Top 20 Ivy League Universities in Canada Based on Rankings

For some time now, Canada has produced many universities that would rival even the best of prestigious American universities.

Unfortunately, there are no Ivy League Universities in Canada, but in this article, we will make use of three international benchmark rankings and other relevant metrics to determine the most respected and famous universities in Canada that will rival some of the best universities in the United States.

In a country popularly known for its quality of life and harsh winters, high-quality training courses follow one another from east to west, from Quebec to British Columbia. Four of them are often presented in the world’s top 100 institutions by three benchmark rankings – Quacquarelli Symonds (QS), Times Higher Education and the Shanghai ranking. The others, up to the twentieth place, are all present in the Top 500.


1. University of Toronto

First on our list is the prestigious University of Toronto, which doubles as the largest and oldest public University in Canada. Founded in 1827, commonly referred to as U of T, the University is renowned for its intensive and innovative research approach. It was at this same institution that insulin, stem cell research, and the electron microscope, as we know them, came into being, which cemented its reputation on the international stage.

U of T is ranked 32nd in the QS World University Rankings world and welcomes 88,776 students spread across various academic programs. 20% of U of T students are foreigners and come from more than 168 countries, no wonder the university is proud of its capital of diversity!

U of T offers over 400 undergraduate programs and over 200 masters programs. It belongs to the top 20 universities in the arts and humanities, life sciences and medical studies on an international level.

The main campus is located in the center of Toronto, and you’ll quickly recognize it by its lush green grounds and architecture that mixes heritage with modernity. Nearby you will find affiliate campuses in Scarborough and Mississauga. U of T has a guaranteed housing program, and there’s no shortage of off-campus residences in the heart of Toronto. The University of Toronto boasts over 100 student-run clubs and organizations, and an extensive college-to-college sports and activities partnership program.


2. University of British Columbia

Every year, publications announce universities worldwide’ rankings: UBC consistently ranks among the world’s top 40 universities. Recently the Shanghai Ranking Consultancy ranked UBC as the second-best University in Canada, just behind the University of Toronto.

The University of British Columbia is a reflection of the very multicultural society of Metro Vancouver. More than ever, it is concerned about maintaining its international base and integrating newcomers. Indeed, it welcomes students from more than 140 different cultures. Suppose the predominant presence of Asians among international students is noted. In that case, UBC’s geographic proximity to Asia plays a vital role without being the main reason for university choice by international students. Its prestigious reputation and its philosophy of education are decisive markers.

There is a very significant difference in program registration for international students. Thus, these students’ choice of subjects is often dictated by the final professional profitability (entrepreneurial opportunities or high labour market demands). However, they are not left out since, in return, the University offers them follow-up and prolonged support.

Among other things, there are many programs intended for the reception and integration of international students, either before the start of classes or during the university period.


3. Queen’s University

Queen’s University is a public, research coeducational and nondenominational institution located in Kingston, Ontario, Canada. Since its inception in 1841, the University has maintained its national and international status as one of Canada’s and globally renowned universities. Queen’s College in Kingston, Ontario in 1841 with a royal privilege from Queen Victoria.

Funnily enough, the University came to be even before Canadian came to be and had its first classes conducted on March 7, 1842, with 13 students and two teachers. In 1883, A Women’s College signed an agreement with Queen’s University to allow the institution to offer medical education. The University continued to progress through the ranks and began proposing extension courses 1888, stamping out as the first-ever University to initiate the movement.

The university is presently home to the Agnes Etherington Art Center, which boasts nothing less than 17,000 works. Four Rembrandt paintings stand out, all donated in recently by the collectors’ marriage Bader. They are covered by a generous collection of Baroque Dutch painting, GovertFlinck, Arent de Gelder, Willem Drost, and Jan Lievens.  Other old, notable artifacts represented in this museum include; DossoDossi, Georg Pencz, Luca Giordano, El Greco, Sébastien Bourdon, Joseph Wright of Derby, and Peter Lely.

Paintings made by Rafael Sanzio, Parmigianino and Guido Reni are other drawings housed there without forgetting those of successive celebrated painters such as Gustav Klimt and Pablo Picasso. Aside from the Kingston campus, the University is also notable for housing international students at Herstmonceux Castle, East Sussex, formerly occupied by the Royal Greenwich Observatory.


4. University of Montreal

Studying in Montreal is a blessing, a privilege. The students have their city at heart, and they proclaim it loud and clear. In 2020, the city held the 73rd place in the Times Higher Education and 5th place in Canada. Without mincing words, you’ll quickly see this school setting as a combination of the advantages of Europe and those of America, not forgetting the access to so many experts and cultures in Montreal that’s exceptionally stimulating.

Undoubtedly, you’ll have to admire how the teachers manage to make the lessons dynamic and lively: they are all accessible to the students. The school’s administrative Faculty is available and helps students to overcome obstacles.

Everything is in place so that students benefit from the best means to study. Students will be thrilled by the courses available online, at their own pace. The University of Montreal is one of the few in the world to have an interdisciplinary research department. It should also be noted that it is one of the best endowed Canadian universities in research, with revenues of over $ 500 million per year.

With nearly 9500 international students and 8000 Canadian permanent residents’ non-citizen students, the University of Montreal is the fourth most international University in Canada. The University offers exceptional possibilities for students with an immigrant background, primarily since it provides a benchmark for comparison.


5. University of Ottawa

Nestled in the heart of the Canadian capital, the University of Ottawa is the largest bilingual (French and English) University in the world. Regularly ranked among the top ten Canadian research universities, it oversees 40 research centers and is a medical photonics research and catalysis research leader. She is also recognized for her promotion of environmental sustainability on campus.

The University of Ottawa is the largest bilingual (French and English) University in the world and it has a complete blend of excellent student experience and research excellence.

The University was established in 1848. Its ideal downtown location offers easy access to major Canadian institutions, and its iconic campus is located along the Rideau Canal, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Bordered by parks, the Rideau River and the Rideau Canal, this large institution has a small campus atmosphere and allows students to enjoy vast green spaces.

Each year, the University of Ottawa welcomes more than 40,000 students, of which approximately 3,500 come from abroad. The University of Ottawa inspires and supports discovery, creativity and innovation in all disciplines, emphasizing multidisciplinary research, including Canada and the world, health, accompany, and molecular and environmental sciences.


6. McMaster University

McMaster has been the initiator of various programs that have been modified as teachers taught and students learned. Problem-based-learning (PBL), started at McMaster, is now widespread throughout North America as the preferred method of teaching undergraduate students.

Through its continued dedication to innovating education and research, the University has earned a reputation as one of the world’s leading post-secondary institutions.

McMaster comprises six faculties: science, health sciences, engineering, humanities, social sciences, and business. The campus is located on 300 acres (1.2 km²) in the residential neighborhood of Westdale touching the Royal Botanic Gardens, Ontario.

McMaster has many famous comedians’ graduates, such as Martin Short, John Candy, Eugene Levy, and Ivan Reitman. There is still a pending debate as to whether the movie Animal House is inspired by Reitman’s time in Whidden Hall during the so-called “Whidden Riots” in the 1960s.

Talking about sports, most of the college’s teams, including football, soccer, and basketball, bear the McMaster Marauders designation. Its colors, since 1912 have been brown and gray. Various teams have frequently been Ontario’s champions in school sports.

In 2004, McMaster kinesiology student Adam van Koeverden won the bronze medal in the kayak specialty K1 Men’s 1,000 meters, singles, and the gold medal in 500 meters at the Olympic Games in Athens, Greece. He also won a silver medal in K1, 1,000 meters, in September 2003 at the World Championships, held in Gainesville, United States.


7. University of Calgary

Laid the first stone in 1996 and located near the Rocky Mountains, the University of Calgary in Alberta, Canada is a research-focused municipal university that attracts nearly 30,000 students, many of whom come from more than 125 countries in the world.

Studying at the University of Calgary is quite a multicultural experience. Students are received and sent to more than 80 destinations worldwide through its International Exchange Program, which is possible thanks to alliances and cooperation agreements with Universities in 140 countries. It has been considered, among the youngest universities in the world, as number one, both in Canada and the United States, for five consecutive years, according to the QS World University Ranking in 2020.

The University has represented in the Western Canada University Athletic Association, Canadian Inter-university Sport conference and the Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference by the Calgary Dinos. The campus is home to an Olympic ring, the Olympic Oval, a multidisciplinary ice rink that hosted the 1988 Olympics and is known to be “the fastest in the world.”

Over the years, the school has produced prominent members who constitute the grand citadel’s significant alumnus. Some of them include Marc Zender – a celebrated anthropologist and mayanist, Stephen Harper – former Prime Minister of Canada, Robert Thirsk – Canadian Space Agency and NASA astronaut for the ISS program, James Gosling – the inventor of the Java programming language, and Linda Taylor (lawyer) – the Director of the Office of the Administration of Justice at the United Nations.


8. University of Waterloo

The University of Waterloo began operations in 1957 at the height of the Cold War. It was one of the first to offer students access to powerful computers of the time. This streak of adventure and innovation continues to this day, delivering exciting and innovative programs. Excellent facilities, active student clubs, outstanding research opportunities, and affordable fees make this institution a great place to study. New academic partnerships with leading universities around the world promise exciting experiences for students.

The University of Waterloo also has close ties with high-tech companies such as Amazon, Facebook, Microsoft, and Blackberry. Specialists consider the university as the most influential University in innovation and technology management in Canada and one of North America’s largest.

Its sizeable cooperative program and many variations on it by Canadian companies maintain close ties to the high-tech industry. The University has an academic research policy that has created many spin-off companies who have a good relationship with the University.

In September 2004, the University of Waterloo solar car broke the Guinness Record for the longest trip by a solar-powered vehicle. The solar vehicle called the Midnight Sun VII broke the official record of 7,043.5 km (previously held by the University of Queens) and the unofficial record of 13,054 km (previously held by the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology in Australia) after having a 40-day tour in Canada and the United States, traveling a total of 15,079 km. The tour took the solar car through 7 provinces and 15 states.


9. University of Alberta

The University of Alberta (U of A) is a public research university located in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. It is ranked among the top 20 universities in the country by Times Higher Education. It has more than 35,000 students distributed among nearly 200 undergraduate and 170 postgraduate careers throughout its three campuses within the province. It is also one of the prominent research universities in the country.

The University of Alberta, which is home to more than 200 different research laboratories, is one of Canada’s leading research universities. Since 1988, the University of Alberta has received more than $2.6 billion from outside sources for research. University medical researchers developed the Edmonton Protocol, a new type 1 diabetes treatment that allows people with diabetes to break their insulin dependence. Currently, the new National Nanotechnology Institute (NINT) is under construction with a budget of $ 52 million, in a joint project of the Government of Canada, the National Research Council of Canada, the Government of Alberta, and the University of Alberta.

The University is represented in Canadian Inter-university Sports by the Alberta Golden Bears men’s team and the Alberta Pandas women’s team. Virtually every sport is practised and has teams without distinction of sex within the University – swimming, wrestling, athletics, and tennis. The Panda are a dominant power in women’s college hockey. They have won in the Canada West Conference 7 times in the eight years of competition. They have also won the championship five times in the last seven years.


10. University of Manitoba

The University of Manitoba was the first to be founded in western Canada in 1877. It hosts about 29,000 students each year, of which more than 10% are international students from almost 100 countries.

It has two locations in Winnipeg, one in the Fort Gary region, and the other, “Bannatyne Campus”, consisting of ten buildings in the center of the city. Undoubtedly, the University is the silk of various research centers and institutes, including the “SmartPark Research” and the “Technology Park”, forming a community of innovators that forge collaborations with the industry. It offers Bachelor, Master and Doctorate programs in various areas.

Also, it has continuing education services for professional development and courses of general interest for community development. One other central point of its offer of academic assistance is offering its students the possibility of continuing their training at that institution and using its facilities and services.

Its dimensions constitute an essential part of its educational offering, as the University ensures that it prides itself on keeping classes small so that students have the maximum opportunity to interact with their professors and laboratory instructors.



11. University of Victoria

The University of Victoria is one of twenty Canadian institutions on the “Times Higher Education 2020 List of the 200 Best Universities”. It is a 20-minute drive from downtown Victoria, British Columbia, and is close to the Pacific Ocean. With a strong focus on inquiry-based learning, it has a wide variety of accredited undergraduate and graduate programs. Currently, 1,600 international students from more than 100 countries study there and they have the opportunity to apply for generous scholarships based on academic merit.

The University is particularly notable for its Faculties of Law and Business. However, it boasts of 12 faculties, covering education, engineering, computer science, fine arts, social development, humanities, medicine, science, social science, law, higher education and continuing education.

Back to the top two faculties, the Faculty of Law is consistently ranked among Canada’s best law schools. It offers a study-work partnership program and an intensive program in environmental law, including a course at Hakla Beach (BC) in association with the Tula Foundation. The Faculty has long been deeply involved in several studies relating to Aborigines, ecology and the environment.

The Faculty of Business (UVic Business: Equis- labeled training courses), on its part, is synonymous with performance and consistently ranks in the top 10 in the country. It has a strong international orientation with nearly 45 universities and associated business schools. The most prestigious partners include Singapore Management University in Asia, Tec de Monterrey in Mexico, ESC Toulouse, CERAM, EDHEC (Lille), Neoma Business School (Esc Rouen and Reims) and KEDGE Business School (Bordeaux and Marseille School of Management) in France.


12. University of Saskatchewan

Located in the heart of the great Canadian Prairies, the University of Saskatchewan campus borders the city of Saskatoon nicknamed the “Paris of the Plains” because of the seven bridges spanning the river.

Since the University of Saskatchewan is located on the Prairies, its agriculture and veterinary medicine programs are very essential and are very instrumental in meeting the needs of its community.

The University is also at the forefront of advanced science and technology, particularly in particle physics and space. It thus has the only Canadian synchrotron, the Canadian Light Source, which makes it possible to study matter at the atomic level. Likewise, the University is at the cutting edge of space research through its Institute for Space and Atmospheric Studies. Its campus is also home to one of the significant Canadian space companies, SED Systems, specializing in communications equipment design.

The University is home to a high-tech park, Innovation Place, dedicated to the application of university discoveries. Over one hundred and forty companies are located there, and their 2,800 employees work together with the institution’s professors and researchers to develop new products. Everyone in the industrial park is dedicated to innovating because otherwise, they would end up in downtown Saskatoon.

Finally, one of the most critical aspects to the president of the University of Saskatchewan is the First Nations’ presence, the population of Saskatoon being made up mainly of aboriginal people. From a demographic perspective, most of the city’s population growth comes from aboriginal people.

They are one of the University’s main priorities. Of the University’s 20,000 students, nearly 10% are from the Cree, Sue and Dakota peoples, or are Métis. Consequently, the University is making significant efforts to integrate these native students. What matters most to the institution is to ensure that these are found in all university programs.


13. University of Guelph

The University of Guelph is located on the outskirts of Guelph, Ontario; and is considered among the best intensive research institutions in Canada. It offers various accredited programs in the following subjects: Art, Biological Sciences, Food, Agriculture and Environment, Business and Economics, Physics and Engineering Sciences, Applied and Social Human Sciences, and Veterinary Medicine. It welcomes international students from all over the world, and is also part of the Brazilian program “Science without borders”.

The University of Guelph ranks first among the Canadian universities without their medical schools regarding the volume of funding research. More than 190 thousand dollars are allocated for research work at the University annually for each full-time member of the research and teaching staff, or more than 80 million dollars in total.

Several research institutes and laboratories, formerly part of the University of Guelph, now operate independently, but in close contact with it. These include the Canadian Poison Center, the Guelph Food Technology Center, the Ichthyology Institute, the Guelph Turf Institute, the George Morris Center, and the Family Therapy Center. Among the employees of the university’s humanitarian section – the writer, the officer Order of Canada Jane Urquhart (Eng.  Jane ‘Urquhart) and teaches theater actor and playwright Sky Gilbert.


14. Simon Fraser University

Since 1991, Simon Fraser University has been ranked the best comprehensive university in Canada, up until 2020 in the annual publication of Canadian universities’ ranking in Maclean’s magazine. The Higher Education Strategy Associates has ranked the University 6th for Canada in science and engineering and 10th in social sciences.

Times higher education, a leading provider of academic research evaluation reports, named this University the number one for “publication efficiency” in 2020. Like most Canadian universities, it is a public university; more than half of the budget comes from public funding and the rest from registration fees.

The University’s reputation is built on strong faculties in the humanities and sciences, professional programs, and teaching and research integration. Simon Fraser University professors are internationally recognized, and university graduates excel in their chosen profession.

The University defines this term as follows: “Practical learning is a strategic, active involvement of students in opportunities to learn through action. It is expressed through activities that allow them to apply their theoretical knowledge in practice both inside and outside the classrooms. ”

Practical training includes various activities – on the job, volunteering, overseas internships, field schools, leadership development programs, peer support, part-time work on campus, and work as a research assistant.

The university curriculum also includes workshops that bring theoretical knowledge to life experience and life in theory. These exciting and innovative programs are offered on every academic program at the University. Practical courses provide students with the opportunity to explore the relationship of their chosen discipline with the real world, earning academic credits that count towards their degree.


15. McGill University

McGill University is a public research university that has its structure situated in Montreal, Quebec. The University is one of the oldest and most distinguished University in Canada and is included in the list of the world’s most prestigious universities.

Presently, McGill University is one of the largest and most famous universities globally, ranking 40th in one of the most influential world university rankings, which is QS World University Rankings 2021.  In one of the Princeton reviews, McGill University is called”the Harvard of Canada.”

Owing to its long-standing reputation as one of the best institutions in the world, McGill University has produced notable alumni which include three astronauts, thirteen members of the Canadian Supreme Court, twelve Nobel prize winners, Presidents and one Vice President of Stanford University and the University of British Columbia, three Canadian prime ministers, twenty-eight ambassadors, four foreign heads of state, over twenty Olympic medalists, as well as Chancellor of the University of Cambridge in the UK.

Furthermore, McGill University marks as a renowned member of notable associations, which include the University of the Arctic, the Association of Commonwealth Universities, Association of American Universities, the Association of Theological Schools of the United States and Canada, amongst others.


16. Laval University

Université Laval is one of the largest universities in Canada. The school was founded in 1852 on the Quebec Seminary initiative, which has been around since in 1663, the oldest institution of higher education speaking in America, and the sixth oldest University in Canada.

The Center for Optics, Photonics and Laser (COPL), founded in 1989, is a multidisciplinary research center dedicated to the development of optics-photonics and its applications. It is located in the laser photonics optics pavilion. It brings together scientists from seven Quebec universities and 21 research teams are part of it. The center’s work covers photonic materials, optical communications, lasers and short pulses, guided optics and optical fibers, bio-photonics, and optical engineering.

Interestingly, the University has produced globally-renowned alumni such as Louis St. Lauren – the 12th  Prime Minister of Canada, Brian Mulroney – 18th prime Minister of Canada, René Lévesque – 23rd  premier of Quebec, Lucien Bouchard – 27th  Premier of Quebec, and Pauline Marois – 30th  Premier of Quebec, who also is the first woman in history to hold this position.

The University’s Plant Research and Innovation Center (CRIV, formerly the Horticultural Research Center (CRH)) has been working in productivity and protection of horticultural plants since 1991. Located in the Envirotron Pavilion, the center works in partnership with several companies, including, among others, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency and the Quebec Fund for Research on Nature and Technologies. CRIV’s research focuses on solving agronomic and horticultural problems.


17. Dalhousie University

Dalhousie University is recognized as one of the best for teaching, master, learning, and innovation, receiving five stars from QS Stars, one of the world’s best university evaluation systems.

Dalhousie alumni have achieved success in various fields, serving as leaders of various public and private institutions. Dalhousie University has over 130,000 alumni. Throughout Dalhousie history, faculty, alumni, and former students have played prominent roles in many fields, including 91 Rhodes Fellows. Dalhousie also trained Nobel laureates. Astrophysicist and Dalhousie graduate Arthur B. MacDonald (BSc 1964, MS 1965) received the 2015 Nobel Prize in Physics for determining the identity of the neutrino and its mass. MacDonald has also previously received the Herzberg Prize and the Benjamin Franklin Prize for Physics. Dalhousie’s other notable alumni include Donald O. Hebb, who helped advance neuropsychology, Catherine D. Sullivan, the first American to travel to space, and Jeff Dunn, one of the leading researchers in lithium battery chemistry and aging.

The University’s sports team, the Dalhousie Tigers, is part of Atlantic University Sport (AUS), an association of Canadian university teams. The University also has 14 other men’s and women’s sports teams such as soccer, basketball and volleyball. In total, these teams include over 300 athletes, coaches and supervisors.Since 1990, the Dalhousie Tigers have won 127 AUS titles, five Canadian Inter-university Sports (CIS) titles, and countless individual medals.

The Dalhousie seal is based on the heraldic achievement of the Ramsay Clan of Scotland, of which founder George Ramsey was the clan head. The heraldic achievement consists of five parts: shield, crown, coat of arms, supports and motto. One of the main differences between the Ramzi coat of arms and the university seal is that the Ramzi seal depicts a griffin and a greyhound. The Dalhousie seal features two dragons supporting an eagle-adorned shield. The Ramsay coat of arms was initially used to denote Dalhousie. Still, the seal evolved with the unions that the university underwent. The seal was initially silver in color.

Nevertheless, in 1950 the University Board of Governors changed it to gold to match its gold and black colours. These colors were adopted in 1887 after the rugby team spearheaded the debate over college colors for soccer jerseys. The Dalhousie shield and eagle seal have been used as a logo since 1987. The present incarnation has been in use since 2003 and includes the slogan “inspiring minds”.


18. York University

York University is a Canadian public higher education institution, located in the city of Toronto, Ontario. The third-largest university in Canada.

Currently, up to 50 thousand students study at the University of York. The staff consists of 7 thousand members of the Faculty and staff. There are 200 thousand graduates around the world. The University consists of 10 divisions, Schulich School of Business, Osgood Hall Law School, bilingual Glendon College, the Department of Fine Arts and Environmental Studies, and 24 research centers.

As a relatively young institution, the University of York has managed to gain an excellent reputation in teaching law and management (there is an opportunity to obtain related degrees in these areas in conjunction with New York and Northwestern Universities). The University participates in the Canadian space program. The Department of Science and Engineering at York University is Canada’s premier research institution for Mars exploration. It is responsible for the development of some technologies and methods currently used by NASA.


19. Western University

Western University is one of Canada’s oldest institutions founded in 1878 by Bishop Isaac Hellmuth and the Anglican Diocese of Huron, initially as “The Western University of London Ontario”. Although founded by the Church, Western is now secular.

The University is home to many research groups, including the Network for Business Sustainability, a center of the Ivey Business School that brings together managers, academics, and students worldwide to work on sustainable development issues.

The University of Western Ontario has over 28,000 students. This is a large educational institution. The academic staff of the University is 1620 teachers. 17% of the student community are from other countries of the world. UWO has exchange programs for students and teachers. This trend makes it possible to improve education quality, using foreign specialists’ achievements in teaching and research activities.

Students have access to both stationary and distance learning, eleven faculties, graduate and doctoral studies, and three university-affiliated colleges that provide a wide choice of educational choices. Western University offers over 400 different specializations at the undergraduate, graduate and postgraduate levels.


20. Carleton University

Based in Canada’s capital city Ottawa, Carleton University was founded in 1942 and has consistently developed its desire to provide a high-quality education for understudies willing to learn within the facility.

With a focus on hands-on learning and innovative inquiry, Carleton leaves students feeling ready to step into the world’s work reality.  Over time, the University has grown in size over the past ten years and now has a diverse multinational student civilization from 140 countries globally.

Interestingly, the University also have Career Services team to assist students in dealing with any problems they may have in finding job in Canada while in school and after graduation. Little wonder it is highly ranked by different notable universities around the world as one of the best institutions in Canada, and at a global scale.

From career training sessions and support with networking, to interview preparation and CV orientation, they are happy to assist students with their job search in any way possible. Carleton prides itself on its excellent selection of student support services.

From the 2017-2020 academic year, the university has awarded more than CAD 38 million in financial aid to its students. It offers educational development workshops, writing support, dedicated fitness programs, and various counseling services.  Carleton’s picturesque riverside campus is located south of downtown Ottawa, with on-campus housing more than 3,600 students.