UofT’s Top Professors and the Courses They Teach!

Pictured: The University of Toronto’s south entrance of its St. George campus on a bright fall day.

The University of Toronto is home to some of the most distinguished faculty in Canada! If you’re looking for some of the top professors and wondering what courses they teach, here are ten of students’ favorite professors, and a little about why they love them so much!

If there’s one thing I’ve learned from my many years in the education system, it’s that the teachers you have can completely change the way you view a subject – for the better or the worse. In my first year at UofT, I was privileged enough to learn from professors I greatly admire, and I hope that every incoming UofT student feels the same way during their UofT journey!

I consulted UofT’s popular online community (r/UofT, a Reddit group with almost 73 thousand members!) by asking who their favorite UofT professors are, and what courses they teach. If you’re planning out your courses for the next year, keep your eye out for courses taught by these professors – they’re almost guaranteed to be amazing learning experiences!

Without further ado, here are ten of UofT’s top professors (in no particular order):

1. Cory Lewis, HPS100

Cory Lewis is a professor in the History and Philosophy of Science and Technology Department at UofT, and also teaches in the Philosophy and Cognitive Science departments. He’s known to make course content extremely engaging (even when COVID-19 forced courses online), while being very approachable and understanding to students; many students claim that if you ask for an extension early enough, he’s more than willing to help you out. Cory Lewis’s HPS100 class is said to be marked fairly by TA’s and has a clear grading scheme, which is extremely valuable in social science courses!

Quotes from former students:

“Arguably one of the best profs at U of T. Lectures were legit one of the best aspects of the course. You can’t go wrong taking this course”

“Passionate about the content at a good level … Very approachable and friendly. You got into his HPS class? Congrats, you’re a** is officially SAVED”

2. Joseph Wong, MUN101

Joseph Wong is currently the University of Toronto’s Vice Provost, International, but still makes time to teach MUN101 (Global Innovation I: Issues and Perspectives), a first-year seminar course available to students enrolled in the Munk One Program. He is also a professor of political science, and the Roz and Ralph Halbert Professor of Innovation at the Munk School of Global Affairs and Public Policy. I was fortunate enough to be a student of Professor Wong’s in my first semester at UofT, and being able to learn from him was an amazing experience – I talk about it more in my article on my year in Munk One. Professor Wong will make you question everything and reshape the lens you use to perceive the world, while having you grow as an academic and human being in the process!

Quote from a former student:

“Best. Prof. Difficult, but by far my most engaging professor. He will make you rethink your entire worldview each class and force you to confront your deepest preconceptions. Don’t take Professor Wong’s class if you aren’t ready to jump into active and in-depth discussions.”

3. Jordan Peterson, PSY230

Jordan Peterson is a psychology professor at the University of Toronto, a clinical psychologist, and author of 12 Rules of Life: An Antidote to Chaos, which has sold over five million copies worldwide. He has been referred to as “the most influential public intellectual in the world,” and has received quite a bit of attention from the content he posts on his YouTube channel, which has over 4 million subscribers. Of the over 182 ratings on his Rate My Professor page, 98% of those students say they would take his class again, an astonishingly high number.

Quotes from former students:

“What a legend. One of the smartest people I’ve ever heard speak. It’s a true rarity to find a college professor who is so knowledgeable on seemingly everything and can articulate it well and respectfully to the class. If you ever get the chance to take him and actually want to learn from university, take this man.”

“This guy is my hero. I have never listened to a more passionate, caring, introspective, and just all-around respectable professor. I found it so genuine that he didn’t always have all the answers (like most psych profs act like they do). He was reflective and open. JP was an absolute gem at UofT, and he changed my life. I owe so much to you prof!”

4. Jacob Tsierman, MAT247

Jacob Tsierman is a mathematician and an associate professor at UofT. He obtained his PhD in 2011 from Princeton University, and his research focuses on Number Theory. In 2016, he was welcomed as the youngest member of UofT’s faculty, and has been making a positive impression on students ever since.

Quotes from former students:

“He’s awesome!! A super genius, and yet he’s so modest at the same time. He knows how to communicate concepts clearly, and often makes the textbook explanation better! Homework and tests are all fair, and he makes the grading scheme as helpful as possible for students. An amazing guy, hope I get another class with him.”

“He is a genius. He makes UofT worth the tuition.”

5. Kenneth Yip, BIO130

Kenneth Yip is a professor in the Department of Cell & Systems Biology at UofT and has an almost perfect rating on his Rate My Professor page, even with about 180 ratings! Dr. Yip is a researcher in cancer drug discovery and translational genomics and helps lead a research team at the Princess Margaret Cancer Centre! He’s known to be very popular with students in the life sciences stream at UofT and teaches a number of large first-year courses in Convocation Hall!

Quotes from former students:

“Probably one of the best professors at U of T, his lectures are concise and easy understand. He’ll also tell you multiple times if something is important and will show up on the test, so even if you zone out for a second, you’ll still probably catch it. Tests are pretty straightforward and is exactly what he teaches. 10/10 would take again.”

“Like all his other reviews, he is simply just amazing. His lectures are short, concise and to the point. If you can choose him, definitely choose him.”

6. Rachel La Touche, SOC100 & SOC150

Rachel La Touche is an assistant professor in the Sociology department at UofT! Although she is a relatively new professor, like Tsierman, she has made a positive impact on the students she teaches. SOC100 and SOC150 are popular courses for first years in the social sciences, and of the students who have reviewed her on her Rate My Professor page, 98% would take her class again!

Quotes from former students:

“A really great professor who makes content easily understandable and makes sure every student really understands the material. She’s very engaging and genuinely wants the class to succeed. Everything is multiple choice, and the tutorials prepare you for the tests. A really easy bird course for 1st year and definitely the best SOC prof at U of T.”

“Prof La Touche really takes things out of the context of a dense textbook and puts it into the context of real life. All of her examples are simple, digestible, and analyzed in a way that they show you why you should care about sociology because it’s all around us. Would take again, 11/10!”

7. James John, PHL100

James John, who’s more commonly referred to as Jim John, is an associate professor in both UofT’s Philosophy and Cognitive Science departments. He has a 4.6/5 on his Rate My Professor page, with 97% of his students wanting to take another course with him!

Quotes from former students:

“A very knowledgeable and engaging professor. Makes philosophy accessible to those who would otherwise not be interested, without oversimplifying to the degree that the material is unrecognisable. Accessible at office hours and by email, Jim gives the impression that he values his student’s success.”

“Jim needs to get a gold star for being the best prof at U of T. I mostly took this class because he was teaching it. The material is fascinating, but this guy could make anything exciting and engaging. His lectures are among the best. He also obviously cares a lot about his students. Really down to earth and cool guy. I highly recommend his classes”

8. Andrew (Andy) Dicks, CHM138 & CHM247

Andrew Dicks has been a member of the University of Toronto Chemistry Department’s faculty since 1997 and has been educating UofT students on organic chemistry since 1999. Dicks is a well-respected professor, and of over 178 Rate my Professor ratings, 97% of his students would retake his class!

Quotes from former students:

“Starts lectures with a chemistry dad joke every time. Super accessible outside of class and clearly cares about students. Set up the online version of CHM247 in a great way (better than any of my other courses). Made me want to switch to a chem major. List goes on and on, he’s really the best.”

“Probably one of the best profs out there, awesome lectures, very clear, gives you helpful study tips and tricks for remembering things during lecture. On the whole, an awesome guy and an awesome prof.”

9. David Liu, CSC110 & CSC111

David Liu has been a professor in the Computer Science Department at UofT since 2013 and has since taught seven different computer science courses! Liu was once a UofT student, when he completed his Master’s degree in the Computer Science Theory Group. Today, he teaches first-year computer science courses, and is known for his innovative teaching methods which contribute to the development of the computer science curriculum at UofT! While many students comment that his class is difficult, most are quick to note that the material covered in the class is inherently complex, and Liu does a wonderful job of explaining it.

Quotes from former students:

“David is, by far the best professor I have had in U of T. He explained everything very clear in the lecture and give us worksheets for practice. During office hours, he is very patient and tries to explain as clearly as he could. However, his problem sets and tests are really challenging, and he is a tough grader with a detailed marking scheme.”

“He cares a lot about his students and is really interested in the class. He’s one of the best professors I’ve had so far. Be warned though, his class is super hard just because of all the material that’s covered.”

10.  Alfonso Gracia-Saz, MAT137

Lastly, Alfonso Gracia-Saz was a beloved professor in the Department of Mathematics at the University of Toronto. While he unexpectedly passed away this May from COVID-19, his impact as professor of MAT137 has touched many students. He was set to receive the Canadian Mathematical Society’s Excellence in Teaching Award this year, to recognize “his work with the University of Toronto’s legendary MAT137… excellent example of his dynamic teaching style; his reorganization, his attention to detail…” Many students have commented on how he has completely changed their perception of math and have fostered an interest for the subject when previously there was none. While future students unfortunately won’t have the opportunity to learn from him, he is well recognized as one of UofT’s top professors!

Quote from a former student:

“I hated math coming into university, and thought I wanted to do the bare minimum courses to get through. Alfonso’s MAT137 completely changed that mindset and made me fall in love with the subject. 3 years later I’m now in the maths specialist trying to pursue a future in maths; and it’s all thanks to him.”

Published on August 29, 2021

About Zaiboon Azhar

Zaiboon Azhar is a second-year student at the University of Toronto, double majoring in International Relations and Peace, Conflict, & Justice! She's an aspiring lawyer and self-proclaimed foodie who loves to spend her free time at the gym and trying out new Toronto food spots!