Why are MBA Applicants Choosing Canada? | TopMBA.com

Why are MBA Applicants Choosing Canada?

By Julia G

Updated February 14, 2021 Updated February 14, 2021

According to new data from Business Because, there is a shift happening in the world of North American business education.

Whilst the US, as the home of the MBA, is still the most popular choice for MBA applicants globally, its popularity is in decline, having plummeted by 15.8 percent in the last 10 years and 7.6 percent in the last five years.

Contrastingly, Canada’s popularity has increased the most of all countries surveyed in the past five years, by 2.8 percent. Canada is the third most popular MBA destination following the US and the UK. The country is also the second most popular choice among applicants for the two-year MBA, and the third most popular for master’s in management, finance, and data analytics programs.

Canada is also the second most popular choice for Western Europeans out of non-European countries (after Singapore), it’s also the number one choice for American students wanting to study outside the US.

In terms of the generation gap, Gen Z are more likely to study in Europe, whereas Canada is preferred by millennials. However, the shift away from the US is driven by Gen Z, who are almost 10 percent less likely to want to study in the US than millennials.

Why is Canada growing in popularity?

A huge draw for students choosing to study in Canada is the tuition fees, which are much lower than in the US. For example, the joint top ranked MBA programs in the US, The Wharton School and Stanford Graduate School of Business, have tuition fees of US$162,756 and US$141,180 respectively, compared to Canada’s top ranked program at Rotman School of Management which has fees of US$89,397.

Another reason for Canada’s popularity is undoubtedly down to immigration woes. It is significantly easier to immigrate to Canada than the US, particularly in the current Trump administration who have heightened restrictions on specialized work permits – compare this with Ottawa’s decision to relax work visa rules for international students, graduates and their partners.

Work visas granted to graduate students provide an easier path to permanent residency. At the end of your studies, you have a 90 day window before your visa expires, allowing you to apply for a post-graduate work permit (PGWP) which lasts for three years and allows you to remain living and working in Canada, paving the way towards permanent residency.

Canada benefits from its multiculturalism (and bilingualism), with many companies recruiting Canadian-educated MBAs for their ability to straddle different work cultures, particularly American and European.

The country also has a high quality of life, with US News ranking it as the third best country in the world to live in, and first in the world for quality of life. It is politically and economically stable, with fantastically well-developed public health and education systems – the healthcare system can be a huge draw over America, as the universal healthcare system in Canada makes it far cheaper than the US, with most health services free for residents.

What are the best schools for an MBA in Canada?

There’s a total of 18 schools in Canada featured in the most recent QS World University Rankings: Global MBA Rankings, five of which are among the top 100 MBA programs in the world:


QS Global MBA Rankings 2020: Top MBA Programs in Canada

Canadian Rank

Global Rank

Business School



Rotman School of Management



McGill University



Ivey Business School



Smith School of Business



Schulich School of Business

Four of the top MBA programs in Canada, according to QS Global MBA Rankings 2020 are offered in Ontario, the country’s most populous province. These include the Rotman School of Management and Schulich School of Business, both in Toronto, plus Ivey Business School in London and Smith School of Business in Kingston.

Three of the top 10 are found in Canada’s predominantly French-speaking province of Quebec. All three schools are in Montréal – Canada’s second-most populous city and where most residents possess a working knowledge of both French and English. McGill University’s Desautels Faculty of Management, HEC Montréal and Concordia’s John Molson School of Business all offer full-time MBAs in the English language, while HEC Montréal also has a full-time program in French.

You can discover more about the Canadian top 10 here.

This article was originally published in October 2019 . It was last updated in February 2021

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Written by

Julia is a writer for TopMBA.com, publishing articles for business students and graduates across the world. A native Londoner, she holds an MSc in Marketing Strategy & Innovation from Cass Business School and a BA in Classical Studies & English from Newcastle University.


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