Top 10 best-ranked universities in Canada

Are you planning to study in Canada?  The good news is that Canada has one of the strongest post-secondary systems in the world with an array of world-class universities across the country.  Find out the steps to becoming a student in Canada and check out the top Canadian schools below.

Our choices of the top 10 Canadian educational institutions are based on the world-renowned QS 2022 world university rankings.

The list of top 10 colleges in Canada for international students (with their QS world rankings):

  • University of Toronto (26)
  • McGill University (27)
  • University of British Columbia (46)
  • Université de Montréal (111)
  • University of Alberta (126)
  • McMaster University (140)
  • University of Waterloo (149)
  • Western University (170)
  • University of Ottawa (230)
  • University of Calgary (235)

University of Toronto

Founded in 1827, The University of Toronto offers over 700 undergraduate and 200 graduate programs and is located close to Queen’s Park in downtown Toronto. It consistently ranks as one of the best universities in Canada and is home to some of the significant scientific firsts, such as the first successful lung transplant and nerve transplant.

The University of Toronto has a large and vibrant international student body and as for the 2019 – 2020 academic year, 36% of undergraduates and 25% of graduates were international students.

McGill University

McGill University is the QS top-ranked academic institution in the province of Quebec and was founded in 1821. While the province of Quebec is primarily French speaking, McGill is predominantly an English-language university. McGill offers degrees and diplomas in over 300 fields of study and is located in downtown Montreal. McGill is the most internationally diverse of any medical-doctoral research university in Canada with over 41% of its students born outside of Canada (as of 2021). McGill’s alumni and faculty consists of 12 Nobel laureates, the most of any university in Canada, as well as the current Prime Minister of Canada, Justin Trudeau.

University of British Columbia

The University of British Columbia (UBC) is the oldest university in the province of British Columbia and was established in 1908. The university has two main campuses, one in Vancouver and another in Kelowna (the Okanagan campus). It is home to more than 68,000 students from over 140+ countries across the world. Amongst universities in North America, UBC is the first to commit to implementing the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People.

Université de Montréal

The Universite of Montreal is located in Montreal, Quebec, and is a primarily French-language university. It offers over 650 undergraduate programmes and graduate programmes, which include 71 doctoral programmes. The university has 34,335 undergraduate and 11,925 post-graduate students. One out of every four students at University of Montreal comes from outside Canada.

University of Alberta

The University of Alberta was founded in 1908 and is primarily located in the city of Edmonton. The U of A, as it’s known, has a reputation for excellence across the humanities, sciences, creative arts, business, engineering, and health sciences. The university is home to almost 40,000 students, which includes more than 7,000 international students who come from over 150 countries.

McMaster University

McMaster University is located in Hamilton, Ontario, and has over 27,000 undergraduate and over 4,000 post-graduate students. McMaster is known for its research strengths, especially in the field of health sciences. An interesting fact about the university is that 20% of Albert Einstein’s brain sits in a jar in one of the school’s labs where it is used for research!

University of Waterloo

The University of Waterloo is located in the city of Waterloo, 110 km west of Toronto. It is one of Canada’s top innovation universities, and home to over 100 programs across a range of disciplines. As of 2020, there were approximately 36,000 undergraduate and 6,200 postgraduate students enrolled. The university is particularly noted for its entrepreneurship and especially supporting numerous startup companies.

Western University

Western University was founded in 1878 and is located in London, Ontario. It ranks as one of Canada’s top research universities with a variety of world-renowned research centres. It is considered to be one of the country’s most beautiful universities, and the campus spans 400 acres of mixed architecture from Gothic-style buildings to modern, sustainable structures.

University of Ottawa

The University of Ottawa is located in the capital city of Canada. It is the largest English-French bilingual university in the world. The school has around 7,000 international students from 150 countries, which makes up 17 per cent of the student population. The university are research leaders in areas such as photonics, vascular and cardiovascular health, brain and mental health, Francophonie, public policy and social justice.

University of Calgary

The University of Calgary is in the biggest city in Alberta, Calgary. The university has particular strengths in the petroleum and geoscience industry. Among universities not older than 50 years, the university currently ranks first in Canada and among the top 10 worldwide (according to the QS ranking).

Whichever university you choose, it is important that you are prepared for applying.  Part of this application process is to prove your English language ability (if English is not your native language or you have not been educated in a primarily English environment).

You can prove your language ability by taking The IELTS Academic test.  Many universities and colleges have specific level requirements, so it is best to check with each university to see what these are.  Check out some useful links below to help you on your academic journey in Canada:

Are you ready to take your test?  British Council has over 80 locations across Canada and offer tests up to 3 times a day, 7 days a week.  Book your test today.