Study in Canada

Detailed Guide About Studying and Living in Canada

Location : Canada is closest neighbor of USA

Area : 9,984,670 square kilometers

Population : 32,805,04s

Main Cities : Ottawa, Toronto, Calgary ,Halifax, Montreal

Industries : Telecommunications/Biotechnology/Farming/Mining

Why Canada?

The combination of Canada’s natural environment and its reputation for high-quality education are just a few of the things that have made Canada an ideal destination and attracted tens of thousands of foreign students to Canada every year. Because of higher standard of living in Canada, in the last decade, Canada has repeatedly been chosen by UN as one of the best places to live in the world. The reasons listed included: high education enrollment levels; high-quality, low cost education; universal healthcare system; an uncompromising respect for fundamental rights and human dignity; clean and safe cities; and cosmopolitan, multi-cultural ethnic cities with many recreational amenities.


Part of the Canadian mainland and most of the islands near the Artic region fall within the Frigid Zone; the remainder of the country lies in the northern half of the North Temperate Zone. As a consequence, general climatic conditions range from the extreme cold characteristic of the Arctic regions to the moderate temperatures of more southerly latitudes. The Canadian climate is thus marked by wide regional variations.


Canada’s culture bears a multidimensional character with streaks from French, British and American culture deeply embedded into it. Canadians are polite and courteous to a fault; they are levelheaded thinkers and love peace. A Canadian would prefer to discuss matters than argue or fight over the same. The best trait that Canadians are endowed with is their ability to accept, adapt to and assimilate every culture into their own. It is a country of immigrants and that is its culture. In Canada, just about every language in the world is spoken. They have television channels and newspapers devoted to any cultural group that has a large enough market to support them.


Canada is a federation with a parliamentary system of government. The powers and responsibilities are divided between the federal government and the 10 provincial governments. These governments are elected by the citizens of Canada. The federal government is responsible fore services such as defense, foreign policy, banking, criminal law, immigration and postal laws. The provincial governments are responsible for providing health, education, transportation services including social assistance. The local municipality in each province is responsible for providing services related to water, fire protection and recreation. The three-tiered government system ensures the availability of all the basic amenities making Canada one of the best places in the world to live in.


Canada also has one of the fastest growing economies of the world. In 1998, Canada’s gross domestic product (GDP) was an estimated $688.3 billion up from $643 billion in 1997.Canada ranks among the 10 leading manufacturing nations, and has also experienced tremendous growth in the high technology and services industries. Other important manufacturing sectors include food and beverages, paper and allied products, primary metals, fabricated metals, petrochemicals and chemicals.

Canada has world wide reputation as quality education provider. Canadian degrees and diplomas are recognized throughout the world. Canadian work experience is highly desirable by multi-national companies who actively recruit on Canadian campuses. Students coming to Canada have over 90 degree granting universities, 175 community colleges, several private language schools and many corporate training facilities to choose from. The Canadian education system includes strong student support services, small classes and active campus communities. Besides this, students going to Canada experience a secure, peaceful, multi-cultural environment in cities and towns with people who are friendly and interested in learning about other cultures.

The provinces and the territories in Canada exercise complete jurisdiction over the education system in Canada. There is no central education system. In keeping with the national commitment to education, public education in Canada is free up to and including secondary school in all the provinces. At the post-secondary level, institutions are divided into community colleges and universities.

Post secondary education is offered by four types of educational institutions:

  • Universities
  • University Colleges
  • Community Colleges/Technical Institutes
  • Career Colleges

Universities in Canada are largely public funded, and, as a result, offer consistently high quality education at lower tuition rates for international students than their counterparts in competing countries. They offer a broad range of courses and degrees from undergraduate to doctorate and also certificate and professional degrees.

University Colleges

As a part of the Canadian university system, university colleges offer students a choice degree programmes or diplomas and certificates. University colleges are distinguished by their strong student support services, small classes and strong campus environments. They also offer combined degree/diploma programmes and university transfer programmes.

Community Colleges and Technical Institutes

They typically have a more vocational-related curricula, with small classes, off-campus course offerings, a greater ratio of laboratory space to class room space, and an interactive teaching style. These institutes have the primary function of responding to the training needs of business, industry, and public service sectors. Most colleges and technical institutes offer diplomas and certificates rather than degrees, however, more and more now grant degrees and applied degrees.

Technical/ Career College

This is a privately owned and operated school with the main objective of preparing students for the job market after a short period of instruction. The emphasis at career colleges is on practical skills over a broad range of programmes. They specialize in such areas as business, computers, and secretarial skills. Although privately owned, these institutes are provincially approved and regulated, ensuring that programmes standards and quality are maintained.

The academic year usually starts in September and ends in May, and is normally divided into two semesters. Some institutes operate on a semester or trimester system and admit students in January and/or May as well as September. Many institutes offer a limited number of courses and special programmes during the summer session.

In Canada a certificate programme is usually one year in duration while Diploma programmes are of two-year duration. Undergraduate / bachelors degrees involve four years of full time study while graduate / postgraduate study involves two years. A research qualification like Ph. D. will demand 4 – 7 years of study. Post-doctoral programmes are much more specialized, research oriented programmes.

Besides this, tuition fees for international students in Canada are much lower than in other countries. Canada spends more per capita on education than any other country in the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). It is a world leader in software development, engineering, bio technology, mining technology, telecommunication and environmental industries. For all this, the cost of living in Canada is remarkably low!

Application to a university or course should always begin with the right career counseling. The counselorcan assist you in selecting a career option keeping in consideration of your aptitude, academic background and future plans. Once a decision regarding the course is made, the counselor can research the appropriate university that offers the programme. All students are encouraged to apply to at least three universities from the list recommended by the counselor. It is then time to launch the application.

Appplication Procedure for Graduate Courses

1. Check out the eligibility criterion prescribed by the university you are applying to.

Most schools require qualifications comparable to a Canadian Bachelor’s (Honours) degree (Four Year Degree Program). That means a minimum of 16 years of formal education. In the Indian context, it implies qualifying in a professional four-year degree like engineering or other such courses. For Doctorate programs, most universities require a Master’s degree in that subject. In a few exceptional cases like a good undergraduate engineering degree, they may offer a direct admission to a Doctorate course.

The following is a summary of the eligibility criterion set up by most of the universities. However, requirements in individual cases may differ.

Programs/Level of study

Graduate/Post-Graduate level


4 yr Bachelors degree, 70% aver.
2-3 years full time work experience.
GMAT : 580-600 min
TOEFL : 237-250 min

Computer Science

4 yr Bachelors degree, 70% aver. preferably in Computer Science
TOEFL : 237-250 min.
Some universities will require GRE Score (1200-1500)


4 yr Bachelors in Engineering, 70% over.
TOEFL :237-250 min
Some universities will require GRE score (1200-1500)

Fine Arts

4 yr Bachelors in Fine Arts
TOEFL : 237-250 min.


4 yr Bachelors in Mass Communications Portfolio
TOEFL : 250 min.
Work experience is an added advantageSome institutions may require written samples or copies of published work.

If you have completed a three-year degree program in India, the advisable plan of action to maximize eligibility for Canadian graduate schools is to apply for a Post Graduate degree here in India. A one-year university affiliated program will make up for the fourth year of a Canadian Undergraduate degree.


  • Professional programs like the CA, ICWA, part time diplomas from a university such as those in management, communication may or may not be accepted, though most MBA programs now accept the Indian CA qualification in lieu of the fourth year graduation.
  • Independent certificate courses offered by private institutions like Aptech, NIIT, etc. will most likely not be accepted. The decision is based on each university’s individual evaluation.
  • One-year education of a two-year degree course (like M.Tech., M.A. etc.) may not be accepted by most schools. The full course has to be completed for qualification, unless there is a recognized university examination at the end of one year.
  • No standardized policy exists regarding the acceptance of such programs. Some universities may accept the three-year Indian Graduation Degree for a few programs. Confirmation can only be obtained by either writing directly or formally applying to the universities concerned

2. Fill up the Application Forms

Inquiries for application forms must be sent at least 15 to 18 months before the proposed date of admission. There are two ways to get application forms – via e-mail or by downloading from the university website.

3. Attach Academic Records

Your past academic record is one of the most important deciding factors in securing admission to a college abroad. Most schools require you to have a reasonably good academic record especially for programs and courses offering a master’s or doctoral degree. Each university has its own minimum requirement for its programs, which are flexible depending on the candidate’s profile.

Universities in Canada have their own marking and evaluation systems, which are considerably different from the Indian system. It is advisable not to convert your marks in the Indian system of grading to the Canadian Grade Point Average system or any other system since the conversion may not be accurate. You may attach an explanatory note from your college to indicate your rank in your class and/or university. The letter should also indicate your place as compared to the class and the university average and the number of students in the class and the number of colleges and students in the university. You may also provide any other information or documents that you feel may help you in the admission process.

Students applying for Graduate courses (MBA, MS etc) are required to submit an official transcript (mark-sheets) from each college or university that they have attended after secondary school with complete details of the subjects/credits involved (for each year) and other details like correspondence courses, diplomas etc. Most universities ask for the transcript (mark-sheets) to be sealed in an envelope and signed and attested across the seal by the registrar. This procedure is to be done for each and every college that you have attended. Some universities may ask for more than one copy of the transcript.

If the transcripts are in a language other than English, then they must be translated into English only by the issuing authority or university otherwise it may not be accepted.

4. Attach score sheets of Standardized Tests

Many Courses and Universities in Canada require you to take one of the standardized tests like GRE, GMAT along with English Proficiency tests like TOEFL, TWE and IELTS.

TOEFL: This test is mandatory for International students applying to a Graduate course or University in Canada. The minimum score required by most universities for admission is 570 (Paper-based test) and 230 (Computer-based test).


  • Many universities and colleges also accept IELTS scores.
  • GMAT scores are required for most management courses
  • A candidate will have to appear for GRE while seeking admission in any
  • Graduate Course in any field other than Management.

5. Mention in detail any relevant work experience

A number of professional and vocational courses require relevant work experience. For instance, many MBAs or master’s courses in information studies require at least a couple of years’ work experience. Most Canadian universities are pretty strict about this.

A detailed Résumé is an important part of your application. It should include all information of professional work experience along with the details like positions held, achievements and range of work.

6. Attach two Letters of Recommendation

Letters of reference or recommendation letters play a very important part in your admission especially in courses that earn you a master’s or doctoral degree. A recommendation letter is a signed statement from a person who knows you well professionally or has taught you in a subject that is related to the course you are applying to. It should list your positive and negative qualities, strengths and other such information. Many universities have their own format and questions that have to be answered by the person who is giving the letter of recommendation on your behalf.

Note : Even if not mentioned, it is advisable to include at least two letters of recommendation in your applications as they increase your chances of getting admissions.

7. Write a Statement of Purpose (SOP)

The personal essays, and/or statement of purpose, play a very important role in the process of evaluating your application for both admission as well as financial aid because it gives the faculty assessing your application their most significant impression of you as an individual. This section is the key to distinguish your application from other suitable candidates and a chance to market yourself.

A personal statement should include your reasons for choosing a particular course, the suitability of your education and experience for the chosen course, your personal interests and career goals.

Some courses like Business school courses will have their own essay questions and format. Others may ask for a résumé or reasons for applying to that particular course

Application Procedure for Undergraduate Programmes

1. Check out the eligibility criterion prescribed by the university you are applying to.

Most universities in states other than Ontario and Quebec require a minimum of 12 years of formal education for admission to Bachelor degree courses.

Universities of Ontario and Quebec require a minimum of 13 years of secondary school education. This implies 12 years of schooling and one year of college education in India, or 12 years of schooling in India and one year of high school in Canada. If your academic credentials are very impressive, some universities may admit you in their Bachelor degree programs with 12 years of education.

There are no centralized Canada wide entrance tests, each institute sets its own admission standards and assesses the qualifications of each applicant individually. The general criteria is mentioned below. However, requirements for individual applications may vary.

Programs/Level of study

Undergraduate/Bachelors level


70% in 12th grade
TOEFL : 237-250 min.
12th grade level Maths

Computer Science

70% in 12th grade
TOEFL : 237-250 min.
12th grade level Maths


70% in 12th grade
TOEFL : 237-250 min.
12th grade level Maths (algebra, calculus, geometry), Physics, Chemistry, & English

Fine Arts

Min. 70% in 12th grade
TOEFL : 237-250 min.
Portfolio/audition or documentary evidence of creative skills

Media/ Communications

70% in 12th grade
TOEFL : 237-250 min.

Programs/Level of study



Flexible admission
TOEFL : 213 min.

Computer Science

Flexible admission
TOEFL : 213 min.
12th grade level Maths


Flexible admission
TOEFL : 237-250 min.
12th grade level Maths

Fine Arts Flexible admission

Flexible admission
TOEFL : 213 min.

Media/ Communications

Flexible admission
TOEFL : 213 min.
Proficiency in keyboarding and/or Computer Studies.

2.Fill up the application form and submit it to the university concerned with the application fee ($ 50 – $ 150)

3. Attach the following documents

  • Secondary School Reports / Transcripts
  • Standardized test reports (TOEFL / IELTS)
  • Letters of Recommendation
  • Statement of Purpose / Personal Essays

All international students are required not only to obtain a Student Authorization and Visa before going to Canada for studies but also meet the requirements of the Canadian Immigration Act and Regulations. The applicant must allow at least two months time for the visa to be processed.

Applying for the Visa

To apply for a student visa a candidate needs to present the following documents:

  • Completed Student Application form.
  • Completed Supplementary Questionnaire for students and postdoctoral researchers.
  • Official letter of acceptance from Canadian university, college or Technical Institute.
  • Certificate of Acceptance from the province of Quebec (Only if you plan to study in province of Quebec)
  • TOEFL scores if applicable (For information on TOEFL, click here)
  • Passport, valid for at least one year from the planned date of entry to Canada, plus valid passports of any accompanying dependants.
  • Bank Draft for the applicable visa processing fees.
  • Proof of Funds – Every applicant is required to demonstrate that they have sufficient financial resources available to them to pay tuition fees, maintain him/herself and dependants who go to Canada, and to pay return transportation costs without engaging in employment in Canada. In general, a student without an accompanying dependent may be required to demonstrate that he/she has at least Canadian $ 10, 000 plus the cost of tuition. However, this basic amount of $ 10, 000 depends upon the local cost of living. If the cost of living in the are the student is going to is high, then he/she may be required to show more funds.

The complete application kit should be submitted to the immigration section of the Canadian High commission. All the documents submitted, must be either original or photocopies notarized and witnessed by a notary public or a magistrate or the Canadian Immigration Officer, and must be accompanied by a duplicate copy.


An applicant may be required to present himself / herself for an interview with a Canadian Visa Officer. In this case the applicant will be apprised of the time and place for the interview in writing.

Medical Examination

Each applicant and his accompanying dependent is required to undergo a medical test upon issuance of medical instructions from the Canadian High Commission. If the student and accompanying dependants are found to be in good health and if there are no other concerns with the application, the Visa and Student Authorization will be issued.

For all that Canada has to offer, the cost of living in Canada is comparatively low, lower than in many developed countries.

Cost of living in Canada

The cost of living in Canada is moderate, compared with other countries. Some prices of typical goods and services are as follows:

  • One month’s lodging, one-bedroom apartment: $400
  • Bus fare, one way: $1.50
  • Local telephone call: $0.25
  • Modest restaurant meal: lunch $7/dinner $14
  • Movie: $7

Canadian winters are chilly, an adequate warm clothing budget is essential. Budget around $250 – $350 US for proper winter wardrobe.

You will need approximately $11,000 Canadian dollars to cover your expenses for an academic year. This is inclusive of your tuition and living expenses but exclusive of your air-fare. Please remember that this figure is an average only. Actual expenses may vary depending on the region of the country you live in, the tuition fees at the university you attend and your field of specialization.

Employment Opportunities

Employment opportunities for international students are limited. You should not plan on earning substantial money from a part-time job to help pay for your studies.

On campus: Though international students are allowed to work on the campus of any publicly-funded, degree granting institution, these jobs are often difficult to obtain and do not provide sufficient funds to sustain education costs.

Practical Training: In addition, there may be opportunities for practical training which entail a period of authorized employment, designed to allow foreign students to have professional work experience related to their field of study.


Each institute has its own policy for housing and may offer a range of options for single and married students. Most common types of accommodations are:

School-Provided Homestays: A homestay usually consists of a Canadian family hosting a student in their home while the student attends classes in Canada. This includes meals as well as a private, furnished room. (Cost: CDN $ 400 – $ 800 per month)

School-Provided Residence/Dormitory: Many schools have accommodation conveniently located on or near their campuses. There is usually an option of either shared or private room and dormitories.(Cost: CDN $ 3000 – $ 7500 per year)

Off Campus Housing: Usually many students share or rent apartments to save costs. Listings of available apartments or homes are published weekly in local newspapers. Rents vary greatly according to the location and time of year(Cost: CDN $ 250 – $ 700 per month)

Health Insurance

This is another very important criteria to take care of while doing financial planning. Most Canadian Institutes require that all students including international students be covered by an insurance policy that will protect them against medical, hospital bills if they get sick or are injured while studying at the college, as health care is very expensive. Some provinces like Alberta, British Columbia and Saskatchewan cover international students under their provincial health care plans. Students studying in other provinces must arrange for private medical coverage through private insurance companies, which approximately costs about CDN $ 35 per month.

Cultural Events

Another advantage that Canadians enjoy is a large immigrant population (in fact, everyone in Canada, except aboriginal Canadians is an immigrant or descended from immigrants). Besides the mixture of British, American and French cultures, Canada has large Chinese, East Indian, Korean, Italian, African and Middle Eastern populations. Canadians of all kinds gather to help celebrate and take part in events that highlight Canada’s multicultural society. Participation in these events can be a nice opportunity to socialize with the local population.

Commuting and Public Transit

One can drive, carpool or bike, walk or take public transportation. Generally, public transit is run by the municipality, city, or town. In larger cities with a lot of commuters, there may also be provincially-run transit such as the GO trains and buses in the Toronto area.

In most towns and cities, public transit means buses. Some cities also operate ferries, streetcars, and/or a metro, subway (underground) or elevated train system.

Is health insurance mandatory requirement?

You will have to arrange for medical coverage before you arrive in Canada. Medical coverage varies from province to province and sometimes from university to university within each province. International students planning to study in Canada are often required to arrange for private medical coverage through private insurance companies.

What are the tuition fees?

Tuition fees for international students vary from province to province and depend on your faculty of choice. You must also budget for personal item like books, instruments, student activity fees, food, housing, travel/transportation, health care, clothing, laundry and entertainment.

What are the rules and regulations for working off Campus in Canada?

Off-campus work is only available to full-time students studying in provinces that have signed agreements with CIC. These provinces are:

Manitoba , New Brunswick , Quebec (The census metropolitan areas of Montréal and Québec are currently excluded. The agreement will soon be amended to include them.)

CIC is negotiating agreements with interested provinces and territories to make the option of off-campus work more widely available. As new agreements are signed, more provinces and territories will be added to the list. The provinces and territories will then sign agreements with the institutions interested in participating.

How a foreign student can apply for work permit to work off campus ?

To work off-campus, you must apply for a work permit. Do not begin to work off-campus until you have received your work permit. The work permit allows you to work up to 20 hours a week during regular academic sessions (15 hours a week in Quebec), and up to 40 hours a week during regular breaks (e.g., winter or summer holidays and spring break).

To be eligible for an off-campus work permit, you must:

  • have a valid study permit;
  • be studying in a province or territory that has an agreement with CIC;
  • be a full-time student at a participating public post-secondary institution that has an agreement with one of those provinces or territories;
  • have been a full-time student for at least one year (two consecutive terms) at one of those institutions;
  • be in good standing at your institution;
  • sign a consent form that allows CIC, the institution and the province to share your personal information;
  • complete a work permit application provided by your institution; and
  • include with your work permit application an official receipt to show you have paid the application processing fee of $150.

What are the accommodation facilities like in Canada?

Most universities offer the option to live on-campus either in residences designated for international students or in residences generally available to all students on campus. However, acceptance at a Canadian school does not ensure accommodation in a residence.

What is TA (teaching assistantship) / RA (Research assistantship) means?

Teaching assistants assist a professor by teaching an undergraduate class or checking exam papers. They are paid for this job, which covers most of their expenses while at the university. Research fellowship/assistantship is an award that allows you to work in the capacity of an assistant to a professor on the research project assigned to him.

What is the difference between a University and a College?

Universities are educational institutions attended after at least 12 years of school, or after secondary school, for studies leading to a degree and research. All 93-member universities of AUCC offer three or four-year bachelor degree programs; most offer one to two year master’s degrees and a number also offer doctoral or PhD programs. Some universities are called colleges, and a few are called institutes, university colleges, or schools. Community colleges are two-year institutions that offer technical or vocational courses, or courses for transfer to a university, leading to a certificate or diploma. Community colleges do not generally offer degree programs.