Best universities in Montreal

Find the best universities in Montreal using Times Higher Education’s World University Rankings data

October 14 2020
Montreal, best universities, study abroad, canada, international

It is not surprising that Montreal is a popular place for students to study. As Canada’s second most populous city and Quebec’s main metropolis, Montreal offers something for everyone. 

Montreal is rich in French colonial history that dates back to the 16th century, and the majority of the city’s population speak French as their first language. In fact, Montreal is considered the second largest French-speaking city in the world, after Paris.

A stroll into the city’s historic centre, Old Montreal, is one of the best ways to soak up the city’s heritage. With its 16th-century architecture and quaint cobbled streets, Old Montreal is a popular tourist destination. The area also boasts attractions such as Montreal City Hall, the Old Port of Montreal, the Basilique Notre-Dame de Montréal, and the Bonsecours Market.

There are plenty of outdoor activities on offer in Montreal. For those who enjoy cycling, there is an extensive network of bike paths around the city. There is also more than 2,000 acres of parks including the renowned Mount Royal Park, which was designed by the same landscape architect as New York’s Central Park.

For foodies, there are six farmers’ markets in the city selling everything from fresh pastries to authentic poutine. This quintessential Canadian dish consists of fries smothered in cheese curds and gravy – a must-try! There are also more than 6,000 restaurants, making Montreal second only to New York for the most restaurants per capita in North America. 

The city is known as Canada’s cultural centre and hosts a number of events throughout the year. These include the Just for Laughs Festival, the Montreal International Jazz Festival and the Canadian Grand Prix. It also hosts more than 100 annual music festivals such as Nuit Blanche and Osheaga. There are 250 dance and theatre companies around the city, as well as countless art galleries and museums. 

In 2016 Montreal was declared a Unesco City of Design and became a member of the Unesco Creative Cities Network. Since then the city’s design industry has greatly developed and its international reputation has only improved.  

Home to more than 50 research chairs, two English-language and two French-language universities, Montreal is an important hub for higher education. If you are interested in studying in this vibrant city, these are the best universities in Montreal according to the Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2021.


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The best universities in Montreal 

1. McGill University 

McGill is one of the leading institutions of higher education in Canada.  Established in 1821 as the University of McGill College, it became McGill University in 1885. 

There are 11 faculties and schools on campus, including the Faculty of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, Faculty of Dentistry and Schulich School of Music. Within each of these is a wide range of undergraduate and postgraduate courses.

The university is known for its excellence in research and innovation. In 1908 Ernest Rutherford was awarded a Nobel Prize in chemistry for his research into radioactivity that he carried out at the university. Since then McGill has developed partnerships with 99 research nations to facilitate academic and scientific exchange. Currently the university’s professors are focusing their research on a new field of epigenetics, using crop plants to source sustainable energy.

Students have the opportunity to participate in the university’s exchange programme, which encourages global learning. Undergraduates can study abroad at one of McGill’s partner institutions for a semester or an entire academic year. As part of this exchange, McGill welcomes a number of international students from more than 150 countries every year.

Alongside their studies, students are encouraged to get involved in the various events, clubs and societies on offer at the university. The Engage McGill programme ensures that the student experience is rich and enjoyable.


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2. University of Montreal 

The University of Montreal was founded in 1878 in the city’s Quartier Latin. In 1942 it moved to its current premises on Mount Royal.

There are eight campuses around the city. The main campus covers 65 hectares and has three metro stations nearby. The university prides itself on the sustainability of this campus, with its environmentally friendly resources and biodiversity.

When the university was first established it had only three faculties: law, medicine and theology. It has since expanded to 13 faculties including arts and science, environmental design, optometry, and veterinary medicine. The university is also affiliated with two schools: HEC Montréal (School of Business) and Polytechnique Montréal (School of Engineering). All undergraduate courses are taught in French. 

Outside the classroom students have the opportunity to get involved in a diverse range of leisure activities, from live music to art exhibitions. There are also various academic, cultural and sports clubs for students. 

The university is one of Canada’s leading research institutions. It has recently focused on developing a treatment for macular degeneration and improving the efficacy of cellular therapies. Another area of research is artificial intelligence, which has led to the Montreal Declaration for the Responsible Development of AI. The university’s research centres include the Institute for Research in Immunology and Cancer and the International Centre for Comparative Criminology.

3. Concordia University 

In 1974 Loyola College merged with Sir George Williams University to form Concordia University, which is known for innovation in experiential learning, online education and research. 

The university’s two campuses are named after its founding institutions. Sir George Williams Campus in Quartier Concordia, in downtown Montreal, is the university’s main campus. Loyola Campus is located in the Notre-Dame-de-Grâce district, a quieter and more residential area.

The university is organised into four faculties and schools: Faculty of Arts and Science, Gina Cody School of Engineering and Computer Science, Faculty of Fine Arts, and John Molson School of Business. Within these there is a range of undergraduate and graduate courses. The university is one of three in Quebec that uses English as the primary language of instruction. 

There are about 50,000 students, 20 per cent of whom are international, representing 150 countries between them. The university has developed partnerships with higher education institutions around the world to facilitate student exchange programmes.

Concordia carries out research in aerospace, AI, cities, digital arts, health, and synthetic biology, among others. The university has 21 research centres and 118 research chairs.

Concordia has a mission to become a next-generation university. It hopes to achieve this by following nine strategic directions. These include teaching for tomorrow, experimenting boldly, and growing smartly. By committing to these goals, the university seeks to transform its future.

The top universities in Montreal 2021

Click each institution to view its full World University Rankings 2021

 World University Rank 2021  Montreal Rank 2021 University
 40  1 McGill University
 =73  2 University of Montreal
 601–800  3 Concordia University

Read more: Best universities in Canada

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