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

Computer science, engineering and business also rank among the finest programs in the country.


The U of A offers Canada’s best nursing program, according to the latest Maclean’s national rankings. Education also ranked among the top three programs in the country, and computer science, engineering and business all ranked among the top six. (Photo: Richard Siemens)

The University of Alberta offers some of Canada’s best programs for students seeking careers as nurses and teachers, according to the newly released Maclean’s 2024 Canadian University Rankings.

“Providing a world-class education to students is the cornerstone of what we do at the University of Alberta, and we are proud to be recognized for our high-quality programs,” says U of A president Bill Flanagan. “We offer a wide breadth of outstanding educational opportunities — including the top-rated nursing program in the country — that prepare students for success in today’s economy and the economy of the future.”

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 — and was ranked sixth among Canada’s top-tier universities.

The university’s strongest performance in the indicators used to determine the overall rankings came with third-place rankings in total research dollars, based on sponsored research income divided by the number of full-time faculty members, and operating budget, based on operating expenditures per full-time equivalent student.

“We have ambitious goals for the future. In Shape: A Strategic Plan of Impact, we outlined our aim to grow our student population and research funding. When we look at our success attracting research dollars, combined with our highly ranked programs, we are on the right path to achieving both goals,” Flanagan adds.

Nursing: Exceptional learning experiences 

Nursing was ranked the top program in Canada by Maclean’s, and placed first in both the program reputation and research reputation subcategories. The program has been a consistent performer this year, also ranking as Canada’s best program in the QS World University Rankings by Subject.

Greta Cummings, dean of the Faculty of Nursing, says the program provides students with access to a wide variety of resources to make their learning experience exceptional and successful.

“Compassion, skill and sound judgment are at the heart of everything we do as nurses, educators, health-care leaders and researchers. Whether helping a frightened patient, conducting cutting-edge research, teaching the next generation of nurses or developing policy that will affect our health-care systems for years to come, our nurses have an impact,” says Cummings.

Cummings says the program will continue to support the next generation of highly skilled nurse leaders so they can make significant contributions to health-care outcomes in Canada and around the world.

“Our community is exploring and challenging issues in rural health care, ageism, equitable access to care, incorporating Indigenous health perspectives, engaging in patient advocacy work, as well as encouraging critical, innovative thought about the role of nursing in the health-care system.”

Education: Shaping better futures 

Education maintained its third-place ranking from last year, and also ranked third in both program and research reputation.

From exploring ways to improve educational experiences for students with autism to developing a literacy intervention that has helped young readers across Alberta recover from learning loss during the pandemic, the faculty continues to drive innovative research that will benefit people in the province and around the world.

“We are so proud that the impact of the transformative teaching, research and service taking place in our faculty continues to be reflected in these rankings,” says Doug Gleddie, acting dean of the Faculty of Education.

“Our strength comes from the resilience and commitment to excellence of our staff and faculty members,” he added. “Their collaboration and outstanding delivery of programs across our faculty despite major challenges ensures that our students are ready to meet the demands and opportunities shaping the future of education.”

Computer science and engineering: Building on excellence

Computer science and engineering also maintained their standing among the top five nationally in the Maclean’s rankings.

The U of A has been a hub for innovation in computer science since the founding of its computing science department in 1964, and has since become a national leader in artificial intelligence research, ranking second in the U.S. News Best Global Universities for Artificial Intelligence in Canada. Experts in the field are collaborating across a wide variety of disciplines to conduct work with the potential to help sedentary people get more physical activity through virtual reality, support medical diagnostics using AI and improve our understanding of how the technology will influence all aspects of our lives.

“We are thrilled that our faculty and our institution’s excellence in this area continues to be recognized,” says Declan Ali, dean of the Faculty of Science.

“As we have seen over the last year in particular, the far-reaching implications of artificial intelligence and advances in data science are affecting many fields or research and our day-to-day lives. Our faculty members are globally recognized leaders in this field — not only in developing and refining these innovative technologies, but in exploring the ethical considerations and bias that these systems can introduce and perpetuate, and teaching the next generation of scientists how to effectively use, develop and improve these systems.”

Engineering has been taught at the U of A since its inception in 1908. Today’s students learn from leading experts in diverse areas including energy, co-operative autonomous systems and water research. They also have opportunities to gain hands-on experience working on interdisciplinary student-led projects including hydrogen fuel cell vehicles and space satellites.

“In the pursuit of engineering excellence, our faculty has not only maintained its standing in the top five nationally, but has fortified its position through unwavering dedication to innovation, rigorous research and a steadfast commitment to nurturing the engineering leaders of tomorrow,” says Simaan AbouRizk, interim dean of the Faculty of Engineering.

Engineering has also made strong showings in other recent subject-specific rankings, with petroleum engineering placing first in Canada in the 2023 QS World University Rankings by Subject.

Business: Impact through experiential learning

Business also maintained its standing from last year’s rankings, coming in at sixth place in Canada.

“The student experience at the Alberta School of Business is one of our top priorities,” notes Leo Wong, associate dean of education of the Alberta School of Business. “We have continued to invest in creating opportunities for all our students to engage in experiential learning, such as through the Impact Series, which challenges every BCom student to tackle a grand challenge by applying their business acumen throughout each year of their undergraduate journey.

“This is an example of the unique curriculum we have developed that helps our students become the problem solvers and leaders that our world needs now.”

Projects that partner students with small businesses to build an online presence and tackle pandemic isolation for seniors also show the impact of the faculty’s mission to prioritize student experience.

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, comprising 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 has seen an upward trend this year in major global rankings. The institution ranked among the top six per cent worldwide and fifth in Canada in the latest Times Higher Education World University Rankings, and improved its standing to 91st internationally and fourth in Canada in the most recent Academic Ranking of World Universities.

The university also moved up to seventh in the world in the Times Higher Education Impact Rankings of universities based on their efforts toward achieving the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals for 2030.