Study MBA in Canada | TopMBA

Canada is the third most popular MBA study destination in the world, considered by just over a third of all prospective students responding to the QS Applications and Aspirations Report 2018.

This should come as no surprise given its status as one of the world’s biggest economies; a hotbed of employment for MBA graduates in its own right, as well as being the neighbor of the world’s biggest MBA market in the US – to which it offers a viable alternative.

The MBA in Canada

Canada is also a powerhouse in terms of MBA education, with some of the best business schools in the world.

The first available MBA in Canada, launched as far back as 1948 at Western University, was the first offered outside of the US. It has remained a significant presence in the business education landscape since then, with its schools offering a huge number of program options and specializations to the prospective student, with MBA or EMBA degrees available in everything from aerospace to ice hockey.

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Six business schools in Canada currently sit inside the global top 100 of the QS Global MBA Rankings, highlighting the quality of Canadian MBA programs. There’s a short breakdown of these six schools below. You can find out more about rest of the top 10 business schools in Canada in this article.


Toronto's Rotman School


Top business schools in Canada 2018

Rotman School of Management, University of Toronto

Canada’s top-ranked MBA for the year 2018, which features in the top 50 of the QS Global MBA Rankings 2018, is offered by one of Canada’s pair of super elite universities (the University of Toronto and McGill University).

The university has offered business education since 1901, with the business school being founded in 1950. It tops the list in Canada by virtue of its all-round strength, with thought leadership and diversity particularly strong. The school’s provision focuses on integrative thinking and business design, as championed by celebrated former dean, Roger Martin.

Ivey Business School, University of Western Ontario

Based in London, Ontario, the Ivey MBA also features in the global top 50. The University of Western Ontario (or Western University) was the first school outside of the US to offer an MBA.

The school has campuses in Hong Kong and Toronto, from which the EMBA program and executive education are delivered. MBA graduates form Ivey will enjoy strong employability. It’s known for being one of the world’s leading producers of business case studies.

Desautels Faculty of Management, McGill University

Desautels is part of the prestigious McGill University – Canada’s best-known university, along with the University of Toronto. It’s been around since 1906, offering an MBA since 1963, and is based in the Quebecois city of Montréal, though its provision – outside of a bilingual (English/French) EMBA degree run in conjunction with HEC Montréal – is chiefly in English. The school also offers a weekend MBA program in Tokyo.

Schulich School of Business, York University

The fourth highest-ranked MBA program in Canada, Toronto-based Schulich tops the tables for Canadian business schools in terms of both diversity and return on investment (ROI) in the QS Global MBA Rankings 2018.

Schulich positions itself as a very global school, with campuses and satellite centers in India and China, with further satellite centers in Mexico, Brazil, and South Korea. Students can opt for an International MBA which allows for study abroad at one of 75 partner schools. The school also offers a joint EMBA with Kellogg, frequently rated as one of the world’s best.

Smith School of Business, Queen's University

The Queen's MBA at Smith School of Business ranks highly for employability in the QS Global MBA Rankings 2018, with only Ivey posting a higher score. The Kingston, Ontario school offers an accelerated MBA program for those who graduated in a business degree, and an international EMBA program run in conjunction with Cornell, which allows for a raft of study opportunities across the Americas.

The school is named for Stephen Smith, whose C$50 million gift to the school is the largest in Canadian history.

HEC Montréal, Université de Montréal

The final Canadian business school in the top 100 of the Global MBA Rankings 2018, HEC Montréal is the business school of the French-language Univeristé de Montréal. However, you can study in English at MBA level, as well as the bilingual EMBA offered in conjunction with Desautels.

The school was founded in 1907, based on the French Grandes Écoles model of autonomous elite-level educational institutions.


Vancouver, Western Canada

In the US & Canada region, job opportunities for MBA graduates grew by 10 percent in 2017, with a further 7 percent rise anticipated in 2018, according to the QS Jobs & Salary Trends Report 2018.

The US may command the lion’s share in this regard, but even if it can’t quite compete with its neighbor to the south, Canada is still one of the world’s key MBA hiring grounds.

In terms of the jobs available, roles and industries will be relatively similar to any highly developed economy, with finance and consulting the most abundant source of jobs. Much like other key Anglophone markets like the US or UK, you will also find a high preponderance of SMEs (small- and medium-sized enterprises).

MBA finance and tech jobs in Canada

Though services dominate, oil and natural gas play a large part in the Canadian economy, and automobile and aircraft manufacturing are still relatively preponderant in certain parts of the country. This can certainly spell opportunities for MBAs seeking employment, though much as has been seen in other parts of the world, interest in working with fossil fuels has seen something of a decline in recent years.

By contrast, Canada’s tech sector has grown significantly, mirroring a global trend. This area of industry has come to represent an equivalent proportion of GDP as the financial sector (albeit not as centered on MBA talent).

This is reflected in hiring levels in US & Canada, where we see rapid growth in opportunities in the tech sector, totally eclipsing relatively sluggish growth in the (admittedly bigger from an MBA hiring perspective) financial services sector, according to the latest QS data.

Looking at employment stats from the top three schools, however, it’s clear finance is still the dominant market for MBA hiring. Of the classes of 2017, 44 percent at Rotman, 30 percent at Ivey and 25 percent at Desautels entered the finance sector.

Post-study work visas in Canada

An MBA in Canada can be particularly attractive to international students due to the relative friendliness of the visa system compared to its neighbor in the south. This can make it easier, not just to study abroad in Canada, but also to secure a full-time MBA job after the program’s conclusion. 

This isn’t just something advantageous to MBA students; businesses have picked up on it too. A wave of US tech companies have set up shop on Canada’s West Coast for exactly this reason – Facebook, for example, opened a temporary office in Vancouver as a stopgap solution specifically for international recruits waiting for US work visas. Learn more about this in the next tab.

Vancouver is one of the hiring hubs in Canada, alongside Toronto – the financial capital of the country – and Montréal. This is reflected in the high number of business schools you’ll find in and around these cities.

Schools based elsewhere will often have bases in the biggest urban hubs. On-campus recruiting, however, tends to be regionally focused, so those looking further afield may have to take matters into their own hands.

MBA salary levels in Canada

MBA salary levels in Canada are among the world’s most generous. The current average base salary reported by employers is US$99,800, according to the QS Jobs & Salary Trends Report, a figure that places Canada third in the global top 10 for MBA salary levels.

On top of this, MBAs can expect an average bonus of around US$11,300, taking total remuneration levels comfortably into the six-figure zone.

MBA tuition fees in Canada

While the standard of top MBA education in Canada is very high, it’s often touted as a cheaper alternative to studying an MBA in the US. Price points do vary, however. Study at one of the top schools, and you may find that fees are slightly higher.

International students attending Rotman will pay MBA tuition of around US$85,000 in total, while students at Ivey (a one-year program) and Desautels or other top-10 programs will be looking at around the US$70,000 mark. HEC Montréal, at which you can snag an MBA in a year for US$26,000, is the exception. Outside of the very top tier, there are plenty of options if you’re looking to pay lower MBA tuition.


McGill University in Montreal


Study visas for Canada

International students require a study permit to study in Canada. Much like any other country this will require you to show that you have been accepted to an institution, that you have sufficient funds to support yourself for the duration of your program, and that you’re proficient in the language of instruction.

Some students will require an additional visa, though this will be processed and authorized at the same time as the visa at no extra cost. US citizens can apply for their study permit at the point of entry.

Spouses of students may also apply for an open work permit, which allow them to work while in Canada. It’s possible to apply for this after arriving in Canada. See the Study in Canada section of the Government of Canada website for further information.

Post-study work visas in Canada

Canada has a relatively open system, which automatically allows graduates of two-year MBA programs a post-graduation work permit of three years, to help them find a job. Graduates of one-year programs get one year to do the same. Spouses may join on these visas and are also permitted to work.  

After or even during this period, MBAs can apply for highly-skilled worker visas, for which an express pathway is available. This visa offers permanent residency. Unlike most countries, it’s possible to get such a visa without an offer of employment. Employer-specific temporary visas are also an option.

Canada also offers a start-up visas for entrepreneurs that permits permanent residency. Information is available on the Government of Canada web portal. For more specifics, you can also talk to your target school.

MBA scholarships in Canada

There are many options when it comes to funding your MBA in Canada. If seeking an MBA scholarship, the first port of call should be your target school. Most will offer some form of aid to gifted students, women, and to others who fill specific criteria. You can ask for details at QS World MBA Tour events but be sure to check web resources also.

Canada’s government also offers a variety of scholarships for international students, information on which is available here.

International students may not apply for governmental or bank student loan while in Canada, though other options such as Prodigy Finance are available.

Life in Canada

Canada is a highly developed, modern nation, in which you’re likely to enjoy a high standard of life. It’s known for being an open, tolerant society, in which those from outside the country are warmly welcomed.

Canada’s big cities offer the usual trappings of modern cities, and you’ll be able to enjoy fantastic restaurants, culture, sporting events, shopping, and nightlife while you’re living here. Lovers of the great outdoors will also be quite at home, with the vast nation offering stunning natural beauty, and winter sports enthusiasts have no shortage of opportunities to get their skies on.

One thing all international students must be aware of, however, is that it can get bitterly cold. Montreal in particular, sees sub-zero temperatures (Celsius) in winter, which is why it boasts a large underground city, where locals go to hide in the colder months. Probably as good a place as any to pick up some cold weather gear…