See our 2014 list.

International Students have been flooding into Canadian universities over the last 20 years. Since 1992, the percentage of foreign students attending universities in Canada has practically doubled, from just over 4% to nearly 8%. Most of these students come to Canada to get their Bachelor degrees, though about 1/3 still come for post-graduate degrees. Surprisingly, it is New Brunswick whose universities attract the greatest percentage of international students, followed closely by BC's. Nova Scotia, Manitoba and Quebec are also popular provinces to attend school in if you're an international student. The majority of international students still go to Ontario, Canada's biggest province, but because of Ontario's size and sheer number of universities, the percentages are lower at most schools. But that doesn't really narrow things down. What you really want to know is which school to attend. So before you get your study permit, have a look at the list below.  


10. University of Victoria - BC

University of Victoria

Irving K. Barber by Skyezx / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 3.0

Actually located just outside of the city of Victoria, in both Saanich and Oak Bay, British Columbia, UVic was once Victoria College, a satellite campus of McGill University in Montreal, but in the 1960s it became separate school. Since then it has become one of Canada's most prestigious universities. It is regarded as one of the top 200 universities in the world and the best Canadian university that does not have an "autonomous medical school". The school has the diversity of the larger BC universities but provides a smaller "town" feel than the schools located in Vancouver. UVic is located on Vancouver Island, which is both a big plus and a big minus: the south end of the island is home to the mildest climate in all of Canada but the island is relatively inaccessible to the rest of the country; Vancouver is an expensive ferry ride away.  


9. York University - Toronto, ON

York University

York University [Public Domain]

York is the 3rd largest university in Canada and second largest university in Toronto. It offers an extremely large variety variety of programs and has one of the most diverse student bodies in the country, drawn as it is from Toronto and its surrounding suburbs. However, the main campus of York is poorly located in the northwest corner of the city, away from most of the attractions and benefits of downtown Toronto. The campus is so isolated that it is only accessible by bus and car. Fortunately, York does have residences, unlike Concordia. Construction is ongoing on a subway line extension that will make the university more accessible to those who wish to live in a desirable neighbourhood of Toronto but attend York. Hopefully York will become a more desirable school to attend once the line is finished in 2016.  


8. Concordia University - Montreal, QC

Concordia University

Jeangagnon / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 3.0

Concordia is the 2nd largest university in Quebec and one of the largest in the country. It offers one of the widest selections of programs in the country, trailing only U of T and a few others. Concordia is comprise of two nearby campuses in Montreal: one in downtown and one only 7km away. Though it is a relatively new university, Concordia was formed from two older institutions which means some of the buildings still retain the old university feel. Concordia is primarily a commuter-school, which means the vast majority of students do not live on campus. This is one reason why the school is not as much of a destination for those who do not live in and around Montreal.  


7. Simon Fraser University - Burnaby, BC

Simon Fraser University By SFU Business (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 ( or GFDL (], via Wikimedia Commons

SFU by SFU Business / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 3.0

The second largest university in BC, Simon Fraser, is located primarily in the Vancouver Suburb of Burnaby, on top of "Burnaby Mountain", which is really more of a hill. It is in a dogfight with UBC over which has the nicer campus location, though SFU's architecture is from the dreaded Brutalist School. (Urban legends in Canada have long associated SFU and Canada's other Brutalist university, Trent, with inflated suicide rates among students.) The two newer and smaller satellite campuses are located in downtown Vancouver and the suburb of Surrey.


6. University of Manitoba - Winnipeg

University of Manitoba, Winnipeg

University of Manitoba by Sancho McCAnn / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY 2.0

The University of Manitoba is the oldest university in Canada east of Ontario and Manitoba's largest. It offers over 90 degree programs and is one of the 15 major research universities in Canada. Winnipeg is surprisingly diverse for its location in the prairies, and it boasts one of the largest Filipino communities in the country. Greater Winnipeg is the 8th largest urban area in Canada and makes up for its remoteness by being the cultural centre of the eastern prairies.  


5. Dalhousie University - Halifax, NS

Dalhousie University, Halifax

Dalhousie University [Public Domain] 

Dal offers one of the widest array of programs in the country and the largest in the Maritimes, despite it's relatively small size. The university has three main, nearby campuses in downtown Halifax, with a satellite campus on the other side of the province in the town of Bible Hill. Halifax is the Maritimes' largest and most diverse city and the centre for arts, culture and sports for the region. Dal is one of the 15 major research universities in Canada and regularly ranks in the top 250 universities in the world.  


4. University of New Brunswick - multiple cities

University of New Brunswick, Frederiction

University of New Brunswick by Blazingduke / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 3.0

The oldest public university in Canada, and among the oldest in North America, UNB is a small,but comprehensive university that offers over 75 degrees and New Brunswick's one and only medical school. The university is spread out over four campuses in the capital Fredericton, and the largest city, Saint John, with two smaller, specialized campuses in Moncton and Bathurst. UNB has the best libraries for its size in the country, and has perhaps the second best law school in Canada. All four cities in which the university is located offer extremely affordable costs of living as compared to much of the rest of the country.


3. University of Toronto

University of Toronto

University College by The City of Toronto / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

U of T is Canada's largest, most famous, most diverse and most well-regarded school, located in the country's biggest and most diverse city. It offers more programs and facilities than any other university in Canada, and it has a world-renowned reputation to match. On the other hand, the size can be a little overwhelming: U of T has three campuses in the Greater Toronto Area, the smaller two of which are each the size of UNB. If you are going to attend U of T, be sure to attend the main campus in downtown, where you have walking or transit access to all the benefits and attractions of one of the biggest cities in North America. The satellite campuses are located in the suburbs and are less convenient.  


2. University of British Columbia - Vancouver

University of British Columbia, Vancouver By Xicotencatl (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

Koener Library, UBC by Xicotencatl / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 2.0

One of the most diverse universities in Canada, UBC is large but not ginormous, unlike U of T. Located in the scenic Vancouver neighbourhood of Point Grey, UBC offers one of the nicest campuses in Canada and offers one of the widest range of programs in the country. More importantly, UBC is often ranked among the best research universities in the entire world. The Vancouver campus is only 20 minutes from the downtown of Canada's third biggest city. The satellite campus, located in Kelowna, offers a different experience: a smaller student body in even more scenic surroundings, BC's Okanagan Valley, in case the big city isn't your thing.  


1. McGill University - Montreal, QC

McGill University, Montreal

McGill University Arts Building Colocho / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 2.5

McGill is only the fifth largest university in Quebec (second largest English university) but is, along with UBC and U of T, one of the top universities in the country and among the best in the world; in fact it is regularly ranked above the more famous University of Toronto. Another advantage it has over U of T is it's size: it is substantially smaller meaning you get more attention from the faculty. The main campus is located in downtown Montreal - the second largest city in Canada - and has regularly been acknowledged as one of the nicest campuses in North America. Montreal is a diverse, bilingual city that offers a substantially different experience from the other cities in Canada: most visitors agree that Montreal is more "European" than its English counterparts. A satellite campus is located in the Montreal suburb of Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue, a town located on the western end of the Island, about a half hour drive away.  

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Bonus: Universite de Moncton - Moncton, NB

University of Moncton - Edmundston Campus

University of Moncton by Bouchecl / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 3.0

If you speak French better than English, consider Moncton, the largest francophone university in the Maritimes. The school offers primarily undergraduate programs at its main campus and two satellite campuses in Edmundston and Shippagan. Moncton offers the same advantages of living in the Maritimes - low cost of living - as any other Maritime city and is centrally located between all the major cities, allowing easy travel to the PEI, Nova Scotia, or the rest of New Brunswick. Plus, Moncton is bilingual.


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