The Best Psychology Programs In Canada
Are you in high school and want to get into one of the very best Psychology programs in Canada?
Or are you already in university and looking to transfer into a Psychology program, whether it’s for a Bachelor of Science or a Bachelor of Arts?
Or are you an undergraduate student who’s hoping to do their Masters or PhD at the best Canadian university possible for Psychology?
Whatever you’re looking for, the CampusRankings.com team has created the most comprehensive analysis on the web of the best universities for Psychology programs in Canada.
If you’re applying to these schools, I’d highly recommend checking out Admissions Ally. I provide online “admissions bootcamps” for students who really want to get into top psychology programs that require supplementary applications. I have over a decade of experience and a proven track record of getting ~90% of students into their first-choice programs. Learn more at admissionally.ca.
BEST PSYCHOLOGY PROGRAMS IN CANADA – CRITERIA
We evaluated each school based on four criteria:
(1) Quality of undergraduate and graduate education
(2) Research opportunities
(4) University life.
With that in mind, the top five best universities at which to study psychology in Canada are as follows (in no particular order):
– University of Toronto
– Western University
– McGill University
– University of British Columbia
– McMaster University
Since we couldn’t include all the great psychology schools in Canada, we also included a couple of Honourable Mentions at the bottom of this blog. We hope you enjoy!
Degree options: 8/10
If you take Psychology at the University of Toronto as an undergrad, you’ll be getting a Bachelor of Science. For students who want to concentrate on Psychology as well as another major, the Major option is recommended; for students who just want to study Psychology, the Specialist program is a better option, and can be completed either with a thesis or not. U of T also offers a Minor in Environment & Behaviour, which is designed for students who want to understand how psychological motivations shape environmental decision-making.
For graduate students in Psychology at the University of Toronto, the emphasis is on research. Their Clinical Psychology program is partnered with the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, and offers focuses in Child Study and Education, Counselling and Clinical Psychology, Counselling Psychology, Developmental Psychology and Education, and School and Clinical Child Psychology.
Research opportunities: 9/10
U of T is part of the U15 Group of Canadian Research Universities, which represents Canada’s top research institutions. It was also ranked #3 in our 2017 student survey for best academic research, meaning that students have a lot of opportunities to get research experience. This is one of the reasons it made it on the list of best psychology programs in Canada!
As mentioned in the previous section, their Psychology graduate program emphasizes research rather than coursework no matter what you’re focusing on, meaning that it’s a great choice if you’re hoping to get into a research-based field following your graduate degree. Their psychology research is divided into four main areas: brain and behaviour, development, social/personality/abnormal, and perception/cognition/cognitive neuroscience. Each of their campuses also offers slightly different labs and areas of research focus, so make sure you’ve thoroughly explored your options before selecting a campus.
The University of Toronto is well-recognized as one of Canada’s top universities, and its Psychology program is no exception. It’s ranked twelfth globally by the QS World University Rankings, and ninth by the US News Education rankings, which makes it the top-ranked university for Psychology in Canada. Students also consider it a trustworthy school: according to our student rankings, it’s the 5th most reputable university in Canada. Overall, U of T’s reputation for psychology is the best in Canada, making it a great choice if you want to go to one of the best Psychology programs in Canada.
University life: 7/10
When it comes to the university experience at U of T, experiences vary. U of T is often considered a primarily commuter school, particularly at the Mississauga and Scarborough campuses. This can mean that it’s harder to have the sense of being part of a tight school community that other universities have. However, its size means that there are a variety of clubs and activities to join, and its location in the heart of Toronto means that you’ll always be able to find something to do even if you have to leave campus to do it – and its reputation as one of the best Psychology programs in Canada might make up for it.
Degree options: 9/10
Western offers several different options for students hoping to get into psychology at the undergraduate level. In addition to the standard Honours Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Science degree in psychology, students can choose to complete a BA in Psychology concurrently with a BA in Business Administration through their 5-year program with Ivey. Students can also choose to specialize at the undergraduate level in Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience if they want a BA, or specialize in Animal Behaviour (offered with the Biology department) or in Neuroscience if they want a BSc. These options are more varied than those offered at most other universities, and could be good for students who already know what they’re interested in from the beginning of their undergrad.
For graduate degrees, Western offers four areas of focus: Cognitive, Developmental and Brain Sciences, Clinical, Industrial/Organizational and Social, Personality and Developmental Psychology. Its Industrial/Organizational program stands out the most as it isn’t offered at as many other universities, and because Western is also well-known for its business programs as well as being one of best psychology programs in Canada.
Research opportunities: 8/10
Along with the other schools on this list, Western is part of the U15 Group of Canadian Research Universities. Their Social, Personality and Developmental Psychology graduate program appears to be the most explicitly focused on research, but all of their programs involve research components. Their Cognitive, Developmental, and Brain Sciences cluster in particular is partnered with several other area organizations in order to expand their research opportunities.
Their psychology program is less highly ranked than other universities on this list, but is still ranked 38th in the QS World University Rankings, meaning that it was the 4th best university in Canada compared to other schools internationally. It’s ranked 111th in the US News Education rankings, putting it slightly lower than the other schools in this list but still 5th in Canada. Overall, if you’re looking for a psychology program with a great reputation, Western is a strong contender for one of the best Psychology programs in Canada.
University life: 10/10
If you’re looking for the quintessential university experience, then Western is the place for you. With one of the most beautiful campuses according to our rankings, and some of the best restaurants and nightlife around in the city, It’s also an acknowledged party school, with Homecoming and St Patrick’s Day being big events. However, if you’re less interested in partying, Western also has some of the most committees and clubs available to join, meaning that there’s something for everyone.
Degree options: 8/10
When studying psychology at McGill, undergrads can choose between a Bachelor of Science, a Bachelor of Arts, or a combination of both of these (intended for students with interdisciplinary interests). Students who want to continue on to graduate degrees in psychology and who are taking the Major in Psychology are also recommended to take a Minor in behavioural science. Whichever you decide to take, you’ll be surrounded by the 3rd most academic students in the country–meaning that you’re sure to be intellectually stimulated!
At the graduate level, McGill offers two programs. Its Clinical Psychology stream, designed for students who want to teach or work in the clinical field, requires more courses than their Experimental Psychology stream, which is slightly more research-focused (although both are). Its Experimental stream also offers a Language Acquisition focus at the PhD level. Something else to note: applicants who are planning on taking both a Masters’ and PhD degree there, rather than a Master’s degree only, are preferred.
Research opportunities: 9/10
McGill is well-recognized as a research-intensive university across all its faculties, and ranked #1 in our 2017 student survey for its academic research opportunities. It’s part of the U15 Group of Canadian Research Universities, and have research opportunities available for psychology students in Behavioral Neuroscience, Clinical Psychology, Cognition & Cognitive Neuroscience, Developmental Science, Health Psychology, Quantitative Psychology & Modelling, and Social & Personality Psychology. Each of these streams also have several partners within and outside the university – yet another reason why McGill is one of the best Psychology programs in Canada.
McGill is well perceived by other institutions and the general public alike, with students ranking it the #1 most reputable university in Canada. Their psychology program is ranked 21st in the QS World University Rankings and 39th in the US News Education rankings, placing it as the third highest compared to other Canadian schools in both of these rankings. This makes McGill one of the best Psychology programs in Canada.
University life: 9/10
McGill’s location in the heart of Montreal makes it a top choice for students who want to explore. It’s our top-ranked school for the amount of stuff to do in the city, as well as for having the best restaurants and nightlife, meaning that you’ll never get bored. Although it might not be one of the top schools for school pride, it’s still a strong contender. Plus, it’s ranked 8th for best overall value, meaning that you won’t feel like you’ve wasted your student loans going there.
Degree options: 9/10
If you want to study psychology at UBC as an undergrad, you can choose either to get a BA degree in Psychology or a BSc degree in Behavioural Neuroscience. Psychology is the most popular undergraduate major at UBC, with the BA option being by far the more popular option. Both programs also offer a co-op option for students who want to get work experience during their degree, which is one of the reasons it’s one of the best Psychology programs in Canada.
Graduate degrees in psychology at UBC have multiple options within the department. Their programs are separated by research area, meaning that students can choose from Behavioural Neuroscience, Clinical Psychology, Cognitive Science, Developmental Psychology, Health Psychology, Quantitative Methods and Social/Personality Psychology.
However, take note: students applying there following their Bachelor’s degree must apply for their combined MA-PhD program, meaning that you can’t complete only your Masters’ there. However, you can apply for only your PhD if you’ve already completed a thesis-based Master’s program at another school. Their MA program typically takes 24 months to complete, and their PhD program takes 4 to 5 years. They accept only 15-20 applicants per year, with the program beginning in September.
Research opportunities: 9/10
Students looking to get involved in research will find that UBC is a strong contender. They’re part of the U15 Group of Canadian Research Universities and have the 3rd most research chairs in Canada. Plus, they have 45 laboratories, research centres and interdisciplinary hubs of collaboration, divided by the same topics as their graduate degrees. This means that you’re likely to have a lot of different options to get involved regardless of the topic that interests you.
Ranked thirteenth by the QS World University Rankings, UBC is the second-best ranked Canadian university for psychology, and is second to University of Toronto by only one rank. It’s also second only to U of T compared to other Canadian universities in the US News Education rankings, where it’s regarded in as 20th worldwide. Finally, it’s rated the sixth most reputable university in Canada by our student rankings. All of these factors combine to make UBC a great choice for students who want their degree to be well-regarded internationally and at home, and one of the best Psychology programs in Canada.
University life: 8/10
With over 40,000 full-time students, UBC is one of the largest universities in Canada. This makes it ideal if you want to have a lot of chances to meet other students and have the experience of being one of many; on the flip side, though, it might also make it harder to find exactly where you fit in. However, with the beautiful Vancouver weather and lots of opportunities to explore the city no matter which campus you’re at, it’s hard to imagine having a bad experience there.
Degree options: 9/10
Psychology at McMaster is offered through both their Arts and Science departments, meaning you’d get either a Bachelor of Science or a Bachelor of Arts at the end of your undergraduate degree. Both of these options offer specializations in Mental Health or in Music Cognition. They also have Bachelor of Applied Science Programs with Graduate Certificates offered in conjunction with Mohawk College, which give students the chance to specialize in Autism & Behavioural Science or Early Childhood Education, and are a little more hands-on than other psychology programs.
If you’re looking to pursue a graduate program at McMaster, you’ll also have a few options to choose from. Graduate students in psychology can focus on Animal Behaviour, Systems and Behavioural Neuroscience, Cognition/Perception, Developmental Psychology and Evolution and Social Behaviour, as well as Research and Clinical Training (although it’s important to note that this is their newest Psychology program, and might thus be less established). With some of the most academically minded students in the country, McMaster’s degrees are sure to prepare you for any career or studies that you want to pursue.
Research opportunities: 8/10
Like the rest of the schools on this list, they’re part of the U15 Group of Canadian Research Universities. They also boast the second-highest number of research chairs for a Canadian school, and were ranked fourth in Canada for research opportunities by our student survey. Their research streams are divided the same as their graduate programs, and depending on your interests, there are several courses that are recommended per your interests.
Although McMaster isn’t as highly ranked for psychology as the rest of the schools in this list, it’s still in the top 100 of universities on the QS and is fourth ranked in terms of Canadian schools for psychology in the US News Education rankings. This makes it one of the top Canadian schools at which to study psychology, even if it’s not at the top of this list. Plus, according to our student rankings, it’s in the top ten of most reputable universities in Canada. However, beware: McMaster was ranked the hardest school to get into in our 2016 rankings. Be prepared to have high marks if you want to join their ranks!
University life: 8/10
McMaster is a slightly smaller university than others on this list, but that doesn’t make it any less fun. If anything, it might mean that you feel less worried about drowning in the crowd. It’s also a relatively diverse university whose students are welcoming and friendly. Hamilton itself has an up-and-coming foodie scene, and it’s also near Toronto if you want to make a weekend getaway to a larger city.
University of Waterloo
UWaterloo is well-known both in Canada and on a global scale for its research opportunities, many of which focus on using cutting-edge technology. Its co-op program is equally well-recognized, meaning that psych students have the chance to get hands-on experience in their field beginning at the undergraduate level and thus is one of the best Psychology programs in Canada.
Queen’s beautiful campus and reputation as a fun party school mean that it’ll never be short of applicants. Their psychology program more specifically allows undergrads to finish with a thesis or with three seminar courses rather than a more traditional course-based approach, and their graduate programs are offered in four areas: Brain, Behaviour and Cognitive Science (BBCS), Clinical, Developmental, and Social-Personality.
York is sometimes disparaged for its location on the outskirts of Toronto (although it’s gotten more convenient with the new subway line) and for its less-than-stellar safety record, but there’s no denying that it still has a strong academic track record. Psychology students at the undergrad level can get a BA or a BSc, and their graduate program is the largest in Canada, with students able to choose from seven different areas of specialization.
All of these universities are great options if you’re looking to get into one of the best Psychology programs in Canada. Good luck with your applications!
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