Canada is known for its excellent quality of life. Visualize vibrant cities, beautiful spaces and welcoming multi-cultural communities. Besides providing exceptional standards of living, safety and first class healthcare, Canada is also internationally recognized for a competency-based teaching approach that prepares students to be productive in the workplace immediately after graduation. Canadian universities, colleges and polytechnics are primarily publicly-funded and highly accountable for quality assurance in teaching, research and campus facilities. What’s more, tuition is affordable when you compare rates among the top destinations for study abroad.
Canada’s systems of education
Canada’s college, polytechnics and university system commences after high school. You can also choose to complete some or all of your high school in Canada in either the public or private system. Both offer global graduation standards to continue post-secondary studies, as well as exceptional student services. Beyond high school, career choices are endless with thousands of post-secondary options to suit every interest!
Canada not only provides students an opportunity to choose from among its top-ranked colleges, polytechnics and universities, but also provides them opportunities to work and gain professional experience which helps open doors globally. Last year, more than 265,000 international students including 22,000 from the Middle East, chose Canada for a premier education, access to global career opportunities and an exciting cross-cultural experience.
Canada’s 125 public and private not-for-profit universities offer high quality education at relatively low costs. The universities offer vast choice of undergraduate and post-graduate programs, as well as professional designations, certificate and diploma courses, and short career-focused programs. Canadian institutions are known for their cutting edge technology and research labs. They also provide opportunities for cooperative education and internships. International students can often work while they study. Tuition fees for international students range from C$8,000 to C$26,000 per year depending on the program.
At least two years of undergraduate study is often required before applying to programs like medicine or law. These programs are extremely competitive – choose an undergraduate program based on your needs for the first few years. It’s important to excel in your studies before applying to a professional school.
Canada’s universities, colleges and polytechnics are engaged in innovative research in the fields of health, nanotechnology, biotechnology, high-performance computing, environmental technologies, nutraceuticals and renewable fuels, among other sectors. R&D cross-funding between the private sector and post-secondary education institutions is high by international standards.
New economic research is also highlighting the important role of universities, colleges and polytechnics as knowledge hubs connecting business, government and post-secondary education institutions with commercial firms that help deliver on discovery. If you’ve got ideas to change the world, we’ve got the programs to help you realize them!
The College System
Programs are taught by highly experienced faculty. Canada’s colleges and polytechnics are leaders in applied higher education. Over 8,000 programs at 150 public institutions offer credentials that prepare students for the job market. Colleges and polytechnics offer a variety of recognized credentials including certificates, diplomas, university transfer programs, academic and applied degrees, and post-graduate diplomas. Programs are available with varying lengths of study, from a few months to four years. Practical programs are designed with potential employers that offer work placements. Tuition fees for international students range from C$5,500 to C$15,000 per year depending on the program.
Language Training – French and English
Canada is a world-leader in second language training, whether for academic upgrading, entry to further study, preparation for language proficiency tests, business applications, or personal use and enjoyment. Language studies are often seen as a pathway to further post-secondary education opportunities in Canada. English and French Second language programs that can shape your accent and vocabulary to fit Canadian educational needs and professional life is offered at elementary and secondary schools, colleges and universities. A number of private language schools and colleges also offer programs exclusively to international students and immigrants. Language Canada provides a database of public and private programs that have met or surpass the standards of internationally recognized quality assurance.
Eligible full-time international students can work either on or off-campus to gain valuable experience, and to help finance their stay, while studying in Canada. Off-campus work permits allow eligible students to work up to 20 hours per week while classes are in session, however, they can also work full-time during regularly scheduled academic breaks (for example, winter and summer holidays, and spring break). The Post Graduation Work Permit Program allows students who have graduated from a participating Canadian post-secondary institution to work in Canada for a maximum of up to three years. Skilled Canadian work experience gained through this program helps graduates who wish to stay and pursue a career in Canada to qualify for permanent residence in Canada through the Canadian Experience Class (CEC).
Balancing academic achievement with direct learning in a career-related job can provide international student with a competitive advantage after graduation. Learn more: www.cic.gc.ca
Scholarships and financial aid
Scholarships are generally based on academic merit and are often awarded automatically at the time of admission. Some scholarships are specifically for international students and researchers and require a separate application outlining your extracurricular activities.
Learn more: www.scholarships.gc.ca
Students can do their own research to identify the schools that are the best match for them. The Government of Canada’s official site www.educationincanada.ca is a key step in accessing useful information. Students can use the site’s excellent search feature to generate a list of schools and program that meets their needs. The admission process usually begins in the summer months [May/June/July] when students would begin to do research on their schools and programs of interest. Application deadlines vary from institution to institution as well, depending on when their main intake is. For schools which accept students in September, deadlines range from the fall to winter. For schools with intakes in January, and/or May-June, the deadline could be several months ahead.
Ideally, students should check websites of each institution, which can be found through the www.educationincanada.ca/ site. For specific admission requirements and applications, contact each institution directly.
For schools in Ontario, there is an electronic application process which allows students to apply to three schools for the same rate. Some other provinces also have common application procedures. Please visit their web sites for more details:
- Ontario: www.ouac.on.ca
- British Columbia: www.pas.bc.ca
- Alberta: www.alis.gov.ab.ca
If you feel the need for professional advice and support in your choice for a study destination, education agents can be a good resource. However, be careful how you select your agent and make sure to verify their credentials. To ensure high standards for agents wishing to advise students about studying in Canada, the Government of Canada established the “Canada Course for Education Agents” (see www.canadacourse.ca). Those agents who have passed the course and the final exam successfully are listed on the ICEF website (List of CCGs). We invite you to look at this list and select an agent in your country with the knowledge and expertise on study options in Canada. You may also contact the Canadian Embassy in your region for more resources and support.
International students studying for more than six months must receive a study permit before arriving in Canada. In some cases, a temporary resident visa may also be required depending on your country of citizenship. Details regarding applications and requirements can be obtained from the Canadian embassy, consulate or high commission (www.cic.gc.ca).
Students planning to study in the province of Quebec must also obtain a certificate of acceptance (CAQ) from the Quebec government before applying for the study permit.
Key Figures on Education
• Academic credentials valued worldwide
• Canada is among the top 3 OECD countries in spending per capita on public postsecondary education according to the OECD.
• Canada consistently invests highly in education. According to the OECD, Canada invests the third-highest amount per tertiary student among OECD countries every year.
• Canada has one of the most educated populations. According to the OECD, Canada has the highest percentage of individuals 25-64 year-olds (51%) achieving at least college or university education, among OECD member countries.
Key Figures on Canada’s Economy
• Canada ranks #1 in the G8 as “the best place to invest and do business” according to the Economist Intelligence Unit.
• Canada has the soundest banking system in the G-7 according to the IMD Global Competitiveness Report.
• Canada ranked 1st in the G-7 in a study measuring the extent to which management education meets the needs of the business community according to the IMD Global Competitiveness Report.
Key Figures on Research and Development
• More than 1/3 of Canada’s research is conducted at Canadian universities according to the OECD – one of the highest rates among OECD and G8 countries. • Canada in the rankings • Overall Scores
• 5 Canadian universities ranked among the Top 100 of The Times Higher Education’s 2013 World University Rankings – The University of Toronto, the University of British Columbia, McGill University, the University of Montreal and McMaster University and 3 others ranked among the Top 200 – The University of Alberta, the University of Ottawa and the University of Victoria. • 4 Canadian universities ranked among The Times Higher Education’s 2013 100 Under 50 world ranking – the University of Victoria, the University of Calgary, Simon Fraser University and the University of Guelph.
• 4 Canadian universities ranked in the Top 100 of the 2012 ARWU Shanghai Ranking and 22 in the Top 500.
• 3 Canadian universities ranked in the Top 50 of the QS University Ranking and 20 in the Top 500.
• 10 Canadian universities in the 2012 ARWU Top 100 for their business and economics programs.
• 5 Canadian schools of management are ranked among the top 100 in the world according to the Financial Times (UK) Global MBA rankings for 2012. University of Toronto (Rotman) 44th; York University in Toronto (Schulich) 59th; McGill University (Desautels) 61st ; Western University (Ivey) 68th and University of British Columbia (Sauder) 82th.
Psychology, Medicine and Pharmacolgy
• 4 Canadian universities in the Top 50 QS World University Ranking in Psychology
• 3 Canadian universities in the Top 50 QS World University Ranking in Medicine
• 4 Canadian universities in the Top 50 QS World University Ranking in Pharmacy and Pharmacology
Science and Engineering
• 7 Canadian universities in the 2012 ARWU Top 100 in Computer Science
• 4 Canadian universities in the QS Top 50 in Engineering & Technology – Computer Science
For additional details about studying in Canada, consult these helpful online resources:
Official Study in Canada portal
Includes a program finder, cost calculator, study permit information, and links to provincial, territorial and individual school information.
Government of Canada Scholarships
Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada (DFAIT)
The International Education and Youth Division of DFAIT is responsible for Canada’s foreign policy in the areas of knowledge, learning and the promotion of Canada as a top study and research destination.
Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC)
Offers information for international students considering Canada as a study destination, including study permits, visa details and work permits.
Council of Ministers of Education, Canada (CMEC)
Provides leadership in education at the pan-Canadian and international levels and contributes to the fulfilment of the constitutional responsibility for education conferred on provinces and territories.
Canadian Information Centre for International Credentials (CICIC)
Provides the only Canadian online and authoritative directory of universities, colleges and schools recognized and authorized by Canada’s provinces and territories. This site includes information on foreign credential evaluations and qualification recognition.
Association of Canadian Community Colleges (ACCC)
Represents colleges and institutes to government, business and industry, both in Canada and internationally.
Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada (AUCC)
Represents 95 Canadian public and private not-for-profit universities and university-degree level colleges.
Canadian Association of Public Schools – International (CAPS-I)
Represents 75 Canadian public school districts/boards that recruit international students at the elementary and secondary levels.
Canadian Bureau of International Education (CBIE)
Dedicated to the promotion of Canada’s international relations through international education.
Canadian language schools accredited under an internationally recognized quality-assurance mechanism.
Canadian Association of Independent Schools (CAIS)
Represents 95 Canadian elementary and secondary independent schools from across Canada, some of which offer boarding to international students.
Polytechnics Canada is a national alliance of Canada’s leading research-intensive, publicly-funded colleges and institutes of technology.