Master AI with Canada’s top artificial intelligence courses and programs. Develop in-demand skills through hands-on learning at leading universities
Artificial Intelligence (AI) is one of the most exciting and rapidly growing fields in technology today. Canada has emerged as a global leader in AI research and development, making it an excellent choice for international students looking to pursue graduate studies in this dynamic field. In this comprehensive guide, we will explore the top AI programs, research centers, professors, scholarships, career prospects and more for international students aspiring to study artificial intelligence in Canada.
Overview of AI Education and Research in Canada
Canada is home to some of the top AI research labs and technology companies in the world. The Canadian government has invested heavily in developing AI talent, with major hubs in Toronto, Montreal, Edmonton and Vancouver. The quality of AI research coming out of Canada rivals top American tech hubs, with Canada publishing the 3rd highest number of AI papers in the world after China and the United States.
Some of the major companies advancing AI research in Canada include Google, Facebook, Microsoft, IBM, Uber and more. Canada also has a vibrant startup ecosystem in AI and machine learning, with incubators and accelerators supporting emerging talent. All of this makes Canada a very attractive place for international students to gain exposure to cutting-edge advancements in artificial intelligence.
The main benefits of studying AI in Canada include:
- World-Class Research: Canada is a global leader in AI research and development across disciplines like machine learning, neural networks, robotics, computer vision and natural language processing. Students can work on breakthrough technologies alongside top professors and researchers.
- Innovative Curriculum: AI degree programs offer cutting-edge coursework that equips students with the latest skills in data science, deep learning, intelligent systems and more. The focus is on real-world applications and hands-on training.
- Diverse Culture: Canada’s diversity and immigrant-friendly policies make it easy for international students to adjust to life there. The multicultural society exposes students to new perspectives that can inspire creative applications of AI.
- Bright Job Prospects: Canada has a rapidly growing AI industry with a shortage of qualified talent. Graduates from Canadian AI programs are highly valued and can obtain work permits to kickstart their careers there.
- Research Funding and Facilities: Canada offers excellent research facilities and funding opportunities for AI students through government grants, corporate labs and university research centers. Students can undertake robust academic projects.
Overall, Canada provides the ideal environment to learn the foundations of artificial intelligence while also gaining crucial skills to shape the future of this transformative technology.
Top Universities for Artificial Intelligence in Canada
Canada is home to several of the world’s top-ranked universities offering excellent graduate programs in artificial intelligence. Let’s look at some of the leading universities for AI studies in Canada:
University of Toronto
The University of Toronto is globally renowned for its excellence in artificial intelligence research and education.
Some highlights include:
- The Vector Institute for Artificial Intelligence, an independent research institute focused on deep learning and machine learning. It collaborates closely with U of T and employs many of its professors.
- The Department of Computer Science has over 40 faculty members specializing in AI across areas like machine learning, computer vision, robotics, computational linguistics and more.
- Creative Destruction Lab, an AI startup incubator that provides mentorship and seed funding to high-potential ventures.
- Home to AI pioneers like Prof. Geoffrey Hinton, considered the “Godfather of Deep Learning”. He works on neural network models that are foundational to today’s AI systems.
U of T offers both MSc and PhD programs in Artificial Intelligence to equip students with advanced technical skills coupled with expertise on the societal impacts of AI.
University of British Columbia
UBC is one of Canada’s leading hubs for AI innovation and research. Highlights include:
- The UBC Computer Science Department has several AI faculty members undertaking pioneering research in machine learning, computer vision, natural language processing, robotics and more.
- UBC AI Hub facilitates collaboration between students, researchers and industry partners on applying AI for social good. It organizes conferences, workshops and other events.
- D-Wave, a quantum computing company that UBC collaborates closely with. This enables research combining AI and quantum computing.
UBC offers a cutting-edge MSc in Computer Science (Artificial Intelligence) that equips students with the theoretical and practical skills for AI mastery.
McGill University in Montreal is one of Canada’s top-ranked institutions for artificial intelligence studies. Key facts:
- The School of Computer Science has over 30 professors specializing in AI, with strong capabilities in deep learning, reinforcement learning, robotics, computer vision and more.
- McGill’s AI faculty are closely affiliated with MILA and the Quebec AI Institute, collaborating on breakthrough research projects.
- McGill offers an MSc in Computer Science (Machine Learning) allowing students to undertake advanced AI coursework and thesis research.
- Graduates obtain robust AI skills combined with an understanding of the social and ethical implications of the technology.
University of Alberta
The University of Alberta excels in AI research and education across computing science, informatics, linguistics and other disciplines. Highlights include:
- Home to the Alberta Machine Intelligence Institute (Amii), one of Canada’s pioneering AI institutes conducting applied research for industry.
- Amii employs many UAlberta professors and collaborates closely with the university through joint projects, workshops and more.
- UAlberta’s Computing Science department undertakes cutting-edge AI research in areas like machine learning, computer vision, robotics, natural language processing and more.
- MSc and PhD programs in Computing Science allow for advanced studies in AI specializations.
UAlberta provides superb opportunities to study both the theory and real-world applications of artificial intelligence technologies.
University of Waterloo
The University of Waterloo is one of the top destinations in Canada to study AI, known for innovation in mathematics and computer science. Key aspects include:
- Home to the Waterloo AI Institute, which collaborates closely with the university on pioneering AI research.
- Operates the Waterloo Centre for Automotive Research (WatCAR) to advance AI applications in autonomous vehicles.
- The David R. Cheriton School of Computer Science offers brilliant faculty and resources for AI studies across machine learning, neural networks, optimization algorithms and more.
- Waterloo provides an MSc in Computer Science (Computational Mathematics) focusing on mathematical computing and AI.
Waterloo fosters strong industry partnerships, startup support and interdisciplinary collaboration to inspire AI innovation with real-world impact.
This is just a sampling of the excellent Canadian universities where international students can pursue artificial intelligence specializations through Masters and PhD programs. Other notable options include Simon Fraser University, Université de Montréal, University of Calgary and more.
Top Artificial Intelligence Programs in Canada
Let’s look at some of the top graduate programs in Canada for specializing in artificial intelligence:
MSc in Machine Learning & Data Mining – University of Alberta (MSc)
This unique 1-year masters program equips students with advanced skills in artificial intelligence, machine learning, data mining and statistical analysis. The curriculum includes:
- Courses in machine learning, neural computing, pattern recognition, data visualization
- Specialization via thesis research and industry projects
- Hands-on training in AI applications for fields like healthcare, business, science and engineering
- Strong ties to Amii to access world-class AI research and talent
The program is geared for students who want to become data science and AI professionals in the industry or pursue further research.
MSc in Computer Science (Machine Learning) – McGill University
McGill’s advanced machine learning program allows students to specialize via targeted coursework and intensive thesis research. It includes:
- Advanced graduate seminars in statistical machine learning, deep learning, reinforcement learning and more
- Collaborative AI projects and learning through industry internships
- Access to MILA’s research resources and mentoring from its renowned AI scientists
- Builds robust theoretical and practical skills to become an AI research specialist or data science professional
Graduates obtain valued expertise in machine learning techniques powering today’s intelligent systems.
MSc in Computer Science (Artificial Intelligence) – University of British Columbia
UBC’s AI masters equips students to apply artificial intelligence to solve complex real-world problems. It comprises:
- Core courses in machine learning, computer vision, robotics, and knowledge representation
- AI specialization through technical electives and research under faculty supervision
- Participation in initiatives like the AI Hub to build solutions for social benefit
- Graduates obtain technical sophistication and an understanding of AI’s societal impacts
The program provides access to western Canada’s leading hub for AI innovation.
MSc in Artificial Intelligence – University of Toronto
The University of Toronto offers a prestigious master’s program specializing in artificial intelligence, regarded as one of the top AI graduate degrees globally. Program highlights include:
- Cutting-edge coursework in machine learning, neural networks, natural language processing, robotics, and other AI subfields
- Flexibility to undertake cross-disciplinary studies spanning computer science, engineering, statistics, psychology and more
- Exceptional opportunities for thesis supervision and collaboration under globally admired AI pioneers like Prof. Geoffrey Hinton, Prof. Yann LeCun, Prof. Raquel Urtasun and more
- Direct engagement with Toronto’s vibrant AI ecosystem including the Vector Institute, MaRS Discovery District, and the city’s bustling tech industry
This intensive program provides students with extraordinary access to world-leading AI research and talent. Through advanced technical education and experience tailoring AI solutions for real-world systems, graduates obtain the skills and knowledge to drive transformative change across industries and sectors. The program’s location in Canada’s largest city and a global AI innovation hub also enriches learning and enables impactful professional connections. Students receive robust capabilities for advancing artificial intelligence responsibly and successfully translating AI capabilities into practical societal and commercial benefits.
MSc in Computing Science (Artificial Intelligence) – Simon Fraser University
Simon Fraser University provides an excellent graduate program focusing on AI. It features:
- Rigorous coursework across machine learning, computer vision, neural networks, robotics, and more
- Participation in SFU’s vibrant AI research community across computing science and cognitive science
- Thesis supervision by award-winning faculty with expertise in various AI application areas
- Partnership opportunities with AI labs and tech firms across the West Coast
The program offers targeted training in both the technical skills and critical thinking needed for advancing AI responsibly.
These are just a few of the top-notch graduate programs available for studying artificial intelligence across Canadian universities. International students have abundant opportunities to gain AI expertise through Masters studies in Canada.
AI Research Centers and Labs in Canada
Canada is home to some of the world’s largest hubs for artificial intelligence research. Let’s explore the main institutes and labs powering Canada’s leadership in AI innovation:
Vector Institute for Artificial Intelligence (Toronto)
Founded in 2017, Vector Institute has rapidly emerged as one of the top global centers for AI excellence. Key facts:
- Independent, not-for-profit research institute affiliated with UofT and other Ontario universities
- Over 100 researchers across core areas like deep learning, machine learning, optimization, AI safety, robotics and more
- Collaborates closely with industry leaders on real-world AI applications
- Organizes conferences, workshops and training programs to strengthen Canada’s AI ecosystem
Students can engage with Vector’s world-class researchers through joint projects, internships, events and more.
Montreal Institute for Learning Algorithms (MILA)
MILA is one of the largest academic hubs for AI globally, renowned for excellence across deep learning, reinforcement learning and other subfields. Details:
- Founded at Université de Montréal in 1993, with 500+ researchers today
- Inter-university center collaborating closely with McGill, UdeM and Polytechnique Montréal
- Undertakes ambitious industry projects, startups and policy initiatives to advance real-world AI
- Organizes the renowned Conference on Neural Information Processing Systems (NeurIPS)
MILA provides extraordinary research opportunities for students in Montreal’s vibrant AI community.
Alberta Machine Intelligence Institute (Amii)
Founded in 2002, Amii is one of Canada’s pioneering institutes for artificial intelligence research and applications. It has:
- Over 50 faculty researchers across the University of Alberta and other Albertan institutions
- State-of-the-art facilities for designing AI solutions, including supercomputing resources
- Extensive industry collaborations to commercialize AI technologies in sectors like healthcare, energy, finance and more
- Executive training programs and start-up incubation for strengthening Alberta’s AI capabilities
Amii enables students to undertake highly impactful research on real-world AI implementations.
Canadian Institute for Advanced Research (CIFAR)
CIFAR operates several world-class AI research programs:
- Learning in Machines & Brains supports integrative research across AI, neuroscience and psychology
- AI & Society focuses on ensuring AI benefits humanity through policy insights
- Quantum Machine Learning advances hybrid quantum-classical approaches to AI
CIFAR’s community of over 400 researchers provides rich interdisciplinary perspectives on artificial intelligence.
Borealis AI (Edmonton)
Borealis AI is an RBC Institute for artificial intelligence research and commercial applications. Highlights:
- Over 80 researchers focused on key AI challenges like explainable AI and natural language understanding
- Strong capabilities in reinforcement learning and machine learning
- Collaboration opportunities for students on impactful industry projects
Borealis advances leading-edge academic research with real-world deployment of AI solutions.
Canada’s vibrant AI research institutes enable graduate students to learn alongside pioneers in the field while working on solutions for a better future.
Prominent AI Professors and Researchers
Canada is home to many globally admired professors and scientists who are advancing the frontiers of artificial intelligence. Here are some of the big names in Canadian AI academia:
Geoffrey Hinton – University of Toronto
Widely called the “Godfather of Deep Learning”, Hinton’s pioneering work on neural networks and machine perception form the foundations of modern AI. His accomplishments include:
- Proposing key techniques like backpropagation and Boltzmann machines that revitalized neural networks
- Founding the highly influential CIFAR Neural Computation and Adaptive Perception program
- Directing the Vector Institute to strengthen Toronto’s position as an AI powerhouse
Hinton is a must-have mentor for students looking to specialize in deep learning and neural networks.
Yoshua Bengio – University of Montreal
A close colleague of Hinton’s, Bengio’s contributions were also crucial to the rise of deep learning. His work focuses on:
- Developing generative models for unsupervised learning, including pioneering Variational Autoencoders
- Advancing natural language processing through neural network models like word2vec
- Reinforcement learning, with seminal papers on policy gradients
Bengio co-directs MILA and provides invaluable guidance on cutting-edge techniques in deep learning and representation learning.
Richard Sutton – University of Alberta
Sutton is one of the founding fathers of modern reinforcement learning. His key innovations include:
- Creating the temporal difference (TD) learning method central to modern RL algorithms
- Developing the field’s foundational text – Reinforcement Learning: An Introduction
- Making seminal contributions across RL subfields like policy gradients, planning, generalization and more
Sutton mentors students at Amii, providing unparalleled expertise in a field crucial for creating intelligent learning agents.
Raquel Urtasun – University of Toronto
Urtasun is renowned for her pioneering work in machine perception with a focus on self-driving vehicles and smart cities. She heads:
- Uber ATG Toronto, developing AI software for autonomous driving
- Waabi, an autonomous vehicle startup
- UofT’s machine perception lab, advancing computer vision and localization
Urtasun provides valuable advice on deploying AI technologies safely and responsibly in the real world.
This list highlights just a few of the many brilliant researchers students can learn from by pursuing AI studies in Canada. The country offers access to an incredible wealth of expertise across diverse AI branches and applications.
Scholarships for International AI Students in Canada
Canada offers several scholarships specifically aimed at bringing top international AI talent to its universities through funded graduate studies. Here are some excellent funding opportunities:
Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarships
The Vanier scholarship covers $50,000 annually for PhD students along with a $20,000 research stipend. Eligible fields include computer science and engineering.
Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Scholarship
Fully funds a masters or doctorate undertaken by international students at a Canadian university. The program promotes academic partnerships between Canada and other Commonwealth countries.
Ontario Trillium Scholarships
Trillium scholarships are awarded to high performing international PhD applicants across STEM fields at participating Ontario universities. Each award is worth $40,000 a year.
University of Toronto Excellence Awards
UofT offers substantial scholarships for exceptional international graduate applicants, including the Donald I. Buchanan award covering full tuition.
CIFAR AI Chairs Graduate Scholarships
CIFAR sponsors 25 graduate scholarships annually for AI studies at Canadian universities where their AI chair-holders teach. Each award is valued at $10,000.
Connaught International Scholarships
Prestigious scholarships offered at University of Toronto covering full tuition plus stipend for international PhD students with outstanding academic achievement.
UBC Four Year Doctoral Fellowships
Top-ranked international PhD applicants at UBC receive a four year $18,200 annual fellowship along with full tuition coverage.
In addition, many Canadian provinces and universities provide partial scholarships and bursaries for high performing international students. Government student loans are also accessible for qualified applicants who secure admission. Overall, Canada offers substantial financial assistance for meritorious students pursuing AI graduate studies there.
Career Opportunities for AI Graduates in Canada
International students who complete artificial intelligence programs from Canadian universities have bright career prospects within Canada. The booming technology sector provides abundant employment opportunities, and graduates can obtain work permits through immigration pathways like the Post-Graduation Work Permit Program.
Here are some of the top jobs AI graduates pursue in Canada:
AI Research Scientist
Undertake innovative R&D at tech firms or research institutes to advance next-generation AI systems.
AI Software Engineer
Build, optimize and integrate intelligent systems, products and applications.
Machine Learning Engineer
Develop and deploy scalable ML models and infrastructure across companies.
Analyze data, identify insights, and design data-driven solutions using statistical and AI techniques.
Business Intelligence Developer
Apply data mining and machine learning to extract business insights for strategic decision-making.
Computer Vision Engineer
Focus on AI techniques for processing, analyzing and understanding visual data at tech firms.
Natural Language Processing Engineer
Work on AI systems like chatbots, text analytics, speech recognition, and language understanding.
Design and program intelligent robots, drones, autonomous vehicles and other machines.
Advise enterprises on strategies for collecting, managing, and extracting value from data.
AI Product Manager
Drive the strategy and development of AI-enabled products and platforms.
AI Ethics Specialist
Ensure AI systems are transparent, fair and aligned with human values.
The growing integration of AI across sectors like information technology, engineering, business, manufacturing, healthcare, and more creates ample employment avenues. International students can obtain valuable Canadian work experience through co-op terms and internships during their studies followed by longer-term employment post-graduation.
Job Outlook for AI Professionals in Canada
Multiple reports forecast strong growth in demand for AI skills and jobs across Canada over the next decade:
- The Canadian government projects the AI sector to create over 100,000 jobs by 2023.
- Between 2018 to 2023, demand for data scientists is expected to surge by 64% according to the Information and Communications Technology Council (ICTC) skills report.
- Deloitte predicts the Canadian AI labor force will expand from 22,00 positions in 2016 to 114,000 by 2021.
- Geographically, Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver, Waterloo, Calgary and Edmonton are emerging as AI job hubs.
- Healthcare, finance, retail, manufacturing and technology are key industry verticals adopting AI tools and recruiting talent.
The growing application of AI across fields is fueling unprecedented demand for professionals with graduate training in artificial intelligence, data science and machine learning. International students with Canadian AI qualifications are well-positioned to capitalize on these exciting opportunities.
Canada provides an outstanding destination for international students to pursue world-class graduate education in artificial intelligence. With access to globally renowned research institutes, brilliant faculty, flexible curricula, diverse culture and bright career prospects, Canada offers innumerable advantages. International students can obtain robust technical AI skills coupled with perspectives on deploying this transformative technology responsibly for social benefit. Graduates are equipped for rewarding careers in the flourishing AI ecosystem across Canadian technology hubs like Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver, Waterloo and Edmonton. Through scholarships, co-op terms, post-graduation work permits and welcoming immigration policies, Canada facilitates international students in staying on after studies to kickstart their careers. Given the expanding demand for AI talent globally, graduates from Canada’s leading AI programs have their pick of career opportunities at top technology firms and research laboratories worldwide. Overall, graduate studies in artificial intelligence at Canadian universities deliver an unbeatable springboard for international students to enter a profession shaping the future with tremendous positive potential.