Canada’s Top Comprehensive University 2019: Simon Fraser

Home to Canada’s most powerful supercomputer, Simon Fraser leads in research with real-world applications
Sarah Niedoba
The Simon Fraser University Surrey Campus on Friday, Sept. 15, 2017. The campus is part of Central City, a facility that is also home to a mall, grocery stores and offices. (Photograph by Taehoon Kim)

For students looking for a wide selection of educational choices, Simon Fraser University is worth considering. The school offers 100 undergraduate and 45 graduate programs, with a stated focus on interdisciplinary research and critical thinking.

SFU has a reputation for research programs with real-world applications, particularly when it comes to tech. The latest example of this trend is a new program that is dedicated to preparing students for careers in Canada’s growing clean-tech sector, set to launch in the fall of 2019. The sustainable energy engineering program will give students the tools they need to work with renewable energy, sustainable manufacturing, clean power generation and sustainable food creation.


This year, SFU also announced the launch of Canada’s first visual computing master’s program, which will focus on computer vision and human-computer interaction and visualization. The goal is to help students succeed in the quickly expanding fields of augmented reality, VR, medical imaging and autonomous driving. SFU is already ranked 13th in the world for research publication in computer graphics and computer vision.

The school launched its master’s of computer science program last year; its alumni have already gone on to work for some of B.C.’s top tech companies. It’s also home to Cedar, Canada’s most powerful academic supercomputer.

This fall, the university unveiled the SFU ImageTech Lab, which will combine MRI and MEG technology for a cutting-edge medical imaging research facility. The hope is that the lab will allow medical researchers to make rapid advances in the treatment of brain injury, tumours, epilepsy, autism, Down’s syndrome, aging, dementia, addictions and mood disorders.

The school’s many offerings are spread out over three campuses, with locations in Burnaby, downtown Vancouver and Surrey. Students can choose between the rugged mountain views of the Burnaby Mountain campus and the more urban feel of the downtown Vancouver location. SFU prioritizes sustainability in all its buildings and has an ongoing 20-year zero-waste initiative.

Next year, students at the Burnaby campus will be celebrating the completion of a new $55-million, 100,000-square-foot student union building. The campus also features UniverCity, an urban community under construction nearby with shops, restaurants and a market for students and faculty to enjoy.

In an effort to prioritize student wellbeing, SFU has also launched a new 24-7 mental health app called My Student Support Program. The two-year pilot project provides students with confidential access to counsellors through a mobile app. They can either chat with someone over the app, or book an in-person appointment, assuring timely and appropriate care for their mental health needs.