Study in Canada- Guide for international students
Combining the great outdoors with great student cities, Canada holds its own among the world’s leading study destinations. It welcomes around 16 million tourists each year and is currently hosting over 300,000 international students.
Higher Education in Canada
There are over 90 universities in Canada, of which 17 are private. As is common elsewhere, Canadian universities offer three levels of degree: bachelor’s (usually lasting four years), master’s (requiring an additional year or two) and doctorate (usually an additional three years).
Canada also has around 150 colleges – also known as community colleges, technical colleges, regional colleges or CÉGEPs (in Québec) – which offer short courses and diplomas. In addition, the country has a long history of specialized career colleges, which seek to prepare students for specific vocations.
How to apply for graduate study in Canada
The application process varies depending on the province and the institution. You’ll need to research the entry requirements of the specific course you want to join, and apply directly to the university. You can apply to study in Canada from one year before the start date. You should apply by March at the latest for the September intake, although if you’re applying for a popular course, apply earlier than this to optimize your chances of success. There’s usually a second intake in January or February of each year.
There are two important requirements for international students applying to study in Canada: language proficiency and sufficient finances. Both English and French are spoken in Canada, with the latter being the official language throughout the Québec province, and Canadian universities offer courses in both tongues. If you’re not a native speaker, you may need to submit proof of proficiency in the language you intend to study in.
You will also need to show you have enough money to cover your living expenses throughout your studies. This is currently set at CA$10,000 (~US$7,470) for each year of your stay (CA$11,000/~US$8,210 if you’re applying to study in Québec) on top of your tuition fees.
Getting a Canadian Study Permit
You can study in Canada for up to six months without a visa, which means it’s relatively easy to spend a semester abroad there. To study in Canada for longer than six months, you’ll need to gain a Canadian study permit. This will be your visa for the duration of your stay. Depending on your nationality, you may also need to obtain a temporary residence permit, which can be processed at the same time as your study permit application. Apply through the Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) website well in advance of your departure date to ensure you receive the documentation in time, as it can take up to 10 weeks.
To apply for your study permit you’ll first need a letter of acceptance from a recognized higher education provider. For Québec you also need a certificate of acceptance (known as a CAQ) from the government before you can apply for a study permit. Next, you should obtain a Canadian student visa application package from the CIC website, your local visa office or the Canadian embassy or consulate in your home country.
You’ll be given a personal checklist code to submit your application online. To do so, you must create a MyCIC account, where you’ll fill in your details, pay your fees and upload the required documents. This includes showing you have a ticket home and a valid passport. Some applicants may also need to attend an interview at their local visa office, and those from certain countries may need to provide biometrics, a medical exam or a police report.
On approval you’ll be sent a letter of introduction, while students from countries which require an Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA) and/or a temporary residence visa will be issued these if required. Bring these along with your passport, proof of your finances and your letter of acceptance to the border control agency in Canada, where you will receive your study permit.
Tuition fees and living expenses
As is common in many countries, tuition fees in Canada are higher for international students than domestic students. Rates vary depending on the province, institution and course. Graduate programs could cost anywhere between CA$6,500 (~US$4,860) and CA$33,000 (~US$24,680) per year.
Your living expenses, including accommodation, are likely to be approximately CA$10,000-15,000 per year (~US$7,480 -11,220). You’ll need to include compulsory health insurance in your budget, along with the usual items – food, travel, course supplies, and of course social, sports and cultural activities.
Post- graduation work in Canada
If you want to stay in Canada once your studies have finished, you’ll need to apply for a post-graduation work permit, allowing you to stay for up to three years after graduation. The country is reporting high demand for skilled graduates across a diverse range of sectors, including engineering, finance, graphic design, human resources, information technology, healthcare and natural sciences.
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