In the world of computer science education there are institutions that stand above the rest for their exceptional programs and sought-after graduates.
The QS University Rankings assesses schools worldwide, taking into account factors such as academic reputation and employer perception.
And within this elite group of top 25 computer science universities, renowned names like Stanford, Harvard, and MIT grace the list, alongside a Canadian contender—the University of Waterloo.
Despite ranking fifth in the QS rankings, Oxford has a mere 346 students enrolled in computer science, and Stanford follows suit with just 776. Recruiting from these institutions implies facing fierce competition for a limited number of graduates.
Ranking as the 22nd best computer science university globally, the University of Waterloo boasts in contrast a sizeable student population. Nearly 5,000 undergraduate students are enrolled in computer science and computer engineering programs, with an additional 400 students in software engineering.
And in close proximity to the University of Waterloo lies another academic heavyweight, the University of Toronto. Combined, these institutions harbor over 8,000 computer science students, equivalent to the total enrollment of the 11 smallest universities on the list. This impressive collaboration underscores the strength of the Toronto-Waterloo Corridor, which consistently ranks among the world’s most vibrant tech and startup ecosystems.
“Waterloo attracts companies that are developing highly sophisticated technology solutions and seeking a dynamic ecosystem that allows for collaboration and innovation,” Waterloo EDC Market Development Manager Cameron Branston explained last year. “Waterloo really does embody the old ethos of raising a barn together and that collaboration is infectious in our community.”
Branston said Waterloo is well-known for its world-class universities.
“We’re continually churning out high-quality talent which provides a deep pool for companies to draw from,” he said. “Additionally, the quality of life in Waterloo is exceptional.”
Up to 18% of all Canadian tech founders are University of Waterloo alumni—a remarkable statistic. The institution’s entrepreneurship programs such as incubator Velocity have played a pivotal role in nurturing tech successes such as unicorn ApplyBoard and fuelling the workforce expansion of growing firms like transit innovator RideCo.
The university’s unique inventor-owned IP policy further attracts a wealth of entrepreneurial faculty and students, while a cooperative education program places computer science students on-the-job at companies such as Microsoft, Google, Apple, SAP, and startups.
Outsiders look in. Email marketing giant Constant Contact set up shop North of the border for the first time in 2022, opening an innovation lab at the Communitech Hub in Kitchener-Waterloo. Minnesota-born Arctic Wolf Networks, a multi-billion dollar cybersecurity firm, has a large office in Waterloo and deep ties to the area. San Francisco’s MasterClass opened an engineering hub in the Kitchener-Waterloo region.
“There’s a reason the University of Waterloo is also one of the most important sources of talent for Silicon Valley,” Waterloo EDC says. “It’s a school that combines quantity with its incredible quality.”