Computer Science is one of the most popular study areas at Canadian universities. Graduates of these courses are highly sought-after, and may expect exciting career opportunities.
Maclean’s Magazine has released its 2017 rankings of Canadian universities across eight popular study areas: Engineering, Biology, Computer Science, education, environmental science, medicine, mathematics, nursing and psychology. Read on to find out more about the best universities in Canada to study Computer Science.
Western University is a leading research university in many fields — including health sciences, wind engineering, neuroscience, and biomaterials. The school offers more than 400 specializations, majors, and minors at the undergraduate level. It also offers more than 160 programs at the Masters and Doctorate levels. Western University is made up of 82 buildings over 1,200 acres across London, Ontario.
Western’s Department of Computer Science offers both depth and breadth. With 16 undergraduate degree and interdisciplinary programs, and a wide range of options at the graduate level, there’s something to entice any prospective Computer Science student. Recently, Western was the only institution in Ontario to rank on the Princeton Review’s list of best universities for game design. Undergraduate students also have ample opportunities to broaden their studies through internships and concurrent degree programs, which offer an impressive range of interdisciplinary degrees.
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17. York University (tie)
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. 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.
Computer Science at York is managed through the Lassonde School of Engineering. Offering both Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Science Computer Science degrees at the undergraduate level, York encourages its students to think outside the box and explore other disciplines. International BA and BSc programs are also available, which integrate a study-abroad component. Areas of strength in research at the graduate level include Artificial Intelligence, Micro/Nanoelectronics, Human-centered computing, and more.
17. University of Saskatchewan (tie)
The University of Saskatchewan has historically been regarded as an agricultural university. While this is still true today, the U of S is a leader in many other forms of science and technological research. And it’s not just a research intensive university: smaller class sizes mean closer working relationships with award-winning faculty.
The University of Saskatchewan’s Computer Science department offers nine undergraduate and two graduate degree options across a wide variety of study specializations. With several computer labs — each specializing in a particular field — and research positions for students, there are many ways for students to expand their learning. A particulary strength of this department is the Plant Phenotyping and Imaging Research Centre, which builds on the university’s strengths in food security research.
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17. Saint Mary’s University (tie)
Saint Mary’s consistently ranks in the top 10 spots for primarily undergraduate institutions in Canada. Because class sizes are kept small, students get quality access to their instructors directly. The school has also developed excellent internationalization measures: not only does it have a high number of international students, it also has articulated agreements with nearly 40 institutions around the world.
While Saint Mary’s is mostly known for its Chemistry and Business programs (not to mention its women’s basketball team), the Department of Mathematics and Computer Science is not to be underestimated. Through programs that blend Mathematics and Computer Science with liberal arts courses, students can be assured of a strong interdisciplinary training. Small classes, co-op placements, and accredited programs are also attractive to potential students.
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14. St. Francis Xavier University (tie)
St. FX currently holds the number two spot for best primarily undergraduate university in Canada, and student satisfaction regularly tops over 90%. The school also excels in research. The St. FX campus is reminiscent of Ivy League-style architecture, with limestone halls and a sprawling, pedestrian-friendly design. Meanwhile, the surrounding town of Antigonish, N.S., with fewer than 5,000 residents — many of whom are students themselves — is small and welcoming.
St. Francis Xavier describes its approach to Computer Science education as intensive and hands-on. Students can trust that courses will be lead by experienced professors who are active in their research fields. As with other institutions, undergraduate students can combine their Computer Science courses with other courses in the faculty of Arts or the faculty of Science, resulting in an interdisciplinary learning experience. While the university is predominantly undergraduate, there are research-based graduate programs as well, and students can benefit from close collaboration with professors.
14. McMaster University (tie)
McMaster has a look and feel reminiscent of the old world. One of the founding members of the U15 (Canada’s Association of top research universities) McMaster has a well-deserved reputation as a foremost research institution moving billions of dollars through the Canadian economy every year. The school regularly scores in the top 100 globally and is a top 10 Canadian school.
Computer Science at McMaster is firmly grounded in the theory of computer science, in addition to programming concepts and languages. Undergraduates pursue a four-year Bachelor of Applied Science, while graduate students have a choice of seven Masters and PhD degree options. The school boasts a graduate employment rate of 100 percent within two years of graduation.
14. Concordia University (tie)
Concordia is a comprehensive university with over 500 programs at both the graduate and undergraduate level. The school is home to state-of-the-art centers of research in the midst of some of Montreal’s best museums and nightclubs. Concordia is a forward thinking, diverse institution in a bustling urban environment.
The Department of Computer Science at Concordia University claims to be one of the largest and oldest in Canada. Undergraduate students may pursue a Bachelor of Software Engineering, or a Bachelor of Computer Science — the latter offers an impressive nine major options. Graduate students have a choice between six Masters, PhD, and diploma programs. Concordia is well-known for its expertise in gaming technology, which is a booming industry in Montreal.
12. University of Ottawa (tie)
The University of Ottawa is the world’s largest bilingual University, offering almost 500 specializations, majors, and minors at the undergraduate level. Also on offer are more than 150 Masters, Doctorate and Graduate Certificate programs. Few schools in Canada can claim this kind of diversity and choice, spread through 10 faculties. The school also values providing students with external opportunities: yearly audits of its programs proclaim a 97 percent after-graduation placement rate.
Computer Science at the University of Ottawa is offered through the Faculty of Engineering. As such, prospective students who want a rigorous, empirical approach to training would do well to consider this program. Undergraduate courses focus on building software systems. Graduate studies are offered in collaboration with Carleton University‘s School of Computer Science, under the umbrella of the Ottawa-Carleton Institute for Computer Science. Such a collaboration provides students with access to a broad range of services and faculty members, as well as co-op placements.
12. University of Manitoba (tie)
The University of Manitoba is Western Canada’s oldest university. Internationally-recognized as an innovator in research and technology, it still maintains a student-centred focus. The U of M commits to its students in a big way: it has been ranked number one for its outstanding student services, and professional degrees are also held in high regard here.
The University of Manitoba’s Department of Computer Science is proud of its practical training, built around the concept of Computer Science as a problem-solving tool. With offerings such as an average of 150 co-op placements per year, and interdisciplinary programs with Physics & Astronomy, Statistics, or Mathematics, students can be assured of a hands-on training that prepares them for careers. While the graduate studies deparment is smaller, the Department is dedicated to student success and offers a Pre-Master’s program for students who need to upgrade their skills before commencing a Master’s degree.
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11. University of Victoria (tie)
The University of Victoria has a reputation for groundbreaking research that has carried itself around the world. Students 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.
UVic’s Department of Computer Science encourages interdisciplinary study, with the option to combine Computer Science with Music, Geography, Psychology, Visual Arts, and more. The Department’s philosophy that “There is a computer scientist in all of us” informs everything from course offerings to public outreach. Students can benefit from high-profile co-op opportunities — past employers include Google, Electronic Arts Canada, IBM Canada, and more. In addition to traditional Thesis and Project options at the graduate level, graduate students can also pursue a career-focused Industry option.
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The University of Ontario Institute of Technology is one of the newest post-secondary schools in the country. Founded in 2002, UOIT was created with the strategic purpose to match a technological education to the market-driven needs of employers. The technologically-enriched collaborative learning environment also stresses environmental innovation.
Operated through the Faculty of Science, Computer Science at UOIT offers undergraduate specializations in Data Science or Digital Media, in addition to its a comprehensive program. Graduate studies are research-based, and students may pursue a Master’s or PhD. The university also offers a diploma-to-degree program, for college graduates who wish to upgrade their knowledge and credentials. Facilities at UOIT are state-of-the-art, and students are provided with laptops and speciality software for their program. Specialized research facilities include the Hacker Research Laboratory, Game Research Laboratory, and the Research Centre for Mobile Healthcare Service Assurance and Privacy.
The University of Calgary is located in Canada’s rapidly booming energy capital. Not surprisingly, engineering and energy-related disciplines and business programs prosper here — helped by significant private sector funding — but it is also a centre for political science and public policy.
The Department of Computer Science at the University of Calgary was the first in Canada to implement a concentration in commercial game development. It offers eight concentrations for its undergraduate Bachelor of Science degree, and boasts one of the largest range of courses in Canada. At the graduate level, students may pursue an interdisciplinary Master’s degree in collaboration with another university department, in addition to the traditional Master’s and PhD degree programs.
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Queen’s University is a Canadian icon. Located in Kingston Ontario, the school is known for its old world architecture, a vibrant student life, and outstanding programming and research. Neo-Gothic limestone study halls — most from the 19th century — dot this neighborhood full of students, artists, researchers and academics.
The School of Computing at Queen’s University offers a dizzying range of course combinations leading to a degree in Computer Science. Students registered in Commerce, Nursing, and Applied Science may pursue a Computing General degree concurrently with their studies. Multi-disciplinary programs allow students to combine elements of visual arts, biomedical computing, cognitive science, and more with their computer science concentration. The School is also active in research, with specializations including Information Systems, Human-Machine learning, Design and Analysis of Algorithms, Computational Linguistics, Perception and Robotics, Artificial Intelligence, and more.
Université de Montréal is highly sought after for both undergraduate and graduate studies, with a population of 35,000 and 12,000 respectively. The school is surrounded by lush greenery, and though somewhat removed from the downtown core of Montréal, students are never too far from the action. The surrounding neighborhood of Côte-des-Neiges is made up of countless cafés, bars, and restaurants, and many student apartments and residences.
The Department of Computer Science and Operations Research is one of the top computer science departments in North America, and with four Bachelor degrees, four Master’s, two PhD, and three graduate diploma programs on offer, it could well be on of the largest. The Department places a strong emphasis on international research and graduate studies. But industry connections are not neglected — the department hosts the CRSNG-Ubisoft Research Chair dedicated to video game studies. The Department defines operational research as the meeting-point of computer science, applied mathematics, management, and industrial engineering.
6. Simon Fraser University (tie)
SFU 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 consistently ranks highly for student satisfaction, and its Computing Science department is no different — 98 percent of students state they’re happy with their program. Another impressive statistic: 85 percent of students who participate in the plentiful co-op placements find a job through their student employment. Undergraduate students may pursue a degree in Computing Science, Software Systems, a concurrent BSc — MSc or a dual degree with the Zhejiang University in Hangzhou, China — which offers students the chance to earn two undergraduate degrees and learn Mandarin. Graduate students have a choice between five Master’s, PhD and professional qualification options.
McGill has become an epicentre for research and instruction compelling countless bright students from all over the globe. Home to 11 faculties and 12 professional schools, McGill offers its 38,000 students a choice of over 300 programs over two campuses. McGill’s main buildings sit at the heart of the vibrant downtown core of Montreal, and students at this academic and cultural icon are never far from off-campus excitement.
Undergraduate students in Computer Science at McGill have a choice between 10 program options and three degrees — few institutions can boast this wide a range. Gaming is a particular research and teaching speciality here, and there are four courses dedicated to gaming and related technologies at undergraduate level. Master’s programs are flexible to students’ goals, and can be practice- or research-focused. The PhD program is highly-regarded, and directed towards advanced research.
Located in Edmonton, University of Alberta is the province’s leading research and education institution. Largely known for engineering, science, and medicine, the university also offers more than 400 programs in 18 faculties. Considered a top five university in Canada, and in the top 100 globally, the school combines excellent instruction, state-of-the-art facilities, well-funded programs, and world-renowned research.
Computing Science at the University of Alberta can boast both teaching strength and research prowess. Undergraduate students may pursue a Bachelor of Science in one of three concentrations: Computing Science with Business Minor, Computing Science with a specialisation in Software Practice, or the Computing Science open specialisation, in which students can combine computing science with one of more than 20 other disciplines. Graduate programs are similarly specialized: programs include a standard MSc and PhD in Computing Science, an MSc and PhD in Computing Science with specialization in Statistical Machine Learning, and an MSc in Computing Science with specialization in Multimedia.
2. University of Waterloo (tie)
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.
For students looking for a career-focused program taught by industry specialists, Waterloo is a strong option. Waterloo professors and graduates have created 300 companies. Through the university’s co-op program, students can gain 20 months of paid work experience before graduation. But it is by no means lacking in intellectual rigour. Undergraduates can pursue dual degrees with Business Administration or Financial Management in addition to pure Computer Science, and graduate students can choose between a range of theoretical, practical, and interdisciplinary programs.
2. University of British Columbia (tie)
UBC has an international reputation for leading research and academic programs at all levels, landing it consistently in one of the world’s top 50 spots. 14 faculties offer more than 200 programs in undergraduate, graduate and continuing education studies. Located on a large peninsula in Vancouver, the campus looks and feels like a small city.
UBC’s Department of Computer Science offers undergraduates a choice between six major programs, two honours programs, and a host of other minor and double major degree programs. With options in software engineering and co-op programs, there is something for every prospective Computer Science student here. Graduate students aren’t left out either — UBC has strong links with industry and research giants, and the student society is active in daily life.
With a global name for itself, the University of Toronto is a big-league player. It consistently ranks as one of the top 50 public universities in the world and its reputation as a research institution brings countless accolades. It is also a big institution, with more than 8,000 faculty and nearly 60,000 students over three campuses: in downtown Toronto (St. George campus), Mississauga, and Scarborough. The university’s popularity is reflected in an international student body comprised of students from over 150 countries.
U of T Computer Science has been a giant in Canadian post-secondary education for more than 50 years. In addition to pursuing Bachelor of Science, Master of Science, and PhD programs, students have access to a variety of different ways to further their careers. Undergraduates may take part in the Professional Experience Year (PEY), “the largest undergraduate paid internship program in Canada.” There is also a dedicated centre for innovation and entrepreneurship, creating a fertile environment for startups. And the opportunities don’t end after graduation: Toronto is North America’s third-largest information and communication technology centre in North America, and a degree from U of T is widely recognized around the world.
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.
To learn more about your options for studying in Canada, click here. There is also a range of tools and resources available for prospective students in Canada, including Canada School Search and School Match Canada.
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