Why Montréal is the top student city in North America

Concordia University
Mark Andrew Hamilton

Mark Hamilton

Each year, some 185,000 students – including 25,000 international students from 150 countries – call Montréal home. Students make up an active part of Montréal’s population – first in line at cultural events, biking the city’s myriad cycle path system and grabbing some quiet study time in cafés.

In fact, once again this year, Montréal was ranked the top student city in North America in the UK-based Quacquarelli Symonds education group survey, which rates cities on criteria ranging from class satisfaction to the cultural scene. Here are some of the reasons why Montréal gets such good grades from its student population.

Redpath Museum, McGill University

Campuses in the heart of the city

Unlike other Canadian cities whose university campuses are tucked away in sleepy neighbourhoods far from the bustling centre, Montréal’s four major universities are all either based downtown or within a quick 10-minute Métro ride. Home to McGill (ranked by QS as Canada's best university, 31st internationally and even dubbed the Harvard of Canada” by The Simpsons), Concordia, the Université du Québec à Montréal and Université de Montréal (ranked 116th in the world and 5th in Canada), Montréal’s academic reputation is top of the class.


Osheaga, Music and Arts Festival

Student life all year long

With a packed annual calendar of world-renowned festivals and major events, making the scene is a cornerstone of life in Montréal. And the activities continue all year long, through springsummerfall and winter, guaranteeing each studentstime in Montréal remains invigorating and inspiring. And did we mention the food? Moving away from the parental kitchen is one of the hardest adjustments in student life, but Montréalgourmet multicultural food scene has something for every pallet—including those precious tastes of home.


Verdun - Wellington Street

Life in Montréal is très cool!

With some of the world’s coolest streets and neighbourhoods, Montréal is always on the cutting edge. The forward-looking local music scene thrills listeners internationally, and the city’s beloved venues play host to the coolest up-and-comers. An important stop on any band’s tour schedule, Montréal’s indie music scene also comes with bragging rights of having seen and heard the most exciting artists early in their careers, while the larger venues are packed nightly with popular favourites.

Students looking to explore the nightlife and get their dance onwill find options keeping the party going any night of the week. while the eclectic theatre scene offers a rich tapestry of performances in both English and French, with many production companies offering discounted student tickets.


Co-working place - Crew Collective & Café

Study in style

With its lively teahouse culture and wealth of independent coffee shops and cafés for every aesthetic, Montréal is home to some of the world’s most stunning co-working spaces (Forbes Magazine-approved, no less). And when it comes to to hitting the books, Montréals well-read bookstores and libraries are always bustling with students looking for their next great read.

With all that in mind, it doesn’t take a doctorate degree to see why Montréal’s Canada’s valedictorian when it comes to the country’s best student cities!

Mark Andrew Hamilton

Mark Hamilton

Mark Hamilton is the community director for QueerMTL, an internationally-touring musician with his projects Woodpigeon and Frontperson  and a graduate studies student of history researching LGBTQ+ activism in the city. He’s lived in Montréal since 2015, during which time he’s most often spotted atop a BIXI bike usally running a few minutes late.

See articles by Mark