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

Posted by Waterloo EDC on September 21, 2022

The University of Waterloo is renowned for its engineering and computer science programs. For three decades, the school has earned the moniker “Canada’s Most Innovative University” while building the country’s largest engineering school and producing some of the best talent in the Toronto-Waterloo Corridor.

Previously, we have compared UWaterloo to top engineering schools in Germany, but how does Canada's best tech school compare to the top tech schools in California?

In this blog we compare the University of Waterloo with all of the California universities that landed in the top-50 of the QS computer science rankings in terms of overall rank, student employability, computer science program size, research capabilities and entrepreneurship.

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

Round One: Overall Computer Science Ranking

Computer Science Ranking-1

Source: QS University Subject Rankings, 2022

Well, California is pretty impressive, to tell the truth. Six universities in the top-50.


The University of Waterloo is in the middle of the pack – between UCLA and Caltech – in terms of overall computer science rank. As you may expect, Stanford University and UC Berkeley are right at the top of the list – globally renowned as great tech schools and a main source of talent for Silicon Valley.

Round Two: Computer Science Program Size 

Number of Computer Science Students

Sources: University of Waterloo, UCLA, UC Berkley, USC, UC San Diego, Stanford University and Caltech, 2022

Among the world’s great tech universities, this is where the University of Waterloo absolutely shines. It’s huge. In fact, it’s the biggest university – by enrollment – among the global top-25 computer science schools. You could add together UC Berkeley, Stanford, Caltech and UCLA and you *still* wouldn’t have as many computer science students as the University of Waterloo has on its campus.

*Numbers for USC are from 2016 - we couldn't find publicly available numbers from 2022.

Round Three: Overall Graduate Employability Ranking

Employability Ranking-1

Source: QS University Rankings 2022

Producing work-ready graduates is at the core of the University of Waterloo with its renowned co-operative education programstudents graduate with two years of on-the-job experience at companies like Google, Microsoft and Apple, as well as scale-ups and startups from around the world.


That helps explain why we’re once again in a strong position, but Stanford and UCLA take the win here. After the University of Waterloo at #24, it’s a precipitous drop to USC and Caltech, at #59 and #63, respectively.

Round Four: Research Capabilities

Citations Per Paper

Source: QS University Rankings, 2022

Research capabilities are exceptionally important for any post-secondary institution – it supports the innovation that drives new products and services. Caltech – of Big Bang Theory fame – is at the top of this ranking, but the University of Waterloo performs respectably with a score just below UCLA.


Earlier this year, the University of Waterloo was recognized as the top research university for the 14th year straight, so if you’re coming to Canada and need to do R&D, Waterloo is the place to do it. Oh, and our incredible research tax credit programs can help.

Round Five: Entrepreneurship (0-100)

Entrepreneurship Ranking

Source: Pitchbook, Top Schools for Founders, 2021

The University of Waterloo prides itself on the entrepreneurship of its students and faculty. About 18% of Canadian tech founders studied in Waterloo. This excellent global ranking puts it at the middle of this particular pack, but again, we’re talking about the best California can offer.


In summary, if you’re looking for tech talent from one of the world’s great universities – employable, entrepreneurial talent – then the University of Waterloo is a great place to look. It’s a top-25 school, with a larger enrollment than most of the California schools combined and excellent grades across the board. There’s a reason CBRE named Waterloo the #1 small tech talent market and it starts with the University of Waterloo.

How can your company take advantage of the incredible talent coming out of the University of Waterloo? Contact us - we'll tell you


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Topics: technology, talent, R&D