Carleton University

Carleton University is a public comprehensive university in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. Founded in 1942 as Carleton College, a private, non-denominational evening college to serve veterans returning from World War II,[4] the institution was chartered as a university by the provincial government in 1952 through The Carleton University Act. The legislation was subsequently amended in 1957 to give the institution its current name.[4] The university moved to its current campus in 1959,[4] expanding rapidly throughout the 1960s amid broader efforts by the provincial government to increase support to post-secondary institutions and enhance access to higher education.

Carleton University
Motto"Ours the Task Eternal"
EndowmentC$270.6 million[1]
ChancellorYaprak Baltacioğlu
PresidentBenoit-Antoine Bacon[2]
Administrative staff
Location, ,
CampusUrban, 62 ha (150 acres)
Athletic teamsCarleton Ravens
ColoursBlack and red[3]
AffiliationsASAIHL, APSIA, AUCC, CARL, IAU, COU, ACU, U Sports, OUA, RSEQ, Fields Institute, ONWiE, CBIE, AACSB, NIBS
MascotRodney the Raven

The university is named for the now-dissolved Carleton County, which included the city of Ottawa at the time the university was founded. Carleton County, in turn, was named in honour of Guy Carleton, 1st Baron Dorchester, who served as Governor General of The Canadas from 1786 to 1796.

Carleton, which has more than 159,000 alumni worldwide, is reputed for its strength in many disciplines including the humanities, international business, aerospace engineering, computer science, international affairs, journalism, political science, political management, public policy and administration, and legal studies. Carleton has produced 6 Rhodes Scholars, 29 Royal Society Fellows, 20 recipients of the Order of Canada, 8 Banting Postdoctoral Fellowship awardees, and 3 National Killam Award recipients.

As of 2019, Carleton has an enrolment of more than 27,000 undergraduate and more than 4,000 graduate students. Its campus is located west of Old Ottawa South, in close proximity to The Glebe and Confederation Heights, and is bounded to the north by the Rideau Canal and Dow's Lake and to the south by the Rideau River.[5]

Carleton competes in the U Sports league as the Carleton Ravens. The Carleton Ravens are recognized for the strong performance of its men's basketball team, which has won seven consecutive Canadian national championships between 2006 and 2017, in addition to 14 of the 16 championships since 2003.


I learned very early the life lesson that it is people, not buildings, that make up an institution. And if we put our hearts to it we can do something worthwhile. – Henry Marshall Tory

Carleton College (1942-1957)

Initial discussions on establishing a second institution of higher learning in Ottawa began in the fall of 1938 among a committee of members from the local YMCA chapter, intent on creating facilities to serve the educational needs of Ottawa's sizeable non-Catholic population. While the outbreak of the Second World War disrupted the committee's activities, a new committee, under the leadership of Henry Marshall Tory, was reorganized into the Ottawa Association for the Advancement of Learning through a meeting held in December 1941, which was formalized in June 1942.[6]

Established in 1942 as Carleton College, a non-denominational institution, the school began offering evening courses in rented classrooms at the High School of Commerce, now part of the Glebe Collegiate Institute. Classes offered during the first academic year included English, French, history, algebra, trigonometry, chemistry, physics, and biology.[7] With the end of the war in 1945, and return of veterans from the frontlines, the College experienced an unexpected upsurge in student enrolment during the 1945-46 academic year, totalling approximately 2,200 students. To accommodate the increased number of students, the school rented facilities in various locations through the city, including classrooms at the Lisgar Collegiate Institute, Ottawa Technical High School, and the basements of several local churches. Higher enrolment also gave way to an expansion of the College's academic offerings with the establishment of the Faculty of Arts and Science encompassing coursework in journalism and first-year engineering.[8]

In 1946, the College gained possession of its first property, situated at the corner of Lyon Street and First Avenue in The Glebe neighbourhood. The four-story building was the former location of the Ottawa Ladies' College, which was purchased during the Second World War for use as barracks for the Canadian Women's Army Corps.[9] Its first degrees were conferred in 1946 to graduates of its Journalism and Public Administration programs.[10]

For nearly a decade, the college operated on a shoestring budget, with funds raised mainly through community initiatives and modest student fees. Student fees during the school's first academic year from 1942-43 were about $10.00 per course for first-year students, equivalent to $153.71 as of 2019.[11] Fundraising efforts spearheaded by the College's President, Henry Marshall Tory, sought to raise $1 million for the institution from donors throughout the Ottawa area, with half of the proceeds going towards the debt incurred by the purchase of the new building, and the other to endow the College.[12] The faculty was composed largely of part-time professors who worked full-time in the public service, some of whom were convinced to leave government for full-time tenure positions. However, full-time teaching staff were still mostly young scholars at the beginning of their careers.

In 1950, Carleton began the process of developing a crest and motto, as was tradition with other institutions of higher learning. James Gibson, chair of the Committee on Symbols and Ceremonials, initially proposed a Latin motto, "Opera nobis aeterna" derived from the Walt Whitman poem Pioneers! O Pioneers![4], a translation of the phrase "We take up the task eternal". The Board of Governors rejected the Latin motto as it was perceived as too pretentious for an institution focused on egalitarianism, leading to Carleton's current motto, "Ours the task eternal". In October 1951, the Board of Governors formally adopted the new crest and motto.[13]

In 1952, the Carleton College Act was passed by the Ontario Legislature, changing its corporate name to Carleton College and conferring upon it the power to grant university degrees. Carleton thus became the province's first private, non-sectarian college.[14] The governance was modeled on the provincial University of Toronto Act of 1906 which established a bicameral system of university government consisting of a Faculty Senate, responsible for academic policy, and a Board of Governors composed of local community members, exercising exclusive control over the institution's finances and formal authority over all other matters. The President, appointed by the Board, was to provide a link between the two bodies and to perform institutional leadership.[15]

Though the acquisition of land tracts now part of the current campus began in 1947, it was only in 1952 that the College gained possession of the entire 150-acre property, a significant portion of which was donated by Harry Stevenson Southam, a prominent Ottawa business magnate.[16] By March 1956, the College released a 75-year master plan for the development of the campus in stages, with the first stage costing an estimated $4.2 million dollars, equivalent to about $39 million in 2019 dollars, foreseeing the development of academic buildings, student residences, and athletic facilities. In October 1956, the beginning of construction at the Rideau River campus was celebrated with a ceremonial sod-turning by Dana Porter, then Treasurer of Ontario.[17]

Carleton University (1957–present)

In 1957, the Carleton University Act was enacted[18] as an amendment to the Carleton College Act, granting Carleton nominal status as a public university and resulting in its current name, Carleton University.[19] This did not result in substantive changes to the school's governance and academic organization as it had already been granted university powers through the preceding legislation.

Rapid development and growth (1960–69)

The completion of initial construction at the Rideau River campus in 1959 saw the University move to its current location at the beginning of the 1959-60 academic year. Completed at a cost of $6.5 million, the first three buildings, the Maxwell MacOdrum Library, Norman Paterson Hall and the Henry Marshall Tory Building rapidly became the epicentre for academic life at the University, with Paterson Hall and Tory Building respectively serving the arts and sciences disciplines.[20] The 1960s saw meteoric growth in student enrolment, with the number of full-time students ballooning from 857 to 7,139 within the span of a decade,[21] dovetailing with a sharp uptick in financial support from the provincial and federal governments towards post-secondary institutions. An increasing share of these students came to the school from outside the National Capital Region, prompting the University to open its first purpose-built residence halls, Lanark and Renfrew Houses in the fall of 1962. The residences were initially segregated by sex, with Lanark House reserved for male students and Renfrew for females; Carleton eventually discarded mandatory sex segregation in 1969 in favour of co-educational housing, becoming the first university in North America to adopt this practice. By the end of the decade, the increased need for space to accommodate the growing faculty and student body saw the completion of several major academic buildings, including the Loeb Building in 1967 and the Mackenzie Building in 1968.

In 1967, a Catholic post-secondary institution, Saint Patrick's College became affiliated with Carleton. Founded in 1929, it had been granting its diplomas through the University of Ottawa.[22] Both University of Ottawa and Saint Patrick's College had been inaugurated by the Catholic order Oblates of Immaculate Mary (OMI). The college was housed in a building on Echo Drive, near the Pretoria Bridge. Around 1973, a new building was erected on the Carleton campus, separated from the other academic building by its location at the northern end of campus. The college was dissolved as a separate entity after the 1979-80 academic year. Its final dean was Gerald Clarke who had been a professor from 1954, and was distinguished for its programs in social work. Despite being a secular institution, the name of the St. Patrick's Building continues to be a reminder of Carleton's historical relationship to the Catholic institution.[23] Carleton's School of Social Work continues to offer undergraduate and graduate programs.[24]

Steady expansion (1970–1999)

The arrival of a new decade ushered in the inauguration of the long-awaited University Centre, designed to be the linchpin for student life on campus, housing a student-operated pub and other administrative services. With growing restrictions in physical space, the University hailed the completion of Dunton Tower, then referred to as the Arts Tower, in September 1972, redefining the skyline of campus, gracing Carleton with what was then the tallest academic building in Canada. Rising attention towards recreation and fitness, coupled with generous grants from the provincial government, spurred the construction of the Athletics Centre in 1974, housing a multiplicity of different sports facilities, including a pool, squash courts, and gymnasium.[25]

Although Carleton experienced a temporary decline in student enrolment toward the latter half of the 1970s, the following decade saw a resurgence in the number of students attending the school, representing an increase of 76%, or 5,582 students over the course of the decade, leading to overcrowding in many of the school's buildings.[26] Responding to increased demand during the 1980s, the University built the Life Sciences Research Centre, the Minto Centre of Advanced Studies in Engineering (CASE), and funded an extension to MacOdrum Library.

Following renovations led by Toronto-based architect Michael Lundholm, 1992 saw the opening of the Carleton University Art Gallery in the St. Patrick's Building, supported by a fundraising drive within the local community and the bequest of several pieces of Canadian art from the estate of Frances and Jack Barwick.[27] In fall 1994, a new computing system was introduced at Carleton, extending Internet and e-mail access to all students and faculty, where this had previously been only accessible to graduate and undergraduate students in specific courses.[28]

Contemporary developments (2000–present)

The new millennium brightened prospects for Carleton's finances, allowing it to fund the construction of several new buildings during the 2000s. These include, inter alia, the $30-million construction of new athletics facilities, the $22-million, 9,011 m2 (97,000 ft2) Human Computer Interaction (HCI) Institute Facility and Centre for Advanced Studies in Visualization and Simulation (V-SIM), and the $17-million upgrade and expansion to the University Centre. In 2008, a sustainably-designed residence hall was added named Frontenac House, primarily serving returning second-year students.[29] During this decade, Carleton inaugurated its first female President and Vice Chancellor, Roseann Runte in 2008, who served in this position until 2017, resigning to fulfill a new position as President and CEO of the Canada Foundation for Innovation. Runte's leadership also pushed forward the planning and construction of three new academic buildings, Canal Buiding (2010), and River Building (2011), and the Health Sciences Building (2017), as well as a new residence building, Lennox and Addington House in 2011.

At the behest of Runte's successor, Benoit-Antoine Bacon, Carleton has continued to pursue several major construction projects, notably the Advanced Research and Innovation and Smart Environments (ARISE) Building, replacing the existing Life Sciences Building, to house applied research in smart technology. The University also moved forward with the construction of the Nicol Building, providing 100,000 square feet of new learning spaces for students in the Sprott School of Business. The cost of the building was estimated at around $65 million, but was offset through a sizeable donation of $10 million from the late Ottawa real estate developer and Carleton alumnus, Wes Nicol, for whom the building is namesake.[30] The building is slated for completion in 2021.

In 2018, Carleton purchased the Dominion-Chalmers United Church located in Ottawa's Centretown neighbourhood to serve as a community and cultural hub, and host to artistic performances and academic lectures.[31] The facility represents Carleton's first building situated in Ottawa's downtown area.

Organization and administration


The university's governing framework is established through the Carleton University Act, 1952, enabling legislation which sets out the basic legal obligations and purposes of the institution. The Act establishes Carleton as a bicameral institution, governed by a Board of Governors and Senate.[32] The Act establishes the objects and purpose of the university as the advancement of learning; the dissemination of knowledge; the intellectual, social, and moral development of its members and the community at large; and the establishment of a non-sectarian institution within the City of Ottawa.

Board of Governors

The Board of Governors oversees the corporate affairs of the institution, including finances, real property, risk management, and strategic direction.[32] The Board is also responsible for appointing the President and Chancellor, and determines the compensation of staff, faculty, and members of the senior administration. The Board of Governors is composed of 36 members, with 18 members derived from the students, staff, and administration of Carleton. These include four students, two faculty members, two members of the University Senate, two alumni, two staff, as well as the President and Chancellor, who are ex-officio members of the Board.[33] The remainder of the representatives are selected from the local community at large.

To support its mandate and oversight function, the Board has six standing committees, with each Governor holding membership in one or two of these committees over the course of a year. These standing committees include Executive, Audit & Risk, Building Program, Advancement and University Relations, Governance, and Finance.[34]

The Board is led by the Board Chair, who presides over meetings, evaluates executive performance, advises senior administration, and represents the university's interests to government. The current Board Chair is Nik Nanos, the President and Chief Data Officer of Nanos Research, a Canadian public opinion research firm.


The Senate is the Carleton's highest academic body and is responsible for university's academic governance. The Senate's duties include conferring degrees, approving recipients of honorary degrees, developing scholarships and selecting recipients thereof, approving new programs and curricular changes, in addition to overseeing academic regulations.

The Senate comprises 86 members, including 40 faculty members, two contract instructors, 10 undergraduate students, three graduate students, 23 ex-officio members, four members of the Board of Governors, and up to four special appointments.[35]


For the 2019-20 academic year, Carleton reported an estimated annual operating budget of $489.13 million, with the largest expenditures for the institution being employee salaries, campus infrastructure, and student support services.[36]

The largest annual sources of revenue for Carleton are tuition fees, which generate 59% of the university's income, representing $291 million in earnings, and provincial government funding, representing 35% of the university's income, or $172 million.[37]

Carleton has an endowment fund of $269.38 million as of the 2017-18 school year, with an increase of $7.6 million over the previous year.[38]


Carleton is a mid-sized comprehensive and research-intensive public university, and is part of several pan-institutional bodies, including Universities Canada and the Association of Commonwealth Universities. As of the 2017–18 academic year, Carleton received 25,121 applications, producing a first-year cohort of 6,716.[39] In 2019, the school reported an enrolment of 31,202 students, comprising 27,152 undergraduate and 4,050 graduate students, supported by 929 full-time faculty members and 778 adjunct instructors.[40] Carleton's graduation rate within seven years is approximately 70.4% as of the 2017-18 academic year, with a graduate employment rate of 92.7% within two years of graduation.[41]

Faculties of Carleton University
Faculty of Arts & Social Science1997[43]
Faculty of Engineering & Design1963[44]
Faculty of Graduate & Postdoctoral Affairs1974[45]
Faculty of Public Affairs1997
Faculty of Science1963
Sprott School of Business2006[46]

Academic units

Arts and Social Sciences

The Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (FASS) offers a variety of programs leading to the Bachelor of Arts (BA), Bachelor of Arts (Honours), Bachelor of Arts (Combined Honours), Bachelor of Cognitive Science (B.Cog.Sci.), Bachelor of Global and International Studies (B.GINS) degrees, and Bachelor of Humanities (B.Hum.) degrees. The faculty oversees a variety of disciplines in the humanities and social science fields, including African studies, anthropology, english, french, geography, history, music, psychology, and sociology.

The Faculty also houses the College of the Humanities, one of Canada's few Great Books programs, which leads to a B.Hum (Bachelor of Humanities) degree,[47] and Carleton's Institute of Cognitive Science, which offers the only fully structured PhD program in Cognitive Science in the country, as well as undergraduate and masters programs. There is also a collaborative M.A. in Digital humanities, one of the first in Canada. The Public History Program is known nationally for its innovative teaching and research,[48] having recently won national prizes.[49][50] FASS offers, in total, 14 master's and nine doctoral programs.

Engineering and Design

The Faculty of Engineering and Design is among the oldest within the university, with the first engineering courses offered in 1945, and four-year engineering degrees being offered by the school beginning in 1956.[51] The Faculty of Engineering and Design has since developed a broad range of coursework in the fields of engineering, architecture, industrial design, and information technology housing 20 distinct undergraduate programs[52] under the Bachelor of Engineering (BEng), Bachelor of Architectural Studies (BAS), Bachelor of Industrial Design (BID), Bachelor of Information Technology (BIT), and Bachelor of Media Production and Design (BMPD), along with 37 graduate programs at the master's and PhD level.[53] As of the fall 2019 semester, more than 5,800 undergraduate and 1,200 graduate students are enrolled in the Faculty.[54]

The Faculty offers a renowned Bachelor in Industrial Design, representing one of the oldest degrees of its kind in Canada,[55] immersing students in an interdisciplinary approach toward industrial design, combining the disciplines of psychology, physics, economics, and marketing.[56] The Faculty also houses one of Canada's first undergraduate programs focusing on aerospace engineering, and is considered to be one of the flagship offerings of the Faculty and the university at large. The program itself divides students into four streams, enabling students to specialize in a particular field within the broader spectrum of aerospace engineering. This includes Stream A: aerodynamics, propulsion, and vehicle performance, Stream B: aerospace structures, systems and vehicle design, Stream C: aerospace electronics and systems, and Stream D: space systems design.[57]

The Azrieli School of Architecture and Urbanism embodies another highly reputable institution within the Faculty of Engineering Design, housing undergraduate and graduate programs in its field. Students in the Bachelor of Architectural Studies can specialize one of three areas: Design, Urbanism, and Conversation and Sustainability.[58] The program is also unique within its discipline as it offers a Directed Study Abroad (DSA) option annually, enabling a select group of students to venture to a particular location to explore its architectural history in greater depth. Recent visit locations include Istanbul and Northern Europe[59]

Carleton’s Bachelor of Information Technology programs are offered jointly with Algonquin College, while the university’s Bachelor of Media Production and Design is offered jointly between the School of Information Technology and the Faculty of Public Affairs’ School of Journalism and Communication.

Public Affairs

The Faculty of Public Affairs (FPA) houses the university's academic disciplines that deal directly with government, civil society, and the relationship between them, comprising twelve academic units, offering 12 undergraduate programs and 21 graduate programs in criminology, economics, European studies, legal studies, journalism, political science, and public policy.

Many of Carleton's flagship offerings are housed in the Faculty of Public Affairs (FPA). This includes the School of Journalism and Communication, which offers the university's Bachelor of Journalism and Master of Journalism programs[60] and has educated many leading personalities in the field,[61] and the Norman Paterson School of International Affairs (NPSIA), which houses Canada's oldest foreign affairs graduate program. NPSIA, founded in 1965, is a member of the Association of Professional Schools of International Affairs (APSIA).[62] The School of Public Policy and Administration is the oldest such academic division in Canada and one of the most respected, with the university's first graduate degree in the discipline being granted in 1946. Carleton's Arthur Kroeger College of Public Affairs offers two unique honours degrees: the Bachelor of Public Affairs and Policy Management (BPAPM) and the multidisciplinary Bachelor of Global and International Studies (BGInS). The college is also home to the Clayton H. Riddell Graduate Program in Political Management.[63]

In September 2006, Carleton was designated a European Union Centre of Excellence by the European Commission in Brussels and was the first university to offer a BA (Honours) in European and Russian Studies and MA in European, Russian and Eurasian Studies. Its Department of Law & Legal Studies offers a BA (Honours) in Law and M.A and Ph.D. programs in Legal Studies, and is Canada's oldest legal department to take an epistemic, rather than professional approach to studying the influence of law within civil society. The faculty also features the Institute of Political Economy, the Institute of Criminology and Criminal Justice and African Studies, and is home to the School of Social Work and Department of Economics.

In 2019, Carleton ranked 101-150 in the world for politics and international studies, placing it within the top one percent of global universities in this field.[64]

Norman Paterson School of International Affairs

The Norman Paterson School of International Affairs is a professional school of international affairs at Carleton University. Founded in 1965, the school has distinguished itself as Canada's leading school in the field of international affairs, producing graduates that have progressed onward into key leadership positions within the federal government, think tanks, and academia. Established during a 'golden age' of Canadian diplomacy, the school adopts an interdisciplinary approach to the study of global issues, divided into seven clusters organized according to different areas of study under the umbrella of international affairs. NPSIA is the only full Canadian member of the Association of Professional Schools of International Affairs, a group of the world's top schools in international affairs.

NPSIA is well-regarded among the scholarly community in international affairs, with admission to the school is highly selective. In 2007, a poll of Canadian academics, intended to determine the best professional masters programs in international affairs, ranked NPSIA at No. 2, tied with Georgetown University, and ahead of programs at universities like Harvard and Columbia.[65][66]


The Faculty of Science offers 86 undergraduate and 39 graduate programs across various fields including biology, chemistry, physics, health sciences, mathematics, computer science, neuroscience, and earth sciences, with over 6,500 students enrolled, served by 177 faculty members.[67] Initial coursework on biology, chemistry, geology, and mathematics was first introduced in 1942 as night classes. In 1947, the school introduced its first undergraduate degrees in science, graduating its first cohort of honours degrees by 1950.[68]

The Faculty of Science is divided into eleven departments, each with distinct teaching and research focuses. Departments are housed in several buildings across campus, including Herzberg Laboratories, Steacie Building, Tory Building, the Nesbitt Biology Building, and the Health Sciences Building.[69] Each of these buildings house laboratories and other facilities for faculty and students alike to conduct research. The Nesbitt Biology Building contains several climate-controlled greenhouses that is host to an annual Butterfly Show in late September to early October, attracting visitors throughout the National Capital Region.[70] The National Wildlife Research Centre, a research facility of Environment and Climate Change Canada is also located on campus, and is home to the National Wildlife Specimen Bank, a repository of over 12,000 specimens of wildlife native to Canada. The centre conducts important research on the effects of toxic substances on wildlife, international migratory bird patterns, and the effects of human activities on wildlife.[71]

Sprott School of Business

Carleton first began offering a Bachelor of Commerce (B.Com.) degree beginning in 1949, and functioned as a department-level academic unit under the Faculty of Arts & Sciences, the Faculty of Social Sciences, and lastly the Faculty of Public Affairs and Management before its establishment as a separate faculty in 2006.[72] The School currently offers two undergraduate programs, the Bachelor of Commerce and Bachelor of International Business, in addition to five graduate-level programs and several certificate programs for professionals. As of the 2018-2019 academic year, Sprott programs are attended by 2,668 undergraduate students, served by a full-time faculty of 61.[73]

Sprott is accredited internationally by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business and by the Network of International Business Schools. The school has been at the forefront of educating business students through a global lens, having been the first in Canada to offer a Bachelor of International Business (BIB).[74] Its principal undergraduate offering, however, is the four-year Bachelor of Commerce (Honours) degree, and at the postgraduate level, MBA and PhD programs are offered.[75] The Sprott School has won the Overall Institution Performance Award, for its research contribution, at the Administrative Sciences Association of Canada (ASAC), in 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2010, and 2012[76] among business schools at Canadian comprehensive universities.


For the 2018-2019 academic year, Carleton admitted 5,988 first-year undergraduate students,[77] with a median admission average of 83.9% for students applying from Canadian high schools.[78] Undergraduate admission averages and requirements vary by academic program, with some specialized and limited enrolment offerings (e.g., Bachelor of Journalism, B.Hum., B.P.A.P.M. and Aerospace Engineering) requiring admissions averages markedly higher (i.e., in the A/A+ range) compared to their counterparts in other faculties (generally in the B+/A- range).[79]

Scholarships and bursaries

During the 2017-18 academic year, Carleton awarded $21.5 million in scholarships and bursaries to students, totalling approximately 12,000 individual scholarships.[80]

Students admitted from high school with an academic average above 80% qualify for an entrance scholarship starting at $4,000 over four years, with $1,000 disbursed annually. The amount students receive increases incrementally with their admission average, with students entering with an average above 95% receiving $16,000 over four years.[81] Nevertheless, students must maintain a minimum 10.0 CGPA (A-) year-to-year in order to retain their scholarship[82]

Beyond automatic entrance scholarships, the university also awards twenty-four Prestige Scholarships, which represent the highest institutional scholarships awarded by the university. Incoming students must submit a supplementary application, in addition to an admission average above 90% in order to qualify and demonstration of extracurricular involvement during their secondary school years to qualify.[83] Prestige Scholarships vary in value from $20,000 to full tuition, and generally do not have additional qualification criteria, with the exception of the Carleton Shad Valley Scholarship of Excellence, which requires recipients to have been alumni of the Shad Valley program.

Additional scholarships, such as the Arthur Kroeger National Scholars Program, are awarded to students entering a specific program based on their academic merit.


University rankings
Global rankings
ARWU World[84]701– 800
QS World[85]651–700
Times World[86]501–600
U.S News & World Report Global[87]483
Canadian rankings
ARWU National[84]22–25
QS National[85]22–24
Times National[86]19–21
U.S News & World Report National[87]19
Maclean's Comprehensive[88]5

Carleton has been included in Canadian and international college and university rankings. The 2019 international Academic Ranking of World Universities ranked the university in the 701–800 range.[84] In the 2020 international QS World University Rankings, Carleton ranked in the 651–700 range, and nineteenth in Canada.[85] According to the international 2020 listings for the Times Higher Education World University Rankings, Carleton ranks in the 501–600 range.[86] In the 2020 U.S. News & World Report Best Global University Ranking, the university was ranked 483rd in the world, and nineteenth in Canada.[87]

In terms of specific program rankings, Carleton has fared quite well in many of its flagship programs. In a 2009 worldwide survey of academics, which sought to determine the best professional Master's programs in International Affairs, Carleton's Norman Paterson School of International Affairs (NPSIA) was the only Canadian school to rank, and ranked 14th in the world.[89] This was followed by a more recent domestic survey of International Relations academics, which, in 2015, recommended Carleton as the best choice for students seeking a career in policy.[90]

Maclean's is a Canadian magazine that publishes the most cited domestic ranking of Canadian universities, which is intended to measure a university's overall "undergraduate experience."[91] In 2019, Carleton ranked 5th in the comprehensive category, which includes those universities with a significant degree of research activity and a wide range of programs at the undergraduate, graduate, and professional levels.[92]

In 2015, Maclean's began publishing program rankings for biology, business, computer science, education, engineering, mathematics, medicine, nursing, and psychology.[93] As of 2019, Carleton is ranked 7th in Canada for engineering,[94] 10th in computer science,[95] 10th in mathematics[96] and 14th in psychology.[97] Notably, Carleton does not have ratings in nursing, medicine, or education programs, specifically; however, it does have a Health Sciences faculty, which includes a biomedicine program and a disability and chronic illness program, and does have, in its Arts faculty, a Childhood and Youth Studies program originally rooted in Early Childhood Education (ECE).

Affiliated institutions


The Carleton University campus is situated on 150 acres (60 ha) bounded to the west by Colonel By Drive and the Rideau Canal, to the east by Bronson Avenue, and the south by the Rideau River. During its initial construction in 1959, the campus consisted of three buildings, the MacOdrum Library, the Tory Building, and Paterson Hall, forming a quadrangle situated at the heart of the university's academic buildings. Since then, the university has expanded to forty-seven buildings, the newest addition being the Health Sciences Building, which was inaugurated in 2018.

The campus is accessible to road traffic through two entrances respectively located at Bronson Avenue and Colonel By Drive. Carleton's campus contains a series of surface roads to facilitate traffic in and out of the university, the most heavily-used of them being Campus Avenue, which was converted to a single-direction road in 2019. Several OC Transpo bus lines, including the 7, 10, and 111 serve the campus directly, in addition to the O-Train's Carleton station, located at the centre of campus.

The campus is bisected by the O-Train Trillium line, with several pedestrian and vehicular bridges and tunnels facilitating access between either side. The majority of the university's academic and residential buildings are situated on the western side of campus, while the eastern side contains the university's athletics facilities and administrative offices.

Recent developments

The 2010-2011 academic year saw the inauguration of three buildings; Richcraft Hall (formerly River Building), Canal Building, and Lennox-Addington House, in addition to an extension to Residence Commons[99] Canal Building will both house classes and serve as an extension to the Engineering faculties; Richcraft Hall will house the School of Journalism and Communication, the Norman Paterson School of International Affairs and the School of Public Policy and Administration.[99]

In December 2013, an extension of the MacOdrum Library, which saw the installation of a new glass facade,[100] was inaugurated.[101] In September 2016, the River Building was renamed Richcraft Hall in recognition of a donation of $3 million from the Singhal family, known for their extensive philanthropic activities in the Ottawa area. Kris Singhal, the President of Richcraft Homes, is an alumnus of Carleton University himself.[102] The decision to rename the River Building to its current name was a source of controversy among many students and faculty, and later became the subject of a series of Internet memes.[103]

In November 2017, Carleton inaugurated the Health Sciences Building, a 120,000 sq. foot facility to house its Health Sciences and Neuroscience programs.[104]. Earlier that year, Carleton saw the demolition of the Life Sciences Research Building to make way for the Advanced Research and Innovation in Smart Environments (ARISE) Building, to create new classroom and laboratory facilities for research in clean technology, health technology, and information technology. The building is expected to be complete in late 2019.[105] In June 2018, Carleton broke ground on the Nicol Building, a dedicated 100,000 sq. ft. building to house the Sprott School of Business, containing classrooms and networking space for student and faculty use, and is slated for completion in 2021.[106].


The prevalence of modernist architecture, as well as brutalist architecture, in the design of the earliest academic buildings on the Carleton campus represented a stylistic departure from the tradition of collegiate architecture in North America, which is characterized by ivy-clad, Gothic buildings. The decision to incorporate the modernist style into the design of the campus was purposeful, seeking to capture the spirit of Carleton as a progressive, forward-thinking institution.[107]

Architectural critics have looked to Carleton as a leading example of modernist collegiate architecture in Canada. The campus became the subject of Modern U, an exhibition by local artist Adrian Gröllner that sought to highlight the late modernist architecture embodied by many of Carleton's early buildings.[108]

Tunnel system

Buildings on campus, with a few exceptions, are connected by a five kilometer-long system of underground pedestrian tunnels. The Carleton University tunnel system is the most extensive network of tunnels at a Canadian university or college campus. The tunnels were initially built as part of the second phase of initial construction on campus in the 1960s. Originally conceived as a maintenance crawl space connecting heating and ventilation between campus buildings, a suggestion by a staff member transformed them into accessible pedestrian tunnels[4] for students and faculty to use when travelling between different buildings on campus. The tunnels receive heightened usage during the winter months due to the severity of winters in Ottawa. Maintenance staff use modified golf carts in the tunnels to transport personnel, supplies, and mail to different locations on campus.

In 2019, Carleton introduced a new wayfinding system to assist students, faculty, and visitors in navigating the tunnel networking, using a metro-style map to display the network.

Student housing

Residence houses at Carleton University

Traditional residences

  • Dundas House (1991)
  • Glengarry House (1969)
  • Grenville House (1965)
  • Lanark House (1962)
  • Lennox and Addington House (2011)
  • Renfrew House (1962)
  • Russell House(1965)
  • Stormont House (1991)

Suite-style residences

  • Frontenac House (2008)
  • Leeds House (2001)
  • Prescott House (2001)

Carleton has eleven student residence buildings clustered together in the northwest section of campus, and are connected to the university's tunnel system. The first residence buildings constructed on campus were the Renfrew and Lanark Houses, which began accommodating students in 1962. In 1969, the university introduced the first co-educational dormitories in North America.[4] Since then, the university has gradually expanded the number of dormitories as enrollment has risen. On-campus housing at Carleton is configured in traditional and suite-style residences, with the latter offering students a kitchenette shared between four students. Unlike most collegiate dormitories, bathroom facilities are usually shared between two rooms, in contrast to the typical communal bathrooms. Residence floors are staffed by dedicated Residence Fellows, upper-year students hired by the university's Department of Housing and Residence Life Services to provide personal and academic support to students.

Although the majority of students housed on-campus are first-year students, Frontenac House is reserved for returning second-year students, while Leeds House is reserved for upper-year and graduate students. Residence Commons serves as a hub for students living in residences, as it houses The Caf, the university's main dining hall, the Residence Reception Desk, a Tim Horton's location, and Abstentions, a convenience store operated by the Rideau River Residence Association (RRRA), which functions as the student government for residence students.

During the summer months, some residence halls are turned over to Conference Services for use as hotels for visiting school and tourist groups to Ottawa. The Canadian Armed Forces uses some facilities, notably Glengarry House and Residence Commons, to house and feed the Ceremonial Guard, which conducts the renowned Changing of the Guard ceremony on Parliament Hill and posts sentries at Rideau Hall. It is possible to see practice marches and drills occurring on campus during this season.

Library and collections

MacOdrum Library

One of the three original buildings on the Carleton campus, the MacOdrum Library has served as Carleton’s central library and archives. The library is named for former Carleton President and Vice-Chancellor Murdoch Maxwell MacOdrum. As of 2017, the Library maintains a collection of approximately 1.8 million print items, 161,396 cartographic materials, and 876,396 e-books.[109]

Since 1959, the library has undergone expansion and renovations on several occasions, the most recent of which was completed in late 2013. The facility contains computer labs, study carrels, and meeting rooms for students to complete assignments and conduct academic research. During midterm and final examination periods, the Library extends its operating hours to twenty-four hours to accommodate students preparing for their examinations or completing assignments.On an annual basis, the library receives upwards of 1.6 million visits from students, faculty, and researchers.[110]..

In 2013, the Library inaugurated the Discovery Centre for Undergraduate Research, a multi-purpose space containing meeting tables, multimedia collaborative spaces, video game laboratories, as well as 3D printers.[111]

The Library occasionally hosts special artistic and historical exhibitions on the first floor, covering a broad spectrum of topics and academic disciplines.

Archives and Special Collections

The MacOdrum Library maintains extensive archives and research collections of documents, artifacts, and other materials related to specific academic disciplines, as well as the personal effects of various persons of historical significance. Notable collections include the W. McAllister Johnson Collection, containing artwork and other documents pertaining to French art history in the 17th and 18th centuries,[112] The Uganda Collection, which houses newspaper clippings, documents, and artifacts related to the expulsion of Uganda's South Asian minority under the rule of Idi Amin,[113] as well as Carleton University heritage material, storing yearbooks, student newspapers, photographs, and ephemera significant to the history of the university itself.

Since 1992, the Carleton University Art Gallery (CUAG), located in a 9,255 sq. ft. (860 sq. meters) facility situated in the St. Patrick's Building at the north end of campus, has served as a community hub for the visual arts at Carleton. CUAG contains three distinctive galleries on two floors, offices, collection storage vaults, and exhibition preparation room.

Admission to the gallery is free, and is open from Tuesday to Sunday weekly, with the exception of statutory holidays. In addition to its main exhibitions, the CUAG has a Curatorial Laboratory dedicated to installations curated by members of the Carleton community.[114]

Past notable exhibitions include The Other NFB, which featured photography taken by the now-defunct Still Photography Division of the National Film Board of Canada during World War II and through the post-war years,[115] Here Be Dragons, which sought to display new experimental forms of protest art,[116] and Dorset Seen, showcasing Inuit printmaking and its relation to the Inuit experience with the Canadian identity.[117]

CUAG also oversees the university's art collection, which focuses on twentieth-century Canadian art after 1950, European prints and drawings from the 16th to 19th centuries, as well as Inuit and First Nations art.[118]

Student life

Demographics of student body (2015–16)[119]
Male 52.7%51.5%
Female 47.3%48.5%
Canadian student 88.6%78.8%
International student 11.4%21.2%

Student unions and services

Carleton University Students' Association

All undergraduate students are members of the Carleton University Students' Association (CUSA), Canadian Federation of Students Local 1.[120] The organization was established in 1942 and has a long history of being a nucleus of political activity on campus.[121] The organization advocates for the interests of undergraduate students to the university's administration, organizes and delivers the annual Orientation Week in conjunction with the university, certifies and financially supports student-run clubs and societies and provides a variety of services to students.

CUSA is led by a six-member executive body comprising the President and Vice Presidents of Finance, Internal, Student Issues, Student Services, and Student Life, who are elected annually by the undergraduate student body.[122] Undergraduate students also elect twenty-eight Councillors proportionately to each faculty, with 2 seats to Business, 4 to Engineering & Design, 4 to Arts and Social Sciences, 8 to Public Affairs, and 3 to Science, in addition to ex-officio representatives from RRRA and the GSA.[123]

The organization administers a number of student centres designed to cater to the safety and well-being of various members of the student body; these are the Mawandoseg Centre, the Carleton Disability Awareness Centre, Food Centre, Foot Patrol, Gender and Sexuality Resource Centre, the Racialized and International Student Experience Centre and the Womxn's Learning, Advocacy, and Support Centre.[121] CUSA also runs a number of businesses: Oliver's Pub and Patio, an undergraduate student pub located on the first floor of University Centre which in addition to serving traditional pub fare, hosts a range of student events throughout the year;[124] Rooster's Coffeehouse, a café located in the University Centre that primarily serves coffee, baked goods, and light meals;[125] Haven Books, a discount bookstore and coffeehouse located off-campus in the Old Ottawa South neighbourhood,[126] and The Wing, a pop-up convenience store located in the University Centre Atrium, adjacent to Rooster's.

Rideau River Residence Association

Undergraduate students living in the university's residence facilities are also members of the Rideau River Residence Association (RRRA). Founded in 1968 and incorporated in 1976, students elect a three-member executive consisting of a President and Vice Presidents for Programming and Administration respectively, in addition to floor representatives to the RRRA Council, which endeavours to represent the interests of Carleton's undergraduate residents.[127] RRRA hosts a variety of events for students in residence, including an annual formal,[128] and runs Abstentions, a convenience store located in Residence Commons.[129]

Graduate Students' Association

All of the university's graduate students are members of the Carleton University Graduate Students' Association (GSA), Canadian Federation of Students Local 78.[120] Graduate students elect an executive and council members to represent their respective interests within the organization, which in turn advocates on their behalf and provides a variety of services that cater to postgraduates, which include the operation of a Grad Lounge and Mike's Place, a student pub located in University Centre specializing in Anglo-Indian cuisine, namesake of late Prime Minister and former Chancellor Lester B. Pearson. The GSA is also responsible for th provision of access to a variety of office services.[130]

Fraternities and sororities

Greek organizations at Carleton University




Greek letter organizations are an active part of student life at Carleton, affiliated with both local and international organizations. From an administrative perspective, Carleton does not formally recognize fraternities and sororities, and has prohibited them from tabling in the University Centre Atrium and Residence Commons while wearing their letters.[131]

Since 2007, most Greek activities at Carleton are overseen by the Carleton University Greek Council (CUGC), a student-led organization which plans and coordinates social, philanthropic, and academic events throughout the school year between fraternities and sororities.[132] Three international sororities, Phi Sigma Sigma, Alpha Omicron Phi, and Delta Phi Epsilon are governed separately by the Carleton Panhellenic Council, which fulfills a mandate parallel to that of the CUGC.[133]

In early 2016, a Carleton sorority became the locus of controversy after an incident in which several chapter members decided to pop 80 balloons simultaneously during a meeting in the Tory Building, followed by celebratory screaming which falsely triggered an active shooter lockdown on campus. This led to some students advocating for an outright ban of the sorority responsible for the false alarm.[134]

Arts and media

Student newspapers

Carleton's primary undergraduate student newspaper is The Charlatan, which was founded in 1945 and known as The Carleton until 1971. Until 2019, the newspaper published print editions on a bi-weekly basis when budgetary restraints forced the paper to reduce its frequency to once monthly. The Charlatan's operations are overseen by a volunteer Board of Directors, composed of representatives from the newspaper's staff, students, faculty, and the community at large.[135]

Carleton is also served by The Leveller, a monthly newspaper established in 2009, representing student voice throughout the National Capital Region. The publication is characterized by its radical left editorial stance toward social issues.[136]

The Resin was a newspaper for students living in residence which was published in 2014, when the Rideau River Residence Association decided to discontinue it.

During the school year the School of Journalism publishes a community newspaper, Centretown News, which reports on the Centretown neighbourhood of Ottawa, and an online newspaper, Capital News Online.

The Department of English Language and Literature supports the student-run writers' zine, In/Words, featuring creative writing and short stories from Carleton students. Engineering students are similarly are served by the The Iron Times, which is published by the Carleton Student Engineering Society.


Carleton is home to a community radio station, CKCU-FM. Since its first broadcast on 15 November 1975 CKCU-FM was the first licensed community-based campus radio station in Canada.[137] CKCU-FM broadcasts a broad range of student and multicultural programming, featuring genres such as world music, avant-garde music, indie pop, and blues. In addition to an optional student-levy, CKCU-FM relies largely relies on donations from the local community and program sponsorships for financial support.[138]


The Sock 'n' Buskin Theatre Company,[139] which was founded in 1943, is Carleton's amateur theatre company, having distinguished itself as one of Carleton's most important cultural fixtures. The Company puts on diverse showcase of theatrical productions each year, with recent productions including The Crucible, As You Like It, and Twelfth Night. Sock 'n' Buskin is entirely run and governed by student volunteers, who also comprise the actors and stage managers involved in each production.[140]


Varsity athletic teams at Carleton University



Carleton competes as the Carleton Ravens, participating in intercollegiate competitions at both the national and provincial levels. Carleton is a member of both U Sports and Ontario University Athletics, encompassing 13 varsity sports.

Men's basketball

Carleton is recognized for the strength of its men's basketball team, which has accumulated the highest number of national titles of any collegiate basketball team in Canadian history. Between 1999 and 2019, Dave Smart served as the head men's basketball coach at Carleton, and is credited for building the team's capacity to its current reputation of repeated success. Smart resigned from his position in 2019 to serve as Carleton's director of basketball operations.[141]

The Ravens men's basketball team has won the national championship fourteen times,[142] with five consecutive titles between 2002–03 and 2006–07 and seven consecutive titles between 2010-2011 and 2016-2017, surpassing the University of Victoria at the top of the all-time list.[143] The Vikes had seven consecutive wins in the 1980s. With its 12th crown in 2016, the Ravens eclipsed the UCLA Bruins men's basketball team as the college with the most national basketball titles, a feat accomplished in 14 years, compared with UCLA's 11 titles in 32 seasons.

Outside of its typical season games, the men's basketball team plays exhibition games with NCAA teams from the United States during the summer months, billed as the Can-Am Shootout. During these games, Carleton has garnered significant wins over reputable Division I teams such as the University of Mississippi, University of Cincinnati, and South Dakota State University.[144]

As part of its athletic rivalry with the University of Ottawa, the team has participated in Capital Hoops Classic since its inception in 2007, which typically takes place in late January and early February at the Canadian Tire Centre. In twelve years of the event, Carleton has won on ten occasions.


Carleton established a football team during the 1945-46 academic year, losing 15–0 to Macdonald College during its debut match.[145] In tandem with basketball and hockey, Carleton's football matches transformed into a staple of student life at Carleton during the early years of the school, securing funding for sports equipment early on.[146] In 1959, Carleton's move to the Rideau River campus provided the team with updated facilities, including a field, training room, and equipment room.[147]

In 1955, the football team began participating in the much-celebrated annual Panda Game against their rivals, the Ottawa Gee-Gees. The game evolved into an iconic highlight within student life at Carleton, gaining a sordid reputation for heavy drinking and outlandish parties.[148] In 1999, the cancellation of Carleton's football program placed the game on indefinite hiatus,though was eventually revived in 2013. Since 2014, the game has taken place at TD Place in Lansdowne Park. While Ottawa holds a historical advantage over Carleton in terms of Panda Game victories, the current iteration of the Panda Game saw four consecutive victories for Carleton between 2014 and 2017.

From 1999 to 2013, Carleton suspending its football program, citing a lack of success and the ensuing financial burden, then revived for the 2013 season.[149] The idea for revival was first brought forward in 2000 by the Old Crow Society, which represents Carleton Football's alumni, but it was deemed premature at the time.[149] Subsequently, a 2008 survey indicated 86% of students were in favour of resuscitating the university's football program.[149] The team planned to form an independent corporate entity with its own revenue stream—a model that has proven successful at other schools, notably Laval University.[149]

Other sports

The Carleton Ravens men’s ice hockey team plays within the Ontario University Athletics conference of U Sports.[150]

Notable alumni and faculty

Notable faculty

Past faculty include three Nobel laureates (pioneering scientists in physics and chemistry Gerhard Herzberg and Peter Grünberg and the former Prime Minister of Canada, Lester B. Pearson) as well as six Order of Canada recipients. The Right Honourable Herb Gray, Canada's longest-serving continuous Member of Parliament, former Cabinet minister in the Trudeau, Turner, and Chrétien governments, former Deputy Prime Minister, and acting Leader of the Opposition, was the 10th Chancellor of the University.[151] Gray was succeeded as Chancellor by Charles Chi (BEng '88), a venture capitalist and executive chairman of Lytro. His company has designed a revolutionary new camera that uses light field technology.[152] Yaprak Baltacioğlu, former Secretary of Treasury Board Secretariat, was named the university’s 12th Chancellor in December 2018.[153]

Notable alumni

Carleton has produced notable graduates across numerous disciplines, including politicians, journalists, lawyers, entrepreneurs, and entertainers. Journalism being one of Carleton's traditional fortes, many of its alumni have gone on to leading positions in Canadian and international media outlets. These include Rosemary Barton and Andrew Chang, co-anchors of CBC News' The National, Greg Ip, a columnist for the Wall Street Journal, and Edward Greenspon, Editor-in-Chief of The Globe and Mail. Legislators at all levels of government are also represented among Carleton alumni. These include John Manley, former Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, Paul Okalik, former Premier of Nunavut, and Jim Watson, the incumbent Mayor of Ottawa and former MPP for Ottawa West–Nepean. In the legal field, Louise Charron, a Puisne Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada is also a Carleton alumnus.

Dan Aykroyd attended Carleton but did not graduate. In 1994, Aykroyd was conferred an honorary Doctor of Letters degree by the University. Other former attendees in entertainment include the Canadian singer k-os. Another notable alumnus is the Israeli-Canadian real-estate billionaire, David Azrieli, who is the donor of the Azrieli Pavilion and the Azrieli Theater on campus.

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  153. "Yaprak Baltacioğlu Named Carleton University's New Chancellor". 4 December 2018.

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