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Medical education in Canada underwent major shifts in perspectives and practice during first decades of the 21st century.
Most medical schools adopted curriculum revisions designed to involve their degree candidates more directly in shaping the direction of their study.
Small group observations and discussions, active and recursive learning models, peer and faculty mentorship and one-on-one reviews, and increased time for elective pursuits represent some of the innovations implemented among the medical schools in the Canadian top ten, listed here.
In Canada, the term “undergraduate’ refers in medical programs to the MD degree, while “postgraduate” designates the residency and fellowship period of study.
“Graduate” and “postdoctoral,” as in the United States, indicate degrees like a Master of Science or PhD program.
Citizenship or permanent residency status can be a requirement. Some programs accept applicants primarily from their province or region and accept no international applicants.
Those who do accept international applicants do not guarantee eligibility for the Canadian residency match program for physicians.
Canadian medical schools lead in curriculum innovation, research, and commitment to community. From the maritime regions of the Northeast to British Columbia and the Northwest territories, excellent medical programs exist throughout Canada, as this list of the top schools shows.
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Official Canada Medical Schools Ranking 2023/2024
1. The University of Toronto
University of Toronto Rankings
- #18 in Best Global Universities
- #1 in Best Global Universities in Canada
The University of Toronto is a public institution that was founded in 1827. Around 80 percent of its students study at the undergraduate level. The school has three campuses – St. George, Mississauga and Scarborough – located in and around Toronto. Roughly 95 percent of the university’s graduate students study at the downtown St. George campus, as do upward of 60 percent of its undergraduates. Thousands of foreign students from more than 160 countries and regions attend the University of Toronto.
In a recent year, the top countries of origin for non-Canadian students were China, India and the U.S. Tuition is higher for international students.
The university comprises academic divisions focused on a range of disciplines, such as applied science and engineering, management and public health. All told, the university offers some 700 undergraduate programs and more than 200 master’s and doctoral programs.
The primary language of instruction is English. The academic calendar varies between the three campuses. Student housing is available on each campus, and accommodations are guaranteed for all first-year undergraduate students. The university has more than 44 libraries that house 19 million-plus physical volumes. One major innovation that came out of the University of Toronto is insulin, which researchers discovered in the early 1920s. The university’s Banting & Best Diabetes Centre is named after two of these researchers, one of whom eventually went on to win the Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine for this work.
The Total fee for International students is within $90,000 – $100,000. They also provide scholarships and financial aid.
SEE ALSO: Canadian Fully Funded Scholarships for International Students without IELTS 2023/2024 | Bachelors, Masters, PhD
University of Toronto Data
Total number of students – 77,468
Number of international students – 20,050
Total number of academic staff – 3,006
Number of international staff – 1,070
Number of undergraduate degrees awarded – 12,618
Number of master’s degrees awarded – 6,266
Number of doctoral degrees awarded – 1,640
Number of research only staff- 2,726
Number of new undergraduate students – 13,789
Number of new master’s students – 5,869
Number of new doctoral students – 1,925
2. University of British Columbia
University of British Columbia Rankings
- #35 in Best Global Universities
- #2 in Best Global Universities in Canada
The University of British Columbia is a public institution located in the Canadian province of British Columbia. The university was established in 1908 and opened in 1915. It has two main campuses – the Vancouver campus and the Okanagan campus located in Kelowna.
The Vancouver campus is the larger of the two, accommodating more than 85 percent of UBC students. In a recent year, 23 percent of students at the Vancouver campus and around 13 percent at the Okanagan campus were international. Tuition costs at UBC vary by degree program and are higher for international students. University housing is guaranteed for first-year UBC undergraduates, and newly admitted international students who are second-year undergrads receive housing priority too.
Housing is also available for returning undergraduate and graduate students.
The Vancouver campus offers more than two dozen academic divisions, while the Okanagan campus has eight. The academic calendars for both campuses include two-term winter and summer sessions, although the summer session is optional. The primary language of instruction at UBC is English. First-year international students can opt to enroll in the Vantage One program at UBC’s Vantage College, which aims to help students improve their English, in part by stretching their first year of study from eight to 11 months.
Following completion, students transition into the second year of their UBC degree program. Examples of UBC research facilities include Canada’s national TRIUMF subatomic physics laboratory, the Centre for Sustainable Food Systems at UBC Farm and the Institute for Healthy Living and Chronic Disease Prevention.
SEE ALSO: 10 Postgraduate Scholarships in Canada for International Students
3. McMaster University
McMaster University Rankings
- #138 in Best Global Universities
- #5 in Best Global Universities in Canada
McMaster University is a public institution that was founded in 1887. The Canadian university’s main campus is in a suburban neighborhood of Hamilton, Ontario, near the western edge of Lake Ontario and not far from the U.S. border. Other campuses are located in downtown Hamilton, Burlington, Kitchener-Waterloo and Niagara. The university’s international students hail from more than 75 countries, and its full-time faculty members come from more than 55.
Tuition costs are higher for non-Canadian students. University-operated student housing is available, with options including themed living communities such as an all-female community, a healthy active living community and a global perspectives community.
The university has six main academic divisions – engineering, health sciences, humanities, science, social sciences and the DeGroote School of Business – and the primary language of instruction is English. McMaster University also has an arts and science program that enrolls around 60 students each year and offers a more interdisciplinary undergraduate experience. The academic calendar for McMaster undergraduates is semester-based and includes an optional spring/summer term.
The graduate-level academic calendar has three terms: fall, winter and summer. Some of the university’s more than 60 research centers and institutes are the Centre for Health Economics and Policy Analysis, the McMaster eBusiness Research Centre and the Canadian Centre for Electron Microscopy. The university also has its own nuclear reactor, which is used for research. An interesting fact about the university is that one-fifth of Albert Einstein’s brain sits in a jar in one of the school’s labs where a McMaster neuroscientist studies it and other specimens.
4. McGill University
McGill University Rankings
- #54 in Best Global Universities
- #3 in Best Global Universities in Canada
McGill University is a public institution that was founded in 1821 and is located in Quebec, Canada. The university has two campuses: the downtown campus in Montreal and the Macdonald campus in Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue. The two campuses are approximately 20 miles apart. The primary language of instruction is English, although in a recent year around 20 percent of university students said French was their mother tongue. In fact, around half of the population of Montreal speaks French as a first language.
Around one-fourth of the student body is international, with students hailing from more than 150 countries. University housing is available for undergraduate and graduate students on both campuses.
The university is made up of 10 faculties and schools – agricultural and environmental sciences, arts, dentistry, education, engineering, law, management, medicine, music and science – that offer around 300 programs of study. Around two-thirds of the university’s students study at the undergraduate level. Tuition costs are higher for international students, and McGill’s academic calendar is based on a semester system.
The university is affiliated with multiple teaching hospitals, and its medical school is the oldest in Canada. Research at the university takes place at more than 40 McGill research centers – such as the McGill Centre for Bioinformatics, the Centre on Population Dynamics and the Centre for Intellectual Property Policy – and at other affiliated institutes and hospitals. The creation of the first artificial blood cell is among the research achievements associated with the university.
5. University of Alberta
University of Alberta Rankings
- #136 in Best Global Universities (tie)
- #4 in Best Global Universities in Canada
The University of Alberta is a public institution that was founded in 1908. Located in the province of Alberta in Western Canada, around 80 percent of the university’s students study at the undergraduate level. The university is made up of five campuses, four of which are in the city of Edmonton, including the main North Campus, which covers around 50 city blocks. The university’s fifth site, the Augustana Campus, is located roughly an hour away from Edmonton in the rural city of Camrose.
Some 1,000 students study at the smaller Augustana Campus, which focuses on liberal arts and sciences.
The university offers studies in a range of disciplines, such as arts, business, engineering and medicine. English is the language of instruction, with the exception of the university’s Campus Saint-Jean, where French is the primary language. More than 20 percent of the University of Alberta student body is international, and tuition costs are higher for these students. The school’s academic calendar is made up of fall and winter terms, as well as shorter, optional spring and summer terms.
University housing is available for undergraduate and graduate students in Edmonton and at the Augustana campus. The University of Alberta is affiliated with major research institutions, such as the multidisciplinary National Institute for Nanotechnology. The university also has more than 400 research, teaching and exchange agreements with schools and other organizations around the world, such as the University of Munich in Germany and the University of Western Australia.
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