Study In Canada: Top Universities In Vancouver

Your Best Choice of Universities in Vancouver

Two universities in Vancouver featured in the QS World University Rankings 2017-2018, of which the highest-ranked is the University of British Columbia at 45th in the world. Vancouver’s other ranked institution, Simon Fraser University, offers a particularly unique study setting, thanks to the location of its main campus in the middle of the Burnaby Mountain Conservation Area, just outside the city. Whether you’re based in the city center or not, Vancouver has much to offer.   

The nearby Grouse, Seymour, and Cypress mountains provide more than just a beautiful backdrop to the city. They are also an incredibly popular destination for snowsports, offering some of the world’s best ski resorts. Even in the center of Vancouver the great outdoors is never far away. The beaches, forest, and stunning mountains are all within easy reach. 

For those who prefer cultural pursuits, Vancouver also offers an array of brilliant nightlife, theatres, and music everything you’d expect from one of Canada’s most loved cities. Make no mistake, Vancouver is the perfect study destination for international students.  

Here are three of the best universities in Vancouver, British Columbia.

Study In Canada: Vancouver’s University Of British Columbia

The University of British Columbia at a glance:

  1. Average Tuition Cost a year – $6, 000
  2. Campuses – Vancouver (main) and Kelowna
  3. 1,975 annual co-op work terms in 26 countries
  4. 5,714 undergraduate students
  5. 30,000 alumni

The University of British Columbia (UBC) offers courses and programs leading to officially recognized higher education degrees such as:

  1. Pre-bachelor degrees
  2. Bachelor degrees
  3. Master degrees
  4. Doctorate degrees

The admission rate range is 40-50% making this Canadian higher education organization an averagely selective institution. International applicants are eligible to apply for enrollment. 

Despite being a big campus with many professors focused on research, UBC maintains a hands-on learning environment. More than half of senior international students report participating in an internship, co-op placement, field experience, or other professional placement before graduation.

But getting in is a challenge. With significantly higher average entrance grades in the arts and sciences than, for instance, SFU and UVic, UBC has the lowest admittance rate in the province. 

First impressions: Many international students, upon arrival at the main campus are intimidated by its huge size. It’s still huge and full of construction, but they settle and know their way around. It eventually feels like they have been here forever, knowing the best coffee places, the cheapest good sushi, and the best study spots.


In the community: Each year, UBC’s Centre for Community Engaged Learning (CCEL) gives more than 5,000 students a chance to get involved with local organizations for credit or by volunteering. In 2016, Fourth Year computer sciences student Kevin Tanyag developed an app that maps shelters, clinics, food programs, and other services in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside using a grant he received from the CCEL. 

For more information about UBC, find their website here.

Simon Fraser University

SFU at a glance:

  1. Campus – Burnaby (main), and Surrey
  2. Average tuition fee – $ 6,200
  3. 30,000 students, 6,500 faculty and staff
  4. 130,000 alumni
  5. The world’s largest college sports association.

Each year, about 2,700 students participate in SFU’s massive co-op program, which places students with 1,900 organizations locally, nationally, and globally. The flexible trimester system means the school operates year-round, and there is no shortage of available courses in the summer months. 

SFU has the highest average entrance GPA in B.C. at 88.4% but continues to perform below average in national student surveys regarding overall educational experience. A science degree from SFU carries some weight; graduates report a 97.8% employment rate two years after graduation.

In the community: RADIUS, a social innovation lab, and venture incubator provide financial support and mentorship to SFU students. It seeded Artemis Technologies, a social venture made up of SFU business and engineering students, which is developing software that uses aerial images of crops to detect diseases and increase growing efficiencies.

On campus: SFU gets a bad reputation for being isolated on top of Burnaby Mountain, and the concrete architecture is easy to bash. But many international students say the surroundings grow on them, and the complex interconnected buildings are fun to explore. UniverCity is SFU’s mixed-use residence and commercial area that includes a large grocery store, coffee shops, retail stores, and even an elementary school. 

SFU Programs


SFU offers a wide variety of program options for students to build their own undergraduate degrees – majors, minors, and certificates can be combined to create an experience unique to the individual. Master’s and doctoral degrees are available in all eight of the university’s faculties.  

If it’s flexibility you are after, try distance education or nights and weekends classes. For workplace skills and a global perspective, check out the Co-op and Study Abroad programs. Students can enrich their studies through non-academic programs that include leadership and mentorship opportunities, and sports and recreation activities. 

SFU supports all its students on the road to academic success. Offer specialized services for Aboriginal and international students. The university also offers a range of services for students with disabilities.

Find more information about this unique university here.

Vancouver Island University

VIU at a glance:

  1. Campus – Nanaimo (main), Duncan, Parksville, and Powell River
  2. Number of students – 14, 000
  3. Average Tuition Costs – $4, 800
  4. 120+ programs available
  5. 96% student satisfaction

Established in 1969, Vancouver Island University is a non-profit public higher education institution located in the urban setting of the large town of Nanaimo (population range of 50,000-249,999 inhabitants), British Columbia. This institution has also branch campuses in the following location(s): Duncan, Parksville, Powell River. Officially accredited and/or recognized by the Ministry of Advanced Education, British Columbia, Vancouver Island University (VIU) is a large (uniRank enrollment range: 15,000-19,999 students) coeducational higher education institution.

Vancouver Island University (VIU) offers courses and programs leading to officially recognized higher education degrees such as pre-bachelor degrees (i.e. certificates, diplomas, associate or foundation degrees), bachelor degrees, master degrees in several areas of study. This 49 years old higher-education institution has a selective admission policy based on students’ past academic records and grades. The admission rate range is 60-70% making this Canadian higher education organization a somewhat selective institution. International applicants are eligible to apply for enrollment. 

VIU’s bachelor’s and master’s degree offerings have continued to grow each year. To meet the demand for more research space, a new health and science center is slated for construction beginning next year. Students gave interactions with their professors the second-highest rating in B.C. in a national student survey. VIU has a specific mandate to support aboriginal students (12% of its student body identify as aboriginal) and funds nine elder positions, an aboriginal student transition adviser, and an aboriginal projects coordinator.

In the community: Brother-and-sister team Jaden Bourque and Sharae Antley partnered with their mother, Alana Bourque (who has been auditing classes alongside them while they work toward degrees in anthropology), to collect non-perishable food for the Ladysmith soup kitchen as an assignment for their anthropology of homelessness class. 


For further information about Vancouver Island University click here.

The good news is that Canada is home to so many great universities that it’s difficult to make a poor decision. That’s why choosing the school that best suits you require going beyond rankings and reputation, and considering the unique culture and educational environment.

Do you want to study in Canada? Want to join one of the top universities in Vancouver? Get more information on how to apply for a study visa here.