About the Higher Education System in Canada

Canada has a large selection of universities and university colleges located in both urban and rural settings in every region of the country. Degrees from Canadian universities are considered to be equivalent to those from American or European universities. Most Canadian universities are publicly funded meaning that they often work out more cost-effective than American options.

Higher education in Canada is organised province by province, meaning that there can be differences between universities. Quebec has a quite different system of higher education to all other provinces.

Canadian universities vary in size from over 35,000 to less than 1,000. In addition, most universities have a large number of part-time or continuing education students. They offer a broad range of courses and a full range of degrees from undergraduate to doctorates, and can also offer certificates and professional degrees. Fees for universities differ depending on the province, institution and program of study.

The first year at a Canadian university tends to follow the US system of higher education. As a result you may find that you take a wide range of modules in your first year before selecting the subject you will study in most depth.

The university year usually runs from September to May. Some universities are on a semester or trimester system, with all courses available even in the summer.  

How do I apply to a Canadian University?

As Canada has two official languages - English and French - an international student can take a degree either at an English language or French language institution. Some universities offer instruction in both languages. However, students do not have to be fluent in both languages to attend a Canadian university. If you are interested in studying at a French language institution, the university will set its own standard for you to demonstrate that you are capable of following a degree in French.

Applying to a Canadian university can be a time-consuming process. We recommend that you start planning a year in advance. You should contact the Admissions Office of the university you are interested in applying to and they should be able to advise you on all the information you need to submit.

The deadlines for applying to Canadian universities vary from institution to institution and also by subject. Most universities deadlines are between January and June for entry to the September intake. Some universities make decisions on a rolling basis. Others may make you wait 4-6 months after the deadline before making offers.

Entry Requirements for Canadian Universities



How much does it cost to study in Canada?


Cost of living in Canada is approximately £7,200 per year.

Scholarships are rarer at Canadian universities than they are in the USA. Many awards of financial aid will be made at the same time as you receive an offer from the university and you will be considered for these awards without having to make a separate application. Scholarships are unlikely to reduce tuition fees significantly although there are some awards that will take financial need into consideration. We advise you to contact universities individually to find out what might be available.

How do I get a visa to study in Canada?

Getting a student visa is usually quite straightforward. You will need to prove that you have paid your tuition fees for the first year and that you have C$10,000 available to cover your living costs. You can apply for a student visa online here.

Can I work in Canada as a student?

As a student in Canada you automatically have the right to work on campus at your university. If you study at these universities you have the right to work off-campus during your studies in Canada.

Can I work in Canada after I graduate?

At this moment in time, Canada possibly has the most generous working visa terms of any English-speaking country. There are excellent prospects for employment in many industries and it is fair to say that work opportunities after graduation are a large part of the attraction of studying in Canada.

Upon graduation you can work in Canada for a period of time up to the length of time you spent studying. There are some important conditions attached to the post graduation work permit and you can read about them here.

Top Universities in Canada

There is no formal ranking of universities and colleges in Canada as most universities offer a similar quality of undergraduate education. Global rankings focussing more on research than teaching suggest that the following are the most respected Canadian institutions:

1.    University of Toronto
2.    University of British Columbia
3.    McGill University
4.    McMaster University
5.    University of Alberta
6.    University of Victoria
7.    University of Montreal
8.    Dalhousie University
9.    Simon Fraser University
10.  Carleton University