If you’re an international student interested in studying in Canada, there are some important things you need to know and steps to follow. The following step-by-step guide will give you ALL the information you need from searching your course, to applying to Canadian universities, and through your visa application and travel procedures. Follow this “Study in Canada” guide to successfully begin your journey in Canada.
Step 1: Choose a university.
Choosing a university is a critical first step for students considering study in Canada. In Canada, the country is split into different regions. Each region, not only has its education system, but its own official language. For example, English is the official language in Ontario, while French is the official one in Quebec.
Because of this, the teaching language of Canadian universities may vary depending on location. You should be aware of the teaching language when you decide your university. This step can be a time-consuming, and like we said before, this is the most critical part in your journey.
Explore the full list of Canada universities’ websites on universitystudy.ca. It is a national organization representing 97 public and private not-for-profit universities and university degree-level colleges in Canada.
Step 2: Choose your course and check your eligibility.
Once you have made your own list of universities, It’s time to choose your course. There’s a wide diversity of courses in each university, and it’s important to pick a program that’s right for you.
Unlike some countries like Sweden or Finland where students’ applications are centralized on one website regardless of their university and program, in Canada, each university handles the applications itself. This simply means that each Canadian university has its application portal, deadlines, required documents, etc…
This information (available courses, deadlines, application portal, required documents…) can easily be found on the university’s website. As an international student, you must meet some basic requirements, which may vary between degree programs.
Educational background information and language proficiency are required for all students. If a student is applying for a master’s degree, they must have completed a bachelor’s degree. Likewise, doctoral applicants must complete master’s degree programs.
Step 3: Take a language proficiency test.
In Canada, many universities will require you to upload a language proficiency test when applying for any degree program. Before starting your application, it’s crucial to take these tests in your home country.
The language required depends on the university and its teaching language. Students will need to be proficient in either English or French, depending on the university. If your native language is the same as teaching, you won’t be asked for such a test to study in Canada.
Step 4: Apply for your chosen course(s).
Once you have decided a university, you will have to apply for the appropriate program. Since the deadline for many universities is a year before the student’s start date, it’s important for international students to apply early. Each university will have different rules about how to apply, so spend some time reading those expectations before filling out your applications.
While specific expectations may vary between universities, most students will need the following for the application process:
- Identifying documents such as birth certificate, marriage certificate (if applicable), and passport.
- Educational documents such as school transcripts and diplomas.
- Results from a language proficiency test.
- A filled-out university application.
- A non-refundable application fee, which typically costs between $100 to $250.
It’s important to check the application requirements for your program of choice. Since each program has its own requirements, the list above may not cover your intended program’s requirements.
Step 5: Accepted? Apply for a study permit.
International students must apply for study permits before they travel to study In Canada. To apply for a study permit, students must have an acceptance letter from a university on the DLI list (Designated Learning Institution). A DLI university is an institution approved by a provincial or territorial government in Canada to host international students. If the acceptance letter is not from one of these schools, the application for a study permit will be rejected.
You must complete the application for your study permit before you travel to Canada. A study permit is not the same as a visa. International students will need either a visitor visa or an electronic travel authorization to enter the country.
Study permits are issued to cover the length of the study program, plus an additional 90 days. These 90 days are added to allow students to either prepare to leave Canada or apply for the necessary visas required to extend their stay after graduation.
Step 6: Apply for scholarship (optional).
Students can apply for scholarships to help cover the cost of your study in Canada. If you’re looking for scholarship opportunities, here is a list of scholarship in Canada.
For some scholarships, you will be automatically considered. They are called entrance scholarships. For some others, you have to apply for them. Check your university’s “financial aid” page on its website for more information about what it offers as scholarship.
Step 7: Prepare for your travel.
Preparing for long-time travel will require a lot of planning. The following are a few guidelines to help you prepare for university life in Canada:
- Make sure your passport won’t expire during your college studies by getting an updated one.
- Apply for your study permit, travel visa, and work visa (if applicable).
- Explore and discover transportation in Canada.
- Secure copies of important documents, such as medical records and identification.
- Use the ArriveCan mobile app to update mandatory travel information required for your entry into Canada.
- Make financial plans. Some banks (like Scotiobank) give you the opportunity to open an international account online before you arrive to Canada. You can make transfers into it from your home country.
- Finalize your housing arrangements, whether you plan to stay on campus or find a nearby apartment.
In addition to managing the details listed above, take time to learn all you can about on-campus and off-campus life at your future university and region. This will help ease your transition as an international student. Your university’s admissions and student life departments are a great resource to answer any questions you may have.
Step 8: Arriving in Canada.
There are several necessary things you need to take care of when you first arrive in Canada. Those things include:
- Buy a SIM card for your phone.
- Apply for medical insurances. Do it as fast as you can! This is so important, you cannot predict when you are going to feel unwell. Being ill and away from home for the first time can be very stressful. Most of Canada universities offer health insurance packages to international students.
- Apply for a Social Insurance Number.
- Obtain your Port of Entry Introduction Letter.
Make sure you have all of your essential documentation in order, since this will help provide a smooth entry into Canada.
Step 9: Your first day in the university.
As an international student, you should take full advantage of all student life has to offer. Attend all classes, introduce yourself to other students, and immerse yourself in the university experience. This will help you ensure your success as a college student. Canada is a very safe and tolerant country. There were roughly 1 254 violent crimes reported per 100 000 residents in Canada in 2020. Study in Canada will be a life-changing experience for you.
Step 10: Working while studying (optional).
International students may work part-time while attending a university. Students can apply for on-campus or off-campus employment. If you intend to work during while studying, it’s important to apply for the appropriate work visa.
Minimum wage varies by province. Student pay will depend on the minimum wage in the area and the specific skills required for a position.
General Step : Keep learning about life in Canada before and after your arrival.
Canada isn’t only your university or the daily road you will take from home to your university. Canada is bigger, wider, and much more than that. For an international student, you have a lot on your plate.
“Culture shock” is a term that often refers to how international students feel when experiencing a different culture for the first time. All international students can expect to experience some amount of culture shock in their first few months abroad. This is why you need to start learning about Canadian culture BEFORE you leave home. This is a must if you are coming from a third country.
If you find yourself unsure of how something works in Canada, don’t be afraid to ask questions. Your university’s officials and local students are typically open to sharing their insight to help smooth your transition.
It may help to find a group of international students, since they are best able to understand your exact situation. Older international students may be able to provide you with tips to help make your university experience great.