Famous for hockey, maple syrup and denim tuxedos, an educational paradise favored by students from all over the world, there are many important reasons to be found for those who decide to study in Canada.
Why Study in Canada
By population density per square kilometer, Canada is the second largest country in the world in terms of land mass, after only Russia.
Canada has more than 90 universities scattered across its urban areas, most of which are very open to international students.
Canadians are known to be a very friendly group. Also, besides the numerous incentives to study in Canada as an international country, the country is constantly teeming with social systems and technology, making it well suited to the open-minded nature of students studying abroad.
Canada’s main cities – Vancouver, Toronto, and Montréal – are where you may first be aiming the darts if you are looking to study abroad in Canada. According to QS Best Student Cities 2018, Montréal is the 4th best student city in the world, with Toronto at 13th and Vancouver at 17th
However, some of the country’s most internationally respected universities can be found in the regions in between. So depending on your field of study, your favored geography, and your level of tolerance to the cold, you may find it more pleasing to study outside of the three main cities.
QS World University Rankings 2021 places 26 out of Canada’s 96 universities on the list!
Here are the top 10:
- Queen’s University
- University of Calgary
- Western University
- University of Waterloo
- Université de Montréal
- McMaster University
- University of Alberta
- University of British Columbia
- McGill University
- University of Toronto
Canada wouldn’t be host to some 572,000 international students every year, if there wasn’t a wide range of courses to study – from Computer Science & IT to Media & Journalism, Agricultural Science & Forestry to Business & Finance. You are sure to find the right degree for you!
Canada is also home to over 150 colleges that offer short courses and diplomas. You may find one that works perfectly for your aspirations. While you would have to go through the same process of obtaining a student visa, you may save some money on overall tuition.
The Canadian school year generally commences in September, though some postgraduate programs begin sooner or later. Be sure to check!
University of Toronto
A globally top-ranked public research university in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
Join a community creating solutions to the world’s challenges.
The University of British Columbia
A global center for research and teaching, consistently ranked among the top 20 public universities in the world.
Popular Courses in Canada
Attaining a Bachelor’s Degree in Canada will give you the knowledge and qualifications necessary to pursue a career in your chosen field, or continue your studies for a Master’s/PhD.
The degree structure for undergraduate programs takes a more liberal approach in regards to the classes you are able to choose within your field of study. A certain amount of credits are given upon completion of each course.
The student has the option to choose from a number of courses offered in the department that he or she is studying in. This is different from, say, the degree structure in France, in which the institute decides which courses need to be taken each semester.
Competition is high to be accepted into most universities. If English is not your first language, you will need to take a proficiency test. Any evidence of secondary school achievements (GPA, volunteering, student clubs, etc.) will heighten your chances of acceptance!
Up until the last few years, Canada (and the US.) only accepted students with a 4 year Bachelor’s degree into their Master’s programs, while most countries offer Bachelor’s programs that can be completed within 3 years. But the demand of international students wishing to study in Canada has increased dramatically (11% since 2017), along with it universities now accepting 3 year Bachelor’s degrees as prerequisite for Master’s programs.
Most Master’s programs take 1-2 years to complete, and come in the form of a Master of Science (MSc) or a Master of Arts (MA). If you’d like to whittle down your postgraduate degree even more, you can also choose between a Master of Business Administration (MBA), Master of Engineering (MEng), or Master of Fine Arts (MFA).
You’ll be looking at around CA$13,000-20,500 per year for a Master’s degree.
Canada has a wonderful Post-Graduation Work Permit Program (PGWPP) in place to further incentivize international students to obtain jobs after finishing grad school. 90% of those that stick around Canada after completing a postgraduate course are in the workforce within 6 months!
Want to take your postgraduate studies another step forward? Whether you have already completed your Master’s degree elsewhere, or you are currently chipping away, finding the right PhD program in Canada will come with a wealth of benefits.
Again, Canada’s tuition fees for international students pursuing a Doctorate is more attractive than its North American neighbor to the south, as well as Australia and the UK. Some Canadian universities are reducing or even obliterating extra fees for internationals in their Doctoral programs.
There are currently close to 200,000 international students taking on their PhDs in Canada, which can take anywhere from three to six years to complete.
Upon completion of your PhD, you are entitled to a 3 year work permit, which could eventually lead to permanent residence or citizenship.
Postdoctoral fellows (PDFs), otherwise known as postdoctoral researchers, are those that choose to remain in academia after completing their PhDs. Most universities have their own internal fellowships, but there are also many outside agencies that can help place PDFs with organizations or institutions.
International Student and Exchanges
Studying abroad is not only cost effective (you will continue paying your home country’s tuition), it is also an opportunity to see the world without making such a big investment. What if you decided to do all 4 years at a Canadian university and decided it was too cold? The people are too nice?
Your current or future university in your home country may have exclusive partnerships with universities in Canada. Queen’s University offers 220 exchange partnerships in over 40 countries. University of Victoria has over 300 partnerships worldwide.
If you haven’t already figured it out, studying in Canada as an international student is generally much less expensive than studying in the UK, US, and Australia!
Costs vary widely based on the institution, but generally, you will be paying CA$20,000-30,000/year for undergraduate programs. Postgraduate programs tend to run a little lower (around CA$16,000/year), while executive MBA programs are usually more (CA$30,000/year).
Living costs vary greatly, mainly depending on your spending habits and if you are in a big city. You are required to have at least CA$10,000/year put away for living costs to obtain a student visa, though most universities recommend having closer to CA$15,000.
It’s always good to have a little bit extra money budgeted for any unexpected costs, such as winter-wear and supplies.
Funding to Study in Canada
Although the course fees for international students may seem like pocket money compared to other countries, paying for higher education can still be very difficult. Unless you have a money tree in your backyard, you’ll likely be applying for programmes to help cut some of the cost.
Universities in Canada offer a broad range of their own scholarships, ranging from academic and athletic achievements to more specific individual fields of studies. It is also a good idea to thoroughly research organizations in your home country that are offering study-abroad scholarships.
As with any money-grab, competition is generally quite high. Find your ways to stand out and apply as early and to as many as possible.
Here is a list of the Top 10 Scholarships in Canada for International Students.
Although the application for a student visa requires you to prove that you’ll have sufficient funds for the duration of your studies WITHOUT work, getting a job on or off campus is an excellent way to supplement some of your spending money. As a full-time student in Canada, you are entitled to work 20 hours/week during semesters and full time during winter/summer breaks. Wow!
You can study in Canada up to 6 months without a student visa. However, if you wanted to work, you would need to have the proper permit to do so.
The following documents are required to apply for a study permit:
- Proof of Acceptance – the acceptance letter you received from your university.
- Proof of Identity – a valid passport will serve this purpose.
- Proof of Sufficient Funds – CA$10,000/year + $833 for each additional month.
The application costs CA$150, and the process is substantially less of a headache than most other countries.
Providing a letter of explanation is also a good idea. This could hasten your approval, as it will help the visa officer understand your aspirations and responsibilities as a foreigner in Canada.
If you’ve already been accepted into a Canadian university, start the application process here.
How to Apply to Study in Canada
Applications may vary by institution and department, but generally you will need to prove your language proficiency, provide transcripts from your previous education, demonstrate financial stability, and have health insurance. Making sure you meet all the requirements of the institution you want to apply to is an important step to avoid problems in the future.
When applying to most universities, you will need to choose your major. If you’re not sure exactly what this could be, don’t worry. Canadian universities are usually quite flexible with majors that change later.
If you want to start your education in September, you must apply in March at the latest. Some universities have different application deadlines, so be sure to research the universities you want to apply to!