Canada is known for its high standard internationally recognized education and has been ranked by the United Nations as the number one country for quality of life. Education is a provincial responsibility under the Canadian constitution, thus there are significant variations in the education system across the provinces but the standard of education is uniformly high. McGill University, University of Toronto, University of Western Ontario, University of British Columbia and Queen’s University are some the well known universities in Canada.

Education System:

Canadian education system encompasses both publicly funded and private schools including community colleges, language schools, secondary schools, universities and university colleges.

The schooling starts at the age of 6 years when the child joins year 1 in a primary school. The school year runs from September to June. Secondary schools go up to year 11 or 12 depending on the province. After the completion of year 12 the student may join university, college or cegep (College of General and Vocational Education).

Canadian universities offer academic oriented degree programs in multifarious arenas whereas the university colleges offer more practically oriented college certificates and diploma programs.

Most university colleges and community colleges provide pathway programs to join university.

Admission Requirements:


Successful completion of the equivalent of a Canadian secondary school academic program with strong marks and a keen interest for the desired field of study constitute the major requirements for admission to undergraduate degree programs. Since there are variations in the education system among provinces the student may be required to complete 12 or 13 years of formal education before they join a bachelor degree course.


Most postgraduate programs require completion of 16 years of education, strong academic records, reference letters, written statements and high score on GRE. Though some programs in health sciences, law and architecture may have special entry criteria.


For admission to MBA program one requires to possess a 4-year bachelors degree demonstrating high level of academic achievement, quality work experience of 2-3 years and a good score on GMAT.

Language Requirement:

Canada has two official languages – English and French. International students have an option to join courses in either but have to prove their proficiency in the same. As a measure for English proficiency the students are required to qualify TOEFL or IELTS and score a minimum of 6.5 bands in IELTS or 100 in TOEFL iBT.

Admission Process:

Canadian universities run their session from September to May. Admission procedure involves filling up of university forms or central application forms by the deadline, attaching certified transcripts for previous studies, letters of recommendation, statement of purpose and scorecards of standardized tests. The admission process takes around 10-12 months with most of the universities having their deadlines between December to March for their September intake. Once the admission committee approves the application the student receives the letter of acceptance.

Tuition & Living Costs:

Studying in Canada is affordable for international students as the tuition rates are comparatively lower than other countries. The average tuition fees for undergraduate programs is 12000 CDN $ p.a. and the fee for graduate programs ranges from 10000 – 25000 CDN $ p.a. The living expenses range from CDN $ 7,200-11,000 per year

Financial Assistance:

Limited scholarships and awards are available for international students in certain Canadian institutions and are accorded on a highly competitive basis to students with exceptionally bright track records. Teaching and research assistantships are available to graduate students based on their academic performance.


All overseas students require a visa and study permit to pursue academic programs in Canada. The student is required to download and print the application package from, fill up the student authorization forms, attach all documents like proof of identity, proof of financial support, proof of acceptance by the concerned academic institution, academic certificates, test scorecards and medical examination report and submit them along with the study permit fee which is 125 CDN$ as on 05th October 2010 at the Canadian High Commission Office. A designated visa officer reviews the file and may call the candidate for an interview. Once the visa officer is satisfied that you meet all the requirements of the Canadian Immigration Act and Regulations you are issued a document which must be shown to an immigration officer at the port of entry in Canada in order to obtain a study permit.

Future Prospects:

The Post-Graduation Work Permit Program allows students who have graduated from participating Canadian post secondary institutions to gain Canadian work experience in their field of studies. However, the permit cannot be valid longer than the length of the time studied. For example, if the length of study is more than 8 months but less than 2 years the permit is valid for the period equal to the study period. If the study period is 2 years or more the work permit may be issued for a maximum period of three years.

[VISA & work permit information taken from Citizenship and Immigration Canada website. All other information from CEC network website]