Hardest Undergraduate Programs to Get Into in Canada

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 for the 8 hardest undergraduate programs to get into in Canada. This list will include undergraduate programs from many fields including engineering, business, and sciences.

#8. University of British Columbia Bachelor of Commerce

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.

#7. Mechanical Engineering at McGill University

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.

#6. Western University’s Ivey Bachelor of Arts in Honors Business Administration (HBA) Program

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.

#5. Smith Bachelor of Commerce at Queen’s University

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. 

#4. Engineering Sciences at the University of Toronto

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.

#3. Queen’s Bachelor of Health Sciences

Queen’s Health Sciences is a relatively new, up and coming, health science 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.

#2. Software Engineering at the University of Waterloo

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.

#1. McMaster Bachelor of Health Sciences Honors Program

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. 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.

Getting good grades is one of the most important, and universal, factors in getting admitted to the hardest undergraduate programs around the world. Check out our comprehensive list of universal study habits to get maximum grades in minimum time to help improve your performance in high school.

24 Replies to “Hardest Undergraduate Programs to Get Into in Canada”

  1. Hey! Accepted McMaster Health Sci applicant here (class of 2025). The acceptance rate of Mac Health Sci was actually 3% this year—not sure if you’d like to update your website with this! 🙂

    1. Absolutely! We will update it as soon as we get the chance. Congratulations to everyone that was sent an offer!

  2. Adding onto my previous comment, 7000 people applied for McMaster Health Sciences this year for 240 spots!

  3. One other issue is when you are in a circumstances where you don’t have a cosigner then you may actually want to try to exhaust all of your financial aid options. You can find many funds and other scholarships that will offer you money to help you with college expenses. Thanks for the post.

  4. I would also consider Dev Degree at York and Carleton. The acceptance rate is close to 1%, but in truth, it is less. They never announce it publicly but it is well known to be the most competitive cs program to get into in Canada right next to waterloo cs/swe.

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  6. I would say Queens Health Sci is more “competitive” than Waterloo software eng. Mac and Queens Health Sci are basically tied at this point.

    Basic Math:
    Queens Health Sci – 170 spots from 5600 applicants (3.01% acceptance rate)
    Mac Health Sci – 240 spots from 7000 applicants (3.43% acceptance rate)

    1. Hi Alex! We chose Queen’s Health Sciences as 3rd for two reasons. Firstly, since the program is relatively new we want to see if they have similar acceptance rates throughout multiple years. Secondly, we also think about the minimum requirements for applicants to each program. Since Queen’s Health Sciences has a minimum average to apply of 75% vs McMaster Health Sciences at 90% McMaster Health Sciences automatically bars many applicants from applying while Queen’s Health Sciences does not. Of course, this is all our opinion and it is definitely possible to argue for Queen’s Health Sciences being higher on the list.

    2. Actually Queens sent out more offers than Mac Health Sci! I believe their 2025 cohort is around 300 students so their minimum acceptance rate would be around 5% excluding the students who rejected their offers

    3. The admissions requirements for Queen’s Health Sci are much much lower. The reason the acceptance rate is so low is because you only need 75% to be considered – this makes the applicant pool larger. The supplementary essays for Queen’s are also much simpler than Waterloo’s and McMaster’s.

  7. I would definitely say that Waterloo Computer Science is at the 4th spot for Canada. It is definitely more competitive than UofT EngSci. Some people over discord and reddit were talking about this list and they seem to agree with me as well. Even though Waterloo doesn’t really release statistics for this program, it definitely has to be up there.

  8. Waterloo CS should be 4th, push everything back one imo. The top 3 makes sense, maybe queens health sci should be 2nd, but idk?

    1. Waterloo Software Engineering isn’t Computer Science. Tbh Queen’s should be lower on this list; the acceptance rate is misleading.

    1. Hi Sri! From our experience ibiomed at McMaster is a difficult program to get into but not to the degree that the programs on this list are. It just depends on what programs you compare it to. Hope this helps!

  9. Why is this post “uncategorized”, just make a separate thing titled “most competitive uni programs in Canada”.

  10. I find the criteria interesting – % of applicants that got in – vs. average required or some other mechanism and definitely think that the basis for the ranking should have been discussed in the article itself rather than only in the comments section.

    I think I would have used something along the lines of cutoff average to get into a program; supplementary applications; etc. as the criteria for ranking – although, all mechanisms would have their issues. The method used would seem to rank newer programs that people don’t necessarily have a good idea of the true entrance requirements higher than established programs that everyone knows are hard to get into – the number of applicants would naturally be higher and the acceptance rate lower.

    For example, Waterloo engineering (simply an example I am most familiar with – I’m sure it is similar elsewhere) used to (still does?) disclose what marks it took to get into each program the year before (much different than the minimum requirements) – if you aren’t close to that you aren’t going to bother applying there whereas if you didn’t have that information you wouldn’t hesitate.

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