Top 10 Universities in Canada

14/02/202316 minute read
Top 10 Universities in Canada

The Canadian university system is known for its high quality of education, diverse programs, and welcoming atmosphere for international students. Additionally, many Canadian universities have a strong reputation for research, particularly in natural sciences, engineering, and medicine. Recently Canada has seen an increase in the number of student applicants, and in Ontario alone, the number of applicants jumped from 212,460 in 2019 to 230,977 in fall of 2021. Here we look at the top Canadian universities and what it takes to get admitted there.

The Canadian University System

In Canada, "university" and "college" refer to two types of post-secondary institutions. A university is a degree-granting institution that offers both undergraduate and graduate programs. Universities typically focus on academic and research programs and provide a wide range of disciplines, including the arts, humanities, social sciences, natural sciences, and professional programs such as law and medicine.

On the other hand, a college typically focuses on applied and technical programs, such as trades, technology, and health sciences. Colleges generally offer certificates, diplomas, and applied degrees, which are shorter and more specialized programs than the degrees offered by universities. It's worth noting that some colleges in Canada have the authority to grant degrees, particularly in areas such as applied arts and technology. In these cases, "college" is used interchangeably with "university college."

Like the United States, the Canadian university system is composed of public and private universities offering undergraduate and graduate programs in various disciplines. The universities are primarily funded by the provincial governments but receive funding from the federal government, research grants, and student tuition fees. In terms of structure, the university system is divided into two main categories: undergraduate and graduate studies.

Choosing a university or a college depends on an individual's career goals and interests. A university might be the better choice if you're looking for a broad-based education in a wide range of disciplines. But a college might be a better fit if you're looking for a more focused, hands-on education in a specific field.

US or Canada?

What are the top 10 universities in Canada?

While there are a lot of universities in Canada, the following are generally considered the top of the pile. Here is the definitive list from US News & World Report:

1. University of Toronto

Known for its diverse and dynamic campus culture, the University of Toronto offers a wide range of academic programs, including law, medicine, engineering, and arts. The university has a strong reputation for research and is home to several Nobel Prize winners.

2. University of British Columbia

Based in Vancouver and Kelowna, British Columbia, the University of British Columbia offers a wide range of academic programs, including arts, science, and engineering. The university has a strong reputation for research and is known for its beautiful campus, outdoor recreation opportunities, and active student life.

3. McGill University

Located in Montreal, Quebec, McGill University is one of the top universities in Canada and is known for its strong academic programs in medicine, law, and engineering. The university also offers a vibrant campus culture, with a variety of student clubs and organizations.

4. University of Alberta

Located in Edmonton, Alberta, the University of Alberta offers strong programs in medicine, engineering, and arts. The university has a vibrant campus culture, with a variety of student clubs and organizations, and is known for its strong sense of community.

5. McMaster University

Located in a suburban neighborhood of Hamilton, Ontario, McMaster University has a diverse campus life with international students coming from 75 different countries. The university has six main academic divisions – engineering, health sciences, humanities, science, social sciences and the DeGroote School of Business

6. Universite de Montreal

Based in Montreal, Quebec, the University of Montreal is one of the top universities in Canada and is known for its strong academic programs in medicine, law, and engineering. The university also offers a vibrant campus culture, with a variety of student clubs and organizations.

7. University of Calgary

Based in Calgary, Alberta, the University of Calgary offers strong programs in medicine, engineering, and arts. The university has a vibrant campus culture, with a variety of student clubs and organizations, and is known for its strong sense of community.

8. University of Waterloo

Located in Waterloo, Ontario, the University of Waterloo is known for its strong programs in engineering, mathematics, and computer science. The university has a vibrant campus culture, with a variety of student clubs and organizations, and is known for its entrepreneurial spirit.

9. University of Ottawa

Located in the Canadian capital, University of Ottawa is a relatively new entrant into the top 10 list. The university is the largest English-French bilingual university in the world and offers a wide variety of academic programs, administered by ten faculties, including medicine, law, management and social sciences.

10. University of Western Ontario

Based in London, Ontario, the University of Western Ontario offers strong programs in medicine, business, and social sciences. The university has a vibrant campus culture, with a variety of student clubs and organizations, and is known for its strong sense of community.

Other top universities include Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, Queen’s University in Ontario and Dalhousie University in Halifax.

The Canadian Application Process

The general application process for Canadian universities is similar to that of the US. The application process may vary slightly from university to university, so be sure to check the admission requirements and process for each university you are interested in attending. Additionally, some universities may have specific requirements for international students, so be sure to research these requirements as well.

1. Research

Research the universities you are interested in attending, as well as their academic programs and admission requirements.

2. Check intake dates

Figure out which intake is correct for you. The intake process in Canada is generally conducted in the academic terms of Fall, Winter, or Spring.

3. Meet admission requirements

Visit the websites of the universities you are interested in and check for the application process, application deadlines, admission requirements for international students (check country specific requirements if available). Ensure that you meet the academic and English language proficiency requirements for the universities you are applying to.

4. Complete the online application

Most universities have an online application process that requires you to submit your personal information, academic records, and test scores (if applicable).

5. Submit additional materials

Some universities may require additional materials such as essays, letters of recommendation, and transcripts. Be sure to check the requirements of each university and submit the required materials by the deadline.

6. Pay application fee

Most universities require an application fee, which is typically around $100 CAD.

7. Wait for a decision

After submitting your application, you will receive a decision from the university. If you are accepted, you will receive an offer of admission and information about next steps, such as enrolling in courses and obtaining a student visa (if required).

8. Apply for scholarships

You can apply to the scholarships available for international students to fulfill your financial requirements for the program. International students are offered with various need or merit-based scholarships to study in Canada.

Step into the Future at a Top Canadian University

Document Checklist

Most universities in Canada require students to submit a variety of documents for application. Here is a list of documents generally asked for along with your completed application forms:

  • Educational qualifications: You will need to provide transcripts and diplomas from previous studies to demonstrate your academic background and qualifications.
  • Proof of English language proficiency: Most Canadian universities require evidence of English language proficiency, such as a TOEFL or IELTS score. For some courses you might need to present a French proficiency score as well.
  • Standardized test scores: Depending on the program, you may need to take standardized tests such as the GRE or GMAT.
  • Personal statement or essays: You may be required to provide a personal statement or essays explaining your motivations and goals for pursuing your studies in Canada.
  • Letters of recommendation: Some programs may require letters of recommendation from academic or professional references.
  • Financial proof: International students are usually required to provide proof of financial support to cover tuition fees and living expenses during their studies in Canada.
  • Work experience: Work experience may be required for some graduate programs, particularly in business or engineering.
University Application Deadlines
UniversityApplication Deadline
University of TorontoJanuary 12
McMaster UniversityJanuary 12
McGill UniversityJanuary 15
University of British ColumbiaJanuary 15
University of WaterlooFebruary 1
University of AlbertaMarch 1
University of CalgaryMarch 1
University of OttawaApril 1

How much does it cost to study in Canada?

When it comes to tuition fees and costs, Canada trumps its competition. Unlike the US and UK, tuition fees in Canada are significantly lower even for international students and there are several opportunities for scholarships as well as work-study programs as well.

While tuition fees vary for each university and also based on the program you are going for, the average tuition fee for international students in an undergraduate program in Canada ranges from CAD 20,000 to CAD 30,000 per year. This tuition fee does not cover application or student visa costs.

On top of the tuition fees, most students have to pay for accommodation and other expenses like health insurance. The average cost of accommodation is usually between CAD 8,000 and CAD 10,000 per year, depending on where your university is located and what type of housing you select.

The Council of Ministers of Education, Canada (CMEC) offers a useful online tool which allows prospective international students to quickly calculate the costs of studying at different universities in Canada, as well as providing guidance on the documents needed to apply.

While costs are high, international students in Canada have a variety of financial aid options available to help cover the costs of tuition and living expenses. Some of the most common options include:

  • Scholarships: Many Canadian universities offer scholarships to international students based on academic merit, financial need, or a combination of both.
  • Bursaries: Bursaries are grants or awards that are provided based on financial need. International students can apply for bursaries through their institution or through external organizations.
  • Student loans: Some international students may be eligible for student loans from their home country, which can help cover the costs of tuition and living expenses in Canada.
  • Work study programs: Some universities offer work study programs that allow international students to work part-time on campus to earn money to help pay for their education.
  • Private sponsorships: International students may also be able to secure private sponsorships from individuals, organizations, or corporations to help pay for their education.

How can international students prepare for studying in Canada?

When moving to a new country it is important to prepare yourself for the new life. Here are five tips for international students going to Canada in addition to the college application process:

  • Understand the student visa process: The student visa process can take some time, so be sure to start the process early. The application process may require documents such as proof of acceptance, financial statements, and biometrics.
  • Research about Canada: Start by reading and learning about Canada's history, culture, and people. Understanding the country's values, customs, and traditions can help you adapt quickly.
  • Familiarize yourself with the climate: Canada has a diverse climate, and it's essential to understand what to expect in the city or province you plan to live in. Prepare appropriate clothing for the climate.
  • Learn about the cost of living: Canada can be expensive, depending on the city or province. Research and understand the cost of living in the area you plan to study and live in.
  • Understand Canadian laws and regulations: As an international student, you must comply with Canadian laws and regulations. Research about laws and regulations on things like driving, renting an apartment, and working in Canada.
  • Join student groups and organizations: Joining student groups and organizations can help you meet other students, make friends, and get involved in campus life.
  • Make necessary arrangements: Make necessary arrangements such as accommodation, transportation, health insurance, and banking before you arrive in Canada.
  • Stay connected with your loved ones: Staying connected with your family and friends can help you cope with homesickness and adjust better. Stay in touch via phone, video calls or messaging apps.

What are the career prospects for Canadian graduates?

Canadian graduates have a wide range of career prospects depending on their field of study and interests. Some of the high-demand industries in Canada include healthcare, technology, finance, and skilled trades. Additionally, the Canadian government has various immigration programs and policies aimed at attracting skilled workers and entrepreneurs to support the country's economic growth. Overall, Canadian graduates have access to many career opportunities in various industries and fields.

For international students, you will need a work permit if you plan to stay in Canada after graduation. Graduates of certain designated learning institutions are eligible for the post-graduation work permit. There are other opportunities for work permits as well. Make sure you check all the requirements if you plan on staying in Canada.

Here is a list of the top 10 jobs in Canada in 2023:

  1. Developer
  2. HR Manager
  3. Mechanical Engineer
  4. Welder
  5. Account Technician
  6. Registered Nurse
  7. Warehouse Worker
  8. Customer Service Rep
  9. Business Systems Analyst
  10. Digital Marketing Coordinator

Final Thoughts

If you're looking to increase your chances of acceptance to a Canadian university, here are some steps you can take:

  • Start early: Applying to Canadian universities can be a complex process, so it's important to start early and give yourself enough time to gather all the necessary materials and complete your application.
  • Meet the admission requirements: Make sure you have a strong academic record and that you meet the specific admission requirements for the universities and programs you're interested in.
  • Improve your English proficiency: If English is not your first language, consider taking an English language test such as TOEFL or IELTS, and aim to score as high as possible.
  • Seek out extra-curricular activities: Participating in extracurricular activities such as clubs, sports, or volunteer work can demonstrate your leadership skills and commitment to your community.
  • Write a strong personal statement: Your personal statement or essay is an opportunity to demonstrate your passion for your chosen field of study, as well as your motivations and goals for pursuing your studies in Canada.
  • Obtain strong letters of recommendation: Seek out recommendations from individuals who know you well and can speak to your academic and personal strengths.
  • Show proof of financial support: International students are often required to provide proof of financial support to cover tuition fees and living expenses during their studies in Canada. Make sure to have a solid financial plan in place.

Remember, competition for admission to Canadian universities can be strong, so it's important to put your best foot forward and showcase your strengths and abilities in the best light possible. It is important to take the time to research and prepare for the application process, and to take advantage of all the opportunities available to you for application to Canadian universities. It is important for you to consider your personal goals and preferences when making your decision. Use the tips provided here to increase your chances of getting accepted.

Crimson Education also offers an in-depth Canada service that will help you along every step of the way. Your strategist will help you identify the university for you and make sure you have all the necessary documents to fulfill your requirements. Book a free consult to begin your journey with us!