Top 20 Oldest Universities In Canada

Top 20 Oldest Universities In Canada

Canada is a prominent study destination for international students from all over the world, not only because it has many prestigious universities that provide high-quality education but also because tuition is relatively inexpensive, especially compared to other nations like the UK or the US. For years Canada has been offering spectacular education to foreign and local students. The oldest universities in Canada are listed here in this article, and these institutions have a long history and a wealth of real-world tertiary education experience.

Top 20 Oldest Universities In Canada

  • Université Laval
  • University of New Brunswick
  • University of King’s College
  • Saint Mary’s University
  • Dalhousie University
  • Université de Saint-Boniface 
  • McGill University
  • University of Toronto 
  • Acadia University
  • Mount Allison University
  • Queen’s University
  • Bishop’s University
  • University of Ottawa 
  • St. Francis Xavier University
  • University of Winnipeg
  • École Polytechnique de Montréal
  • University of Manitoba
  • The University of Western Ontario
  • University of Windsor 
  • Université de Moncton

1. Université Laval

The university was established by a royal charter granted by Queen Victoria in 1852; its roots can be traced to François de Montmorency-founding Laval’s of the Séminaire de Québec in 1663, making it the oldest center of higher learning in Canada and the first institution in North America to provide higher education in French. 

The institution was established in Old Québec and relocated to a new campus in Sainte-Foy-Sillery-Cap-Rouge in the 1950s. It contains four Canada Excellence Research Chairs and is listed among the top 10 Canadian institutions in research funding.

More than 38,000 students could choose from more than 350 programs at Université Laval. Every year, the institution enrolls more than 2,500 international students and over 1,000 students from Canadian provinces other than Quebec. 

The university’s French for Non-Francophones program, which teaches French as a second language to students from Canada and other countries, attracts many students. Since the middle of the 1980s, Université Laval has provided distance learning; over 30 programs and 400 courses are available via distance learning, of which 80% are online.

2. University of New Brunswick

University of New Brunswick (UNB) is among the oldest universities in Canada. This university has two sites which are the old campus in Fredericton, founded in 1785, and a smaller campus in Saint John, established in 1964. The Dalhousie University affiliate and anglophone medical school for New Brunswick are located on the Saint John campus. 

In addition, there are two offices in the Caribbean and one in Beijing, as well as two little satellite campuses for the health sciences in Moncton and Bathurst, all in New Brunswick. With over 75 undergraduate and graduate degree programs offered by 14 faculties at UNB, its two main campuses are home to over 9,700 students.

3. University of King’s College

Founded in 1789, the University of King’s College is located in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada. It is also the first English-speaking institution in the Commonwealth outside of the United Kingdom and the oldest chartered university in Canada. 

The institution is renowned for its Foundation Year Program, which provides a thorough and multidisciplinary study of Western culture through outstanding literature intended for first-year college students. Additionally, it is renowned for its upper-year multidisciplinary programs, especially in current studies, early modern studies, and the history of science and technology.

The institution also has a journalism department that draws students from all over the world due to its challenging Master of Journalism programs and its pioneering Master of Fine Arts in creative nonfiction degree in Canada. Despite being founded as the King’s Collegiate School in Windsor, Nova Scotia, in 1788, the university moved to Halifax in 1920.

4. Saint Mary’s University

Saint Mary’s University (SMU) is a public, historically Catholic university in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada. The university is most renowned for having nationally ranked business and chemistry programs and one of the best Canadian women’s basketball programs. The institution’s campus is 80 acres and features a multicultural environment. 

Saint Mary’s University students can earn degrees in Business, Liberal Arts, Environmental Studies, Science, and Engineering. The institution features a trained and professional staff to provide students with academic and practical exposure. A solid collaboration with several institutions aids in providing students with work options. Students from over 100 nations have enrolled at the university.

5. Dalhousie University

Dalhousie University was founded in 1818 and is located in Nova Scotia. The university’s academic instruction focuses on interactive learning, work-integrated programs, and research-oriented programs to improve students’ knowledge. Dalhousie University boasts 250+ startup programs and has received four Killiam awards since 2005. 

The Times Higher Education has also named it one of the top 100 colleges for making a social impact. Over 200 undergraduate and postgraduate programs are available at the University. It has three campuses and a friendly attitude to bringing together diverse groups. It has drawn many students worldwide by providing exceptional facilities and assisting them with over 400 clubs, specialized communities, and organizations.

6. Université de Saint-Boniface 

The Université de Saint-Boniface is a non-profit private university in Winnipeg, Manitoba. It is one of the oldest universities in Canada. It is a coeducational university in Canada that provides courses and programs leading to legally recognized higher education degrees in various topics, including pre-bachelor, bachelor, and master’s degrees.

The institution also offers specific programs for students who want to pursue fascinating career alternatives such as ‘Translators,’ which is a growing option due to industries’ international and multicultural surroundings. Saint Boniface University provides students with a wealth of tools and facilities to help them thrive in their hobbies, projects, and cultural activities.

7. McGill University

McGill University is a public university in Montreal, Canada, founded in 1821. One of Canada’s oldest institutions is ranked 31st in the world according to the QS World University Rankings 2021. McGill has the best average entry grade of any Canadian institution and provides degrees and certificates in over 300 disciplines. 

Most students attend the six main faculties: Arts, Science, Medicine, Education, Engineering, and Management. McGill is Canada’s most globally diversified medical-doctoral research institution, with international students representing more than 30% of the student body and originating from more than 150 countries.

McGill has the highest endowment per student in Canada, with over C$1 billion in financial endowments. It received the largest single charitable contribution in Canadian history in 2019, a $200 million commitment to finance the establishment of the McCall MacBain Scholarships program.

8. University of Toronto 

The University of Toronto is a public research university located on the grounds of Queen’s Park in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. It was established by royal license in 1827 as King’s College, Upper Canada’s first school of higher learning. 

It is a collegiate university with eleven colleges, each with great financial and institutional autonomy and major distinctions in character and history. The university has three campuses, the oldest of which is St. George in downtown Toronto. Scarborough and Mississauga are the locations of the other two satellite campuses.

Over 700 undergraduate and 200 graduate programs are available at the University of Toronto. The institution routinely ranks among the top ten public universities in the globe and as the best in the country in all major rankings.  

It receives the most yearly scientific research funding and endowment of any Canadian institution. It is one of two non-US members of the Association of American Universities, the other being McGill University in Montreal.

9. Acadia University

Acadia University is a public, primarily undergraduate university in Wolfville, Nova Scotia, Canada. Acadia provides nearly 200-degree options in the arts, pure and applied science, professional studies, and theology colleges. The student-faculty ratio is 15:1, with an average class size of 28 students. Open Acadia provides correspondence and distance learning courses.

Acadia University includes more than 15 research centers and six research chairs. In a small university context, undergraduate students can participate in research. The Division of Research & Graduate Studies is independent of the faculties and is in charge of graduate students and Acadia’s research programs.

The research programs at Acadia investigate coastal ecosystems, ethnocultural diversity, social justice, environmental monitoring, climate change, organizational interactions, data mining, the influence of digital technology, and lifestyle choices that contribute to health and well-being. 

10. Mount Allison University

Mount Allison University, located in the midsize town of Sackville, New Brunswick, is a non-profit public university that provides courses and programs leading to legally recognized higher education degrees like bachelor’s and master’s degrees in a range of subjects.

This 181-year-old Canadian institution has strict admissions requirements based on prior academic accomplishments and ratings. Students from all around the world are welcome to apply. Students can also take advantage of MTA’s library, housing, sports facilities, financial assistance and/or scholarships, study abroad and exchange programs, and administrative services.

11. Queen’s University

Queen’s University is a Canadian public research university located in Kingston. Queen’s College was founded by the Church of Scotland in October 1841, according to a royal charter from Queen Victoria. Queen’s became the first Canadian institution west of the Maritime provinces to accept women in 1869. 

After male faculty and students objected to the admittance of women to the university’s medical programs, a women’s institution for medical education connected with Queen’s University was formed in 1883.

Queen’s is a publicly financed research institution member of the Canadian Association of Universities and Colleges. Most of the school’s enrolment comprises full-time undergraduate programs, with 16,339 full-time undergraduate students. 

Queen’s is divided into faculties and schools. Arts and Sciences, Education, Engineering and Applied Sciences, Health Sciences, Law, the School of Public Policy, and the Smith School of Business are among them. Many faculties and schools are further subdivided into departments, divisions, and schools.

12. Bishop’s University

Bishop’s University is an English-language liberal arts university located in Lennoxville, Quebec, Canada. It is one of the oldest universities in Canada. Bishop’s University is primarily an undergraduate institution, although it also provides graduate courses, M.A. and M.Ed. degrees in teaching, and M.Sc. degrees in computer science and physics. Bishop’s provides a variety of programs in five academic departments. Each division strives to give all of its pupils a well-rounded education. As of autumn 2017, the average class size in first- and second-year courses was 34.7, and 18.9 in upper-year courses.

13. University of Ottawa 

The University of Ottawa is a multilingual public research university in Ottawa, Ontario. The University of Ottawa is the world’s biggest English-French bilingual university. The University of Ottawa Faculty of Medicine, the University of Ottawa Faculty of Law, the Telfer School of Management, and the University of Ottawa Faculty of Social Sciences are among the ten faculties that oversee academic programs at the university. 

The University of Ottawa Library has 12 locations and more than 4.5 million volumes. With a research income of CA$ 420 million in 2022, the institution is a member of the Canadian U15 group of research-intensive universities.

The institution is co-educational, with about 35,000 undergraduate and 6,000 post-graduate students enrolled. Approximately 7,000 foreign students from 150 countries attend the school, accounting for 17% of the student population.

14. St. Francis Xavier University

St. Francis Xavier University is a public liberal art undergraduate university in Antigonish, Nova Scotia, Canada. It belongs to the Maple League, an association of predominantly undergraduate universities in Eastern Canada.

The Faculty of Arts, the Faculty of Science, the Gerald Schwartz School of Business, the Faculty of Education, the Brian Mulroney Institute of Government, and the Coady International Institute comprise St Francis Xavier University. Each faculty has subordinate departments relevant to each field; for example, the Department of Philosophy is part of the Faculty of Arts. Deans are elected from among the component professors to lead faculties.

15. University of Winnipeg

The University of Winnipeg is a public research university in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, that provides undergraduate and graduate programs in art, business, and economics, education, science, and kinesiology, and applied health.

The University of Winnipeg is a provincially and privately funded post-secondary institution that offers undergraduate and graduate programs, including Canada’s only master’s degree in development practice with a focus on Indigenous development, as well as professional, applied, and continuing education programs and a high school division.

16. École Polytechnique de Montréal

Polytechnique Montréal is a university-affiliated engineering school in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. Polytechnique is one of Canada’s three major engineering schools and the largest in the province of Quebec. Polytechnique is one of Canada’s three major engineering schools and the largest in the province of Quebec. 

This French language educational facility has trained engineers and experts since its inception in 1873. The school contributes to the region’s scientific and economic growth. Its alumni were involved in most of Quebec’s significant engineering projects of the twentieth century, such as the construction of hydroelectric dams. 

Polytechnique Montréal is at the cutting edge of engineering in several sectors, including aeronautics, computer engineering, telecommunications, biotechnology, nanotechnology, environmental science, artificial intelligence, and many more.

17. University of Manitoba

The University of Manitoba is a public research university in Manitoba, Canada. It was the first university in Western Canada, founded in 1877. The university has a reputation for being a top research-intensive post-secondary educational institution, conducting more research annually than any other university in the region.

Its competitive academic and research programs have consistently ranked among the best in the Canadian Prairies. As a result, research at the University of Manitoba has yielded several world-renowned accomplishments, including the development of canola oil in the 1970s.

18. The University of Western Ontario

The University of Western Ontario, usually known as Western University, is one of Canada’s oldest universities. Bishop Isaac Hellmuth founded the Western University in London, Ontario, in 1878, with only four faculties: arts, medicine, divinity, and law. Currently, the institution is separated into 17 faculties, which include music, law, social sciences, business, health sciences, engineering, and so on. The institution provides over 500 distinct undergraduate programs and 160 postgraduate and doctorate degrees. Western University is ranked 201st in the QS World University Rankings 2021.

19. University of Windsor 

The University of Windsor (UW) is a public research university located in Windsor, Ontario, Canada. It is the southernmost university in Canada. It has 12,000 full-time and part-time undergraduate students and 4,000 graduate students. The province government established the institution in 1962 and has graduated approximately 135,000 graduates.

The Faculty of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences, the Faculty of Education, the Faculty of Engineering, the Odette School of Business, the Faculty of Graduate Studies, the Faculty of Human Kinetics, the Faculty of Law, the Faculty of Nursing, and the Faculty of Science comprise the University of Windsor.

20. Université de Moncton

The Université de Moncton is a French-language university in New Brunswick, Canada. It has locations in Edmundston, Moncton, and Shippagan. The institution was established in 1963 in response to the recommendations of the New Brunswick Royal Commission on Higher Education. Since then, the university has been considered the successor of various Acadian higher education institutions, including the Collège Saint Joseph.

The university aspires to be a generalist, providing instruction and research in management, arts, social sciences, law, engineering, natural sciences, health, social work, and education.

Frequently Asked Questions

Queen’s University, located in Kingston, Ontario, is one of the country’s oldest degree-granting schools. It was founded in 1841 as Queen’s College by the presbyterian church of Canada in collaboration with the Church of Scotland.

Western University has the highest national first-year student admittance average of slightly over 90%, indicating that admission competition is serious. The school is one of Canada’s most prestigious academic institutions, research universities, and a worldwide known institution.

Dalhousie University’s admission rate ranges between 60 and 70%, with modest changes from year to year. A student must fulfill both the general entrance and program-specific standards.




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