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5 Charts: University of Waterloo vs. Boston’s Top Tech Schools

Five charts that compare the University of Waterloo's tech credentials to Boston's top tech schools, including MIT, Harvard and Boston University.

The University of Waterloo has a global reputation for producing incredible tech talent.

Not only is UWaterloo #1 in Canada for computer science, its graduates have founded fast-growing companies like Faire, ApplyBoard, Arctic Wolf and eSentire, and global brands like BlackBerry and OpenText. It has produced 18% of all Canadian tech founders and is one of Silicon Valley’s most important sources of talent. In other words, it’s good.

The question is: how good?

We recently compared it to the best tech schools in California and, well, it really held its own. What happens when we compare it to the best tech schools Boston has to offer?

We crunched the numbers to find out. In this blog we compared UWaterloo with Boston universities using QS computer science rankings, student employability, CS program size, research capabilities and entrepreneurship.

Here’s how the University of Waterloo compares to Boston’s top tech schools:

Round One: Overall Computer Science Ranking

Computer Science Ranking - UWaterloo vs. Boston

Source: QS University Subject Rankings, 2022

Boston is, obviously, home to a couple of the most impressive universities in the world: Harvard and MIT. Yes, they’re ranked higher than UWaterloo, but not *that* much higher.


The other two schools in Boston area – Northeastern and Boston University – aren’t even in the same discussion. Good start for Waterloo.

Round Two: Computer Science Program Size

Computer Science Students - UWaterloo vs. Boston

Sources: University of Waterloo, MIT, Harvard, Boston University, Northeastern University, 2022

When it comes to the global top-25 computer science schools, UWaterloo is the biggest. In fact, it’s bigger than Boston University, Harvard and MIT combined. It may surprise you to learn that Northeastern University’s computer science enrollment is also very large.

*Numbers for Boston University are an estimate based on annual admissions.

Round Three: Overall Graduate Employability Ranking

Employability Ranking - UWaterloo vs. Boston

Source: QS University Rankings 2022

The same three schools at the top of the ranking.

No one is surprised that Harvard and MIT graduates are employable, but what’s the secret to UWaterloo’s success?

It starts with the co-operative education program. The University of Waterloo works with over 7000+ employers – Microsoft, Apple, Google and hundreds of startups and scale-ups – to ensure that every computer science student graduates with two years of on-the-job experience. It’s the world’s largest co-operative education program – amazingly, it accounts for about 1/3 of all university work placements in Canada.

Round Four: Research Capabilities

Research Capabilities - UWaterloo vs. Boston

Source: QS University Rankings, 2022

We’ve seen Good Will Hunting. We get it. MIT is impressive.

Research is an integral part of the UWaterloo value proposition, too. For decades, the school’s unique inventor-owned IP policy has attracted the most entrepreneurial faculty and students who produce countless innovations with commercial potential. They also work with some of the world’s biggest companies – Toyota, BlackBerry, etc. – on major research and development projects.

Round Five: Entrepreneurship (0-100)

Entrepreneurship Ranking - UWaterloo vs. Boston

Source: Pitchbook, Top Schools for Founders, 2021

We mentioned that UWaterloo is pretty entrepreneurial, right?

Well, there’s the proof. Another top-25 finish. No one was going to catch Harvard and MIT in these rankings, but UWaterloo made it a contest.

When it comes to tech talent, it’s hard to beat the combination of quality and sheer scale offered by the University of Waterloo. It has quality, high enrollment, an entrepreneurial mindset and great research capabilities. It competes with the best Boston has to offer, and that’s without considering any of the other great tech schools in our area, including the University of Toronto – another massive global top-25 computer science program.

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