Best universities for medicine degrees in Canada

Find the best universities for medical degrees in Canada with Times Higher Education’s World University Rankings data

Best universities in
February 8 2021


When it comes to studying medicine in Canada, most students begin their studies after completing a bachelor’s degree in another field, often one of the biological sciences. Most degrees are four years, but a couple of accelerated options are available for those who want to start working sooner. 

The master in medicine (MD), which is offered at most Canadian universities, combines classroom teaching with clinical placements. 

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Some medical courses are taught in both English and French and many require an English language test as part of their application process.  

Here are the best universities for medicine in Canada, according to the Times Higher Education’s World University Rankings 2021.

1. University of Toronto

One of Canada’s oldest institutions of medical studies, the University of Toronto’s Faculty of Medicine, was founded in 1843. It’s best known for the unearthing of insulin and stem cells, and it was also the site of the world’s first successful lung transplant. 

The four-year MD (doctor of medicine) is one of the largest undergraduate medical education programmes in Canada. The first two years develop the student’s knowledge in a diverse range of environments, from classrooms and labs to clinical placements. Clinical skills are refined in the last two years of the programme, which is known as a clerkship. 

The university has an alumni network of more than 61,000 healthcare leaders. Its MD programme is partnered with over 30 affiliated clinical teaching sites, which encompasses nine fully affiliated hospitals.

Together with the Faculty of Medicine, these hospitals and research institutes make up the Toronto Academic Health Science Network, one of the biggest biomedical research, education and clinical care networks in North America.

2. McMaster University

The School of Medicine at McMaster University was established in 1966 and today offers a variety of programmes in medical education. The undergraduate medical programme for the MD degree remains competitive and admits just 203 students every year.

The programme is shorter than many other medical degrees at just three years. Students study for 11 months each year, compressing more learning into the traditional timeframe. It’s just one of two medical programmes in Canada – the other is at the University of Calgary – that operate an accelerated programme.

The idea behind the innovative approach is that medical students should learn medicine the way that physicians practise medicine. 

The university also doesn’t have any course admissions prerequisites, meaning students from all manner of academic and personal backgrounds study the course. It focuses on small-group learning, and core knowledge is gained via patient presentations rather than lectures about diseases. Throughout their studies, students are encouraged to work with patients, to ensure they graduate with a strong sense of patient orientation.

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3. McGill University

One of the core faculties at McGill University, the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences was established in 1829 and was first medical faculty to be established in Canada.

Today, the foundational undergraduate medical programme is the four-year MD, which requires applicants have a bachelor's degree. The programme follows a similar structure to other medical programmes in that the first two years focus on clinical skills, then the third and fourth years focus on clinical placements across areas including surgery, psychiatry, pediatrics and emergency medicine. 

 McGill's Faculty of Medicine has produced three Nobel Prize laureates: Andrew Schally, David H. Hubel and Jack W. Szostak

The faculty awarded the university’s first degree, and the country’s first medical degree, to William Leslie Logie in 1833. Students can find his dissertation, “Medical inaugural dissertation on Cynanche trachealis”, in the McGill Library institutional repository.

4. University of British Columbia

The seven-year MD/PhD programme at the University of British Columbia covers research areas including public health, biochemistry, medical genetics and oncology. Students are expected to have obtained a BSc and have taken the Medical College Admission Test; they also need an English-language certification if they completed their degree at a university where English is not the primary language. 

The programme, which is not open to international students, focuses on innovation, technology, research and patient-centred care, which allows students to pursue a career as a research scientist or a clinician. 

School leavers have the option of the four-year MD undergraduate programme, which integrates experiential learning programmes such as the Summer Student Research Programme, the Integrated Community Clerkship and the Healthcare Travelling Roadshow. 

5. University of Montreal

In order to study medicine at the University of Montreal, depending on their background, some students may need to first complete the preparatory year. After that, it’s on to the undergraduate doctorate in medicine, which prepares future physicians for their roles as “scientific and humanist professionals, communicators and collaborators”.

The undergraduate doctorate is a four- or five-year programme. The first two years focus on teaching in small groups alongside laboratory practical exercises and weekly hospital placements. The final two years are dedicated to clinical placements across a variety of areas. 

For students looking to study to postgraduate level, the university offers programmes in family medicine, pediatrics, surgery, obstetrics and general medicine among others. 

The university works with a large health network, and has been given healthcare responsibilities by the government of Quebec, meaning that it plays a leading social role in the wider community.

Top universities in Canada for medical degrees 2021

Canada Medicine Rank 2021  WUR Medicine Rank 2021  University City
1  6  University of Toronto Toronto
2  =11  McMaster University Hamilton
3  =24  McGill University Montreal
4  39  University of British Columbia Vancouver
5  65  University of Montreal Montreal
6  77  University of Ottawa Ottawa
7  78  University of Alberta Edmonton
=8  126–150  University of Calgary Calgary
=8  126–150  Western University London
=10  151–175  Université Laval Quebec City
=10  151–175  Queen’s University Kingston
=12  201–250  Dalhousie University Halifax
=12  201–250  University of Manitoba Winnipeg
=12  201–250  University of Waterloo Waterloo
=15  301–400  Memorial University of Newfoundland St John's 
=15  301–400  University of Saskatchewan Saskatoon
=15  301–400  University of Victoria Victoria
18  401–500  Université du Québec Quebec City
=19  601+  Lakehead University Thunder Bay and Orillia
=19  601+  University of Lethbridge Lethbridge
=19  601+  Ryerson University Toronto




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