Best Universities in Canada for Americans

It’s common for US students to come north of the border for post-secondary education. Why not? The quality of education is strong, and even when factoring in international student fees, the tuition prices are still much lower than in the US. Thus, CampusRankings wanted to help out our American neighbours by compiling a list of the best universities in Canada for Americans.

A few things we looked at were proximity to the border, accessibility via air travel, number of americans in the city, standard of living, natural surroundings, and access to goods and services.

Without further ado, below is a list, in no particular order, of the best universities in Canada for Americans.

McGill University

best universities in canada for americans mcgill

One of the most reputable universities in Canada is also one of the most desirable for American students. Why might you ask? Well, first off, it has plenty of flights coming in and out of PE Trudeau International Airport. Moreover, it’s just a 6 hour drive from New York City and therefore still accessible by car for many US cities. Secondly, it likes to think of itself as Harvard of the North, so if you want to go to an Ivy League school but didn’t get in or couldn’t afford it, McGill automatically becomes a destination on peoples’ minds.

McGill is also attractive to American students because the city of Montreal is not only gorgeous, but also quite large so all you big-city Americans will have access to any goods and services you are used to. Additional, Montreal has some great scenery and physical activity attractions. For instance, the city being named after Mont Royal, allows for year round physical activity at the hill/mountain. There are also quite a few ski hills close by such as Mont Tremblant which is a frequent destination for many American skiiers.

Montreal also has a tremendous standard of living, reasonable cost of living (especially compare to Toronto and Vancouver) and has the 5th largest population of Americans outside of the United States.

Thus, McGill is definitely one of the best universities in Canada for Americans to attend.

Dalhousie University

best universities in canada for americans dalhousie

While McGill likes to call itself Harvard of the North, Halifax is often referred to as Boston of the North. The University doesn’t have the reputation/prestige that McGill has, and the draw really isn’t the university itself, but rather the Halifax university experience. Halifax is about a 10 hour drive from Boston and is similar enough to Boston for students to feel at home. It’s also very close to Maine so students who are used to the beauty of the forests and oceans in Maine can also feel at home at Dalhousie because it doesn’t take long to get outside of the city and explore the many natural beauties in Nova Scotia.

Halifax is a city of numerous universities so the nightlife is pretty phenomenal while the city is big enough to cater to big-city folk. Argyle street basically turns into a big student street party at night as a result of all the university students flooding the small-ish downtown core.

That being said, Dalhousie is consistently ranked within the top 200 universities in the world so you will still be getting a top notch education, particularly if you are looking at the graduate level. Dalhousie also has dedicated student loans for US permanent residents and citizens which may help out soon students.

Halifax waterfront is being extensively redeveloped and has many patios, bars and restaurants.

University of Windsor

best universities in canada for americans - windsor

The city of Windsor is sometimes called the most American Canadian city. Located just a hop, skip and jump away from Detroit, Windsor offers a highly accessible university at a cheapest price for Detroit students.

One huge draw for students to the University of Windsor is that the university has specific tuition price for american students rather than them having to pay the high international student fees. Moreover, the University of Windsor participates in the William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan (Direct Loan) Program where U.S. citizens and permanent residents may qualify for the federal loan program.

Cost of living is quite low (for now) and there is good transportation options to Toronto and this will only get better as there is a planned bullet train from Toronto to Windsor.

As such, the University of Windsor is a great option for americans students and definitely one of the best universities for Americans.

In this image, you’ll see how closely situated Detroit and Windsor are to each other

University of British Columbia

best universities in canada for americans ubc

Prestige, scenery, proximity and quality education are the main selling points of UBC to American students.

UBC is consistently ranked by numerous publication in the top 3 of universities in Canada and usually within top 20-50 in the world. The campus also happens to be one of the prettiest in Canada in one of the most stunning cities in the world. The climate is much more adaptable than most Canadian cities (UVIC being possibly the only other university with better weather) and the surrounding areas are abundant with natural beauty to explore, be it hiking or skiiing.

Vancouver is also just a short drive from a few major US cities, and also is a huge airport hub so you can get there fairly easily from just about any major city in the US. It’s no surprise then that Vancouver has more Americans living in it than any other non-US city in the world.

Thus, as an American, you’ll fit in well, be able to go to a great university, and live in a world-class city. As such, UBC is definitely one of the best universities in Canada for Americans.

University of Toronto

best universities in canada for americans uoft

The University of Toronto can be one of the best universities in Canada for Americans, or it could be not so great. We say this because Toronto is Canada’s biggest city, and although culturally diverse (the most diverse in the world), it also has some of the least amount of traditional Canadian culture. This is neither a good thing nor a bad, but it’s just a really great big city that could essentially be anywhere. For those Americans who want to get out of big US cities and experience something completely different, cities like Quebec City, Montreal, St John’s, Halifax, Winnipeg etc, might be a better fit. Moreover, U of T, being the biggest university in Canada, is sometimes known as having the least amount of school spirit, and is occasionally perceived as being a bit snobby.

However, the reasons why Americans might love U of T are significant. First off, when it comes to reputation across the board (all programs), with the exception of possibly McGill, no university in Canada can compare. Toronto is consistent ranked as one of the best universities in the world, let alone Canada. Moreover, Toronto is culturally diverse, has pretty much everything you could ever need, plenty of night life, and is one of the safest big cities in the world. Additionally, Toronto is ideally located fairly close to the USA and has an abundance of flights coming in and going to the United States. It also boasts the second most Americans outside of the US which means there is plenty of countrymen/women to meet up with. The lakefront is quite nice in the summer and the weather is relatively mild compared to just about everything except UBC, uVIC and University of Windsor. Not too too far away from the city you can ski at Blue Mountain (but heads up, it gets insanely busy) or enjoy a cottage lifestyle in many cottage communities such as Algonquin Park.

It is for these reasons that the University of Toronto is one of the best universities in Canada for Americans.

One of the most iconic skylines in North America, Toronto has everything people could want from a city.

University of Winnipeg

best universities in canada for americans winnipeg

Although known as a terribly cold city (which it is), this shouldn’t scare off American students. It also isn’t close to any huge metropolitan in the US, but it is fairly close to the US border and has a decent amount of flights in and out of Winnipeg. Tuition prices are fairly cheap and education is pretty good, although doesn’t have much prestige compared to the other universities on this list.

Winnipeg is also a significant location for indigenous culture and therefore is a great way for Americans to not only get a glimpse of stereotypical “Canadian” culture (or colonial culture), but also indigenous Canadian culture.

The city itself is a decent size and has more attractions than the city gets credit for. Outside of the city there is some great scenery which many nearby lakes for camping and fishing.

Some might ask, why the University of Winnipeg instead of University of Manitoba? The main reason is that the campus for University of Manitoba is much larger, and farther outside of the downtown core.

If you’re still unsure where to go to university, make sure to take our MatchU quiz. It’s free and takes just 3 minutes!

Alex Dorward

Alex Dorward

Alex is the co-founder of UniversityHub (now CampusRankings) and current Technical Director for CampusRankings. Alex grew up in Ottawa before attending St FX in Antigonish, NS. After graduating, he joined Accenture and is currently a Manager in Accenture Digital.