Canada’s Best University Programs 2021: Methodology

Maclean’s sixth annual program rankings assess quality and research from a reputation perspective in nine popular areas in the sciences and social sciences
Biology lab at the University of Saskatchewan. (Courtesy of the University of Saskatchewan)
Biology Room 1 - EEPPI (Environmental Effects on Plant Pathogen Interactions) centre Tagnon Missihoun (Post-doc in Peta Bonham-Smith’s Lab) (Photograph by Derek Mortensen)

Choosing a university is only part of the process for students. The other part involves what to study. While students’ talents and interests will help steer them toward their preferred field, they must also find the university that has the best program for their needs. To help them find it, Maclean’s presents its sixth annual program rankings, which evaluate nine popular programs in the sciences and social sciences based on their reputations for quality and research strength.

Maclean’s contacted faculty and senior administrators at universities across Canada, seeking their views in an online survey. Academics were asked to identify their area of expertise and then list up to 10 universities that they felt offered the best programs and conducted the best research in that area. In the end, 1,000 professors, deans and chairs at more than 80 universities responded.

(This year, Maclean’s did not use the bibliometric indicators used in previous years. These indicators measure the number of research publications produced by faculty and how often these works are cited.)

The following pages show the results for the top 20 universities in each program area, based on the survey results. Program reputation and research reputation contributed equally to the final results; both were weighted at 50 per cent.

2021 program rankings