Reflecting its bilingual character, Montréal has both English and French schools and universities. Until recently, most English-speaking students studied in Protestant schools, which were primarily—but not exclusively—Anglophone, while French-speaking students studied in Catholic schools. However, the province of Québec has recently reorganized its schools on linguistic rather than religious lines. Students study in public schools through grade 11 and then move on to more specialized schools (CGEPS) for an additional two years of study.

Montréal has two Francophone and two Anglophone universities. The University of Montréal, the oldest and principal French-speaking university, has an extensive campus on the north side of Mt. Royal. The University of Québec in Montréal (UQAM) is downtown at the intersection of St. Catherine and St. Denis Streets. McGill University, the principal English University has its main campus downtown, between Sherbrooke Street and Mt. Royal. Concordia University is a few blocks to the west. Numerous students live in apartments in the "McGill ghetto," located between the McGill campus and St. Denis Street, north of Sherbrooke.

In addition to its four universities, Montréal is also home to the Biblioteque Nationale, Québec's principal library, housed in buildings near UQAM. McGill attracts students from across the country and from the United States, and the University of Montréal attracts students from all over the province of Québec. Concordia and UQAM typically enroll larger percentages of local students.