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Undergraduate Business Schools in Canada – Bachelor’s of Commerce, Bachelor’s of Business Administration, Honours Business Administration

A bachelor’s degree is required for investment banking or sales and trading. Usually, capital markets professionals will land a summer internship through undergraduate recruiting at target universities before securing a return offer to join full time as an entry-level analyst (investment banking, corporate banking, sales & trading, private equity) or associate (equity research, commercial banking).

However, school selection is not as simple as picking the highest ranked university in a full global ranking (University of Toronto, UBC and McGill are the highest ranked overall worldwide). Getting into a high paying business job in Canada is very different from in the US.

In Canada, top investment banks, corporate bankscommercial banks, accounting firms, consultancies and marketing firms only recruit from target undergraduate business schools.

In the US, although certain undergraduate business schools place very well (Wharton, Stern, Sloan, Ross, Haas, McCombs for Energy), elite colleges (Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Stanford, Columbia etc.) are just as good and major does not matter as much provided you have a few accounting or finance courses (although quantitative degrees such as engineering or physics will still be favored).

This isn’t to say that getting a 90+ average from an academic school in Economics or Engineering will not get you an interview from an investment bank (you will), but the path is much more difficult and you will not have access to quality on-campus recruiting and a strong alumni network.

Canadian Bachelor’s of Commerce Rankings

We rank the undergraduate business schools by access to recruiting and successful placements directly from university (we do not consider students who graduate before becoming experienced hires in capital markets).

UniversityOverall RankingIB (EB)IB (BB)IB
(Big 5)
S&TMCAcctOther
Western University (Ivey)11112132
Queen’s University (Smith)23225326
McGill University (Desautels)32333473
Waterloo/Laurier46641511
University of British Columbia (Sauder)554642610
York University (Schulich)64556744
University of Alberta78776645
University of Toronto (Rotman)87886859
McMaster University981097988
University of Calgary (Haskayne)10891071077

Canadian University Ranking Methodology

The overall ranking considers per capita placements across all major roles that are relevant to a Bachelor’s of Commerce degree and hire reasonable numbers of undergraduates each year.

Elite Boutiques are major advisory focused investment banks that pay above street and transact on the largest global deals on a regular basis. Examples include Rothschild, Evercore, Lazard, PJT Partners, Moelis, Centerview, Qatalyst and Greenhill.

Bulge Brackets are major universal and independent full-service investment banks that are perennial league table stalwarts. Examples include Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, JP Morgan, Citi, Deutsche Bank, Credit Suisse, Merrill Lynch, Barclays and UBS.

Big 5 Canadian Banks are the banks that dominate domestic Canadian investment banking business. They are RBC Capital Markets, BMO Capital Markets, TD Securities, CIBC Capital Markets and Scotiabank Global Banking and Markets.

We do not assign different weights to the aforementioned banks, so the segregation is for informational purposes. Each placement in an investment bank is a positive for the ranking. Other investment banking firms, including prominent US mid-market banks and smaller boutiques are also counted, however placements are fairly inconsistent so we do not have a separate column ranking.

We count all sales and trading placements that are front office and do not differentiate between groups such as Equity Derivatives Trading from Money Markets and Spot FX. We also do not differentiate between banks.

Management Consulting includes all major strategy consultancies that would reasonably be expected to compete for the largest engagements including McKinsey, Bain, BCG, AT Kearney, Monitor Deloitte, Booz & Co (PwC), ZS Associates, Oliver Wyman, Roland Berger, and Accenture.

Accounting includes all major audit, tax and advisory jobs at accountancy professional service firms, but gives a stronger weighting to placements at Big 4 firms (Deloitte, EY, PwC, KPMG).

Other includes other major front office finance positions including Corporate Banking (predominantly Ivey, Schulich, Rotman and Queen’s), Private Equity (do not consider returns and assets under management), Asset Management/Hedge Funds which are given more consideration.

Other also includes other relevant and well-paying business jobs including commercial banking, mid-office roles in financial institutions, operational consulting and private banking as a school’s aggregate placements are important. Schools that have a few students land very strong jobs but with the rest of the class struggling are weighted down.

University Ranking Methodology Considerations and Constraints

Undergrads from SFU, Saint Mary’s, Dalhousie and Carlton work in investment banking or capital markets but it is very difficult to break in with that background (1-5 students a year).

Be cognisant that the table does not actually go that granular. There is an extremely regional component to finance jobs in Canada, and candidates will perform better based on proximity. As such, the University of Alberta is successful at landing in Bulge Bracket roles in Calgary (for oil and gas/pipelines) but will rarely ever place in Bulge Brackets elsewhere.

Likewise, banks in Vancouver will still hire from Queen’s and Ivey but recruit heavily from UBC and sometimes SFU.

Our ranking methodology looks at aggregate hires independent of geography, with the tiebreaker being per capita placements.

If you are in a non-target school, it is advisable to transfer to a target school.

It is relatively harder to find a bilingual worker for high finance in Montreal, so you may be fine if you go to Laval, HEC Montreal, Concordia, Sherbrooke, Universite de Montreal or any university in Quebec if you are looking to work in Quebec.

Bachelor’s of Commerce Curriculum

Usually, the finance/accounting curriculum for undergraduate business schools will include the following topics:

First Year Second Year Third Year Fourth Year
  • Differential Calculus
  • Financial Accounting
  • Microeconomics
  • Macroeconomics
  • English
  • Financial Markets
  • Managerial Accounting
  • Managerial Economics
  • Finance
  • Management Information Systems
  • Statistics
  • Quantitative Methods
  • Intermediate Financial Accounting
  • International Trade
  • International Finance
  • Corporate Finance & Investment Banking
  • Securities Markets – CAPM & Risk
  • Financial Statement Analysis
  • Commercial Law
  • Central Banks

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