Skip to main content
The Globe and Mail
Support Quality Journalism.
The Globe and Mail
First Access to Latest
Investment News
Collection of curated
e-books and guides
Inform your decisions via
Globe Investor Tools
per week
for first 24 weeks

Enjoy unlimited digital access
Cancel Anytime
Enjoy Unlimited Digital Access
Get full access to
Just $1.99per week for the first 24weeks
Just $1.99per week for the first 24weeks
var select={root:".js-sub-pencil",control:".js-sub-pencil-control",open:"o-sub-pencil--open",closed:"o-sub-pencil--closed"},dom={},allowExpand=!0;function pencilInit(o){var e=arguments.length>1&&void 0!==arguments[1]&&arguments[1];select.root=o,dom.root=document.querySelector(select.root),dom.root&&(dom.control=document.querySelector(select.control),dom.control.addEventListener("click",onToggleClicked),setPanelState(e),window.addEventListener("scroll",onWindowScroll),dom.root.removeAttribute("hidden"))}function isPanelOpen(){return dom.root.classList.contains(}function setPanelState(o){dom.root.classList[o?"add":"remove"](,dom.root.classList[o?"remove":"add"](select.closed),dom.control.setAttribute("aria-expanded",o)}function onToggleClicked(){var l=!isPanelOpen();setPanelState(l)}function onWindowScroll(){window.requestAnimationFrame(function() {var l=isPanelOpen(),n=0===(document.body.scrollTop||document.documentElement.scrollTop);n||l||!allowExpand?n&&l&&(allowExpand=!0,setPanelState(!1)):(allowExpand=!1,setPanelState(!0))});}pencilInit(".js-sub-pencil",!1); // via darwin-bg var slideIndex = 0; carousel(); function carousel() { var i; var x = document.getElementsByClassName("subs_valueprop"); for (i = 0; i < x.length; i++) { x[i].style.display = "none"; } slideIndex++; if (slideIndex> x.length) { slideIndex = 1; } x[slideIndex - 1].style.display = "block"; setTimeout(carousel, 2500); } //

Ferry and excursion boats near Old Quebec City.

Tony Tremblay/Getty Images/iStockphoto

We gathered information from professors, alumni and the universities themselves to describe some of the strengths and weaknesses of almost 60 universities in Canada. The National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE) informed coverage of the type of undergraduate education. But, most importantly, we spoke to real-life students about the good and bad of their university experience.

See profiles of universities in other regions by clicking on the links:


Story continues below advertisement





Bishop's University

Undergrad focused


Story continues below advertisement

Students: 2,800

Cost: $3,400 or $7,400 (out of province)

Awards: $1.4-million

Pro: Automatic marks-based scholarships for returning students

Con: Dull, suburban Lennoxville

Professors at Bishop's know their students' names, which is key to the engaged learning environment campus is known for. Students describe a strong sense of school spirit, especially when it comes to supporting the Gaiters football team. A $30-million upgrade to Bishop's sports complex slated for the fall of 2014 promises to strengthen this tradition. Bishop's offers a strong English degree program with specialties from film studies to popular narrative. Campus has been described as having a "country club feel" which may be because Quebec's oldest nine-hole golf course is right next door.

Story continues below advertisement

Hotshot prof: Matthew Peros is the Canada Research Chair in Climate and Environmental Change.

Notable alumnus: Norman Webster is the former editor-in-chief of The Globe and Mail and The Gazette in Montreal.


Concordia University

Flexible learning


Story continues below advertisement

Students: 46,000

Cost: $3,300 or $7,000 (out of province)

Awards: $2.7-million

Pro: Lowest cost in province for Quebec students attending an English-speaking university

Con: Campus buildings blend into downtown

With 12,500 part-time students, Concordia can confidently claim to be a leader in flexible, accessible education. Concordia's communications department has been recognized nationally and internationally. Students are known for their engaged, left-leaning politics and the undergraduate  students' union voted to strike during the student protests that rocked Montreal in 2012. In the past, the university has lacked a distinct feel, but a $400-million redevelopment is making the neighbourhood much more lively. Concordia's Loyola campus (seven kilometres away by shuttle or dedicated bike lane) has more atmosphere.

Story continues below advertisement

Hotshot prof: Paul Shrivastava, business professor, was part of the management team that launched Hindustan Computers Ltd., now one of India's largest computer companies.

Notable alumnus: E. Annie Proulx won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction for her 1993 novel, The Shipping News.


Université Laval

Tradition of excellence

Quebec City

Story continues below advertisement

Students: 48,000

Cost: $2,700 or $6,400 (out of province)

Awards: $1.9-million

Pro: Football team won Vanier Cup seven times in the past 15 years

Con: Ranks poorly on student-faculty interaction on NSSE

Laval has a history as rich as its city, the gorgeous, walled Quebec City. Laval has been an important hub of learning and research for 350 years. The alumni list of Laval's law school reads like a Who's Who of modern politics: Jean Chrétien, Brian Mulroney and Lucien Bouchard are graduates. As host of ArticNet, a network of 140 researchers from 30 Canadian universities, Laval has cemented a position at the centre of research about climate change and the Arctic.

Hotshot prof: Luc Bouthillier is working on a SSHRC-funded project about collaboration between aboriginal businesses and the forestry sector.

Notable alumnus: Pauline Marois is the Premier of Quebec.


McGill University

International prestige


Students: 38,000

Cost: $3,800 or $7,900 (out of province)

Awards: $15-million

Pro: Diverse student body with 20 per cent from other countries

Con: Huge first-year classes

McGill is in the heart of downtown Montreal but its beautiful historic buildings lend campus a distinct atmosphere in the urban jungle. The university consistently ranks in the top three Canadian universities, scoring first place in the QS World University Rankings in 2013. This international reputation attracts the world's brightest and McGill counts nine Nobel laureates among its faculty and alumni. However, NSSE results suggest that the university prioritizes research over undergraduate education and some classes have up to 600 students.

Hotshot prof: Thomas Chang invented the world's first artificial cell as an undergraduate student at McGill in 1957.

Notable alumnus: Justin Trudeau, leader of the Liberal Party of Canada, taught high school math before entering politics.

Students say: "One day, I sat down to watch the news, and they were talking about the crisis in Syria. The expert they used to comment was my 200 level political science professor. That was pretty cool."

– Siobhan Brown, third-year political science


Université de Montréal

Francophone giant


Students: 65,000

Cost: $3,000 or $5,900 (out of province)

Awards: Not available

Pro: World-class research opportunities

Con: Large undergraduate classes

With more than 60,000 students, Montréal is Canada's second-largest university and is globally recognized for its research. Its business school, HEC, is highly-rated worldwide. Several of the school's undergrad programs are available in English, French, and even Spanish. As a large research-intensive university, Montréal struggles to provide engaging, supportive undergraduate education.

Hotshot prof: Dr. Gilles Brassard won the Gerhard Herzberg Canada Gold Medal for Science and Engineering in 2009, Canada's most prestigious award for scientists.

Notable alumnus: Michaëlle Jean is the Special Envoy for Haiti for the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization and the former Governor-General of Canada.

Editor's notes:

Concordia has the lowest cost in Quebec for students at an English university, rather than English-speaking students, as was said in a previous version of the article. As well, the undergraduate student union voted to participate in Montreal's student strikes, but was not considered a hub of student protests, as was said in a previous version of the article. 

The University of Montreal's "pro" is world-class research opportunities, and its "con" is large undergraduate classes. Its affiliated business school, HEC, offers programs in three languages, not just French, as stated in a previous version of the article. This is a corrected and clarified version of the article.

Your Globe

Build your personal news feed

  1. Follow topics and authors relevant to your reading interests.
  2. Check your Following feed daily, and never miss an article. Access your Following feed from your account menu at the top right corner of every page.

Follow topics related to this article:

View more suggestions in Following Read more about following topics and authors
Report an error Editorial code of conduct
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

If you do not see your comment posted immediately, it is being reviewed by the moderation team and may appear shortly, generally within an hour.

We aim to have all comments reviewed in a timely manner.

Comments that violate our community guidelines will not be posted.

UPDATED: Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies