Nursing, education lead strong U of A performance in latest Maclean’s rankings

Excellence across five high-demand programs helps university rank fifth among Canada’s major medical-doctoral institutions.

Hanna Filipovic

U of A students pursuing careers in nursing (pictured) and education benefit from programs ranked among the top three in Canada, according to the latest Maclean’s Canadian University Rankings. (Photo: John Ulan)

The University of Alberta offers some of Canada’s best programs for students seeking careers as nurses and teachers, according to the Maclean’s 2023 Canadian University Rankings, which also saw the university place fifth among Canada’s major medical-doctoral universities.

“I’m delighted to see the University of Alberta receiving recognition as a top five university. The breadth and scope of the excellence of our programs highlights that the U of A provides incredible opportunities for learners seeking successful careers in a multitude of fields,” says U of A president Bill Flanagan.

“Whether it’s an entrepreneur finding an innovative solution to a real-world business challenge, a teacher creatively adapting to meet a young child’s needs or a nurse serving with compassion and skill on the front lines, these results highlight that we guide our students to become leaders with purpose,” he adds.

The U of A ranked in the top six nationally for all five subjects assessed in the program-specific rankings — nursing, education, computer science, engineering and business. 

Nursing: Meeting challenges today and tomorrow

Nursing was ranked third by Maclean’s, also coming second in the subcategory of program reputation. The program has consistently remained in the spotlight this year, placing first in Canada in the QS World University Rankings by Subject and second in the nation for the fourth year running in the 2022 Global Ranking of Academic Subjects. 

Diane Kunyk, acting dean of the Faculty of Nursing, highlights the need for skilled, compassionate nursing professionals and educators in Alberta, and credits the faculty’s programs for helping meet that need. 

“We are proudly preparing nurses to meet the demands of today and the challenges of tomorrow,” says Kunyk. “We are investing in the very future of nursing and health care in this country, helping our most dedicated and deeply knowledgeable professionals find new ways to serve the public good.” 

Kunyk notes that the faculty continues to grow its expertise in wide-ranging research areas including women’s and children’s health, healthy aging, health equity and health systems, migration, mental health and Indigenous health. 

She adds that the faculty’s prestigious doctoral programs attract talent from around the world, training the next generation of health-care professionals.

“These students are prepared to be the change agents of tomorrow by discovering innovative solutions to complex problems, ultimately improving nursing practice and science.”

Education: Teaching for a better world

Education was likewise positioned in the top three nationally, maintaining its ranking from last year. From exploring ways to increase student well-being to creating projects that take graduate students abroad to deliver literacy intervention, the faculty continues to drive innovative research that will benefit people in Alberta and around the world.

“The diversity of our faculty members and their scholarship provides a strong foundation for our mission of transformative teaching, research and service,” says Jennifer Tupper, dean of the Faculty of Education.

“These rankings show our deep commitment to high-quality, meaningful and impactful teaching for a better world, even in the face of global challenges that are shaping the future of education,” she adds.

Engineering and science: Collaboration for innovation

Also ranked among the top five nationally were engineering and computer science. Since the founding of the Alberta Machine Intelligence Institute (Amii) two decades ago, the U of A has been a hub for innovation in computer science. Researchers in the field are using their expertise to solve many of society’s problems, from making smarter buildings to more effectively identifying mental health disorders.

“These rankings recognize the deep expertise in computing science that we have in the Faculty of Science, and that we prepare our graduates with through their education,” says Frederick West, dean of the Faculty of Science. “This is a broad field driving constant innovation through its many subdisciplines — including AI and machine learning, for which our institution is ranked second in North America.”

Engineering held steady from last year’s ranking, coming in fifth nationally. The faculty has also made strong showings in other recent subject-specific rankings, with petroleum engineering, environmental sciences, and instrument science and technology placing first in Canada

“Our community finds strength in each other,” says Simaan AbouRizk, dean of the Faculty of Engineering. “Through collaboration and integration we generate the solutions to the world’s most pressing challenges and continue to be a leader in innovative research, teaching and learning.”

Business: Improving student experiences

Business also maintained its standing from last year’s rankings, coming in at sixth place in Canada. Leo Wong, associate dean of education of the Alberta School of Business, credits the faculty’s prioritization of the student experience as a main reason behind the strong national ranking.

“We have invested in significant areas for improving the student learning experience and research productivity in the school over the past year, including a very successful start for our first class of students we’ve admitted through direct entry,” says Wong.

“With increasing interest from students to come to the Alberta School of Business, we have grown our enrolment, and the benefits are starting to be realized, such as forming strategic agreements with various work-integrated learning partners, and investing in innovative ways to deliver business education. This will enhance our ability to provide the best learning experience for our students,” he adds. Earlier this year, the business administration program was ranked first in Canada in the 2022 Global Ranking of Academic Subjects.

Maclean’s has published its annual university rankings since 1991, rating universities in three categories — primarily undergraduate, comprehensive, and medical doctoral. The U of A falls into the medical doctoral category, which ranks institutions that have medical schools, offer a range of PhD programs and prioritize research.

The rankings are based on 12 performance indicators in five key areas: students, faculty, resources, student support and reputation. The U of A placed in the top 10 in Canada for all the indicators, with particular strength in social sciences and humanities grants (fifth) and total research dollars (fifth), which includes income from grants and contracts, federal, provincial and foreign governments, and non-governmental organizations. The institution was also third nationally in the operating budget indicator, based on the percentage of the operating budget allocated to library services and acquisitions.

The Maclean’s rankings follow an upward trend for the U of A this year in major global rankings, with the institution performing in the top eight per cent worldwide in the latest QS World University Rankings and making its best-ever showing at 77th internationally in the most recent CWUR rankings by the Center for World University Rankings.