McGill University
#40 Overall Influence

McGill University

English-language public research university in Montreal, Quebec

By James Barham, PhD

McGill University is the direct descendent of McGill College, founded by royal charter in 1821 and largely funded by a bequest from the Scottish-born Canadian entrepreneur and philanthropist, James McGill. The university took its present name in 1885.

Though situated on the slopes of Mount Royal in the heart of French-speaking Montreal (with a satellite campus on the westernmost tip of Montreal Island), McGill was founded as an English-speaking institution, and remains so to this day.

Today, McGill is a flourishing, internationally focused university with a student body of around 40,000—one of the largest in Canada.

McGill is associated with 12 Nobel laureates—the most of any Canadian university—and one Turing Award winner, who are listed below. Other prominent McGill-connected individuals include the following:

Fine Arts and Literature

  • Popular composer, Burt Bacharach
  • Classicist, poet, Anne Carson
  • Poet, novelist, singer, songwriter, Leonard Cohen
  • Poet, Irving Layton
  • Novelist, Stephen Leacock
  • Poet, Robert Service
  • Singer, songwriter, Rufus Wainwright

Humanities and Social Sciences

  • Philosopher, Mario Bunge
  • Linguist, S.I. Hayakawa
  • Political philosopher, Harold Laski
  • Economist, Nobel laureate, Robert Mundell
  • Psychologist, social critic, Jordan Peterson
  • Cognitive psychologist, Steven Pinker
  • Political philosopher, Judith Shklar
  • Philosopher, Charles Taylor
  • Anthropologist, Lionel Tiger
  • Political philosopher, historian, Immanuel Wallerstein

Film, Photography, and Performing Arts

  • Actor, Hume Cronyn
  • Actor,Mackenzie Davis
  • Actor,Jessalyn Gilsig
  • Screenwriter,Evan Goldberg
  • Actor,Laurie Holden
  • Actor,Jennifer Irwin
  • Actor,Rachelle Lefevre
  • Actor,William Shatner

Media, Law, and Public Affairs

  • Political scientist, former US national security advisor, Zbigniew Brzezinski
  • Journalist, John F. Burns
  • Former Prime Minister of Bermuda, Paula Cox
  • Political columnist, Charles Krauthammer
  • Former President of Jamaica, Michael Manley
  • Former Prime Minister of Costa Rica, Daniel Oduber Quirós
  • Political commentator, John Ralston Saul
  • Political commentator, Justin Trudeau
  • Former President of Latvia, Vaira Vīķe-Freiberga

STEM Disciplines

  • Botanist, David Baulcombe
  • Computer scientist, Turing Award winner, Yoshua Bengio
  • Physicist, Nobel laureate, Willard Boyle
  • Physicist, Nobel laureate, Val Logsdon Fitch
  • Chemist, Nobel laureate, Otto Hahn
  • Cognitive scientist, Stevan Harnad
  • Neuroscientist, Donald O. Hebb
  • Neuroscientist, Nobel laureate, David Hubel
  • Chemist, Nobel laureate, Rudolph Marcus
  • Neuropsychologist, Brenda Milner
  • Mathematician, Abel Award winner, Louis Nirenberg
  • Neuroscientist, Nobel laureate, John O’Keefe
  • Neuroscientist, Wilder Penfield
  • Astrophysicist, Hubert Reeves
  • Physicist, Nobel laureate, Ernest Rutherford
  • Endocrinologist, Nobel laureate, Andrew Schally
  • Chemist, Nobel laureate, Frederick Soddy
  • Neuroscientist, Nobel laureate, Ralph Steinman
  • Geneticist, Nobel laureate, Jack Szostak
  • Architect, Witold Rybczynski

What is McGill University known for?

#19 World Rank
#23 World Rank
Political Science
#24 World Rank
#29 World Rank
#33 World Rank
#38 World Rank
Religious Studies
#39 World Rank
Computer Science
#40 World Rank
#41 World Rank
#42 World Rank
#48 World Rank
#50 World Rank
#52 World Rank
#60 World Rank
#65 World Rank
Earth Sciences
#69 World Rank
Social Work
#75 World Rank
Criminal Justice
#80 World Rank
#84 World Rank
#98 World Rank
#119 World Rank
#137 World Rank
#159 World Rank
#168 World Rank

Influential People

Who are McGill University's Most influential alumni?

McGill University's most influential alumni faculty include professors and professionals in the fields of Medical, Political Science, and Engineering. McGill University’s most academically influential people include Steven Pinker, Brian Goodwin, and Charles Taylor.

Steven Pinker
Steven Pinker

Psychologist, linguist, author

view profile
Brian Goodwin
Brian Goodwin

Canadian mathematician and biologist

view profile
Charles Taylor
Charles Taylor

Canadian philosopher

view profile
William Shatner
William Shatner

Canadian actor, musician, recording artist, author and film director

view profile
Ralph Steinman
Ralph Steinman

Canadian immunologist and cell biologist

view profile
Zbigniew Brzezinski
Zbigniew Brzezinski

Polish-American political scientist

view profile
Robert Thirsk
Robert Thirsk

Canadian astronaut

view profile
Harriet Brooks
Harriet Brooks

Canadian nuclear physicist

view profile
Zenon Pylyshyn

Canadian philosopher

view profile
Hubert Reeves
Hubert Reeves

Canadian astrophysicist and popularizer of science

view profile
Jack Szostak
Jack Szostak

American biologist

view profile
Arthur Erickson
Arthur Erickson

Canadian architect and urban planner

view profile