Compared to many of the “elite” Ivy League Schools in the USA the acceptance rates for most undergraduate programs in Canada are relatively high. However, there are some programs that are highly competitive and can be extremely hard to get into.
We’ve compiled data from some of the most reputable university ranking sources available to determine our list of the 8 hardest undergraduate programs to get into in Canada. This list will include undergraduate programs from many fields including engineering, business, and sciences.
Tied for the number 1 business program in Canada by Macleans the UBC Bachelor of Commerce deserves a spot on our list of the hardest undergraduate programs in Canada. This program has consistently had an admissions average of 92%. In addition to high academic achievement students, the program also looks for students who have leadership, teamwork, and interpersonal skills through their personal profile and online interview. In 2020 around 5000 applicants applied for 740 spots giving the acceptance rate of the UBC Bachelor of Commerce program approximately 15% making it an extremely competitive business and commerce program to get into in Canada.
Engineering at McGill makes this list because of its extremely high average minimum for acceptance. Although McGill does not require a supplemental application it does, however, have a top 5-grade 12-course admission average of approximately 95%, depending on the specific engineering program applied to. Of the 9 engineering programs offered by McGill bioengineering, mechanical engineering, and software engineering have the highest admission averages. McGill does not release information on acceptance rates to their program, however, we can assume that with averages as high as that, this program is extremely competitive.
The Ivey HBA was the first business program at the University of Western Ontario and one of the most unique in Canada. Students enrolled in the program must first complete 2-years of any undergraduate program, in any faculty from a registered university, before entering into the HBA program. While some applicants choose to apply to the program after completing 2 years of their undergraduate degree, most students opt to apply straight from high school and receive conditional acceptances based on undergraduate academic performance. With an acceptance rate of approximately 8% and a lengthy supplemental application, this program offers a unique approach to learning business that many apply to.
This Smith Bachelor of Commerce program is a 4-year degree in the study of business offered at Queen’s University. Through academic performance and an extensive supplementary application, this program looks for well-rounded bright and enthusiastic leaders with an interest in international studies. With an admissions average of 87% and an acceptance rate of approximately 7%, this university gets a spot as one of the hardest undergraduate programs in Canada.
Unlike its engineering counterpart at McGill, Engineering Sciences at the University of Toronto requires applicants to complete a lengthy online student profile in addition to having an admission average of approximately 94%. Although not the most competitive engineering undergraduate program in Canada this program is still extremely hard to get into.
Queen’s Health Sciences is a relatively new, up and coming, premed program that takes some inspiration from the McMaster Health Science program in its teaching philosophy and supplementary application. Although graduate statistics are still unavailable, many believe this program will see a high percentage of their graduates in professional school programs. This excitement has given the Queen’s BHSc program an acceptance rate of around 4%! Despite having this extremely low acceptance rate we believe the BHSc program does not deserve a higher spot on our list because of its relatively low application requirements which may account for its large number of applicants.
One of the first things many people think of when they hear about the University of Waterloo is their highly competitive Software Engineering Program and co-op opportunities. Being the largest engineering faculty in Canada the program looks for students who are high academic achievers, with a 90%+ average, and well-rounded students, through their exhaustive supplementary application. Students with a 90-95% average can expect to have only a 10% chance of admission making software engineering one of the most competitive undergraduate programs in Canada.
Since its inception, the McMaster BHSc program has gained a lot of attention for its unique inquiry teaching philosophies, admission competitiveness, and the high percentage of alumni who are accepted to medical school. This led many students to proclaim it the best premed program in Canada. It is also unique for its relatively short but heavily weighted supplementary application. With a minimum grade requirement of 90%, this program boasts an acceptance rate of less than 5% making it the most competitive health sciences program to get into in Canada.
Honourable Mentions and other Competitive Programs:
In addition to our top 7 hardest undergraduate programs, we wanted to also include other, less conventional, undergraduate programs that are also extremely hard to get into:
- Queen’s University Accelerated Route to Medical School (QuARMS): Offered as an accelerated route to medical school this program awards ten students accepted into the program the $36,000 Queen’s chancellor scholarship and the ability to apply to Queen’s medical school after only 2 years of undergraduate study without completing the MCAT. However, due to recent changes to the program only allowing indigenous peoples and black Canadians to be eligible we felt it would be unfair to include the program in our list as many of our readers would be unable to apply.
- University of Calgary Leaders in Health Science (LHS) Scholarship: The LHS Scholarship at the University of Calgary offers two applying high school students guaranteed admissions to the University of Calgary Medical School after 4 years of undergraduate study and $60,000 in scholarships. However, since the scholarship will not be offered in the 2021 admission cycle, we have opted to exclude it from our list.
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