In 2004, the University of Northern British Columbia (UNBC) was ranked by Maclean’s Magazine as Western Canada's premier 'small' university and as the 7th best primarily undergraduate university in Canada, and the National Post reports that UNBC is among the top 20 universities in the country with respect to research intensity, which is measured by research activity, income, and publications. Research activities at UNBC are primarily focussed on areas and issues of distinct interest to Northern BC, like offshore oil and gas and resource and wildlife management, and in 2004 research funding surpassed $10 million for the first time in school history. UNBC is noted for its smaller and more interactive classes and individualized learning. Upwards of 61% of the University’s upper level courses have less than 25 students. Recently, UNBC has been in an expansion phase adding the Bentley Centre that connects the new teaching facility to the rest of the campus, and the construction of the Northern Health Sciences Centre, which will house the Northern Medical Program, is currently underway. UNBC’s campus has a unique architectural design because its buildings appear, from the surface, to be separate but are, in fact, linked via a partially underground 'hub.'
The University of Northern British Columbia has over 55 undergraduate degree opportunities, including 16 joint majors, in the Arts, Applied Science, Commerce, Education, Nursing, Planning, and Social Work. One of the more notable of the University’s offerings is the “Northern Medical Program” which is a 4-year degree from the University of British Columbia's Faculty of Medicine offered at the University of Northern British Columbia. The goal of this program is to integrate medical education with instruction on the specific health care needs of BC's northern and rural communities. Through this program, the University hopes to create health care professionals who will stay and work in BC's northern and rural regions where access to proper medical care is often lacking. This program has much support in Northern BC with over 20 communities having partnered with UNBC to ensure it succeeds. The University also provides for 21 graduate degrees of which 2, Natural Resources and Environmental Studies and Psychology, are at the doctorate level as well as offering graduate diplomas and certificates in First Nations studies. UNBC’s Continuing Education division has courses and programs designed for individuals who want to pursue personal and professional skill enhancement, and, for this purpose, 10 areas of interest are offered including Health Professionals, Business and Executive Programs, Computer Programs, Natural Resource Management and Environment, Professional Development, General Interest, Liberal Arts and Culture, Health and Safety, Health and Wellness, and Writing and Publishing. The University also has a unique opportunity for Northern Youth, called the “Science University” whose mission is to establish interest and the spirit of discovery and innovation in youths of the North aged 10-16, regardless of background, through activities and programs in computer science and life sciences.