This long form article includes the following topics:
- Why study in Canada?
- Who is a student?
- Where do the majority of international students come from?
- What do international students study in Canada?
- Where do the majority of international students study in Canada?
- What do you need in order to study in Canada?
- How to get a study permit as an international student?
- Designated Learning Institutions
- Are all programs offered by DLI eligible for Post-Graduation Work Permit?
- How to go to Canada as an Exchange student?
- Credit transfer
- CGPA conversion tool
- Do you need IELTS/TOEFL?
- Cost of Studying in Canada
- Primary and secondary school costs
- Language school costs
- College and vocational school costs
- University costs
To objectively decide whether Canada is appropriate for your studies, you should compare Canada with other popular study destinations on your personal matrices such as quality of education, cost of living, tuition fees, the availability of scholarships or financial aid, the job market for your skills and post-graduation opportunities among others and decide which country is the best for you. Include other popular study destinations in your comparisons such as the United States, United Kingdom, Australia, France, Germany, Japan, Spain, Netherlands, Poland, and New Zealand.
I am not convincing you to study in Canada, I am simply providing you with a few reasons why the overwhelming majority of international students study in Canada.
First, Canada is known for its multicultural and diverse society, with people from all over the world living and working together in harmony. This can provide international students with a unique opportunity to experience diverse cultures and ways of life and can also make it easier for them to adapt to their new surroundings. Moreover, this can give you access to their individual countries, or communities if you want to create your own business in the future and want to penetrate these markets.
Second, Canada is known for its high-quality education system. According to the 2021 QS World University Rankings, 26 Canadian universities are ranked among the top universities in the world. Additionally, Canada is home to some of the best research universities in the world, and international students can benefit from the high-quality research and resources available to them.
Third, Canada is known for its affordable education and high-quality universities. According to Statistics Canada, the average undergraduate tuition fee for international students in Canada is $27,159 per year, which is lower compared to the United States ($41,468) and the United Kingdom (£20,000-£40,000). Canada also offers a variety of scholarships and financial aid options for international students, such as the Canadian government’s Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarships and the Banting Postdoctoral Fellowships. A long list of scholarships is provided later under the title of the scholarships.
Fourth, Canada has a relatively low cost of living compared to other developed countries. According to data from Numbeo, the cost of living in Canada is lower than that of the United States, United Kingdom, Australia, and New Zealand. This can make it more affordable for international students to study in Canada, as they will not have to spend as much on living expenses.
Fifth, in terms of post-graduation opportunities, Canada offers the Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP) which allows international students to work in Canada for up to three years after graduation. This is a valuable opportunity for students to gain work experience and build connections in their field of study, which can be beneficial for finding long-term employment or even applying for permanent residence in Canada.
Sixth, Canada is known for its natural beauty and outdoor recreational opportunities. Canada is home to the Rocky Mountains, the Canadian Shield, and the world’s longest coastline, providing international students with many opportunities to explore nature and engage in outdoor activities.
Seventh, in terms of job prospects, the Canadian economy is known for its strong and diverse sectors, including technology, healthcare, finance, natural resources, and engineering. The country has a growing tech industry, with many large tech companies such as Shopify, BlackBerry and Hootsuite having head offices in Canada. The healthcare sector is also growing rapidly, with an aging population and increasing demand for healthcare services. The natural resources and environmental science sector is also strong in Canada, with many opportunities in mining, oil and gas, and renewable energy. Additionally, Canada’s engineering and skilled trades sectors are thriving, with increasing demand for workers in fields such as construction, manufacturing and transportation. Other regular industries are ever stronger in Canada than in other developed economies.
According to the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations (IRPR): A foreign national is a member of the student class if authorized to enter and remain in Canada as a student. Please note this definition because though you may be eligible to work in Canada for up to 40 hours according to a temporary public policy announced in 2022, you are still a student and subject to study rules and regulations.
Though Canada accepts students from 170+ countries of the world, 48% of the students come from India and another 23% from China. This data can be interpreted in so many ways, so I will leave its interpretation to your own judgment.
The top ten countries that send the most students to Canada are:
- India dominates the list, with 217,410 students in Canada in 2021, which was equal to 48% of the top 10 countries combined.
- The people’s Republic of China in the second category sent 105,265 students which was equal to 23% of all top countries combined.
- France, 26,630, 6% of the top 10 countries
- Iran, had 16,900 students, 4% of the top 10 countries
- Vietnam, had 16,285 students, 4% of the top 10 countries
- South Korea, had 15,805 students, 3% of the top 10 countries
- The Philippines, had 15,545 students, 3% of the top 10 countries
- The United States of America, has 14,325 students, 3% of the top 10 countries
- Nigeria, had 13,745 students, 3% of the top 10 countries
- Mexico, had 11,550 students, 3% of the top 10 countries
Total Students from these 10 countries: 453,460
Please note this is not a list of all countries that send international students to Canada, this is only a list of the top ten countries which send the most students.
Business, management, and public administration is the most popular category of post-secondary education in Canada among international students. In the 2019-2020 cohort, 116,049 international students were enrolled in this area of education which is 30% of the top 14 categories of education.
The second most popular category among international students is Architecture, engineering, and related technologies where 62,184 persons were enrolled in 2019-2020, which is 16% of the top 14 categories.
The third one is Social and behavioural sciences and law, with 41,580 international students which was 11% of the total.
The fourth category was Mathematics, computer, and information sciences, where 41,067 international students studied were enrolled which is again 11% of the total top 14 categories.
According to this map developed by the Canadian Bureau for International Education; 47% of international students chose Ontario as their destination. Not surprisingly, it is also a popular destination amongst first-time immigrants.
On the second rank is British Columbia where 22% of all international students studied.
Quebec is third where 15% of the international students went.
Look at the following map for further details. (only available in the book)
Besides getting admission to a university, you also need a visa and a study permit to study in Canada.
What is a study permit? A study permit is a written authorization issued to students to engage in academic, professional, vocational, or other education or training activities in Canada. Study permits are only issued to foreign nationals, a Canadian permanent resident and citizen don’t need to apply for a study permit to study in Canada.
Please remember, before thinking about a study permit, you first need to get admission to your preferred school or university, only then you are eligible to apply for a study permit.
Here is the study permit process from the very first step:
- Prepare all documents necessary for university admission,
- Apply to a particular program or number of programs. Please note I always encourage students to apply to several universities and apply to several departments. Once you get your favourite admission offers, then you can select one and reject the rest.
- Receive a pre-offer letter,
- Pay the tuition fee and receive a final offer letter (also called the Letter of Admission)
- Apply Online for a study permit application.
- Receive a letter of introduction/visa acceptance letter from IRCC
- Submit your passport for a visa,
- Obtain a visa at the Canadian mission abroad,
- Submit a copy of your visa to your school,
- Make travel arrangements to Canada (airline tickets, accommodation, etc)
- Submit your proofs of admission, and support documents at the port of entry (Canada border)
- Receive your study permit (plus a work permit in case of co-op) at the border.
- Update your school or university with your arrival.
- Attend school or university as per your academic calendar that the school will share with you.
We will provide the study permit application checklist separately.
An international student must select a Designated Learning Institution (DLI) for their studies in Canada. A Designated Learning Institution (DLI) is a school in Canada that has been approved by a provincial or territorial government to host international students. These institutions have met certain standards and have been designated by the government as being able to provide a high-quality education to international students. In order to be eligible to study in Canada, international students must have a valid study permit and be enrolled in a DLI.
On the other hand, a non-DLI is a school in Canada that has not been approved by a provincial or territorial government to host international students. These institutions may still offer programs and courses to students, but they are not authorized to enroll international students. Canadian citizens and permanent residents can study in any school regardless of their designation. In order to be eligible for a study permit to study in Canada, international students must be enrolled in a DLI.
Moreover, only DLIs are eligible for Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP) and students can only apply for PGWP if they are studying in a DLI program that is at least 8 months long. Therefore, it’s important to check the DLI status of the institution before applying for a study permit or PGWP.
Besides making sure that your school/university is a DLI, also confirm that the program you are interested in is eligible for a Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP). Not all programs offered by a DLI are eligible for a Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP). In order for a program to be eligible for a PGWP, it must meet certain criteria set by the Canadian government. For example, the program must be at least 8 months in length and must be full-time. It cannot be a general interest or preparatory program, such as an English language program. It also cannot be a distance learning program where the majority of the coursework is completed online. However, please note, the Canadian government may issue temporary public policies which may eligible international students for a work permit regardless of their eligibility, but that needs to be checked regularly and has no guarantee those measures may be available while you are in Canada.
There are many exchange programs available for international students who wish to study in Canada. Some of the most popular and well-known exchange programs include:
- Student Exchange Canada (SEC): SEC is a non-profit organization that provides opportunities for international students to study in Canada. It offers a wide range of exchange programs for high school, undergraduate, and graduate students, allowing them to study in Canada for one semester or a full academic year.
- The Canadian University Exchanges: This program offers opportunities for students from Canadian universities to study abroad at universities in other countries.
- International Student Exchange Programs (ISEP): ISEP is a non-profit organization that facilitates international student exchange programs. It provides exchange opportunities for students in higher education institutions, allowing them to study abroad for one or two semesters. Students can choose from over 300 member institutions in over 50 countries.
- The Canadian Education Exchange Foundation (CEEF): CEEF is a non-profit organization that provides exchange opportunities for students in Canada and abroad. It offers programs for high school and undergraduate students, as well as teacher and counsellor exchange programs. CEEF aims to promote international understanding and cultural exchange through education.
- Global Exploration for Educators Program (GEEP): GEEP is a program offered by the Canadian government that provides opportunities for Canadian teachers and education administrators to teach and learn abroad. It offers short-term exchanges, professional development opportunities, and workshops.
- Youth for Understanding Canada (YFU): YFU is a non-profit organization that provides exchange opportunities for high school students. It offers programs for students to study abroad for one academic year, a semester, or a summer. YFU also offers host family placement and support services for international students.
- Rotary International Youth Exchange Program: The Rotary International Youth Exchange Program is a program offered by Rotary Clubs around the world. It provides opportunities for high school students to study abroad for one academic year. The program offers support services, host family placement, and opportunities for cultural exchange.
- Academic Work Abroad Program (AWAP): AWAP is a program offered by the Canadian government that provides opportunities for Canadian students and recent graduates to work and study abroad. It offers internships, co-op programs, and work experience in over 20 countries.
- The Kennedy-Lugar Youth Exchange and Study Abroad Program (YES): YES is a program offered by the U.S. Department of State that provides opportunities for high school students to study abroad for one academic year. The program aims to promote cross-cultural understanding and promote mutual respect between the United States and other countries.
- The Partnership for Global Learning (PGL): PGL is a program offered by the Canadian government that provides opportunities for Canadian students and recent graduates to study and work abroad. It offers internships, co-op programs, and work experience in over 20 countries.
- Canadian-American Exchange Foundation (CAEF): CAEF is a non-profit organization that provides exchange opportunities for students in Canada and the United States. It offers programs for high school and undergraduate students, as well as teacher and counsellor exchange programs. CAEF aims to promote international understanding and cultural exchange through education.
- The Erasmus+ program: This is a European Union-funded exchange program that offers opportunities for students to study and work abroad.
- The U21 Global Exchanges: This program is a network of leading universities from around the world that offers opportunities for students to study abroad.
You can get additional information about these programs by simply searching their home pages.
11. Credit transfer
The transferability of credits depends on a number of factors, including the policies of the receiving institution and the relevance of the courses taken abroad to the program of study in Canada. Generally, credits may be transferred if they were earned at a recognized and accredited institution, and if the courses taken abroad are equivalent in content and level to those offered by Canadian institutions. The decision to transfer credits is at the discretion of the receiving institution, and they may require additional documentation or assessments to make this determination. It’s important to research the specific policies of the Canadian institution to which you’re applying and to discuss your prior coursework with an academic advisor in your institution or the institution you are transferring your credits to.
The process of transferring credits from abroad to Canadian schools and universities involves the following steps:
- Research Canadian institutions: Before applying to a Canadian institution, research the universities and colleges that offer programs that are similar to your previous studies. You can use resources such as the Canadian Information Centre for International Credentials (CICIC) to find institutions that accept international credits.
- Request a transcript: Request a transcript from your previous institution that contains a detailed record of your courses, grades, and any degrees or certificates you have earned.
- Send your transcript to the Canadian institution: Contact the Canadian institution’s admission office to find out the process for sending your transcripts. You may need to provide a notarized or official copy of your transcripts.
- Evaluate the transcript: The Canadian institution will evaluate your transcript to determine the courses that can be transferred to their program. They will compare your previous courses with the courses offered at their institution.
- Credit assessment: If you have taken courses in a foreign language, the Canadian institution may require you to provide an English translation of the transcript or a language proficiency test score.
- Meet the admission requirements: If your previous courses are accepted for transfer, you may still need to meet the admission requirements for the program you want to enroll in. This may include taking additional courses, providing evidence of language proficiency, or passing a standardized test.
- Register for courses: Once you have been accepted into a program, you can register for courses and begin your studies. You still need to complete the application process from visa to study permit.
- Keep records: Keep a record of the process, including transcripts and any correspondence with the Canadian institution, to help with future credit transfers or applications to other programs.
- It is important to note that the process of transferring credits can vary greatly between institutions, so it’s best to contact the admission office of each institution you are considering to understand their specific requirements and processes.
To convert your Cumulative Grade Point Average or CGPA to the one used by Canadian universities, you will need to use a conversion tool or table provided by the specific university or institution you are applying to. The conversion will take into account the grading scale used in your current educational system, and convert it to the 4.0 scale used by most Canadian universities. It is important to note that each university may have different conversion methods and tables, so it is best to check with the institution you are applying to for their specific guidelines. Additionally, some universities may ask for an official transcript evaluation from a recognized organization such as World Education Services (WES) or International Credential Assessment Service (ICAS). These organizations will convert your grades and provide an official transcript that can be used for your application. Keep in mind these organizations assess your credentials for a fee.
IELTS and TOEFL are the two widely accepted English language proficiency tests that most universities and colleges in Canada require international students to take. However, there are a few ways to bypass these requirements for getting admission to a university. Please note, the Canadian government will always ask for proof of English proficiency to issue you a study permit.
- If you have completed your secondary or post-secondary education in English, you may be able to provide evidence of your English language proficiency through your transcripts.
- Some universities and colleges in Canada may accept alternative English language proficiency tests, such as PTE Academic or C1 Advanced.
- If you are a native speaker of English or have completed your education in an English-speaking country, you may be able to provide proof of this and be exempt from taking IELTS or TOEFL.
- Some universities and colleges may also offer the option to take an in-house English language test, either online or on campus.
It’s important to note that each institution has its own policies and requirements for English language proficiency, so it’s important to check with the university or college you’re applying to for their specific requirements.
Following is an overview of primary and secondary school costs in Canada:
- Public schools’ annual tuition fee ranges from $9,500 to $17,000 per year.
- Private or independent day schools’ annual tuition fee can range from $15,000 to $30,000 per year
- Private or independent boarding schools’ annual tuition fee can range from $63,000 to $83,000 per year
Please note the above fee is just for tuition, there may be an additional fee for joining sports teams, clubs, field trips, food, clothing, books, etc. Oftentimes, these activities are mandatory and students must join them. For further details please go to the following links:
For the majority of the language schools in Canada, the tuition fee can range from $340 to $425 per week, depending on the school and type of language you are interested in. For finding a language school, please go to the following link: https://www.languagescanada.ca/en/students-new
For colleges and vocational schools, the cost may vastly vary based on the school, location, duration and type of program you are applying for. Typically, a college/school tuition fee can range from $7,000 to $22,000 per year.
18. University costs
University’s tuition fee also immensely varies depending on the program and school you choose.
- $6,800 tuition fee per year for international undergraduate students (Statistics Canada, 2022)
- $21,100 tuition fee per year for international graduate students (Statistics Canada, 2022)
- On average, living costs are around 15,000 per year for university students (Universities Canada, 2019).
In order to find an estimated cost for your intended university, please check the following website: http://w05.educanada.ca/index.aspx?action=programsearch-rechercheprogramme&lang=eng
Lastly, check the following table which will give you a general understanding of the costs of submitting a study permit application for international students.
|Fee Type||Cost per individual|
|University/college application fees: These are processing fees charged by the university. This fee is non-refundable irrespective of whether or not you get accepted. Note that some colleges don’t charge an application fee.||Ranges between 100 to 500|
|Study permit application fee||150|
|Biometrics fee||Individual: 85|
2 or more people applying at the same time and place: 170
|Language testing (if required)||Average cost: 300|
|Medical exams (if required)||Fee varies by country.|
Average cost: 100
|Miscellaneous expenses (police certificate, transcripts, courier delivery, photos, notaries, translations, etc.)||Average (assumed) cost: 250|
|Tuition fees||Varies by programs/courses and the college or university you enroll at. Average annual tuition in 2021/2022: Undergraduate program: 33,623 Post-graduate program: 21,120 MBA program: 86,000|
|Health insurance||600 to 1,000|
|Funds to support your stay and/or a Guaranteed Investment Certificate (GIC)||All provinces except Quebec: 10,000 per year.|
In Quebec: 11,000 per year
More details are available on the government of Canada website.
Source: arrivein, RBC. https://bit.ly/35PoEf8, Accessed on Feb 10, 2023.