Canada’s Favorite Comprehensive Universities for 2017, Revealed
Maclean’s Magazine has released its 2017 rankings of Canadian universities. The Comprehensive Universities category includes universities which host undergraduate and graduate students and have a significant research mandate.
Most of Canada’s 96 universities are comprehensive, and competition among them is tough. With world-class standards of teaching and research, and lively undergraduate and graduate student societies and activities, these universities can hold their own in comparison to universities worldwide.
The following list has been compiled from student opinion as well as statistics. Each university profiled here excels not only academically, but also in providing a feeling of a home-from-home.
- Memorial University of Newfoundland
Founded in 1925, Memorial University of Newfoundland is the province’s only university. Often known simply as MUN, the university is well-known for its practical, hands-on approach to learning. As the school is located on the edge of the North Atlantic, that often means training and research in cold oceans and other harsh environments. Oil and gas facilities and marine management have brought Memorial global respect in this regard, resulting in much international collaboration. The Marine Institute, a state-of-the-art research facility that allows students to engage in marine studies, is widely recognized as the premier center for training and education in ocean industries. The Institute also enjoys partnerships with many companies in the ocean industry allowing for resourceful work term placement and career opportunities. More than 18,500 full and part-time students attend Memorial in both undergraduate and graduate studies, at four campuses including facilities in Essex, England. Memorial employs more than 2,200 faculties and staff and offers more than 100-degree programs through six faculties and six schools.
- York University
York University is located north of Toronto and is Canada’s third-largest public university with nearly 60,000 students. With over 5000 courses spread across 11 faculties in schools, there’s something for nearly everyone at York U. But this is more than a jack of all trades; the school is also regarded highly with respect to its business, engineering, and law programs, which are considered some of the best in the country. The school maintains state-of-the-art facilities and some excellent research funding, including the Sherman Health Sciences Research Centre, which specializes in biomechanics and robotics. The school also has excellent resources: its four libraries require 150 staff overseeing more than two million printed volumes and digital media holdings. Students at York University also benefit from no fixed tuition fees, which allow them to study and graduate at their own pace. Despite the school’s impressive size, it is separated into smaller colleges which maintain their own governance, clubs, and entertainment. York is also known for its vibrant social and political landscape.
- University of Regina
The University of Regina, founded in 1974, is a younger institution — but it has come a long way in under fifty years. In its short time as an institution, it has firmly established itself as an innovator and an outlier: it was the first university in Western Canada to offer co-op studies. With 15 faculties and academic departments, the school’s offerings are certainly comprehensive. With a broad student population comprised of international students, Canadians and aboriginal students, the school encourages working together in forging future opportunities through dozens of programs and countless internships. Even with this decidedly vocational focus, the university still maintains a reputation for being a research leader and an environmental steward. To illustrate the last point, when construction was happening across the University in 2002, all of the affected trees on campus were carefully moved instead of being cut down. The result has been the preservation of a stunning campus landscape complete with a lake and interconnected buildings to help students manage the prairie winter.
- Concordia University
Concordia is a comprehensive university with over 500 programs at both the graduate and undergraduate level. Called an ‘innovative urban University for the next generation’ by its president Alan Shepard, the school is home to state-of-the-art centers of research in the midst of some of Montreal’s best museums and nightclubs. This cool combination makes Concordia an epicenter of opportunity for students. In contrast to one of the older institutions of the city — McGill — Concordia is likely younger than most of its professors. Formed in 1974 as a marriage between Loyola University and Sir George Williams University, Concordia is a forward thinking, the diverse institution in a bustling urban environment. Yet that hasn’t stopped it from competing academically, and it has placed among the top universities in Canada for several subjects including Business, Computer Science, and Engineering.
- Simon Fraser University
Simon Fraser University has eight faculties and more than 100 undergraduate programs available, as well as a wide range of graduate and continuing education programs. The school offers nearly 200 work placement programs both nationally and internationally. Because of this, SFU’s graduates are now widely understood by employers to have the requisite experience, skills, and attitudes that are in high demand. SFU is a school on a mountaintop. Crisscrossed by trails and parks, it affords it a stunning 360-degree view of Vancouver’s lower mainland. Because of this, it can also be isolating to students, particularly in their first couple of semesters. Though most students find the community — for example, there are nearly 90 clubs on campus — and many social events easily makes up for the feeling of being up in the clouds.
- University of New Brunswick
The University Of New Brunswick (UNB), founded in 1785, has the distinction of being the oldest English Language University in Canada. Nowadays UNB is known as a comprehensive university, which means it offers both graduate and undergraduate education across the arts and sciences. It is also well regarded for its research in many innovative fields such as the space sciences, chemistry, and IT. The student population — comparatively small, with 8,000 students — is highly engaged. With many external opportunities and extracurricular activities at UNB, the school spirit rivals that of a much larger university. Meanwhile, it maintains a reputation for being hospitable and welcoming. Two main campuses of the University of New Brunswick — in Fredericton and Saint John — help ensure that students’ needs are met.
- Ryerson University
Ryerson University has always maintained a polytechnic focus. But fairly recently the University began to reinvent itself in the realm of business incubation and innovation. Now in addition to helping students get training that advances careers, the university is helping students actually create careers for others. Case in point: The DMZ (formerly the Digital Media Zone), a business incubator established in 2010, has already helped accelerate 260 start-ups and projects, creating 2,407 jobs in the process. The RTA School of Media is among the country’s leading institutes for broadcasting and media production. These forward-thinking institutions are at the heart of the new vision Ryerson sees for itself. Ryerson is also a truly urban university, so don’t expect sprawling green grass and colonial buildings: the school is located in the middle of Toronto’s financial district.
- University of Windsor
The city of Windsor sits directly on the river bank from the American city of Detroit, a location the University takes full advantage of. For example, a J.D. program and a Master of Social Work are offered in conjunction with the University of Detroit Mercy. This enables the school to connect across the border and work together on industrial and technological projects. The Centre for Engineering Innovation, a $100 million facility, complements engineering with business and entrepreneurs, a clear sign that the school is helping to work on and diversify the area’s traditional automotive past. Far from being just a business, engineering or trades school, however, the campus also excels in architecture, physics, visual arts, history, social work, and film production. With the huge assortment of programs spanning nine faculties, this comprehensive university also offers executive and professional education programs attainable to working professionals as well as a number of diploma and certification courses.
- University of Victoria
The University of Victoria has a reputation for groundbreaking research that has carried itself around the world. In the past few years, it has also become well known as one of Canada’s most comprehensive universities, which shows it values a balance of teaching and research and offers programs at all levels. Students also remark that a small teacher-student ratio and an emphasis on co-op and practical experience with the outside community make UVic a good educational investment. The campus, while just minutes from the city of Victoria, is set amongst tall evergreen trees and sprawling green grass, and its facilities are well regarded for athletics, research centers, and connection to the local industry.
- Brock University
About 20 years ago, Brock decided to revolutionize itself, setting out to build a more youthful staff that has “completely remade Brock,” in the words of its president. Nearly their entire staffs have been hired since 1999. This has allowed the school to focus more on experiential learning, graduate research, and co-op opportunities in the community. Once considered primarily an undergraduate social sciences university, the school now has 49 graduate program choices, a strong reputation in the biosciences and health, and a wide range of study programs at every level — there is even a Bachelor program in Oenology and Viticulture (the study of wine). Brock is located at St. Catherine’s Ontario. St. Catherine’s is commonly referred to as ‘The Garden City’ for its beautiful gardens, trails, and parks. The Niagara region is the home of course to the famous Niagara Falls, and a stunning landscape of rolling hills and wineries — the University itself is located in a UNESCO Biosphere reserve.
- University du Quebec a Montreal
UQAM is one of Montreal’s French universities, serving more than 43,000 students across six faculties and a school of management. It is known for its student activism and was founded in 1969 after the merger of Montreal’s fine arts school, a classical college, and several smaller institutions. It is the largest institution in the network of universities across the province that forms University du Québec. UQAM is a giant in the Montreal university scene, with more than 40,000 students and 19 faculties, schools, and institutes. The French language is an important part of the culture here — only one percent of students are Anglophone (English-speaking).
- Carleton University
Carleton is located in Canada’s capital city, Ottawa. With a staff of about 4,200, Carleton is one of the city’s largest employers and an integral part of the economic growth of the city. The institution was initially founded as a part-time school for soldiers in the Second World War. Unsurprisingly, Carleton’s interests were rooted in the needs of the country. Much of this is reflected in its programs: Carleton was the first university in Canada to establish a graduate degree in public administration, and the school holds the country’s oldest four-year journalism program and oldest graduate international affairs program. International business and public affairs have always been well-developed and sought-after programs, as well as law. But don’t be misled: the school has always been strong in the sciences as well. Recently, the school has been expanding its efforts with new programs such as cognitive science and health sciences.
- University of Waterloo
The University of Waterloo is traditionally recognized as a science and engineering giant. It’s not just a think tank, however; the school incubates and drives innovation in the Technology Triangle, a network of over 1000 tech companies in the area. Meanwhile, Waterloo has the largest co-op program in the world with more than 19,000 participating students in more than 120 co-op programs. Its campuses are innovative, well-funded, and hands-on, with a clear mission to become one of the world’s most innovative learning destinations. It also places a high importance on the role of women in STEM disciplines, with commitments to improving participation and employment of women. It also excels at athletics: The Waterloo Warriors are the university’s championship varsity team, consistently winning trophies and catapulting a good number of its graduates to Olympic podiums.
- University of Guelph
The University of Guelph’s history is seldom mentioned without reference to its strong agricultural and veterinary roots — programs it continues to excel at — but it has also ranked highly in Canada several times among comprehensive universities. Students looking for a one-of-a-kind experience in the food sciences, environmental studies, and community health will find a program rich with opportunities and ample funding. The University of Guelph actually pulls in more research money than all other universities in Canada without a medical school. For students in the sciences, this means state-of-the-art labs and well-funded mentors. And yet the liberal arts students here aren’t forgotten: the writer-in-residence program and theater program bring in a consistent draw of artists, writers, and actors. The University teaches about 22,000 students, fewer than 5 percent of which are international. And as for the city itself, Guelph strikes a balance between small-town and big-city.
- Wilfrid Laurier University
Firmly planted in Canada’s Tech Triangle; Laurier’s Waterloo neighbors include more than 1000 companies, big names like Blackberry and Google among them. It also has campuses in Brantford, Kitchener, and Toronto. Not surprisingly, this new and innovative university — launched in 1999 — takes an interdisciplinary approach to many of its programs. For example, the school has five programs combining a Bachelor of Business Administration with Computing and/or Mathematics degrees. Laurier is also known as a school with a social conscience. For one, it was the first school in Canada to officially recognize extracurricular activities (such as community service) as a necessary component of learning. The school also encourages sport and music, with new facilities and programs in each. Laurier is a midsize school, but with 15,000 full-time undergraduate students and almost 1,000 graduate students, the place appears to be taking off.
Maclean’s ranks institutions in five broad categories (students, faculty, resources, student support, and reputation), according to 14 weighted performance indicators, in order to create this list.