of the provincial capital of Victoria. It is noted for its courses in Earth and ocean sciences, fine and performing arts, engineering, and law.


Top universities in Alberta 
Alberta Canada

Alberta is the most populous ‘prairie province’ in Canada, and no less mountainous than British Columbia to its west. This province is home to two more of the country’s leading universities: the University of Alberta in the provincial capital, Edmonton, and the University of Calgary in the province’s largest city.

1. University of Alberta

Ranked 4th in Canada and joint 96th in the world this year, the University of Alberta is a major economic driver in the region and is particularly well-respected for its arts and humanities courses.

2. University of Calgary

Ranked joint 204th in the world, the University of Calgary is the birthplace of significant inventions such as the neurochip. Among its notable alumni is the current Prime Minister of Canada, Stephen Harper.


Other top universities in Canada 
Newfoundland, Canada

Canada is one of the largest countries in the world, offering a huge array of choice and diversity. Beyond the provinces covered above, four more top Canadian universities are featured in the world rankings:

1. Dalhousie University

Dalhousie University is located in Halifax, Nova Scotia, and is ranked 12th in Canada and joint 277th in the world this year.

2. University of Saskatchewan

Located in Saskatoon in the central prairie province of Saskatchewan, the University of Saskatchewan is ranked 451-460 in the world.

3. University of Manitoba

The University of Manitoba is located in Winnipeg’s largest city and is ranked 551-600 in the world this year.

4. Memorial University of Newfoundland

Ranked 601-650 in the world, Memorial University is the largest university in Atlantic Canada.

This article was originally published in September 2015 . It was last updated in October 2019

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Written by

The former Assistant Editor of, Sabrina wrote and edited articles to 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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