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Study a graduate program in Canada

Graduate programs in Canada

More than 150,000 international students choose to study on graduate programs in Canada each year, looking to take advantage of the country’s reputation for high quality teaching and reasonable tuition costs.

Unlike in other countries there is no central ministry of education or formal accreditation system in Canada. Individual provinces and territories are responsible for their own education programs through membership to the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada (AUCC). There are currently 92 universities that are members of the AUCC.

Postgraduate courses in Canada combine both tradition and modernity, with a strong focus on quality facilities and teaching.

Population: 35,015,000

Education overview

Higher education in Canada is run by individual provinces and territories and in most cases to gain university status an institution needs to be a member of the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada (AUCC). Universities are mainly funded by provincial and territorial governments, the rest of the funding coming from federal government, tuition fees and research grants.

The amount of funding that universities receive varies widely. Universities in Quebec receive the most funding and have the lowest tuition fees, while institutions in Atlantic Canada generally have the least funding.

Graduate programs in Canada fall into two main categories:
  • Masters degrees
  • Doctoral degrees
Masters programs in Canada are offered in many different fields with two main types of course – academic and professional.
Doctoral degrees in Canada are the highest level and require students to produce an original piece of research. Unlike other countries such as the UK, doctoral students in Canada are still expected to complete coursework and written examinations rather than just focussing on their research.

Masters programs in Canada generally last between 1-2 years, with PhD programs lasting longer than in other countries coming in at between 4 and 7 years to complete.

Immigration and visas in Canada

Most foreign nationals will need a study permit to study on a graduate course in Canada and others may need to apply for temporary residence in Canada.

Generally people taking a postgraduate course in Canada that lasts less than six months will not be required to gain a student visa. Regardless of whether or not you need a permit everyone must demonstrate:
  • Acceptance from a university or educational institution in Canada.
  • Ability to pay tuition fees, living expenses and return fares to their home country.
  • Satisfy health requirements.
It is normally also necessary to demonstrate that you have adequate study abroad travel insurance, which you must buy before you travel.

You can find out more about students visas and immigration in Canada at Citizenship and Immigration Canada’s website.

Life in Canada

Living in Canada is in many respects the same as living in other Western countries, with a very high standard of living. Canada is considered a quite liberal and multi-cultural country.

The population in Canada is mainly split between English speakers and French speakers and has one of the lowest population density ratios in the world.

Canada is one of most diverse places in the world, in terms of geography, climate, culture and society. Life in Toronto will be totally different to life in the Northern Territories: every province has its own unique culture and lifestyle.

The cost of living in Canada is considered cheaper than places such as the UK and many other western countries. The cost of living varies between different regions, but you can find estimates of costs on the Education in Canada website.

Working in Canada

In order to undertake temporary work during your graduate program in Canada you will need to obtain a work permit. These are usually issues after a temporary offer of employment has been confirmed by the Human Resources and Skills Development Canada (HRSDC).

To work in Quebec a Certificat d’acceptation du Québec (CAQ) may be needed from the Quebec government. 

Some positions although they do need a work permit, do not need confirmation from the HRSDC. You will need a Social Insurance Number (SIN) to work in Canada and to receive any government services.

You can apply for a SIN by submitting your application to a local Service Canada Centre after arriving in Canada. You can find the location of offices on the Service Canada website.

Accommodation

The cost of accommodation in Canada varies depending on where you choose to study your postgraduate course.
There are three main types of accommodation while studying:
  • Homestay – a stay with a Canadian family
  • University accommodation – such as halls of residence, dormitories
  • Private accommodation – House and flat rentals
There is no shortage of student accommodation options in Canada.

The cost of student accommodation varies from province to province and city to city, but costs in Canada are considered reasonable. In homestays you can expect to pay an initial placement fee of up to $200 CDN and then pay between $400 and $800 CDN a month.
The average cost of residence/dormitory rooms in Canada is between $3,000 and $7,500 CDN per academic year. The cost of private rented shared accommodation in Canada usually falls between $250 and $700 CDN.

Climate in Canada

Being such a vast country the weather in Canada can vary widely between regions, with average summer and winter temperatures being different all over the country.

These can range from subarctic and arctic in the north to more temperate weather with mild, rainy winters in south-western areas.

Transport

Canada has a well-developed system of public transport. Public transport is plentiful, but costs vary depending on the city you are studying your postgraduate course in.

Currency

The currency of Canada is Canadian Dollar.

What to do next

If you would like more information about studying a graduate program in Canada, fill out our Free Application Service and we'll get in touch with you promptly with tailored information on studying abroad, great courses and advice on how to apply online.