Why study in Canada
Canada is one of the best places to study in the world! It offers excellent opportunities to pursue your academic goals, explore new cultures, and enjoy a high quality of life. As a student in Canada, you will focus both on research and innovation, and hands-on experience. Some of the top universities in Canada include the University of Toronto, McGill University, and the University of British Columbia. You will find an open-minded, multicultural society where hundreds of thousands of students from all over the Globe come to study.
Here are the top reasons why Canada is the best place for you to study:
- Canadian universities are listed in reputable worldwide rankings, and 11 are among the world’s top 250. Canada’s top-ranked universities are known for their high-quality teaching, research, and academic excellence.
- Many international students choose Canada to study because the country’s higher education system provides excellent academic programmes with a strong focus on hands-on learning, practical experience, and research opportunities.
- The country has some of the lowest tuition costs among English-speaking nations. Sure, it will cost you more to study in one of the big student hubs, but you will find highly affordable programmes in some other regions.
- Canadian universities excel in various academic disciplines, including technology and engineering, natural sciences, business and economics, social sciences, and humanities.
- Canada has a significant tradition in fields such as engineering, computer science, natural sciences, and healthcare. But what sets its universities apart from the ones in other countries is their focus on interdisciplinary studies and unique programs, such as Indigenous studies, environmental science, and more. Canadian universities are particularly renowned for their research excellence in these fields, as well as in areas such as environmental science, sustainability, and renewable energy.
- Canada is a diverse and welcoming country with a multicultural society celebrating diverse cultures, traditions, and languages. This creates a dynamic and inclusive learning environment for international students.
- If you want to enjoy city life and nightlife, then Toronto, Vancouver, and Montreal should be top on your list. These are the country’s biggest student hubs and have a vibrant cultural scene, with plenty of museums, galleries, theatres, and music venues to spend time at. There are also countless restaurants, cafes, bars, pubs, and nightclubs.
Culture in Canada
The country is known for its friendly people and welcoming attitude towards foreigners. Canada shares the informality, freedom of speech, pioneering spirit, and entrepreneurial creativity with its southern neighbour, the United States of America.
Canadians, however, tend to be more humble, subtle, and thoughtful in expressing their thoughts and beliefs.
In terms of lifestyle, Canada’s largest cities boast a safe environment, welcoming people, thriving arts and culture scenes, and high quality of life, and exciting nightlife.
Official languages in Canada.
You should know that Canada has two official languages, English and French, meaning that you, as an international student, can choose to study either.
Canadian food culture.
Food culture is also truly diverse, with many traditional meals spread throughout the country. If you are curious about some of the most popular ones, look for Poutine (French fries with cheese and gravy), and Saskatoon berry pie (a sweet crusty pie with blueberry filling).
Weather in Canada.
Canada is the second largest country in the world, meaning you’ll find a wide range of climate conditions. The country enjoys all four seasons, with mild weather throughout the year on the Pacific coast, and more extreme weather (hot summers and harsh cold winters) in the Prairie provinces.
How to choose a university in Canada?
Canada is home to some of the world's top universities, offering students a world-class education and a diverse range of academic programs. Each province and territory in Canada approve which universities can enrol international students. These universities are called Designated Learning Institutions (DLI).
When wondering how to choose a university in Canada that is best for you, know there are over 200 public and private universities and just as many public colleges and institutes. It is worth knowing that universities and colleges are not precisely the same thing in Canada. Differences between them faded a lot in the past decades. For example, colleges traditionally offer Bachelor's degrees in applied disciplines. Next to polytechnics and institutes, colleges usually focus on shorter, more practical, technical, or occupational programmes.
The most popular student hubs in Canada, Toronto, Montreal, and Vancouver, are also three of the world’s most desirable cities to be a student in. They rank among the top 20 QS Best Student Cities.
>>> There are plenty of international study programmes to choose from: you’ll find 8,000 programmes in Canada on Studyportals.
Choosing a university checklistSo how do you choose a university in Canada out of the hundreds of available options? Here are some steps to take:
- Check if your country has an agreement with Canada. Such an agreement can make things easier for you, either in terms of how to apply to university, visa requirements and tuition fees. This may apply if you come from the US, UK, other Commonwealth countries etc.
- Check out university rankings. Do this considering that you will find high-quality universities lower than the top 100.
- Have a look over the map. Canada is a huge country. Are large distances inconvenient for you? Is it easy to travel to and from the places of your choice?
- Match your strengths to university admission criteria. Review the application requirements of multiple universities and think about where you might have an extra edge.
- Estimate your expenses. Some Canadian cities are more expensive than others. Same with universities when it comes to tuition fees. How much is too much for you?
- Career perspectives. Is the programme or university well connected to the industry? How will a graduate there help later when choosing a career path?
- City and campus size. Do you enjoy big city life or quieter, smaller communities? How about commuting? Is the campus easily accessible or not?
These are just some things to consider when choosing your Canadian university and study programme. It is important not to treat the process lightly and do some research before applying.
What are the best universities in Canada
Canada boasts some of the world's top-ranking universities, renowned for their excellence in research, innovation, and academic rigour. Here’s a list of the top 5:
- The University of Toronto is one of the top research-intensive institutions in the world and Canada’s top centre for education, research, and knowledge development.
- University of British Columbia (UBC), one of the most international universities in North America, is consistently acclaimed as one of the top 20 public universities worldwide.
- McGill University is one of Canada’s top-tier colleges, renowned for its diverse international student community, research institutes and centres, and rich history.
- McMaster University It is a public institution in the vibrant city of Hamilton, close to Lake Ontario, famous for its innovation in learning and discovery.
- The University of Montreal is one of Canada’s most cosmopolitan universities, set in an exceptional location combining nature and modern buildings.
What are the top student hubs in Canada
- Toronto is the biggest city in Canada and home to some of the country's top universities, including the University of Toronto, Ryerson University, and York University. It's known for its diverse culture and bustling city life.
- Vancouver lays on Canada's west coast and is known for its stunning natural beauty. It's home to the University of British Columbia, Simon Fraser University, and Emily Carr University of Art and Design.
- Montreal is a bilingual city, where both French and English languages are commonly spoken. It's home to McGill University, Concordia University, and Université de Montréal. The city is also known for its vibrant arts and culture scenes.
- Ottawa is Canada's capital and home to the University of Ottawa and Carleton University. It's a great city for students who are interested in politics or government.
Tuition Fees in Canada
Canadian university tuition fees vary depending on several factors. Some provinces are more expensive than others, and fees may also depend on the type of programme or the university you choose. Tuition fees in Canada for international students are higher than the ones domestic students pay. Also, undergraduate (Bachelor’s) programmes can be two or three times more expensive than graduate (Master’s, PhD) programmes.
Specifically, if you are an international student looking to study for a Bachelor’s in Canada, you will pay 36,000 CAD, on average, each year. Among the most expensive are veterinary medicine, dentistry, and medicine undergraduate degrees (up to 68,000 CAD).
Postgraduate students interested in Canadian Master’s programmes will face 21,000 CAN yearly fees, on average. Tuition fees for MBA (Master in Business Administration) programmes are among the highest (up to 76,000 CAD),
You will find the cheapest tuition fees for international students in Newfoundland and Labrador regions, where undergrad programmes cost around 16,000 CAN on average, while postgraduate programmes 5,000 CAD.
While international students in Canada are not eligible for tuition fee waivers, some universities may offer you small deductions or rebates based on proof of financial need or academic merit.
>>> Use the ‘Tuition fee’ filter on the left menu of our Bachelor’s, Master’s or PhD search pages to find the programme best suited for your budget. You can also arrange the list by the lowest tuition fee universities in Canada by clicking the top right Sort button.
Can I study in Canada for free?
International students don’t have the option of studying for free in Canada. They usually pay higher fees than domestic students do. Of course, there is the option of applying for scholarships, or other types of financial aid, which could eventually cover your tuition fees entirely or partially. Such financial aid would be your ‘Study in Canada for Free’ ticket.
Financial Aid and Scholarships in Canada
Although Canadian universities tend to be more affordable than other English-speaking countries, tuition fees can be a pain for international students, especially since there is no option to study for free. This is where financial aid and scholarships come in.
Although it may be a clever idea to check if any organisations in your home country provide bursaries, scholarships or grants to students accepted at Canadian universities, you also have diverse options to choose from in Canada.
If you're a student looking for financial assistance to further your education, scholarships can be a great option. But before developing what types of scholarships you can apply for, there are a few more types of financial aid to consider:
- Grants. Grants are offered if you meet certain eligibility requirements. You must repay the grant money if you fail to complete the degree programme (you drop out, etc.). Domestic students can apply for a grant offered by the Canadian Government through the Canada Student Financial Assistance Program.
- Bursaries. They're given to students in financial need, not based on academic achievements. Bursaries are often given just once and don't have to be paid back. They are often of smaller value than scholarships or grants.
- Student loans. Unless you are a domestic student, your options to receive a student loan in Canada lie in private providers, such as banks. Like other loans, you will have to return the money in a certain amount of time and pay interest.
- Other financial aid options. If you're an international student, it's a good idea to contact universities and colleges directly to learn about additional financial resources and advice they may offer. These institutions can provide you with more information about available options. Other options include graduate-level awards, such as fellowships and travel awards, entrance scholarships (for high school graduates), and bursaries (for students who can demonstrate financial need).
Types of scholarships on offer
Scholarships are given based on various criteria and can range from a few hundred dollars to full tuition coverage. The best scholarships to apply for are the ones that match your profile best: are your academic records good enough to try a merit-based scholarship, or is your financial status the main trigger? How motivated are you to study that specific programme? Although there is no limit on how many scholarships you should apply for, by answering such questions, you can choose what scholarships best fit your profile out of the several existing types:
- University-specific scholarships: Many universities in Canada offer scholarships to international students based on academic merit or financial need.
- Merit scholarships:For students who are either academically gifted, were top sports players in high school or excelled in the community or entrepreneurial work.
- Government-sponsored scholarships: These scholarships are awarded by the Canadian government or government agencies and are available to international students.
- Country-based scholarships: These scholarships are targeted at students from developing countries.
- Private scholarships: There are many private organisations, foundations, and corporations that offer scholarships to international students. These are also more likely to be targeted at developing countries and minority groups or in specific areas of study.
Where you can find scholarships
Our Scholarships Portal is a good place to figure out where to apply for scholarships in Canada. You can find hundreds of options from NGOs, governmental or private institutions, and universities.
A few other places are available if you're an international student looking for scholarships in Canada. Many universities offer scholarships and bursaries, which you can find on their websites.
You can also check out government agencies like Global Affairs Canada and the Canadian Bureau for International Education for scholarship programs. Professional associations like the Canadian Nurses Association offer scholarships in their fields of study.
Other sources where you can apply for scholarships are:
International Scholarships Program. Scholarships for international students and for Canadian students who want to study abroad.
International Development Research Centre. Awards for Canadians, permanent residents of Canada and citizens of developing countries pursuing their doctoral studies at a Canadian university.
International Business Scholarships. Scholarships for students pursuing a career or furthering their studies in international business or that combine business with environmental or sustainability studies.
RBC International Student Scholarship: Is awarded by Royal Bank of Canada and is open to international students who are enrolled in full-time studies at a Canadian post-secondary institution.
The Loran Award: This scholarship is awarded by the Loran Scholars Foundation and is open to international students who have demonstrated strong leadership potential and are committed to making a positive impact in their communities.
Scotiabank International Student Scholarship: This scholarship is awarded by Scotiabank and is open to international students.
Global Affairs Canada Scholarships: This scholarship program is funded by the Canadian government and offers scholarships and fellowships to international students from developing countries pursuing studies in Canada.
How to apply for a scholarship in Canada
If you're an international student looking to study in Canada, scholarships can be a fantastic way to reduce the financial burden of tuition and living expenses. There is no limit on how many scholarships you can apply for, but the process can be time-consuming and there are some steps you need to follow:
- Research: Use the above resources to list scholarships that apply to your field of study and academic level.
- Eligibility: Check the criteria and make sure you meet all the requirements before applying.
- Documents: You'll need to prepare academic transcripts, language proficiency test scores, a resume, letters of recommendation, and other requested documents before applying.
- Letter of intent: Some scholarships require you to write a letter of intent when applying. Give yourself enough time for this. It is your opportunity to explain why you're the best candidate for the scholarship. Be sure to highlight your achievements and future goals.
- Apply: Each scholarship provider has its own specific rules for applying, so follow the instructions carefully and submit everything before the deadline.
After submitting your application, you'll have to wait for the results. This can take a few weeks to a few months, but If you haven't heard back from the scholarship provider after a few weeks, it's okay to follow up and ask about the status of your application.
What to include in your application
The exact things to include in your application differ from one provider to another. Most ask you to fill out an online application form to provide personal details, your letter of acceptance to a Canadian university, academic transcripts, proof that you are eligible for their scholarship programme, and other documents. But when preparing your scholarship application, there are a few things you should include in your application to make it stand out:
- Your personal and academic achievements: People need to know they help the right person. That is why they will ask for proof of your success. This includes your GPA, academic awards, extracurricular activities, and volunteer work.
- What motivates you: Explain why you chose the specific study programme where you got accepted, what future career plans you have and how the scholarship will help you achieve your goals.
- Your financial situation: Be honest about your financial needs, mention any financial challenges you face, and how the scholarship will help you overcome them.
- Letters of recommendation: Ask your professors or employers to write letters for you.
A strong scholarship application displays your achievements, aspirations, and financial need. Be authentic and passionate in your writing; don't forget to proofread for errors.
Interested in scholarships for Canada? Check out our scholarship search page.
Apply to university in Canada
How to apply to university
If you are wondering how to apply for a university in Canada, you should know that each has its own admission rules. Some may be similar, and some may be different from others. Make sure you understand and meet these requirements before applying.
Canadian universities require English language proficiency tests such as TOEFL, IELTS, or PTE Academic, but some may also require French proficiency.
You must pay a fee to apply for university in Canada. The cost varies among universities and programmes, but most universities charge an application fee ranging from $50 to $150 CAD. Some universities also require a non-refundable deposit once you have been accepted into the program.
It may also be useful to know that the Canadian higher education system has a lot in common with the ones in the USA and UK.
What’s the structure of the Canadian academic year
Most Canadian universities and colleges follow a two-semester system, where classes occur from September to May, but exact dates can differ between regions or institutions.
- 1st Semester - September to December
- Winter Break - December to January
- 2nd Semester - January to May
- Summer Break - June to August
When to apply for Canadian universities
The deadlines to apply for university in Canada vary, but you should prepare eight to twelve months earlier. International students usually start school in September or January, but some universities also organise spring and summer admissions. So deciding when to apply to Canadian universities depends on when classes start at your school.
For the fall semester, which begins in September, the deadline to apply for university is often set months earlier, in January or February of the same year. For programmes that start in January, deadlines are usually in November or December of the previous year.
Check your university’s deadlines first, and if you apply to several, check each. If you're an international student, prepare in advance and give yourself enough time to gather the documents and complete the application process.
Documents needed to apply for university
Most universities have an online application process, so you can apply directly through their websites. When applying, you must provide personal information such as your academic history, work experience (if applicable), language proficiency or other documents needed to apply for university. The most common ones are:
- A scan of your diploma (high school or Bachelor’s degree)
- A transcript/record of your previous courses
- A scan of your passport
- Your CV
- Testing scores
- Evidence of scholarship or funding
- Letters of recommendation (between 2-3)
- Portfolio and/or writing samples
If you plan to study at a university in Canada, you must prove your proficiency in English or French, depending on the university and programme that you apply to. Your language certificate must be less than 2 years old, and the Canadian authorities will compare your results to their standards: the Canadian Language Benchmarks (CBL) for English and the Niveaux de compétence linguistique canadiens, for French. There is no limit on how many times you can take these tests, but the rules say you must wait some time (30-60 days) before giving it another go.
English language requirements for Canadian universities
The most popular English tests are:
- IELTS (International English Language Testing System). Canadian universities usually ask for a minimum IELTS score of 6.5 overall.
- PTE (Pearson Test of English). Universities usually ask for a minimum PTE score of 60 for Bachelor's programs, Advanced Diplomas, and Post Graduate Programs.
- TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language). Top Canadian universities ask for a TOEFL score above 90, but in general, universities ask for a minimum score of 80 for undergraduate admission, and 90 for Master’s or PhD.
French language requirements for Canadian universities
Two types of French language tests are most popular among universities and colleges in Canada:
1. Test d’Évaluation de Francais (TEF).
Managed by the Paris Chamber of Commerce and Industry, it is made of four compulsory tests:
- Reading comprehension (50 questions), 60 minutes long,
- Oral comprehension (60 questions), 40 minutes long,
- Written expression (2 subjects to be covered), 60 minutes long,
- Vocabulary and syntax (40 questions), 30 minutes long.
Ask the university or read their application requirements, and they will tell you if besides the compulsory tests they also ask you to take some optional ones.
2. Test de Connaissance du Français (TCF)
The exam is divided into mandatory multiple-choice tests and optional tests and is managed by France Éducation International. You’ll spend between 1 and a half hours minimum and 2 and a half hours maximum, depending on the number of tests you take:
- Listening comprehension: 29 multiple choice questions, 25 minutes;
- Grammar comprehension: 18 multiple choice questions, 15 minutes;
- Reading comprehension: 29 multiple choice questions, 45 minutes;
- Written skills: 3 exercises, 60 minutes;
- Verbal skills: Individual test one-on-one with an examiner, 3 exercises, 12 minutes (2 of which are for preparation)
TCF tests take place throughout the year; you will have to contact the approved TCF centre closest to your home.
Student housing in Canada
From on-campus student housing to homestays and private rentals, you'll have plenty of choices to suit your needs and budget. You can choose from a wide range of prices when it comes to accommodation; just take some time to research and explore your options to find the best fit for your preferences and lifestyle. Do not hesitate to contact your university or college for help finding suitable accommodation options.
On-campus student housing.
Thanks to the increasing number of international students choosing Canada, universities have invested more in on-campus housing, such as dormitories, residence rooms, student apartments, and suite-style residences. Although top-of-the-list for most international students, on-campus housing is also more difficult to get because of the high number of applicants. The most popular types of on-campus student housing are:
- Dormitories: These student social havens are large buildings housing many students. You get to share a room with others and are the best option for 1st-year students.
- Townhouses: Like dorms, these places contain several bedrooms with no roommates and are usually popular among older students.
- Dormitory and townhouse prices start at CAD 250 per month and reach above CAD 600.
Residence rooms give access to shared bathrooms, kitchen, and laundry facilities. Some universities also offer so-called student apartments in their residence buildings, where you can share with other students an apartment that has its own kitchen and bathroom.
Off-campus student housing
Homestays: This option implies you are living with a Canadian family for the duration of your studies. University-arranged homestays can be a wonderful way to experience local culture. Prices range from CAD 400 to 800, on average.
Private renting: This can be expensive, especially in larger cities like Vancouver or Toronto, but often the only available option for many students. Higher costs don’t necessarily mean just bigger rents, but additional stuff you need to pay for yourself, such as electricity, heating, internet, transport, and often furniture etc. Sharing the rent with others is often the best choice. You’re likely to pay 300 to 800 CAD/month when sharing (depending on location and facilities), but prices often get higher than 1,000 CAD per month for a studio/one-room apartment.
When to apply for student accommodation
Start looking for accommodation as soon as you have been accepted into university, especially if you plan to go for on-campus housing, which is limited and in high demand during peak enrollment periods.
The best place to start is your university or college because each institution has a special department managing student housing. Besides your university, student organisations are also a reliable source of information, as they may also offer lists of private housing near the campus.
- Amberstudent.com is a student accommodation platform that provides free assistance to students.
- Places4Students allows you to search for housing by city or school and offers a range of property types.
- Rentfaster.ca offers a comprehensive database of rental properties across Canada.
- Kijiji is an online classifieds platform that can be a helpful resource for finding student accommodation in Canada.
Cost of living in Canada
While cheaper than most English-speaking countries, living in Canada can be challenging for students worldwide.
You can expect an average cost of living in Canada with rent of CAN 10,000 to CAN 15,000 per year, including food, transportation, and entertainment, which is lower compared to the United States or the United Kingdom.
In most provinces, including Quebec, Montreal, and Ottawa, you will spend between 800 and 1,500 CDN monthly, but your expenses in Canada will vary between larger student hubs and smaller cities. For example, price of milk ranges from 1.4 to 5 CAD, potatoes range from 1 to 6 CAD depending on region, while bread costs between 2 and 5.5 CAD, and apples from 2 to 8 CAD.
You can access many student discounts by getting your International Student Identity Card (ISIC).
You will depend on public transportation as a student. The cost of public transportation varies by city, but the average price of a one-way ticket is around 3 dollars. As a student, you can usually get discounted or even free unlimited access to the city’s transportation system. Here is how Public Transportation works in Canada’s top student hubs:
- Toronto. The Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) manages the city’s public buses, subways and street cars. You pay one ticket and travel with all of them. You can use a Presto card to pay for all local transit in Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area (GTHA).
- Montreal. The Société de transport de Montréal (STM) manages bus and subway transport. Buses are especially efficient to travel in the city. The card you’re likely to use to pay for your tickets here is the OPUS Card.
- Vancouver. In this student hub, public transport (buses, trains) are operated by Translink. Here they use a reloadable fare card called Compass.
A taxi is always an option when moving inside the city, and prices start at 2 CAD/kilometre. However, when commuting to school and you cover larger distances, consider using the train or the bus; both are affordable options with lower student fees. Budget between 100 to 150 CAD each month for transportation.
Ferries are also a popular way to travel in the coastal Pacific and Atlantic regions.
Where to look for affordable transportation for students in Canada:
- Local transit websites - each city in Canada has its own public transit website, with information on routes, schedules, and fares.
- StudentUniverse.com - a website that provides information and discounts on student-specific travel and transportation.
Entertainment and free time
Entertainment and free time costs can also increase your cost of living in Canada. While the amount you spend is highly influenced by your lifestyle, here are some popular activities and how much they cost.
A coffee with a friend can cost you a couple of dollars while going out to see a film at the cinema will cost you CAD 15 on average. Expect to pay anywhere between 50 and 150 Canadian dollars for a concert. On the other hand, many museums and galleries offer discounted admission for students.
Cost of food in Canada
The average monthly cost of food for a student is under CAD 300 if you buy from a supermarket and cook it yourself. Some of the cheapest supermarkets you can find all over Canada are Canadian Superstore, Walmart, and No Frills. On the other hand, food costs will skyrocket if you don’t cook or are used to eating in a restaurant. You’ll pay 20 dollars for a meal at an inexpensive restaurant.
Work and study in Canada
Getting a student job is a clever way to earn some extra money to cover your stay in Canada. Many universities and colleges offer on-campus work opportunities such as work-study programs, research assistant positions, and part-time jobs. Alternatively, you can go for co-op and internship programs that allow you to gain practical experience while studying and earn a head-start to full-time employment after graduation.
You also have the option of finding an off-campus job, but there are some work regulations you must consider. So let’s get familiar with the basic rules on how to get a job as a student in Canada.
Are international students allowed to work in Canada?
Yes, international students can get a job in Canada during their studies. Check your study permit to determine if this is your case because your right to work should be specified on the permit. It is important to note that you can only start working student jobs after your studies begin and that your right to work on campus ends when your study permit expires.
On-campus work means you can get a job in places that belong to your school. On-campus employers can be your school, a faculty member, student organisations, or even private businesses or contractors. You will need a Social Insurance Number (SIN) to be able to work on-campus. There is no limit to the number of hours you can work on campus.
Off-campus work means that you can find a job outside of your university’s grounds. There are several eligibility conditions you must meet:
- You started studying as a full-time student at a Designated Learning Institution (DLI),
- Your study program lasts 6 months minimum and will lead to a degree or diploma,
- You have a Social Insurance Number.
You can only work part-time (4 hours per day, 20 hours per week) off campus, but during school breaks, you can work overtime or get a second part-time job.
Where can I find jobs?
The best palace to start today when looking for a student job in Canada is the web. Check out your university website; most have a section for this, but you can apply on government or private boards.
Online job boards - Websites like Indeed, Glassdoor, and LinkedIn are great resources for finding job openings in Canada. International students can use these websites to search for part-time, full-time, or freelance work:
- Indeed is a popular job search engine that lists job opportunities for students.
- Job Bank is a website run by the Government of Canada which lists job opportunities nationwide.
- Monster is a job search website where you can find student jobs.
- SimplyHired is a job search engine that lists job opportunities across Canada
- TalentEgg is a search engine focusing on entry-level job opportunities for students and recent graduates.
Is Canada safe?
Canada is a very safe country for international students and ranks among the top 10 safest countries in the world.
However, you are still advised to follow some common precautions, such as being aware of your surroundings, particularly in larger cities, keeping your valuables secure, avoiding carrying substantial amounts of cash, and being mindful when walking or travelling alone, especially at night.
The emergency number in Canada is 911. The same emergency number is used in the rest of North America (USA and Mexico).
Student insurance in Canada
Canada's publicly funded healthcare system is called Medicare and provides universal coverage based on need, not the ability to pay. The health system is managed by each province or territory in Canada, meaning that rules and eligibility criteria can be different from one place to another.
While health insurance is mandatory for all international students in Canada, public health coverage for international students is only available in some of the provinces, not all.
Provinces that provide public health insurance to international students (including links to health insurance webpages):
- British Columbia
- New Brunswick
- Newfoundland and Labrador
- Northwest Territories
- Nova Scotia
- Quebec (students from certain countries)
Provinces that DO NOT provide public health insurance to international students:
- Prince Edward Island
Regulations may change, so do your research and ask your university or college because some have their own health insurance policies.
If you aren’t eligible for provincial health coverage, your only option is a private health insurance plan. These usually cost, on average, from CAD 600 to 900 per year.>>> Learn more about this by visiting our Student Insurance Portal
Support services available for international students
As an International student in Canada, you can access various support services designed to help. Many universities and colleges have advisors who can help international students with visa issues, work permits, housing, academic support, career advice, personal safety etc. Here are a few such examples:
- The University of British Columbia student support and resources page,
- Toronto Mentropolitan University international student support platform,
- University of Alberta Student Service Centre.
Other support services include:
- Language Support Programmes that provide language courses, tutoring, and conversation partners.
- Cultural Integration Programs that help international students integrate into Canadian culture and meet other students.
- Campus International Student Clubs and Associations where to connect with others from your home country or to meet new people.
Here are a couple of platforms providing support to international students:
If you want to meet other people, talk about classes, volunteer, and dedicate your time to a cause, or just play some sports, student organisations are the place to go. Here are some of the top organisations that provide support services for international students in Canada:
- Canadian Alliance of Student Organisations (CASA) is a national organisation that advocates for post-secondary students to the federal government.
- The Canadian Federation of Students is a national union comprising over 530,000 students from more than 60 universities across Canada. The organisation advocates for affordable and accessible education, student rights, and social justice issues.
- Universities Canada provides information and support for international students regarding academic programs, research opportunities, and student life in Canada.
- Canadian Bureau for International Education (CBIE) promotes international education and student mobility in Canada. The organisation offers programs and services to support international students, including scholarships and awards
- Colleges and Institutes Canada offers resources and advice to help international students make the most of their college experience in Canada.
Many universities and colleges in Canada have student-run international student associations where you can find support, guidance, and resources. There’s also the option of joining cultural clubs focused on specific countries or regions or joining volunteer organisations where you can give back to the community and gain valuable hands-on experience.
Things to do for students on a budget
Canada is a destination worth exploring whether you're into outdoor adventures or prefer exploring the city. From vibrant student hubs to tranquil natural parks, there's something for everyone in Canada. So, pack your bags, grab your student ID, and prepare for an unforgettable journey!
Top urban attractions for students
- Stanley Park in Vancouver, British Columbia - This urban park offers beautiful views of the city, as well as walking and biking trails, beaches, and the Vancouver Aquarium. Admission to the park is free.
- CN Tower in Toronto, Ontario - the famous 500-meter-high landmark is the signature icon of Toronto’s skyline, offering panoramic city views. Tickets for the observation deck start at $38 CAD for students.
- Old Montreal in Montreal, Quebec - This historic neighbourhood offers charming cobblestone streets, picturesque architecture, and delicious food options. Walking tours are available for a small fee.
- Rideau Canal in Ottawa, Ontario - This UNESCO World Heritage site offers scenic views, as well as opportunities for ice skating and boat rides. Admission to the canal is free.
- Granville Island in Vancouver, British Columbia - Granville Island is a hub for arts, culture, and cuisine. Visitors can explore the public market, art studios, and theatres. Admission to the island is free, but some attractions may have admission fees.
Top 5 Outdoor Attractions
- Banff National Park in Alberta - This UNESCO World Heritage site is known for its stunning natural beauty, with mountains, glaciers, and lakes. Admission to the park is free with a Discovery Pass, which costs $29.40 CAD for students.
- Niagara Falls in Ontario - Niagara Falls is a popular tourist destination with breathtaking waterfalls and hiking trails. The park is free to enter, but some attractions, like the Maid of the Mist boat tour, have an admission fee.
- The Rocky Mountains in Alberta and British Columbia - The Rocky Mountains offer some of the best hiking trails in Canada, with stunning views of the landscape. Admission to the parks varies, but a Discovery Pass is recommended.
- The Grouse Grind in Vancouver, British Columbia - The Grouse Grind is a challenging hiking trail that offers breathtaking views of Vancouver. Admission to the trail is free, but donations are encouraged.
- The Confederation Trail in Prince Edward Island - This trail offers a scenic biking or hiking experience, with stunning views of the island's landscape. Admission to the trail is free.
Travelling in Canada
The cheapest way to travel around Canada as a student is by train and bus. But you can do quite a few things to travel on a budget.
- Your ace up the sleeve when travelling on a student budget is the International Student Identity Card. It works as an ID and offers student discounts, from restaurants and gyms to museums and trains.
- Some banks offer so-called “Travel Credit Cards,” which students can use. Every time you buy something from an eligible provider, you earn points, which you can stack and spend later.
Share or rent a ride.
While it is quite common to rent a car together with friends and explore the country, there is also some popular ride-sharing platforms for you to try options you can try:
- Poparide is a long-distance ride-sharing app for long-distance travel.
- Kangaride is the most popular ridesharing app in Canada. It connects drivers and passengers who are headed in the same direction.
- CarpoolWorld, with a database of over 20,000 drivers and passengers, is an excellent option for those looking to travel between cities in Canada and save money on gas and parking.
Canada's cities are well-connected by public transportation systems, making it easy to get around without a car. Many cities offer student discounts on public transit for both train and bus rides.
VIA Rail Canada is a state-owned railway company that operates passenger trains in Canada.
UP Express connects Canada’s two busiest transportation hubs: Toronto Pearson International Airport and Union Station in downtown Toronto.
Take a bus.
Buses are often the cheapest way to travel between cities in Canada.
- Busbud.com, Omio.com and Coach Canada are some popular search engines for finding cheap bus tickets.
- Megabus is one of the most popular and cheapest bus companies in Canada.
- Autobus Maheux is a popular company in the French part of the country.
Canada has two official languages, English and French, and improving your skills in either can bring benefits both as a student and later in your career. English is the most popular, and it is spoken in most of the country, while French is more common in Quebec, Ontario, New Brunswick, and Manitoba.
The Language Portal of Canada is a good place to find tools and resources to improve your French or English. Local authorities fund language classes so that you can study for free, but if you choose private providers, you will have to pay.
As a student, you already have proof of language proficiency because you submitted it with your application. Still, bureaucracy aside, if you know the benefits of mastering a foreign language, you should improve your skills by talking with native speakers as often as possible, reading books and watching shows in those languages.
Living as an expat in Canada
As an international student, once you graduate, you can stay in Canada for up to 3 years if you apply for a post-graduate work permit or even longer if you apply for permanent residency. Either way, your life will be different, as you’ll change your student status to being an ex-pat.
Priorities and perspectives will change; you must find a place to stay and get a job, you will file taxes (even if you are not a permanent resident) for the income you earned while in Canada. Expats usually rent apartments and houses in the suburbs or satellite towns, and leases are normally for 12 months.
Prepare to spend most of your earnings on rent and utilities, especially if you choose one of the big cities. The cost of food and other basics are cheap compared to many western countries. Purchasing private health insurance will also cost you if you aren’t eligible for the Medicare system.
Expat communities in Canada
Canada was chosen by millions from around the world to be their new home. Decades back, most of the immigrants in Canada came from Europe, but this changed over the past 50 years, and Asia became the top source region of new immigrants.
Most of Canada’s ex-pats come from countries like the UK, China, India, the Philippines, and USA. The large cities is where you’ll also find the most ex-pats in Canada. Top of the list is Toronto, where almost half of the population is immigrants, followed by Vancouver and Montreal. The country’s French heritage is strongly represented by Quebec in eastern Canada. Here are some popular ex-pat portals:
- Moving2Canada is a platform with all sorts of information for people planning to live in Canada
- Lost in the Leaf City is a blog with useful articles about life as an ex-pat in Canada
- Expat.com offers a community for ex-pats in Canada, with forums, job listings, and guides.
- Canadianimmigrant.ca provides resources for immigrants and ex-pats in Canada.
Canada Immigration rules
So you already lived in Canada for a few years as a student, but you are about to graduate, and your stay here is ending; your study permit will expire 90 days (about 3 months) after graduation, meaning you should return home. But you like it here and are curious how can you start living in Canada as an ex-pat?
Immigration rules for students say that once you graduate from a Canadian university, you extend your stay temporarily or become an ex-pat, find work, and even live permanently.
After your study permit expires, you can choose to stay in Canada temporarily as a visitor, or you can apply for permanent residency.
Temporary residence (Visitor record)
To temporarily extend your stay as a visitor, you must apply for a visitor record. Unlike visitor visas, which are applied to your passport, the visitor record is an independent document with an expiry date. You can apply online or by paper and extend your stay for up to 6 months.
Important to know:
- Once the visitor record expires, you must leave the country.
- Once you have a visitor record, any new application for a study permit or work permit must be made from outside of Canada.
- You cannot apply for a post-graduation work permit once you get a visitor record.
Once you complete your studies, you can apply for permanent residency (PR) for several categories:
- Canadian Experience Class (CEC) if you have Canadian work experience
- Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSW) if you have work experience outside Canada.
- Provincial Nominee Program (PNP) if you have work experience and intend to move to a specific Canadian province.
- Atlantic Immigration Program (AIP) if you, as an international student who graduated, plan to work and live in these Atlantic Provinces: New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island or Newfoundland and Labrador.
As work experience is an eligibility requirement for some of these categories, any experience you may have gained during your studies is essential.
Immigration processing times
Here are the immigration processing times for the types of residences mentioned above:
- Temporary residence (Visitor record) - 180 days for online applications / 87 days (about 3 months) for paper
- Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP) - 80 to 180 days
- Canadian Experience Class (CEC) - 12 months
- Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSW) - 30 months
- Provincial Nominee Program (PNP) - 11 to 20 months
- Atlantic Immigration Program (AIP) - 12 months
Job opportunities in Canada
To find a job after graduation, you must apply for a post-graduation work permit (PGWP). The permit will allow you to remain in Canada and work full-time after completing your studies. Receiving a PGWP is not conditioned by already having a job offer, and once you get it you can look for job opportunities anywhere in Canada, in any field of work.
Once you get a job in Canada and you start building experience, you also have an extra edge if you plan to apply to stay here permanently.
The work permit is valid between 8 months to 3 years based on the length of your program. The longer your study programme, the longer the PGWP is valid.
Canada has great work opportunities, most of them in larger cities. It will be easier if you have already acquired some experience by working part-time or volunteering as a student. Here are 5 popular websites for finding jobs in Canada:
Continue your studies in Canada
If you want to continue your studies in Canada, go for a Master’s, or PhD, for example, you may be eligible for a new study permit. First, of course, you need to apply and get accepted into a new programme at a designated learning institution (DLI). There are over 3,000 Canadian Master’s degrees listed on Studyportals and more than 5,000 Bachelor’s programmes in Canada to choose from.
It is easier to apply for a study permit while already in Canada. Here are the steps to follow to apply online:
- Ensure you have electronic copies of your documents and a valid credit or debit card.
- Read the instruction guide before you complete your application
- Prepare your answers for the online tool
- Know the fees you must pay. You’ll be asked to pay at the end of your application.
- Check your biometrics requirements.
- Create your online account or sign in
It only takes 3 weeks to process your Study Permit if you apply from within Canada, while a study permit extension takes 85 to 105 days (about 3 and a half months) to process.
Frequently asked questions
1. Do international students need a visa to study in Canada?
While there are some exceptions, international students will require a study permit, which is a type of visa you need to pursue a university degree in Canada.
2. Is studying in Canada worth it?
It is! Universities in Canada are renowned for their outstanding academic achievement, teaching, and research. Canada's higher education system has a strong emphasis on experiential learning and real-world application. Tuition fees are also reasonable compared to other English-speaking countries, and the multicultural experience is unmatched.
3. What is the cost of studying in Canada?
International students pay 36,000 CAD, on average, each year on tuition fees. However, this amount varies depending on where and what you study. Medical and MBA degrees are the most expensive, and you will pay lesser fees in regions like Newfoundland and Labrador regions. Living expenses such as accommodation, food, and transportation can also add to the overall cost.
4. How much money is required to study in Canada?
International students must prove that they have enough money to cover their tuition fees and living expenses for their studies in Canada. Students must show proof of funds of at least CAD 10,000 to CAD 15,000 per year.
5. Can I study in Canada without IELTS?
International students must provide proof of English (or French) language proficiency when they apply for a study permit. While IELTS is among the most common English language tests, there are alternatives to IELTS, such as the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL), the Canadian Academic English Language (CAEL) test, or PTE Academic. In some cases, students may be exempt from taking the tests.
6. What are the requirements to study in Canada?
To study in Canada as an international student, you must be accepted into a program at a Designated Learning Institution (DLI), obtain a valid study permit, prove you have sufficient funds to cover tuition and living expenses and meet language proficiency requirements.
7. What exams are required to study in Canada?
Each university and study programme manages its own admission procedures, so the required exams vary greatly. However, most institutions require international students to demonstrate proficiency in English or French during the application process, so you will have to pass such tests to study in Canada.
8. How to get permanent residency while studying in Canada?
International students who complete their studies in Canada may be eligible for permanent residency through one of the immigration programs, such as the Canadian Experience Class or the Provincial Nominee Program. You must meet certain criteria, such as language proficiency, work experience, and education credentials. It's important to consult a Canadian immigration lawyer or an immigration consultant for guidance on the best pathway for your situation.