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University of Waterloo Rankings 2020: Global Rankings, National Rankings, Subject-Specific Rankings

Vaishnavi Agrawal Vaishnavi Agrawal
Study Abroad Expert

The University of Waterloo has been ranked #1 for Experiential Learning by Maclean’s student survey. This research-intensive institution is consistently topping the list for best innovative schools, employability, and career preparation schools. Academically, the university can be claimed to be mediocre among other Canadian universities but has produced a significant number of work-ready graduates. According to Maclean’s student survey concerning nearly 24,000 students from Canada, the University of Waterloo is #1 in career preparation. Rankings aside, the university is known for its co-operative education programs that help students identify their strengths and develop the skill useful in future careers.

University of Waterloo Ranking in the World

1. Times Higher Education

Ranked in the range of 201-250 in the 2020th edition of World University Rankings, University of Waterloo is home to the world’s largest co-operative education program and is committed to building a better future for Canada by churning solutions for the needs of today and tomorrow. THE releases University Impact Rankings which lists universities based on their ability to meet sustainable development goals. In fact, THE is the only certified global performance indicator that assesses universities on UN’s sustainability criterion.

The universities are evaluated on 11 Sustainable Development Goals across three broad goals: research, outreach, and stewardship. University of Waterloo is ranked #13 in University Impact Ranking 2019 with an overall score of 92.6 across the below-mentioned factors-

  • Good health and well-being
  • Quality education
  • Gender equality
  • Decent work and economic growth
  • Industry, innovation, and infrastructure
  • Reduced inequalities
  • Sustainable cities and communities
  • Responsible consumption and production
  • Climate action
  • Peace, justice and strong institutions
  • Partnerships for the goals

Though not in the top 100 World University Rankings, Waterloo and other Canadian Universities like McMaster University and University of British Columbia have made it to the top ranks in creating a world impact alongside New Zealand's University of Auckland and UK’s King’s College of London.

2. The US News & World Report

This opinion based ranking system takes into consideration 13 indicators that assess the global and regional reputation of the university along with its academic performance. Indicators like these help students to explore higher education in Canada.

University of Waterloo is ranked #217 for the 2020 Best Global Universities by the U.S. News and World Report.

Following is a breakdown of how the university performs on these indicators by World University Rankings U.S News & World Report.

Ranking IndicatorsUniversity Of WaterlooWeight
Global score61.1-
Global research reputation#14412.5%
Regional research reputation#6112.5%
Normalized citation impact#54310%
Total citations#2187.5%
Number of publications that are among the 10 percent most cited#21212.5%
Percentage of total publications that are among the 10 percent most cited#46610%
International collaboration - relative to the country#5595%
International collaboration#3745%
Number of highly cited papers that are among the top 1 percent most cited#2445%
Percentage of highly cited papers that are among the top 1 percent most cited#5545%

3. QS - World University Rankings

University of Waterloo is ranked #173 by the 2020 QS World University Rankings.

QS Rankings is believed to have adopted a consistent method in its analysis of world universities. Their framework is compiled of six metrics that effectively outline a university’s performance.

Metric PointsWeightScore
Academic Reputation 40%39.3
Employer Reputation 10%76.5
Faculty/Student Ratio20%7.6
Citations Per Faculty20%68.5
International Faculty Ratio5%77.6
International Student Ratio 5%84.1

The University of Waterloo has been granted an overall score of 46.8 by QS World University Ranking. UW shares its 173rd position in the world rankings 2020 with National Tsing Hua University in Taiwan and United Kingdom’s Queen’s University Belfast.

QS world university Ranking

As mentioned earlier, University of Waterloo is a community focussed on education and on-hands practical learning. It is ranked #25 in the world for Graduate Employability by QS Employability Ranking 2020 and is known for having a remarkable partnership with its recruiters.

“Waterloo... has long been one of our top 3 recruiting universities for Google as a whole, worldwide,” says Steven Woods, Sr. Engineering Director, Google.

The University of Waterloo National Ranking

The University of Waterloo is ranked #2 in Canada for Graduate Employability by QS Graduate Employability Ranking 2019. It can be acknowledged for exceptional student satisfaction, graduate employability, and good reputation among employers from the top companies.


The University of Waterloo stands 3rd among the top comprehensive schools in Canada by Maclean’s. Colleges in this category are ranked based on the amount of quality research activity and a wide range of programs at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Maclean’s 2020 university rankings mention University of Waterloo as 2nd for best overall university in the country and 3rd in Canada for highest quality education. The University of Waterloo has been Canada's Most Innovative University for 28 years now.

The following chart displays the result of the top 5 reputational rankings under 4 categories given by the Maclean’s Magazine.

RankBest OverallHighest QualityMost InnovativeLeaders of Tomorrow
1University of TorontoUniversity of TorontoUniversity of WaterlooUniversity of Toronto
2University of WaterlooMcGill University University of TorontoUniversity of British Columbia
3University of British ColumbiaUniversity of WaterlooMcMaster UniversityMcGill University 
4McGill University University of British ColumbiaUniversity of British ColumbiaUniversity of Waterloo
5McMaster UniversityMcMaster UniversityMcGill University University of Alberta

Subject-Specific Rankings

  1. U.S. News & World Report

This university’s notable Global Subject Rankings are as follows:

1. QS - World University Rankings by Subject

It identifies the world’s strongest universities covering a total of 48 subjects. University of Waterloo is ranked among the top 100 in the world for environmental studies. The university is also ranked #2 in Canada for graduate employability.

Few of the Subject-Specific Rankings 2019 by QS World University Rankings are given below:

  • #22 in Computer Science and Information Systems
  • #32 in Hospitality and Leisure Management

Primarily, a research-intensive institution, University of Waterloo is not recognized in the research industry. The reason could be the low sponsored research endowment that this university receives. Less money implies fewer research opportunities. Nevertheless, what it lacks in offering comprehensive research studies, it makes up for employability. The University of Toronto, on the other hand, is a preferred institution for research programs in graduate or doctoral degrees.

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