Canada offers one of the best experiences for international students. With some of the top-ranking universities in the world and a wide variety of programs offered, Canada is visited by thousands of international students each year.

However, this has caused the competition between hopeful applicants to increase and acceptance rates to decrease. Here, we’ve compiled the universities with the lowest acceptance rates in Canada. This way, you can start to prepare in order to beat challenging odds to pursue the education you want.

Universities in Canada with Low Rates of Acceptance

1. York University

This is one of the largest universities in Canada with over 55,000 students. There is a wide number of faculties, which allows the university to offer different programs. These range between numerous subjects, from health sciences to law school education.

Their film school, law school, and business school are ranked among the best in the entire country with widespread international recognition. However, you need to keep in mind that events such as labor strikes have become a constant issue at this institution.

2. Western University

This university in Canada with a low acceptance rate is located in Ontario, and it’s a public research university. With more than 24,000 students, this house of studies has expanded from its initial four schools. It started by offering programs in law, medicine, divinity, and arts.

Now, it has considerably grown and numerous smaller colleges have merged with this bigger institution to form the modern version of Western University. With six libraries within campus grounds, students can enjoy their study and research time to the fullest while staying on campus.

3. University of Toronto

This university was one of the first in the country. The University of Toronto was founded in 1827 and it started with the name King’s College. It’s formed by eleven colleges, which are very independent of each other. Aside from the main campus in Toronto, there are two more campuses in neighboring cities.

Numerous research achievements have been reached at this university. Some of the listed accomplishments are insulin research and production, which greatly improved the treatment of diabetes. Their approach to social sciences is also widely recognized, and their school communication and literary criticism are considered one of the best in the entire world.

4. McGill University

This Canadian university with a low acceptance rate is located in Montreal, Quebec. McGill University has two campuses in Montreal, and it was founded in 1821. The main faculties are in the subjects of arts, medicine, management, and engineering.

In total, McGill offers over 300 different programs at all levels of higher education. Despite its location in Quebec, all classes are taught in English with few optional courses taught in French. For international students, the only program that requires knowledge of French is McGill’s law program.

5. Queen’s University

This university was founded in 1841 by a mandate made by Queen Victoria. It’s a public research university, and it’s located in Kingston, Ontario. There are approximately 23,000 students enrolled in both undergraduate and graduate programs.

Queen’s University has one of the biggest collections of books and archives, with six libraries throughout its campus. Furthermore, they had made a huge investment in modernizing the available options, now including e-books and digital files made available to students.

6. University of Alberta

This university is located in Edmonton, Alberta, and it’s one of the most research-focused institutions in the country. The University of Alberta is one of the biggest universities, with four campuses in Edmonton and over 30,000 students. International students from over 100 countries attend this institution despite the inclement weather in the area.

There’s an important focus on development and agriculture, which has greatly benefitted the area and the country thanks to different innovations made at the University of Alberta.

7. University of Waterloo

The University of Waterloo was named after its location, which is Waterloo, Ontario. This university in Canada with low acceptance rates comprised of six faculties, and it offers a wide variety of academic programs.

One of the things that make it attractive for both national and international students is the great number of research programs available. This allows students to be on the road toward innovation with hands-on research.

8. University of British Columbia

This university is one of the most prestigious ones in the country. With three Prime Ministers as alumni, including the current Prime Minister (Justin Trudeau), its reputation is one of the best in the continent. Furthermore, the University of British Columbia highly values research and innovation.

This has led it to develop numerous ambitious graduate programs, which are highly focused on diverse projects. Some of the areas that stand out are studies in nuclear and quantum physics. The first Max Planck Institute in the continent was established here.

9. University of Ottawa

This university has a unique characteristic. It’s the largest higher education institution in the world in which programs are taught in both English and French. Located in Ottawa, Ontario, the quality of its programs makes it a very attractive option for students from all over the world.

Some of the fields studied at the University of Ottawa include law, medicine, social sciences, and management, to name a few. International students form more than 15% of the student body, and the total population of the institution is estimated at over 40,000 students.

10. University of Montreal

  • Estimated Acceptance Rate: 57%

We end our list of universities in Canada with the lowest acceptance rates with the University of Montreal. This university is located in Montreal, Quebec, and classes are completely taught in French. It’s a big institution, offering over 600 different programs. With over 70 doctoral programs, this public research university places great value on stimulating innovation.

This is one of the things that draws students worldwide. With over 30,000 undergraduate students and more than 10,000 graduate students, this institution has expanded exponentially from its days as a satellite school. The university has steadily ranked among the best in Canada for the past years.


Studying in Canada is a very good option for the majority of students. Even the universities with the lowest acceptance rates provide very good opportunities for admission. It has often been established that the real problem at certain Canadian universities is not getting in but staying in the program.

This is due to the high demands made by the faculty, as they want their students to be challenged, and they motivate them to pursue academic excellence.


We hope that this article on universities in Canada with the lowest acceptance rate was helpful. Make sure to also check out the Available Programs in Canada!

About the Author: Hyun Lee

Hi! I am Hyun, and I am the founder at Global Scholarships. I've received a full-tuition scholarship at Birmingham-Southern College and a $1,000 Burger King Scholarship for my undergraduate degree and was offered a fully funded scholarship consisting of tuition, living stipend, and health insurance for computer science Ph.D. program at North Carolina State University. You can read more about my scholarship journey here. If you are interested, you can follow me on Linkedin where I regularly write about scholarship opportunities.

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