Canada’s Top Primarily Undergraduate University 2019: Mount Allison

Students on the cozy Mount Allison campus are more likely to work on research directly with professors
Sarah Niedoba
Students walking on Mount Allison campus. (Mount Allison)

With a small campus and a student body that just tops 2,000, Mount Allison University prides itself on providing an intimate experience. That might be why it’s been ranked as the top undergraduate school in Canada a whopping 20 times.

Not every student is looking for a stadium-sized lecture hall, and the Sackville, N.B., school caters to those who prefer to know the names of the people they walk by on campus. First-year classes are roughly 60 students, while the average upper-year class size sits at 14. That brings the school’s student-to-faculty ratio to a snug 17:1.


Students at Mount Allison are encouraged to pursue research opportunities with their professors, which could lead to co-publishing articles during their undergraduate careers. Since 1988, eight Mount Allison professors have been named 3M National Teaching Fellows, one of the country’s top teaching honours.

In 2017, the annual National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE) found that Mount Allison students are more likely than students at most other Canadian institutions to work on research directly with professors, and to interact with faculty members on activities other than coursework. In their extracurricular lives, the survey found that students were more likely to be involved in on-campus events and be encouraged to attend social and cultural activities. Students report a remarkable level of happiness with their school experience—more than 80 per cent of first-year students rate their experience as good or excellent, while 91 per cent of senior students say the same, according to the NSSE.

The school features a tight-knit community of undergraduate students, 80 per cent of whom live on campus. The campus is full of ivy-covered brick buildings centred around “Swan Pond,” a picturesque spot that serves as a skating rink in winter. The nearby Tantramar Rail Trail offers 33 km of beautiful hiking through the heart of New Brunswick, while the Tantramar Outdoor Club provides students with plenty of chances to get outside and explore the natural beauty that surrounds the school.

In 2014, the school opened the Purdy Crawford Centre for the Arts, a modern building featuring studios, galleries and a 100-seat theatre. It is currently in the process of creating a new Centre for Environmental Innovation, an environmental science facility that will focus on the study of climate change.

Mount Allison boasts that everything on campus is just a 10-minute walk away, making it easy to get involved. Students can choose from more than 150 clubs and societies, and are encouraged to pursue opportunities that range from movie clubs to sports teams.

For those looking for a chance to study outside of the intimate campus environment, the school offers 31 study abroad programs in 20 countries across five continents.