Studying in Canada

Studying in Canada

Each province and territory in Canada has responsibility for its post-secondary education and sets policies and procedures that govern the higher education institutions.

The structure of postgraduate study is the same as in the UK with first degrees, masters and doctorate-level qualifications. There are a variety of institutions which offer these courses of study including universities, university colleges, institutes of technology and specialised institutes.

A list of universities and institutions can be found at the Canadian Information Centre for International Credentials (CICIC). More than half of the universities in Canada are in the provinces of Ontario and Quebec.

You can check out how Canadian universities rank in comparison to other international universities at Top Universities.

What courses can you study?

Postgraduate courses are offered in English and French. Quebec has the majority of French-language institutions but many other provinces have at least one institution that teaches in French. English-language universities are available throughout Canada.

The two main types of postgraduate study are masters and doctorate. A masters degree typically takes two years to complete while a doctorate requires a minimum of three years of study and research. Courses are available in a wide range of subjects.

Many universities offer full and part-time courses as well as distance learning. Some courses may have work-study components where you're employed off-campus in an area that relates to your subject.

How do you apply for postgraduate study?

As in the UK, a good first degree is the typical requirement to get onto a masters programme. Those programmes with a professional focus may also require some work experience in the relevant field. For a doctoral programme, a high level of achievement at masters level is typically needed.

You will also need to show evidence of your proficiency in either English or French to be able to study in that language.

In most institutions the academic year runs from September to April and is divided into two semesters. You should apply as early as possible in the year before you wish to start studying. Application deadlines vary between institutions and you should contact them for details.

Applications are made directly to the universities mostly through an online system. You are likely to be asked for a transcript of your university results, letters of recommendation from professors and a letter of motivation that describes your academic and career objectives. Entry requirements differ with each course and institution so it's best to check directly with the universities.

Fees and scholarships

Tuition fees vary depending on the type of programme, university and province and international students have to pay more than Canadian citizens. However, fees in Canada tend to be lower than other large countries such as Australia, New Zealand and the US.

Some institutions may offer on-campus accommodation to postgraduate students which may be cheaper than living off campus.

There is a useful online tool which helps to calculate the cost of your studies based on your selected course available at Education in Canada: Step 1-2-3.

Scholarships are available to international students and details of the various awards on offer can be found at Government of Canada: International Scholarships. Individual institutions may also offer their own scholarships or financial support and you should get in touch with them directly to find out more information.

Are there any exchange programmes?

Canada does not have a centralised exchange programme but exchanges during studies are extremely common and usually arranged through a bilateral agreement between universities. Check with your university to see if they have arrangements with any institutions in Canada.

Will your qualifications be recognised in the UK?

Check with the university or higher education institution where you are hoping to study to see if their qualification is recognised or has an equivalent in the UK.

Do you need a visa to study in Canada?

British citizens who wish to study in Canada for longer than six months must get a study permit before entering the country. You will need to have been accepted onto a course before you apply for the permit and must provide your acceptance letter along with proof that you have enough funds to cover your tuition fees, living expenses and return fare.

You may also need to show that you don't have a criminal record and may be required to complete a medical examination. Certain other requirements have to be met if you're planning to study in Quebec.

International students can get more information on the type of permit you need, how you apply for it and any additional requirements at Education in Canada: Step 1-2-3.

Written by AGCAS editors, April 2016