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Which U of T campus is best for you? A quick look at what makes each one unique

U of T's three campuses boast many unique attributes – from U of T Mississauga's natural setting to St. George's historic architecture and U of T Scarborough's world-class facilities (photos by Nick Iwanyshyn, U of T Staff and Ken Jones)

When students apply to the University of Toronto, it can often be difficult to choose between the three campuses: St. George, U of T Mississauga and U of T Scarborough – all of which boast the university’s globally-recognized academic excellence and exceptional employment outcomes.

Yet, when it comes to factors such as location, program offerings and campus culture – even the likelihood of a deer sighting – there is much that sets one campus apart from another.

Here is a quick rundown of some of the attributes that make each U of T campus unique, and how some students made their decision.


St. George

(Photo by University of Toronto)

Situated in the heart of downtown Toronto, the St. George campus is steeped in U of T’s nearly 200-year-old-history.

Harry Potter fans will feel right at home amid the Gothic Revival-style architecture, characterized by tall, sloping arches, relief sculptures and steep-gabled roofs of many of the buildings that dot the campus, particularly near King’s College Circle. While there’s no magical sorting hat, undergraduate students in the Faculty of Arts & Science belong to one of seven colleges, each housing a unique community with its own slate of academic and extracurricular offerings.

Students at St. George can walk along Hoskin Avenue, which features Hart House, a hub of student activity, and Soldiers’ Tower, a bell and clock tower that pays tribute to university community members who perished in the First World War. Condé Nast Traveler has named the avenue one of the most beautiful places in Canada.

For Norah Rahman, U of T’s distinct buildings were a fixture in her life long before she decided to enrol a life sciences program this coming fall. Since she was 10 years old, she says she has attended lecture series hosted by local Muslim organizations in U of T classrooms.​

 

Hart House

(Photo by Nick Iwanyshyn)

​“I was actually able to experience the campus as if I were taking classes there, and I loved the environment,” Rahman says.

Hailing from North York, Rahman says she was also drawn to the vibrancy of neighbourhoods downtown.

“Ever since I was in the ninth or tenth grade and I was allowed to go places by myself, I always gravitated towards going downtown,” Rahman says. “There’s something about the hustle and bustle and the opportunity to try different things, to eat different things. I’m kind of a foodie.”

The downtown campus is within walking distance of a wide range of city attractions, including Queens Park, the Royal Ontario Museum and the Art Gallery of Ontario – not to mention shopping, restaurants, Kensington Market and professional sports venues. Aspiring thespians can also take advantage of the neighbouring Theatre District.

The St. George campus, not surprisingly, also boasts state-of-the-art research facilities, close connections to local research hospitals, several entrepreneurship hubs and will soon be home to the new Schwartz Reisman Innovation Campus, which will be directly across the street from the MaRS Discovery District.

Isaiah Gardner, who is about to begin his first year as a student in the Faculty of Kinesiology & Physical Education, says he chose St. George because it is the only campus that offers a bachelor’s of kinesiology degree. While at U of T, he will also run for the Varsity Blues in track and field.

Gardner says he fell in love with the team during a track meet in 2019, when he ran along the blue track at the Varsity Centre with the CN Tower in the background.

“I wanted to live downtown in the energy and life that radiated from Toronto,” he says.

U of T Mississauga

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(Photo by Randy Landicho)

For nature lovers, U of T Mississauga is hard to beat.

The bucolic campus is set on 225 acres of protected greenbelt along the Credit River, which is home to a variety of wildlife – from the great blue heron to the Jefferson salamander. And, since 2017, tens of thousands of honeybees have lived on the roof of U of T Mississauga’s Instructional Centre, producing honey for campus kitchens and other initiatives.

Deer are particularly beloved members of the U of T Mississauga community.

The antics of the deer on campus are closely monitored by students and faculty alike, as evidenced by a Twitter account dedicated to the animals. One deer by the name of “Hartley Fawn” even got its own ID card.

Baby deer with its mother

(Photo by University of Toronto Mississauga) 

“U of T Mississauga has a very relaxed atmosphere because it’s a bit secluded,” says Fatima Azahraa Al Saadie, a recent graduate who was recognized as the top undergraduate student across U of T’s three campuses.

“Any time I felt overwhelmed or stressed, I’d just go outside, take a deep breath and appreciate the natural environment. Seeing a deer or two on campus is a bonus!”

Al Saadie added that she appreciated the smaller classes at U of T Mississauga, where the largest max out around 500 students. The relatively small campus helped ease the transition from high school to university, Al Saadi says.

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(Photo by Drew Lesiuczok)

Sustainability is a key theme at U of T Mississauga. Among the campus’s landmarks is Maanjiwe nendamowinan, a recently built six-storey building that boasts rainwater recycling, green roof space and a name that was chosen in collaboration with the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation, on whose traditional territory the campus now stands. U of T Mississauga also has the distinction of being Canada’s first Silver Fair Trade Campus, with fair trade coffees, teas and chocolate bars sold throughout.

The diverse food choices don’t stop there: U of T Mississauga was also the first university campus in Canada to host a certified gluten-free food station.

U of T Mississauga is renowned for its forensic science program, which is the oldest in the country. The program’s faculty include a forensic anthropologist, a lawyer and a police officer who have worked on some of Canada’s most high-profile criminal cases. There is even a “crime scene house” where students can perfect techniques for blood splatter analysis and fingerprinting. The campus is also the principal home of U of T’s biomedical communications program – the only one of its kind in Canada and one of the largest in North America – as well as Jessica Burgner-Kahrs’s Continuum Robotics Lab, where researchers are building slender, snake-like next-generation machines for surgical and other applications.

The campus benefits from its strategic location in the city of Mississauga, which is the home base for more than 60 of Canada’s Fortune 500 companies and is a short drive to the Toronto region’s main international airport.

There’s even a free shuttle bus that whisks students to and from the St. George campus, although service was temporarily suspended during the COVID-19 pandemic.

U of T Scarborough

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(Photo by Randy Landicho)

Located in Toronto’s vibrant east end, U of T Scarborough’s Brutalist architecture has the honour of being the backdrop of a The Weeknd music video – as well as numerous movies and television shows –  and a parody Instagram account @UofTDrizzy that is followed by Drake himself.

The superstar rapper is also a fan of Scarborough’s culinary offerings. As one of the most multicultural communities in the Greater Toronto Area, the neighbourhood’s eclectic food options are in abundance. From halal restaurants to East Asian comfort food to stuffed patties recommended by Drake, culinary adventures are always around the corner in Scarborough.

Not to be outdone on the nature front, the U of T Scarborough campus sits on 300 acres of lush green parkland, with a system of trails showcasing the splendor of the Highland Creek Valley.

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(Photo by Nick Iwanyshyn)

“I saw that there was this beautiful trail in the campus, and since I’m an outdoor person I’ll probably be there every day,” says Emeka Okolo, an incoming life sciences student from Oshawa who will be living in residence.

An avid football player, Okolo is also looking forward to finding a gym buddy. U of T Scarborough boasts the Toronto Pan Am Sports Centre, a sprawling athletics facility that hosted diving, fencing and swimming and other competitions during the 2015 Pan American Games. In 2017, former U.S. President Barack Obama and current President Joe Biden joined Prince Harry at the centre for the Invictus Games, an international sporting event for wounded military servicepeople.

The campus is one that aims to reflect the diversity of the Toronto region in which it operates, as evidenced by its strategic vision: Inspiring Inclusive Excellence. It is also playing an important role in promoting equity, diversity and inclusion well beyond U of T. To take one recent example: Wisdom Tettey, vice-president and principal of U of T Scarborough, played a key role in helping to co-ordinate the National Dialogues and Action for Inclusive Higher Education and Communities, which brought together colleges and universities across the country to address anti-Black racism.

(Photo by Ken Jones)

When it comes to academic programs, U of T Scarborough has the distinction of being the university’s co-op campus, with co-op programs offered in over 80 programs across the arts, science and management disciplines. The curricula combine U of T’s hallmark academic excellence with eight to 12 months of paid full-time work or research experience during your degree – giving graduates a precious leg up in the job market. 

U of T Scarborough also has plentiful resources for budding entrepreneurs (as do all three U of T campuses). The campus’s startup incubator, The Hub, has helped students and recent alumni launch more than 150 businesses. Meanwhile, the next generation of corporate innovators can hone their skills at The BRIDGE, a business research space complete with an advanced trading lab and state-of-the art boardroom.

At the height of the pandemic, when few employers were hiring, Melody Bagaa, who graduated in 2020, told U of T News she harnessed the practical experience she gained through U of T Scarborough’s co-op program and other employment-focused resources to land a finance job that she loved.

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