General information on ranking

Name of the ranking (in English) Maclean’s University Rankings
Name of the ranking (in original) Maclean’s University Rankings
Scope of the ranking general ranking
Name of person in charge of ranking Mary Dwyer
Website of the ranking
First year of publication 1991
Most recent year of publication 2022
Date of last update 2023-05-05
Publication frequency annual
Ranking organization Maclean’s Magazine
Methodology website

Maclean’s places universities in one of three categories, recognizing the differences in types of institutions, levels of research funding, diversity of offerings, and breadth and depth of graduate and professional programs. Therefore, there are three separate ranking lists:

  • Ranking of primarily undergraduate universities which tend to be smaller and have fewer graduate programs and graduate students.
  • Ranking of comprehensive schools which have a significant degree of research activity and a wide range of programs at the undergraduate and graduate levels, including professional degrees.
  • Ranking of medical doctoral universities which include institutions offering a broad range of Ph.D. programs and research (all universities in this category have medical schools). 


In each category, Maclean’s ranks institutions in five broad areas based on 12 performance indicators, allocating a weight to each indicator. Figures for the ranked universities include data from their federated and affiliated institutions. The magazine does not rank schools with fewer than 1,000 full-time students, those that are restrictive because of a religious or specialized mission, newly designated universities, or those that are not members of the national association Universities Canada. Maclean’s weights the rankings as follows:


  • Data on the success of students at winning national academic awards over the previous five years (10%), including such prestigious awards as Rhodes scholarships and Fulbrights, as well as scholarships from professional associations and the three federal granting agencies. Each university’s total of student awards is divided by its number of full-time students, yielding a per-student count.
  • The number of full-time-equivalent students per full-time faculty member (10%) – this student–faculty ratio includes graduate and undergraduate students.



  • The number of faculty who have won major awards over the past five years, including the distinguished Killam, Molson and Steacie prizes, the Royal Society of Canada awards, the 3M Teaching Fellowships and nearly 40 other award programs (8%). To scale for institution size, the award count for each university is divided by each school’s number of full-time faculty.
  • The success of faculty in securing research grants from SSHRC, NSERC and CIHR. Social sciences and humanities grants (6%) and medical-science grants (6%) are tallied as separate indicators. Maclean’s takes into account both the number and the dollar value received in the previous year, and divides the totals by each institution’s full-time faculty count. Research grants are reported by how many are awarded to the primary investigator on a project. 



  • The amount of money available for current expenses per full-time-equivalent student (5%).
  • Total research dollars (8%). This figure, calculated relative to the size of each institution’s full-time faculty, includes income from sponsored research, such as grants and contracts, federal, provincial and foreign government funding, and funding from non-governmental organizations.
  • The percentage of a university’s operating budget allocated to library services (5%).
  • The percentage of the library budget spent on acquisitions, including electronic resources (4%).



  • The percentage of the budget spent on student services (9%).
  • The percentage of the budget spent on scholarships and bursaries (9%).



Faculty and senior administrators at Canadian universities, as well as a variety of business people across the country, were asked in an online survey to rate Canada’s universities in three categories: Highest Quality, Most Innovative and Leaders of Tomorrow. Best Overall represents the sum of the scores for all three categories. When completing the reputational survey, university faculty and senior administrators also complete a regional component that divides the country into four key regions: the western provinces, Ontario, Quebec and the Atlantic provinces. This allows them to focus on the region they know best.

Additional information

  • Main target groups: higher education institutions, students and parents
  • Level of comparison: institutional: 49 (Three separate lists are published: Canada's Best Primarily Undergraduate Universities - 19 HEIs, Canada's Best Comprehensive Universities -15 HEIs, Canada's Best Medical Doctoral Universities -15 HEIs)
  • Major dimensions covered: reputation, research, teaching, student satisfaction, student services
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