Top 10 Public Universities in Canada

Top 10 Public Universities in Canada

FEB 9, 2022



Canada is known for its exceptional educational system, which is why it comes as no surprise that there are over 235,422 international students studying at various institutions in Canada. There are in fact 223 public universities that offer over 15,000 different study programs. There surely is something for everyone.

Let’s take a closer look at the top 10 public universities in Canada for international students.

What are the Best Public Institutions in Canada?


1. University of Toronto

The University of Toronto is actually the number one university in Canada. This public university has over 980 programs for both undergraduate and graduate-level and is home to over 23,000 students.

This is a great school for those wanting to become an entrepreneur as past and current students have created over 500 startup companies already!

2. University of British Columbia

Widely known for research and innovation, the University of British Columbia (UBC) has two academic schools with 12 faculties. Together this provides approximately 200 undergraduate and graduate programs to over 60,000 students.

3. Simon Fraser University

Simon Fraser University has 30,000 students enrolled with 9,000 of them being international students. The most common study programs that international students enroll in are Computer Engineering, Business and Arts & Humanities programs.

4. McGill University

McGill University is known to be the best medical institution in Canada and has around 300 study programs with over 40,000 students. McGill University also played a part in a few inventions, such as Plexiglas and the first map of the brain’s motor cortex.

5. University of Waterloo

For those students interested in learning computers, science and engineering, the University of Waterloo is the place to study. A great aspect of this university is that they are a cooperative school which means that their students can learn through practical work.

6. York University

York University is the second-biggest university in Ontario and is a big believer in supporting students from all backgrounds. The university currently has over 8,500 international students. York University is a great place to study the following subjects:

  • Mechanical Engineering;
  • Nursing; and
  • Computer Science.

7. University of Alberta

For those students wanting to work in Canada after their studies, this might be the school for them. The University of Alberta has an employment rate of 98 percent and generally almost all their graduates get jobs within the first six months of graduating.

8. University of Calgary

The University of Calgary offers their students around 250 research and academic programs. A great aspect of this university is that they offer international students financial aid, including work-study programs and bursaries.

9. University of Victoria

The University of Victoria merges three learning styles when teaching: dynamic learning, vital impact, and extraordinary academic environment. This creates an innovative, creative and discovery environment.

10. Université de Montréal

The Université de Montréal (UdeM) is the fourth university in Canada for its volume of research activities. UdeM offers around 600 study programs and has over 69,000 students.

Fun Fact!

According to the publication Canada's Top 100 Employers, UdeM is the only university to be listed in Quebec among the 100 best employers in Canada.

Check if you qualify to study at one of the top 10 public universities in Canada.

What is the Cost of Universities in Canada?

The university fees in Canada have a very diverse range, it will all depend on where the student studies and what program they choose to study. According to Statistics Canada, an undergraduate student's fees can be an average of $29,714.

Here are a few university fees according to degree or masters:

Average Cost of Degrees in Canada
Subject Average Range
Bachelors in Business & Management $550 – 56,000 per year
Bachelors in Computer Science & IT $1,535 – 55,500 per year
Bachelors in Engineering & Technology $1,350 – 55,000 per year
Bachelors in Social Sciences $1,025 – 56,000 per year
Bachelors in Natural Sciences $1,780 – 53,000 per year
Average Cost of Masters in Canada
Subject Average Range
Masters in Business & Management: $2,150 – 52,700 per year
Masters in Computer Science & IT $2,150 – 52,500 per year
Masters in Engineering & Technology $2,150 – 52,500 per year
Masters in Medicine & Health $2,150 – 58,300 per year
Masters in Social Sciences $2,150 – 37,000 per year

What are the Living Costs for International Students in Canada


An international student in Canada would need around $800 to $1,500 as spending money per month for things such as groceries, transportation and rent. Of course, certain provinces tend to cost a little more than others such as Vancouver, and Calgary which an international student would need an average of $2,000 per month.

What about accommodation costs?

There are a few options for students to choose from when it comes to accommodation, the choices often depend on space, what year the person is studying and affordability. Below are a few of the main options for international students in Canada:

  • Student residences: $250 to $625 per month.
  • University-arranged homestays: $400 to $800 per month.
  • Rent & share an apartment: $300 to $700 per month. However, this does depend on the province the student is studying in, as some apartments may go well over $1,000

Please note that there are also additional costs involved when renting an apartment or studio such as electricity, heating, garbage collection, water and electricity. The basic utilities can cost around $150 per month while the internet generally goes for $50 to $70 per month.

How Can an International Student Study in Canada?

To be able to study in Canada, a foreign student will need to obtain a Canadian study permit. This is regardless of the length of their study program, this condition has been in place since COVID-19. So how does one get a study visa?

Step 1: Apply to a Canadian university

Foreign students will need to apply to a Canadian university, however it will need to be a Designated Learning Institution (DLI). If an institution is on the DLI list, it means that they are a government-approved institution. Applicants need to be certain that the university they apply to is a DLI as it can make them ineligible to apply for a study permit if it is not.

Step 2: Apply for a Study Permit

Foreigners will need the following documents are needed to apply:

  • proof they can finance themselves and any family members who go with them, while in Canada.
  • a valid passport or travel document and;
  • an acceptance letter from a Designated Learning Institution (DLI);

Applicants may need additional documents such as:

  • a letter of explanation;
  • a certificat d’acceptation du Québec (CAQ);
  • a certificat d’acceptation du Québec (CAQ); and
  • a custodian declaration, if you’re a minor; and

Please note the applicant has two options when applying for this visa. They can either apply online or via a paper application. The online application is preferred as it is easier, quicker and can be compiled correctly before submitting.

A bonus is that their results of the visa will be sent back to their online profile as well.

Step 3: Do the medical examination

Medical examinations are required from any foreign national who wishes to enter Canada for longer than six months. Applicants will need to go to an approved panel physician in their country as this medical examination will determine if they are prohibited from entering Canada or not.

Students may choose to either do their medical examination before or after they submit their application. If they choose to submit after, then they will receive instructions from the Immigration Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) on how to do their medicals.

Please note that the examination will have to be done within 30 days of receiving these instructions.

Step 4: Wait for application results

Waiting on results can vary depending on where the applicant is applying from. The general waiting time is approximately 16 weeks, however, students from countries that are participating in the Student Direct Stream can expect quicker waiting times of approximately 20 calendar days.

What are the fees for a Canada study permit?

Fees needed to be paid will include those for the applicant and anyone they are bringing to Canada with them.

Canadian Study Permit Fees
Fee Amount in CAD
Study permit (including extensions) – per person $150
Restore status ($200) + new study permit ($150) $350
Biometrics – per person $85
Biometrics – Maximum fee for a family of 2 or more people applying at the same time and place $170
Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA) $7

Why Study in Canada?


Foreigners who choose to study in Canada will not only benefit from a qualification that is recognized worldwide but they could also begin a successful career in Canada. This can be done through the Post-Graduate Work Permit (PGWP).

The PGWP enables international students to obtain an open work permit. This means they can work full-time, part-time or even for themselves. This visa is generally valid for eight months to three years. Once a foreign student has obtained this permit, the possibilities of immigrating to Canada can become a reality.

With the knowledge of the top 10 public universities in Canada, all you need to do next is choose one!