We are a young university with a rich past.

Founded in 1971, MacEwan University inspires students with a powerful combination of academic excellence and personal learning experiences. Through learner-centred teaching, we connect with our students—creating a unique post-secondary experience that opens up diverse pathways for achievement and growth.

The university provides a transformative education in a collaborative and supportive learning environment. Creativity thrives here—through research and innovation that engages students, faculty and the community.

We are focused on our students—providing them with choice and opportunities for success with a dynamic mix of undergraduate degrees, certificates, diplomas and degree-transfer programming.

Student body - 2022/23 academic year

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Average age: 24 years

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Full-time and part-time students

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Full-time students in credit programs

Tuition at MacEwan University

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Bachelor of Arts / Bachelor of Commerce

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International Students


Grant MacEwan University is a board-governed, public post-secondary institution operating in Alberta as an Undergraduate University under the authority of the Post-Secondary Learning Act (PSLA). Established in 1971, the institution has a rich history in its growth from a community college. The University was officially named Grant MacEwan University by an Order in Council in 2009 and was rebranded MacEwan University for communications and marketing purposes in 2013.

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Our namesake and our visual markers

Along with his many accomplishments as a professor, historian, author of close to 50 books, lecturer, mayor of Calgary and lieutenant governor of Alberta, Dr. J.W. Grant MacEwan believed that we are all responsible for establishing a helpful, caring, sustainable relationship with nature, a belief that is a large part of his legacy.

Before words such as “sustainability” and “being green” became common, Dr. MacEwan was using his knowledge and passion for the environment to educate Canadians about issues affecting the world around us. For example, during the drought of the 1930s, Grant MacEwan discovered and then revealed to the media that Russian thistle weed could be fed to cattle as a survival strategy.

As an environmental advocate, Dr. MacEwan shared his values through various publications including his 1966 book, Entrusted to My Care. Through his words, Dr. MacEwan expressed his concerns for various environmental issues including air pollution, forest protection and petroleum and mineral extraction. This book was the culmination of decades of experience and his advocacy for the environment. The use of natural solutions to environmental problems was demonstrated throughout his life.

In 1985, Dr. MacEwan received the Governor General’s Conservation Award.

As the only Alberta university named in honour of a real person, we are proud to carry the MacEwan name.


The mace was originally a weapon carried in battle by medieval knights and others. Later it was carried as protection for royalty. Post-secondary institutions have adopted the mace as a symbol of the dignity and authority of a post-secondary institution, signifying the importance of the university’s most central ceremony – convocation. The mace is carried before the procession at convocation and rests on its stand for the full duration of the ceremony.

MacEwan University’s mace is especially meaningful to our institution as it was hand-carved by our namesake, Dr. J.W. Grant MacEwan, who presented it to Dr. Paul Byrne upon his installation as university president in 1997. It was chosen as the institution’s official mace in 2008.

Rogelio Eduardo Menz, an Edmonton artist originally from Chile, created MacEwan University’s mace stand, which was officially unveiled at the Spring 2009 convocation. Menz wanted to create a permanent stand for the mace that would enhance its natural beauty, not detract from it. He chose stainless steel and brass as the primary materials for this striking piece of functional art.

Menz’s concept for the stand was drawn from the simplicity of the Alberta landscape and incorporates inspiration from the university’s coat of arms.

You can see the mace in its permanent home in front of the Office of the University Registrar.

coat of arms

In September 2006, a formal letter of petition to grant armorial bearings to the institution was approved by the Canadian Heraldic Authority, headed by the Governor General of Canada.

Starting in late 2006, a committee representing students, staff, faculty, retired faculty, Board/President’s Office and administration worked to determine appropriate symbolism and a motto that would represent the university’s past, present and future, while paying tribute to the university’s namesake, the Honourable Dr. J.W. Grant MacEwan.

The Coat of Arms was entered in Volume V, Page 268 of the Public Register of Arms, Flags and Badges of Canada on March 20, 2008. The Coat of Arms was approved by the Board of Governors on April 10, 2008.

"To reflect the institution's name change, which occurred on September 24, 2009 (OC 481/2009), the Armorial Bearings were amended from Grant MacEwan College to Grant MacEwan University on May 20, 2010" (Volume V, page 516 of the Public Register of Arms, Flags and Badges of Canada).


The arms (shield and rose image): The rose is the Alberta wild rose, the provincial floral emblem. The circle is a symbol of the never-ending process of learning and the principle of inclusiveness. The circle also represents the medicine wheel, an important symbol of the earliest inhabitants of the area, the First Nations peoples.

The crest (bird and walking stick): The sparrow was an important bird to Dr. J.W. Grant MacEwan, the university’s namesake and a former Lieutenant Governor of Alberta. It is mentioned in his personal creed, written in 1969. The sparrow’s outstretched wings indicate aspiration and striving. The sparrow perches on a walking stick, representative of the many that Dr. MacEwan carved. The walking stick signifies his reverence for the environment and nature. One of the walking sticks is used as the university’s mace; it represents the power of knowledge.

The motto: Discendo Floremus translates to “Through learning we flourish."

The supporters (griffins and field): The griffin symbolizes courage, swiftness and excellence. It was adopted in 1991 as the symbol of the university sports teams (the MacEwan Griffins). The prairie grass and wild roses reflect the Alberta landscape.

Over the years

1971: Grant MacEwan Community College's Scona Campus is established in Strathcona High School. The college is named in honour of Dr. J.W. (Grant) MacEwan, then lieutenant governor of Alberta.

John L. Haar becomes the college’s first president. His enduring legacy is his vision of a post-secondary institution with the “city as its campus.” 

The first classes are held in September in 16 two-year programs: child care worker, fashion sales technology, library technician, secretarial science, medical equipment technology, behavioural science technician, general arts and science diploma, social care worker, journalism, advertising, public relations, audio-visual technician, police science, business administration, nursing and recreational leadership.

1973: The Jasper Place Campus opens in Edmonton's west end, leasing space from elementary schools.

1974: MacEwan joins the Alberta Colleges Athletics Conference (ACAC). One year later, the Board of Governors approves the adoption of the “Griffin” as the college’s mascot.

1976: The Mill Woods Campus opens in the city's southeast corner. The original Scona Campus closes.

1981: The Jasper Place Campus moves to a purpose-built building on Stony Plain Road and 156 Street.

1985: MacEwan Alumni Association (now Alumni Relations and Services) is established.

1987: Alberta Advanced Education approves university transfer programs, and the college develops 40 new science, arts and commerce courses.

1988: The provincial government commits $100 million for the construction of City Centre Campus on 26 acres of the former CN rail yards.

1991: Construction begins on the new City Centre Campus building.

1993: City Centre Campus opens.

1994: The college announces its first Distinguished Teaching Awards.

1999: The college is renamed Grant MacEwan College.

2002: Alberta College is officially integrated with Grant MacEwan College, making the building the college's fourth campus.

2005: Student Residence opens at City Centre Campus.

2006: MacEwan launches two undergraduate degrees: Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Child and Youth Care.

2007: The Robbins Health Learning Centre opens.

2009: Grant MacEwan University becomes Alberta's sixth university on September 24.

2012: MacEwan University is accepted as a member of the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada (AUCC).

2013: The university is officially rebranded as MacEwan University for all public communication and marketing purposes, though officially the name remains Grant MacEwan University.

2013: MacEwan University becomes the 17th member of Canada West Universities Athletics Association, as a probationary member.

2014: MacEwan University begins competing in Canada West in basketball, cross country running, soccer and volleyball.

2014: Programs at the South Campus (formerly known as the Mill Woods Campus) move to City Centre Campus. 

2017: The Centre for the Arts and Communications (formerly known as Jasper Place) closes, and all programs move to City Centre Campus. Allard Hall opens, providing state-of-the-art technology, classroom and performance areas.

2019: MacEwan becomes an undergraduate university under the Post-Secondary Learning Act.

2020: In January, the Students’ Association of MacEwan University celebrates the grand opening of its new student centre. In March, most employees are working from home, and the majority of courses are being delivered online due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

2021: Teaching Greatness: Strategic Vision 2030 is approved by the General Faculties Council and the Board of Governors.

2022: MacEwan University invites students, faculty, staff, alumni, donors, government officials, and community members to join in celebrating its 50th anniversary.

2023: MacEwan University receives $125 million in funding from the province for the new School of Business.

Take a look back
We've distilled the countless milestones, facts and figures from our first 50 years into these 50 key moments.
50th timeline View the timeline