Universities in Canada
- An Overview

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Key Takeaways

  • Canada is fast becoming a preferred study abroad destination for Indian students.
  • You can get a world-class education in Canada, almost at par with the US or UK universities, but at lower costs.
  • Canadian Universities are ideal for students who wish to attend research-intensive schools.
  • The University of Toronto, the University of British Columbia and McGill University are among the top universities in Canada.
  • A Degree from a Canadian University enables you to work in Canada and even expedites your chances of becoming a permanent Canadian citizen.


For the longest time, countries like the United States of America and the United Kingdom have been the top choice for Indian students going abroad for higher education. But in recent years, Canada has become a serious contender. Studying in Canada can be incredibly beneficial for you, as it is one of the few nations that allow students to remain in the country after graduation. It also offers you a direct path to permanent citizenship and an opportunity to live and work in the country. If you have made up your mind to study here, you should know about the top universities in Canada. Here is an article detailing the same.

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Why study in Canada?

Canada has earned the distinction of being a country that offers a world-class education, with degrees that are recognised globally. Here are some reasons why you should consider studying at one of the many top colleges in Canada.

  • A degree from a reputed Canadian University is deemed of great value, often considered equivalent to one earned in the US, UK, Australia, and most European nations. Despite this, the cost of education in Canada is significantly lower.
  • Canadian universities are also renowned for their strong focus in the fields of research and development. As a research scholar, you will find Canada to be the ideal destination where you can get support from your university and the Canadian government, primarily if you aim to study subjects like medicine, technology, environmental science, and telecommunication.
  • Universities in Canada are also known for their vibrant campuses, where events and festivals occur throughout the year. For a student living away from home, these events fester a happy and lively environment and help you meet new people, develop social contacts, and build a home away from home.

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The Canadian Education System

As a student in the Canadian Education system, you can seek admission in bachelors, masters, and doctorate programmes. Besides these, the Canadian Education system also includes community colleges offering vocational courses and technical training. Like most countries, you will find that the list of universities in Canada includes public and private universities. Most of the public universities in Canada are funded by provincial governments, thus reducing the tuition costs for students. A vast majority of the degree courses in Canada are taught in English, whereas a few universities also have courses taught in French-Canadian.

To seek admission to a university in Canada as an Indian student, you have to appear for either to IELTSTM (Academic) or TOEFL® exam. These exams assess your English speaking skills and your ability to adapt to an English-speaking environment.

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Best Universities in Canada as per International Rankings

Several entities rank the best universities in the world. However, there are three that are most reputed for providing ranking after carefully considered several criteria. These entities are also responsible for assigning ranks to the top 10 universities in Canada. Let us take a look at them.

World Universities Ranking

Created by Times Higher Education, this entity typically evaluates universities based on their research and development contribution and how frequently said research is published and quoted in global academic papers and journals.

QS World University Rankings

Created by Top Universities, this entity conducts various surveys with academic experts from across the world regarding the reputation of multiple universities. It also considers the teaching quality and faculty at these universities.

Best Global Universities Rankings

Created by the US News and World Report, this entity primarily investigates each university's graduation rates. It also checks if students continue to stay enrolled or drop out after the first academic year ends.

The following are the best universities in Canada ranked from number 1 to 10 for the Academic year 2020-2021.

University Name

Times Higher Education Ranking

TopUniversities Ranking

U.S. News and World Report

University of Toronto




University of British Columbia




McGill University




Université de Montréal




McMaster University




University of Alberta




University of Waterloo




University of Ottawa




University of Calgary




Western University




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Best Universities in Canada

Let us understand what makes these universities the top 10 universities in Canada.

  1. University of Toronto

    The University of Toronto was founded in 1827 and has since emerged as Canada’s leading institution for learning, discovery, and knowledge creation. Renowned for its high-level academic programs in not just one or two but many subjects, the university is ranked as the best university in Canada. As a student here, you can choose from an abundance of classes. For instance, there are over 1,700 courses in their Arts & Sciences faculty alone. This allows you to keep your course schedule fresh and select unique subjects. Furthermore, the university has more than 800 clubs and organisations for you to choose from, which allows you to select something of interest outside of the traditional classroom.

  2. University of British Columbia

    Ranked the “most international University in North America” by the Times Higher Education in its “World University Ranking 2020”, the University of British Columbia or UBC is a global centre for research and teaching. It consistently ranked among the world’s best universities, earning the title of being one of the “most innovative universities” in 2019 by Reuters. The school boasts of the most modern and latest facilities, having invested over $1.5 billion into facilities and infrastructure. As a UBC student, you can choose from over 300 graduate degree programs and over 2000 research mentors and supervisors. What’s more, you can also design your own program.

  3. McGill University

    One of the best public universities in Canada, the McGill University is located in Montreal and was founded in 1821 when King George IV granted a royal charter. The school boasts of a vibrant and diverse international student body, with students from 150 countries across the globe. McGill University has established the reputation of being a research-intensive school and is recognised for its excellent teaching programs and faculty. Its long tradition of innovation includes inventions like Plexiglas and artificial blood cells. The university also holds the record of having the most students in Canada, 145, to have won the prestigious Rhodes scholarship.

  4. Université de Montréal

    The Université de Montréal is the largest teaching and research institutions in Quebec and one of the top universities in Canada. This university is also one of the top 100 higher education institutions globally, specifically in the life science and medicine fields, holding the 35th rank in the areas of pharmacy and pharmacology. If your goal in life is to enter the medical profession, this is the college for you. With state-of-the-art research facilities and outstanding quality of education, this school is the top choice among Canadian and international students.

  5. McMaster University

    The McMaster University was founded in Toronto in 1887 but relocated to the 300-acre vast scenic property in Hamilton, Ontario, in 1930. It consistently features in the list of the top 10 universities in Canada. The university holds the reputation of being a student-centric, research-intensive school dedicated to advancing human and societal health and well-being. It houses over 70 research centres and institutes on its campus, with more than 70 international exchange agreements. McMaster University boasts of an impressive 1,011 full-time instructional faculty members, with a vibrant student body comprising 27% of international students.

  6. University of Alberta

    Located in Edmonton, the University of Alberta is one of the top colleges in Canada, with an international reputation for excellence in fields like sciences, humanities, business, engineering, creative arts, and health sciences. It offers over 200 undergraduate programs and over 500 graduate programs. It also attracts a decent international population with over 40,000 students from 156 countries. The university is well known for its over 425 student groups that provide opportunities for pursuing academic, cultural, political, and recreational aspirations. One of its most popular programs, the Undergraduate Research Initiative, provides funding to students looking to pursue research and creative activities.

  7. University of Waterloo

    A public research university located in Ontario, the University of Waterloo has established itself as one of Canada’s top innovation universities. It is home to over 100 programs in fields like business, mathematics, engineering, science, health, the arts, and the environment. The school also hosts the world’s largest co-op or paid internship program, which enables its students to include up to 2 years of work experience as part of their degree. As a student of this university, having opted for the co-op program, you get an advantage over your peers when starting your career. The school is tied up with over 7,100 world-leading companies, where students can seek placements.

  8. University of Ottawa

    Stylised as uOttawa, this is the world’s largest bilingual university, where you can study in English or French, or both. The University of Ottawa is ranked as one of Canada’s top 10 research-intensive universities. Its many breakthroughs across various fields include science, social science, health sciences, and humanities, have attracted global attention. It is also one of the best universities in Canada for masters programs in environmental sustainability. The University of Ottawa regularly hosts dynamic events and interdisciplinary conferences on its campus. It also offers a wide variety of workshops to enhance your skills and employability through its many clubs.

  9. University of Calgary

    The University of Calgary also ranks among the top 10 universities in Canada. It is a global intellectual hub with students and faculty from over 160 countries worldwide. The University is a comprehensive academic and research institution that supports creativity, discovery and innovation in all disciplines. It has also emerged as a leader in educational innovation for its efforts in researching effective methods of keeping students engaged. With over 250 undergraduate and professional degree programs, the University of Calgary is home to a diverse international community and offers impeccable learning opportunities.

  10. Western University

    The list of universities in Canada for a well-rounded college education includes Western University. This University is home to researchers, faculty, and graduate students who have emerged as leaders in various fields; conducting innovative research is exciting areas of study. As a Western University student, you will be surrounded by a community of scholars and get access to an enriching, collaborative environment where you can form lifelong intellectual partnerships. You also get access to first-class infrastructure and research facilities and competitive funding packages as Western University students.

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Final note

Canada, in general, is known for its warm and polite people. It is one of the few countries that welcomes students to study in their universities and invests in ensuring international students are safe and treated fairly. The top universities in Canada take the necessary measures to ensure you enjoy your stay and experience as an international student. As a university student in Canada, your chances of immigrating here upon completing your education can increase manifolds. As such, you can become a citizen of a country known for its high standard of living, with job opportunities in every possible field.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Is studying in Canadian universities more expensive than in the UK or the USA? What about the quality of education in Canada?

No, studying in Canadian universities is comparatively cheaper than in the UK or USA. Most higher-education institutions in Canada are public Institutions and are thus funded by the Canadian Government. Also, the tuition fee levied by most Canadian institutions is among the lowest. Despite this, Canadian institutions are known for maintaining a high and consistent quality of education throughout the country.

I wish to settle in Canada permanently after graduation. Is it possible, and are there any programs for the same?

As an international student completing your graduation from a Canadian university, you can apply to various provincial and federal programs to apply for immigration. Your Canadian education and work experience make you eligible for extra points in the Federal Express Entry Comprehensive Ranking System, thus making your path to immigration easier.

I want to send my under-18-year-old to Canada to study. Do I have to fulfil any special requirements to get her admitted to a Canadian university?

For children under the age of 18 years intending to study in Canada, their parents have to submit a custodian letter with the visa application in the name of their child. For more information or details about the custodian letter, you can contact your advisor or counsellor assisting you with your move to Canada.