Study in Canada

Why study in Canada?

  • Canada spends more on education than any other G8 country, which ensures you'll be getting a high quality education
  • Not only is Canada a great place to live - with a lot of cultural diversity, high life expectancy and low crime rates - but Canadian degrees are globally recognised as being comparative to the US and the Commonwealth countries in terms of academic excellence
  • While the quality of education and living standards are among the higest in the world, the cost of living and tuition fees are generally lower than in most other countries
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Canada's Education System

You can study almost anything in Canada; from agriculture to education, journalism to psychology, maths or medicine - it's likely you'll be able to find a course to suit you.

Canada has no one central education system, instead each province/state controls it's own. There are several types of qualification available throughout Canada:

Canada education quote
  • Certificate: One year in length
  • Diploma: One or two years in length
  • Advanced diploma: Three years of study which can lead to a Bachelors degree
  • Bachelors degree: Undergraduate degree awarded after four years of study
  • Postgraduate diploma/certificate: Bachelors degree is required and it involves 12 - 17 weeks of full-time opportunities to gain practical experience alongside theoretical studies, this can lead to a Masters
  • Masters degree: Takes two years and can be completed after either a three or four years Bachelors or a Postgraduate diploma from Canada
  • Doctorate/PhD: Takes four - seven years and is a research-based qualification taken after a Masters degree

A degree from a Canadian university aims to provide critical thinking skills, adaptability to emerging technology and the seeking of solutions through research. Types of university differ, from small, liberal arts colleges, to larger research-based institutions, so you'll be able to find a university and a degree to suit you.

The academic year in Canadian universities is, in some ways, similar to the UK; the first semester start in September and the second in January. The year usually ends in May. As week as this, some universities now offer summer programs which start in May.

However, while the year may have a similar structure, the Canadian grading system is very different. Students take roughly 30 credits of modules every year, and each module is worth 3 or 6 credits. For each module, you are marked on a scale of 0 - 4 or 0 - 9. All these scores are then weighted by how many credits it's worth and the average score for the year is calculated - this is your grade point average (GPA). The higher the number, the better you've done.

Canadian teaching in universities involves class lectures, where it is encouraged for students to respectfully debate and challenge their teachers ideas. Relationships with lecturers are often fairly informal and it's normal to meet outside of classes to discuss projects and work. Outside of lectures, students are encouraged to study independently, completing reading and writing assignments alongside their lectures.

Find out about applying to university in Canada

How much will it cost?

Tuition fees

International students in Canada

Tuition fees in Canada vary depending on the province it's in, the university you're studying at, and the course you want to apply for. Generally, Quebec tends to be the cheapest area, with somewhere like Ontario being more expensive.

For an undergraduate degree you'll probably pay between C$5,000 and C$28,409 (£2,693- £15,300) per year.

Living expenses

The cost of living expenses in Canada will differ greatly depending on what region you're in, Toronto, for example, is one of the most expensive places. Here's a rough idea of what you could expect to spend in a typical academic year:

  • Accommodation: C$3000 - $9000 (£1616-£4847)
  • Food: C$1,800-$2400(£969-£1293)
  • Transport: C$700- $900 (£377-£485)
  • Health Insurance: C$300-$500 (£162-£269)
  • Books and study materials: C$1,000 (£539)
  • Social activities/Other: C$1,800 (£969)
Find out about student Visas and what you need to study in Canada


The currency in Canada is the Canadian Dollar, depicted by C$. The current exchange rate is $1 : £0.54

Exchange rates can change quickly and, while this value is correct at the time of writing, it's worth checking again before you travel.

Canada international student stats

Financial assistance

There are a number of scholarships, grants and bursaries available for international students in Canada - they provide funds for students which do not have to be paid back. While it is possible to receive these, funding is limited - therefore highly competitive.

Some of this funding comes directly from the universities but there are other sources available.

You can search for the types of financial assistance available to international students here. Or you can find out more about sources of funding.

Working in Canada

As an international student in Canada you can either work on or off campus but different rules apply.

To work off campus you need a work permit which you can apply for as long as you are enrolled in a Canadian university as a full-time student. Once you have this you are allowed to work up to 20 hours per week during term time and full time during breaks.

To work on campus however, you don't need a work permit. You must have a valid study permit and be registered as a full-time student at a public institution, or at a private institution, if at least 50% of your financing is from government grants.

Living in Canada

According to the United Nations, Canada has been ranked number 8 in the top ten places to live 2014 - having managed to stay in the top ten for the majority of two decades. This reflects Canada's excellent education system, high life expectancy, universal health care system, and very low crime rates - making it a safe and pleasant country to live in.

In general, Canadians are very encouraging of multicultural diversity, and very welcoming of people from all cultures. This has resulted in a society where almost all of the world's ethnic groups are represented in Canada, giving you the opportunity to meet some really interesting people and learn loads about a variety of cultures.

Canada student quote

Campus activities

Universities in Canada provide many more resources than just their higher education courses. Many offer counselling services, study and career planning workshops, and services for students with physical, sensory or learning difficulties.

Most universities offer some sort of service to help international students settle in. In some cases, this is in the form of and International Student Service office (ISS) or something similar; here the university will support international students, provide peer support programs and help organise social events to help you meet new people who might be in the same situation as you.

Plus, a lot of Canadian universities organise social, academic and sports events which you can get involved in - there may also be volunteering opportunities to help out an organisation or charity. These sorts of clubs and events are a great way to meet new people and even learn new skills.

Find out about student accommodation in Canada

Where to study?

University in Canada

With some incredible, world class universities to choose from, deciding where to study in Canada could be a difficult choice. In 2014, 5 Canadian universities featured in the QS World Ranking's top 100: University of Toronto at 20, McGill University at 21, University of British Columbia at 43, Université de Montréal at 83, and University of Alberta at 84. A complete list of universities is featured here, their world ranking, where appropriate, is noted in brackets: