The top three universities in Canada according to the 2025 QS World University Rankings

Vimal Sivakumar
Published: June 12, 2024

For the second consecutive year, the top 40 of Quacquarelli Symonds’ (QS) World University Rankings include three Canadian universities.

QS is an organization that acts as an authority concerning the analysis of higher education institutions on a global scale. QS also says that its World University rankings are “the only ranking system to measure both employability and sustainability performance.”

Where did Canada’s top schools rank in QS’ World University Rankings for 2025?

Looking ahead to next year, QS ranked the following three schools near the top of its 2025 World University Rankings.

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Note: This year’s list included over 1500 institutions.

Notably, these three schools are all also located in Canada’s three most popular provinces for newcomers.

In fact, all but one of the schools inside Canada’s own top 10 for 2025 (according to QS) are located in Ontario, British Columbia or Quebec. The one exception to this is the University of Alberta. See more about Canada’s top 10 schools for 2025 towards the end of this article.

University of Toronto – UofT

  • Overall rank: 25
  • Overall score: 84.1

Score by factor

  • Academic Reputation: 99.7
  • Faculty/Student Ratio: 44.9
  • Citations per Faculty: 50.8
  • Employer Reputation: 96.9
  • International Faculty/Student Ratio: 96.9 (Faculty) and 96.1 (Student)
  • Sustainability: 100
  • Employment Outcomes: 98.7
  • International Research Network: 97.7

What to know about UofT

Down a few spots from its 21st-place finish in QS’ World University Rankings last year, UofT is Canada’s highest-ranking post-secondary institution for the second year in a row.

However, UofT did rank number one overall in QS’ world rankings for sustainability.

Also receiving scores above 96.0 for academic reputation, employer reputation, employment outcomes, international research network and both international ratios, UofT is once again regarded as one of the top post-secondary institutions in the world.

Note: This is UofT’s fifth time being included inside QS’ top 30 in the last six years (2023 being the only exception, when UofT ranked #34).

McGill University – McGill

  • Overall rank: 29
  • Overall score: 83

Score by factor

  • Academic Reputation: 94.3
  • Faculty/Student Ratio: 62.3
  • Citations per Faculty: 57.9
  • Employer Reputation: 87.6
  • International Faculty/Student Ratio: 83.7 (Faculty) and 89.6 (Student)
  • Sustainability: 99.1
  • Employment Outcomes: 98.3
  • International Research Network: 94.2

What to know about McGill

Up one spot from last year (#30), McGill has been ranked inside the top 30 of QS’ World University Rankings for the first time since 2022. This year also continues a now 13-year trend where McGill is annually ranking somewhere in the top 35 of QS’ World University Rankings.

University of British Columbia – UBC

  • Overall rank: 38
  • Overall score: 81

Score by factor

  • Academic Reputation: 98.3
  • Faculty/Student Ratio: 34.5
  • Citations per Faculty: 57.7
  • Employer Reputation: 94.3
  • International Faculty/Student Ratio: 95.5 (Faculty) and 72.8 (Student)
  • Sustainability: 99.8
  • Employment Outcomes: 74.6
  • International Research Network: 96.2

What to know about UBC

After ranking 34th on QS’ World University Rankings in 2024, UBC has fallen four spots in QS’ 2025 rankings.

UBC was given scores above 94.2 in five of QS’ eight assessed criteria, most notably for academic reputation and sustainability. In fact, ranking just a few spots behind UofT, UBC ranked number four overall in QS’ world rankings for sustainability.

Which schools rounded out Canada’s top 10?

While the three schools above all ranked inside the top 40 of QS’ world rankings, Quacquarelli Symonds also has specific rankings dedicated to some of the top international student destinations.

In QS’ rankings for Canada, in addition to UofT, McGill and UBC, these seven institutions round out Canada’s top 10 post-secondary institutions for 2025.

4. University of Alberta (#96 overall)

5. University of Waterloo (#115 overall)

6. Western University (#120 overall)

7. Universite de Montreal (#159 overall)

8. McMaster University (#176 overall)

9. University of Ottawa (#189 overall)

10. Queen’s University (#193 overall)

Who is QS?

QS publishes a World University Rankings annually, identifying the best schools in the context of eight different factors, three of which were newly added after QS released its 2024 list.

The factors used to rank these institutions include:

  • Academic Reputation
  • Faculty/Student Ratio
  • Citations per Faculty
  • Employer Reputation
  • International Faculty/Student Ratio
  • Sustainability
  • Employment Outcomes
  • International Research Network

Note: More detail on these individual factors, which together make up the QS World University Rankings methodology, will be outlined below.

Each school ranked inside the QS World University Rankings receives an overall score as well as a score for each of the five above factors individually.

How does QS develop its ranking system?

QS now uses eight different criteria to rank the schools in its World University Rankings.

For a more detailed look at each of these factors, visit this QS webpage.

Listed by weight (the level of impact or importance that each criterion has in QS’ ranking system), these factors are:

Academic reputation (30%)

  • A school’s academic reputation is determined after conducting surveys with “thousands” of people “who teach and research” in the higher education industry

Citations per faculty (20%)

  • This criteria accounts for how many times, in the last five years, a paper written or produced by a faculty member at a particular school was cited by a different publication

QS notes that “citations per faculty” are considered a measure of the institution’s reliability in the context of academic writings

Employer reputation (15%)

  • Another survey-based criteria, this part of the QS methodology factors in the responses of global employers who are asked to “name [up to 10 (local) and 30 (international) universities that] they believe” produce some of the most employable graduates

Faculty/student ratio (10%)

  • QS’ methodology rewards low student-to-faculty ratios and small class sizes because these factors are considered to contribute to an advantageous, “more personalized, and collaborative learning environment”

International faculty/student ratio (10%)

  • Similar to the above faculty/student ratio factor, this part of the methodology considers two ratios (see below)
    • The number of international faculty members to domestic faculty members
    • The number of international students to domestic students

Note: Each of the ratios above is weighted at 5% and QS notes that these ratios, which are initially self-reported by the institution are verified against government data when possible.

Sustainability (5%)

  • This factor measures the commitment to sustainability (and outward evidence of sustainability) put forth by an institution and its alumni

Employment Outcomes (5%)

  • This factor measures the relative ability of an institution to ensure a high level of employability for its graduates

International Research Network (5%)

  • A measure, according to QS, of “how institutions create and sustain research partnerships resulting in internationally co-authored publications … to collaborate on solving the world's challenges and disseminate vital research to wider audiences”

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