12 Best Colleges in Vancouver – 2024

January 21, 2024

colleges in Vancouver universities

There are plenty of reasons to cross the border and earn a degree at one of the best colleges in Vancouver. It’s one of those rare places where you can begin the day in the urban city center and end it by watching the sunset from a forested island peak. In fact, it’s possible to cross Vancouver Harbor by jet ski to pick up dinner from the International Food Fair. (I knew someone who used to do exactly that.) Of course, jet skis and fjords are not exactly the average experience for a college student. So what can college students expect to gain by living and studying at a university in Vancouver?

Best Colleges in Vancouver – The Perks of the Place Itself

Surrounded on three sides by water, Vancouver offers college students a chance to get outdoors. Bigger than Central Park, Stanley Park provides residents with 1,001 acres close to home for running, hiking, biking, and more. Nearby, Mount Baker, visible on clear days, lures students away from their textbooks for weekend ski trips. The mountains, forests, and the adjacent Pacific Ocean provide plenty of opportunities for field research in subjects spanning zoology to oceanography.

The surrounding nature inspires both locals and students at colleges in Vancouver to act with greater awareness. Vancouver is one of the cleanest cities in Canada. It boasts an operational wind turbine on Grouse Mountain. Over 90% of inhabitants can reach a green space in the time it takes to sort recycling from trash. And, over 95% of the city’s electricity is supplied by renewable energy.

Best Colleges in Vancouver – A Thriving Urban Center

Students enrolled in Vancouver colleges attest to the city’s livability. (Vancouver ranked 5th worldwide in 2023 in the EIU’s Global Liveability Index, and obtained a score of 100 in education.) Vancouver Colleges offers students an exciting intellectual and cultural urban scene. Libraries and museums abound, including the Vancouver Museum of Anthropology (MOA), a personal favorite. Highlighting indigenous art and situated on Musqueam land, MOA invites students to take courses in museum studies and conservation. Cultural events like Bard on the Beach and Craft Beer Week, as well as film festivals and concerts draw students out in every weather. (Yes, even the rain). Speaking of film, Vancouver has become the third-largest film and TV production hub in North America. More impressive yet, it’s driving carbon-neutral studio operations.

Beyond the film industry, the tech industry has been flourishing in this city for several decades. Students interested in everything from software engineering to cybersecurity will find great undergraduate programs and professional opportunities in the city. But you don’t have to be a film or computer science student to benefit from colleges in Vancouver. Below, we’ll go into some of the finer points and features of our selected best Vancouver colleges.

Best Colleges in Vancouver, 1-3

1) University of British Columbia (UBC)

Recognized as one of the best universities in Canada and ranked 40th worldwide in 2023 by Times Higher Education, UBC has been welcoming students to its Vancouver campus since 1915. Its Okanagan campus, located in Kelowna, has expanded UBC’s offerings since 2005. Beyond the undergraduate and graduate programs, UBC offers adult education courses, professional programs, and extended learning programs for online students. UBC attracts students interested in research opportunities as well. The university raised $747.3 million last year in research funding for 9,675 projects.

2) Simon Fraser University (SFU)

Over 31,900 undergraduates and 5,736 graduates attend SFU, taking classes on three campuses. Maclean’s Education ranked SFU number one among Canadian Comprehensive Universities for its wide range of undergraduate programs (100 majors), graduate programs (45 degree options) and research opportunities. SFU takes a particular interest in developing an entrepreneurial aim among its students. One program, Coast Capital Venture Connection, hosts competitions and workshops and offers mentorships to participants wishing to market their projects.

Universities in Vancouver (Continued)

3) British Columbia Institute of Technology (BCIT)

The nearly 50,000 students enrolled at BCIT will earn a degree in one of five schools. These include the Schools of: Computing and Academic Studies, Construction and the Environment, Energy, Transportation, and Health Sciences. For job holders wishing to advance or pivot in their career, BCIT offers part-time study options and less-intensive certificates. A community-focused Vancouver college, BCIT works with the Vancouver Board of Trade to offer modular programs that align with local industries. In turn, it ensures more relevant skills and higher job security for their students.

Best Colleges in Vancouver, 4-6

4) Emily Carr University of Art and Design (ECU)

One of the oldest Vancouver colleges, ECU offers undergraduate and graduate degrees in arts, media, and design to 1,800 students. Another college with community outreach aims, ECU also makes available workshops, certificate programs and individual courses to non-diploma students. The school also invites the broader community to participate in talking circles, and other events at its Aboriginal Gathering Place. Top-notch facilities like the Basically Good Media Lab allow students to explore groundbreaking technologies and their impact on art and society.

5) Kwantlen Polytechnic University (KPU)

Prospective students interested in a public polytechnic university should consider KPU, which offers diverse degrees across its five campuses. Bachelor’s degrees, associate degrees, diplomas, and certificates run the gamut, from Green Business Management and Sustainability to Traditional Chinese Medicine. Experiential learning opportunities, work experience, and international opportunities make up a large part of nearly every program.

Universities in Vancouver (Continued)

6) Vancouver Film School (VFS)

Students interested in working in “Hollywood North” may want to enter the industry by obtaining a relevant degree at VFS. This private college provides high-level training in acting, film production, TV, animation, and digital design. Within these umbrella categories, students will find 15 programs over eight campuses. (Some are fairly niche, such as Makeup Design for Film and Television). Students who first enroll in preparatory programs often continue at VFS through an advanced program. Interested students may want to look into the various scholarships on offer. Despite the pricey tuition, the alumni accolades speak to the quality of VFS’s education and professional preparation.

Best Colleges in Vancouver, 7-9

7) Columbia College

As Canada’s longest-running international, independent charity school, Columbia College operates like a community college, offering first- and second-year undergraduate courses. Students who gain an Associate Degree here can transfer to some of the best Vancouver colleges, including UBC and SFU. Furthermore, Columbia College also offers four High School Programs. These programs create a direct, accessible path for students seeking to gain entrance to a Canadian university. Columbia College lets both high school and college students participate in the English for Academic Purposes (EAP) program.

8)  Vancouver Community College (VCC)

The second public school on our list, VCC boasts a 97% satisfaction rate across its two campuses. VCC offers one-year certificates and two-year diplomas in addition to the classic four-year bachelor’s degree. Nearly all of its programs take a vocational approach. In other words, students graduate with hands-on experience in their field after training in a local business or specialty facility. For instance, students enrolled in the Dental Technology Sciences program will fabricate everything from sports guards to dentures in the VCC dental training facility.

Universities in Vancouver (Continued)

9) Langara College

Located 20 minutes south of downtown Vancouver, Langara College offers a wide variety of undergraduate and continuing studies degrees. Students can choose between Arts, Business, Science & Technology, Humanities & Social Sciences, and Health. Beyond the classic smattering of educational opportunities, Langara also offers Micro-credentials & Microcourses—standalone credits for learners at any stage. Online courses and exchange programs in Japan and Korea provide exciting alternative educational experiences.

Best Colleges in Vancouver, 10-12

10) Capilano University

Capilano University, on the other hand, can be found 20 minutes north of downtown Vancouver. Like Langara, it focuses primarily on providing an undergraduate education and bachelor’s degrees. It also offers a number of continuing studies programs, most of which can be completed online. The school is particularly well known for music opportunities. Alongside a bachelor’s in Music, Capilano offers studies in Jazz Studies, Music Therapy, Musical Theatre, and Conducting.

11) Coast Mountain College (CMTN)

Previously known as the Northwest Community College, CMTN places a large emphasis on serving First Nation Communities. This post-secondary institution has five campuses with particularly beautiful outdoor spaces in Hazelton, Haida Gwaii, Smithers, Prince Rupert and Terrace. Students looking to obtain transferable credits can also opt for online courses. Students can receive diplomas and certificates in the following areas: Arts, Business, Health & Social Services, Science, and Trades. This latter category includes foundations, apprenticeships, and introductory programs in specialties like Carpentry, Heavy Mechanics, Esthetics, Welding, and Culinary studies.

Universities in Vancouver (Continued)

12) Camosun College

Camosun College is situated not in downtown Vancouver, but in the nearby city of Victoria, on Vancouver Island. This Vancouver college offers certificates, diplomas, and degree programs on its two campuses. Over 14,000 students attend, and can pick courses from more than 160 programs. 2,500 of these students are enrolled in one of the 30+ pre-apprentice and apprenticeship trades programs. These trade programs rely on experiential education and applied learning. Meanwhile, the school boasts other singular features. Take the Cuisine Machine, a student-run food truck, for example. Camosun partners with the Victoria Conservatory of Music. It offers a rare Massage Therapy program.

Best Colleges in Vancouver – Additional Rescources

We hope that reading about universities in Vancouver has inspired you to expand your college search further north. If so, be sure to check out our related page on Best Universities in Canada for U.S. Students. Here you’ll find more information on SFU and UBC, as well as specs on 15 other top Canadian universities.

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