03/12/2018 12:56 EDT | Updated 03/12/2018 14:55 EDT

Canada's Globally Top-Ranked University Programs, According to QS

The country is still an education powerhouse, but others are catching up.

Jphillips23 via Wikimedia Commons
University College at the University of Toronto. U of T has the world's second-best nursing program, according to a new academic ranking.

Ever wonder how Canada's university programs compare to others in the world? A report has evaluated just that, and found that the country is fourth in the world when it comes to reputable post-secondary programs.

And Canada's top performer? That would be the University of Toronto's nursing program, which ranks as the second-best in the world by U.K.-based higher education analysts Quacquarelli Symonds (QS).

U of T's nursing program came in just behind the one at the University of Pennsylvania, an Ivy League school. It rose four spots from its sixth-place finish in last year's survey.

QS rated some 500 post-secondary schools on 48 different subjects. It found that Canada had the fourth-highest number of programs to rank in the top 10 globally. With 16 such programs (two more than in the 2017 survey), Canada is behind only the U.S., U.K. and Australia on the list.

Eight of the 16 programs are at the University of Toronto; three are at the University of British Columbia; two at McGill University; and one each at Queen's University, the University of Alberta and the University of Guelph. (See the complete list below.)

Earlier on HuffPost Canada:

Despite this year's strong showing, "there is some evidence that Canada's status as the world's fourth-strongest higher education nation is diminishing," QS said.

That seems to be a case of other countries becoming more competitive. For instance, China could soon edge Canada out for fourth place among countries with the most top-ranked programs, said Jack Moran, a spokesperson for QS.

"The competition facing universities in the U.S., U.K., Canada and Australia is increasingly intense — no university, and no higher education system can afford to be complacent," he wrote in an email to HuffPost Canada.

"Academics are recognizing the strengths, and competitiveness, of institutions in other nations."

Harvard still dominates globally

Nonetheless, Canadian higher ed is still "performing strongly," Moran said, and Canada, along with Australia, could benefit "from macro-economic and political trends in both the United States and United Kingdom" -- in other words, Trump and Brexit.

"We expect both students and faculty deterred from U.S./U.K. study will turn to either Canada or Australia," Moran wrote.

But Trump or not, Harvard University remains "the dominant institution" globally, QS says. Of 48 subjects measured, the school took top spot in 14. In second place was the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, with 12 first-place rankings.

Here are Canada's top-ranked university programs, arranged by school. You can explore QS's complete rankings on their website.

McGill University, Montreal

Ingram Publishing

Mineral and mining engineering - Global ranking #3

(behind Colorado School of Mines and Curtin University, Perth, Australia)

Anatomy and Physiology - Global ranking #5

(behind Oxford, Cambridge, Columbia and Stanford)

Queen's University, Kingston

Getty Images

Mineral and mining engineering - Global ranking #6

(behind Colorado School of Mines, Curtin University, McGill, Technische Universität Bergakademie Freiberg, Pennsylvania State University)

University of Alberta, Edmonton

Arpad Benedek

Sports-related subjects - Global ranking #7

(behind Loughborough University, University of Sydney, University of Queensland, University of British Columbia, University of Birmingham, University of Toronto)

University of British Columbia, Vancouver

Xicotencatl via Wikimedia Commons

Geography - Global ranking #4

(behind Oxford, London School of Economics and Cambridge)

Library and information management - Global ranking #4

(behind University of Sheffield, University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill and University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign)

Sports-related subjects - Global ranking #4

(behind Loughborough University, University of Sydney and University of Queensland)

University of Guelph

Rtuog via Wikimedia Commons

Veterinary science - Global ranking #7

(behind UC Davis, Cornell, Royal Veterinary College/University of London, Cambridge, Utrecht, University of Pennsylvania)

University of Toronto


Nursing - Global ranking: #2

(behind University of Pennsylvania)

Sports-related subjects - Global ranking #6

(behind Loughborough University, University of Sydney, University of Queensland, University of British Columbia, University of Birmingham)

Anthropology - Global ranking #8

(behind Cambridge, Oxford, Harvard, London School of Economics, UC - Berkeley, University of Chicago, Australian National University)

Theology, divinity and religious studies - Global ranking #8

(behind Harvard, Oxford, Durham University, Cambridge, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, Boston College, University of Notre Dame, KU Leuven)

Anatomy and Physiology - Global ranking #8

(behind Oxford, Cambridge, Columbia, Stanford, McGill, Johns Hopkins University, University College London, University of Melbourne)

Social policy and administration - Global ranking #8

(behind Harvard, Oxford, London School of Economics, Cambridge, UC - Berkeley, Stanford and MIT)

Geography - Global ranking #9

(behind Oxford, London School of Economics, Cambridge, University of British Columbia, UC - Berkeley, Durham University, UCLA, University College London)

Computer science and information systems - Tied for #10 with National University of Singapore

(behind MIT, Stanford, Carnegie Mellon, UC - Berkeley, Cambridge, Harvard, Oxford, Princeton, ETH Zurich)


QS uses four broad criteria to rank schools by subject:

  • "Academic reputation," which assesses the opinions of 75,000 academics worldwide;
  • "Employer reputation," which look at graduate employability by assessing the opinions of 40,000 employers;
  • "Citations per paper," or how often a school is quoted in research;
  • and the "H-index," which measures the impact of scholars' published works.

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