From community colleges and nonprofit institutions to public and private universities, there is something for everyone in Vancouver – the largest and capital city of British Columbia.
Vancouver has many nicknames related to its geography, culture, and top industries. The city is referred to as “Raincouver,” as it averages almost 50 inches of rainfall per year.
Film enthusiasts will recognize Vancouver as “Hollywood North,” as it is headquarters to the third-largest TV and film industry in the continent.
Architectural experts regard Vancouver as the City of Glass, a reflection of the glass aesthetic that pervades Vancouver’s downtown area.
Students from all walks of life can expect to find housing that meets their needs – Vancouver is simultaneously regarded as one of the most livable cities in the world. The city is home to numerous theaters, festivals, libraries, museums, concert venues, and culinary delights.
A city as vibrant as Vancouver, British Columbia is also home to some of the best colleges in Canada, North America, and the entire world.
Here are 10 of the best colleges in Vancouver.
Vancouver Community College
At VCC, most programs stipulate that students must train in local businesses or facilities to gain workplace skills, and the school is designed to immerse students in real-world work contexts.
Their facilities include restaurants, an auto shop, a spa, and a salon, all of which offer lower-cost services to the Vancouver community.
Kevin Cherkas is just one example of a successful VCC grad– he is now a celebrity chef who once worked for world-renowned Chef Daniel Boulud.
In 2009, VCC opened the $55 million Broadway campus expansion — a 133,000 sq ft building that houses VCC’s health science training programs.
Regardless of what vocational track students are passionate about pursuing, they can be sure to expect state-of-the-art facilities and expert faculty members to support them along the way.
Established in 1936, Columbia College is Canada’s longest-running international nonprofit college. The school consistently ranks as one of the top 3 higher learning institutions that channel international students to the University of British Columbia.
As part of their High School Program, Columbia College offers a Senior Secondary Program for seniors to complete courses more quickly than they might in a regular high school.
Students who complete Grade 10 but do not wish to graduate from high school can participate in the Accelerated Secondary Program, which fast-tracks them to enter the transfer program at Columbia College.
Columbia College additionally operates a University Preparatory Program for high school graduates who are not yet ready for direct admission to a university, as well as a refugee bursaries program, which allows high school refugee students to complete their high school education or pursue an associate’s degree free of charge.
Columbia hosts the Limitless academic conference on an annual basis, where students present their research findings to the community and engage in discussions.
University Canada West
Founded in 2005, University Canada West (UCW) is currently owned by Global University Systems, which owns and operates institutions in the United Kingdom, Canada, Israel, India, Germany, and Ireland.
UCW has recently received a 5-star rating from the QS Stars higher education rating system – it is the 3rd Canadian university and the first in British Columbia to receive such a distinction.
Their MBA program is ranked #4 in Canada by ApplyBoard, and the college frequently receives accolades for its online learning programs.
UCW grads can expect gainful employment within a year of graduating; in fact, 100% of graduates are employed within 6 months, 88% of students are employed within 3 months, and 67% are employed within one month.
UCW alumni work for some of the most successful global corporations, including Siemens, Apple, Nestle, and Walt Disney World.
British Columbia Institute of Technology
One of British Columbia’s largest colleges, the BC Institute of Technology contributes over $800 million to the economy.
The campus of almost 50,000 students is made up of six schools dedicated to the following fields: Computing and Academic Studies, Construction and the Environment, Energy, Transportation, and Health Sciences.
The BC Institute of Technology is the first permanent trade school in British Columbia and currently focuses on practical applications over theoretical knowledge.
96% of BCIT graduates are employed, and 97% of apprentice completers are employed within a year of graduating from the Institute.
Their alumni go on to experience significant success; in fact, BCIT carpentry alum Kevin Hatch was recently recognized as the recipient of the Forty Under 40 by Business in Vancouver, and he takes on many apprentices from the BCIT carpentry program.
Emily Carr University of Art and Design
Named after Canadian artist Emily Carr, the university is one of the oldest in British Columbia, and the only one specifically dedicated to professional education in arts, design, and media.
Emily Carr was named the top university for art & design in Canada in 2021, placing 30th in the entire world.
Emily Carr recently built a center dedicated to Aboriginal cultural development, which regularly hosts contemporary artists, indigenous talking circles, and other events. In 2009, ECU collaborated with Kerner Studio (of Lucasfilm) to create a stereoscopic 3D research studio specializing in creating 3D movies.
Named after Chief Joe Capilano – a leader of the Squamish Nation of the Coast Salish tribe – Capilano University was founded in 1968 by the denizens and school boards of Vancouver. All classes initially took place in the evening.
Capilano is known for its focus on teaching, and it is the first Canadian university to be accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities. The school will begin construction on a new Center for Childhood Studies on the main campus in the middle of 2022, which is slated to open in late 2024.
Athletically-minded students will gravitate to the Capilano University Blues sports matches – the school’s times have earned 14 national titles as members of the Canadian Collegiate Athletic Association.
Singer/songwriter Sarah McLachlan is one of the university’s most well-known alumni – she received her doctorate of fine arts from Capilano. Since then, Capilano grads have continued to receive accolades; in 2017, seven jazz program alumni and two professors were nominated for Juno awards.
Known as the “house of teachings,” Langara received its name from the Musqueam First Nation, upon whose land they are situated. The neighborhood was named after Admiral Juan de Langara of Spain, who made many valuable contributions to the field of cartography.
Langara is one of British Columbia’s top undergraduate institutions that provides career studies, continuing studies, and university studies.
Students can expect to learn from faculty members who are considered experts in their field.
For example, Canadian film director and actor Kathryn Shaw oversees Studio 58 at the School of Theatre Arts, which has ranked as one of the top 5 theatre schools in Canada. The school accepts a mere 16 per semester for a 2-year production or 3-year acting program out of hundreds of auditioners.
Kwantlen Polytechnic University
Established in 1981, Kwantlen Polytechnic is Canada’s only polytechnic university focusing on hands-on practical skills; in fact, most of its programs include a field experience component.
All classes are capped at 35 students across their five campus locations at Surrey, Richmond, Cloverdale, Langley, and Civic Plaza.
KPU offers unique programs that cannot be found at other Canadian or North American institutions. For example, their fashion and technology, product design degrees are the only ones in Western Canada.
The school is also the first public university to offer a program in acupuncture and traditional Chinese medicine.
Kwantlen is the only location in BC for students to obtain a brewing diploma, and they are the first brewing program recognized by the Master Brewers Association. Additionally, the Bachelor of Horticulture Science in Urban Ecosystems is the only one of its kind on the continent.
The brand new Wilson School of Design was opened to students in 2018. Students can enjoy many other cost-free amenities, including English language studies and free membership to fitness centers (which alumni and employees can enjoy, as well).
Simon Fraser University
Simon Fraser’s Vancouver campus opened in 1989 and is currently beloved as the “intellectual heart of the city.”
The school is consistently ranked among the best universities in Canada and the top 250 global universities.
Additionally, Maclean’s University Rankings named them the top Canadian Comprehensive University, and they are ranked #2 in Research Impact out of Canada’s top 15 research universities.
SFU houses a student-business incubator called the Coast Capital Venture Connection; here, students learn how to market and capitalize on their research. The school launched one of Canada’s first and now largest co-op education programs and has situated more than 8,500 students in global corporation placements; for this reason, they garnered recognition as a top employer by Forbes Magazine.
Simon Fraser’s graduates and faculty bring much acclaim to the university. Ernest Becker, who wrote the Pulitzer Prize-winning book, The Denial of Death, spent his last several years as a professor at SFU.
The school has produced three Rhodes Scholars, and 11 SFU scholars were recently named to the Royal Society of Canada (Canada’s highest academic honor).
University of British Columbia
Open since 1915, the University of British Columbia now ranks among the 20 best public universities around the globe. The school has dedicated an impressive $759.1 million in funds across 10,000 projects in its history.
The Timer Higher Education World University Rankings named them the 2nd best university in Canada for 2022 and the 7th in North American Public Institution.
Additional global rankings include 3rd place in and a first-place tie for Industry, Innovation, and Infrastructure Impact (their research has spawned 233 new companies!).
The lipid nanoparticle delivery system that enables the Pfizer-BioNTech mRNA vaccine to penetrate human cells originates from Dr. Pieter Cullis’ research lab at UBC; Dr. Cullis and 6 other colleagues were recently appointed to the Order of Canada in 2021.
With such a prestigious reputation, students will not be surprised to learn of the many recognizable alumni who have made valuable contributions to an array of fields.
The ever-growing list includes eight Nobel Prize winners (of which five were faculty, including economics professor Daniel Kahneman) and 71 Rhodes Scholars.
Olympians hailing from UBC have acquired 63 medals (of which 19 are gold), and three Canadian prime ministers got their start at UBC: John Turner, Kim Campbell, and Justin Trudeau.