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Studying in Canada

Am I eligible to study in Canada? 

Each university has its own entrance requirements and will assess you on an individual basis. The university will determine the equivalency of your academic credentials. There is no nationwide set of entrance exams. For more details about this or any other part of the application process, contact the registrar at the university you wish to attend. 
What is the difference between a university and a college? 

Universities are educational institutions attended after at least 12 years of school, or after secondary school, for studies leading to a degree and research. All 93 member universities of AUCC offer three or four year bachelor degree programs; most offer one to two year master's degrees and a number also offer doctoral or PhD programs. Some universities are called colleges, and a few are called institutes, university colleges, or schools.

Community colleges are two-year institutions that offer technical or vocational courses, or courses for transfer to a university, leading to a certificate or diploma. Community colleges do not generally offer degree programs.

For more information on Canadian community colleges, contact the Association of Canadian Community Colleges, 1223 Michael St. N., Suite 200, Ottawa ON K1J 7T2 Canada. Tel: 613-746-2222, Fax: 613-746-6721, or visit ACCC’s Web site
How do I apply? 

To study at a Canadian university, you must first be accepted in a program of study by a recognized Canadian university. Once you have determined which universities meet your needs, contact the registrar’s office at each institution to obtain an application for a bachelor’s program or a professional degree. If you anticipate pursuing postgraduate studies in Canada you may obtain more information by contacting the dean of graduate studies at the universities that interest you. It is important to apply early.

Generally, international students should apply to a Canadian university up to eight months in advance. Some universities have application deadlines as late as June for a September start date. Typical entry points for international students are the September and January semesters. However, many universities have adopted a procedure of "rolling-admissions" which means that they consider international students’ applications as they come in throughout the year. However, for graduate programs in particular, it can take time to ensure you are matched with the right faculty adviser, and you should ensure that you apply early.

Calendars with course descriptions, admission requirements and procedures, costs and scholarships are available from the registrar at each university and are usually also accessible through the university’s Web site.

Engineering, optometry, medicine, veterinary medicine, law, and dentistry are fields where the first professional degree is considered an undergraduate program. There is a great deal of academic competition for these spaces and most universities have limits or quotas on the number of qualified applicants admitted each year. A high level of academic achievement is required for admission. Often at least two years of undergraduate study in a related field are required before you can be admitted to the first professional degree program. Check the university calendar to identify tests such as LSAT (law) or DAT (dentistry) that may also be required.

Courses, and in some cases, complete programs, taught by Internet, correspondence, teleconference, audio tapes, cable television broadcast and computer conferencing are all part of distance education programming at Canadian universities. Three AUCC members – Athabasca University, British Columbia Open University and Télé-université – offer all of their programs by distance education. Some universities restrict the acceptance to students residing in Canada for distance education. Verify with the continuing education office or registrar about restrictions for students not residing in Canada.

You can also contact the university of your choice directly. The majority accept applications via e-mail. Go to the university Web sites.

You can find information on academic programs offered by Canadian universities by searching the database of our Directory of Canadian Universities.
What are the language requirements? 

You do not have to speak both English and French to study at a Canadian university – however, you will have to show proficiency in one, depending on the university where you apply. Most English universities require a score of 560 or better on the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or a score of 70 on the Canadian Academic English Language (CAEL). Canadian French-language universities usually assess applicants on a case-by-case basis. To find out the language requirements of a specific university, check with its registrar.
How long will it take to earn a degree? 

Depending on the province, a bachelor’s or undergraduate degree takes either three or four years to complete. In provinces that grant three-year bachelor degrees, students must complete an additional year to obtain an honours degree. In some provinces, the fourth year is not necessary, but all honours programs require a high level of achievement and concentration in the subject. An honours degree is generally a prerequisite for admission into graduate studies.

A master’s degree usually requires at least one year of full-time study (after an honours degree) and includes a thesis, practicum or a research paper. A doctoral degree, or PhD, requires at least three years of additional full-time study, with at least one year on campus. In most cases, a master’s degree is required before admission into a doctoral program, but some universities will accept students who have completed an honours degree.
Will my degree be recognized in other countries? 

A degree from a Canadian university is recognized around the world and is usually equivalent to an American degree or a degree from another Commonwealth country. Professional and specialized programs such as medicine, nursing and engineering are accredited by reliable and reputable agencies. Current and new academic programs are regularly reviewed by provincial, institutional or regional bodies to ensure quality standards. Canada does not have an institutional accreditation process similar to that found in the U.S. The closest equivalent to accreditation is the appropriate provincial charter coupled with membership in the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada. AUCC members offer academic programs of the highest quality, with a reputation that extends far beyond our borders. 

For specific details on degree recognition, please consult with your country’s educational authorities or the Canadian Information Centre for International Credentials. CICIC acts as a referral service to support the recognition and portability of Canadian and international educational and occupational qualifications. They assist individuals on how to have foreign credentials or qualifications recognized in Canada by referring them to the appropriate bodies. Contact: CICIC, 95 St. Clair Ave. W., Suite 1106, Toronto ON M4V 1N6 Canada, Tel: 416-962-9725, Fax: 416-962-2800 or visit www.cicic.ca.
How much will living in Canada cost? 

The cost of living in Canada is moderate, compared with other countries. Some prices of typical goods and services are as follows (in US dollars):
One month’s rent, one-bedroom apartment: $400 
Bus fare, one way: $1.50 
Local telephone call: $0.25 
Average restaurant meal: lunch $7/dinner $14 
Movie: $7 

Since the winters are cold in most parts of Canada, an adequate warm clothing budget is a must. Expect to spend $250 - $350 US for proper winter clothes.

Generally you will need approximately $12,000 US ($18,840 Cdn or 13,000 Euro) to cover your expenses for an academic year. This includes your tuition and living expenses but not transportation to and from your home country. Please bear in mind that this figure is an average only. Actual expenses may vary depending on the region of the country you live in, the tuition fees at the university you attend and the program you choose.

Consult the Canadian government’s CanLearn Interactive Web site where you will find a financial planning tool to help you estimate living costs in various locations across Canada.
What housing is available? 

Most universities offer the option to live on-campus either in residences designated for international students or in residences generally available to all students on campus. However, acceptance at a Canadian school does not always automatically secure accommodation in a residence. Students need to apply separately for on-campus housing. Information on housing, both on- and off-campus, is available from the housing office or the international student adviser at most universities.
Is financial aid possible? 

Scholarship information:
Contact the Ministry of Education in your home country for information on Canadian scholarships. 
You can also get scholarship information from the financial aid offices at the university where you wish to study. 
Visit the Awards section of the Canadian Bureau for International Education Web site
Am I eligible to work in Canada? 

There are a number of opportunities to work while studying in Canada. All international students may work on campus. Graduate or research work completed at facilities associated with your institution (such as hospitals) also meets the definition of "on-campus". In order to work off-campus, international students must obtain a work permit. This may be obtained if employment is considered essential to your course of study.

Please note that the Canadian government is now looking at the possibility to allow, under certain conditions, full-time international students to work part-time off-campus during the school term and full-time during the holidays. For more information on this potential policy change, please contact your closest Canadian diplomatic post or student adviser at the Canadian university where you have sent your application.

In addition, you may request a work permit if you finish your degree in Canada and wish to work for a year in your field of study.

For more information about working while studying in Canada, please contact the visa officer at your closest Canadian diplomatic post or visit the Web site of Citizenship and Immigration Canada.
Do I need health insurance? 

Yes. You will have to arrange for medical coverage before you arrive in Canada. Medical coverage varies from province to province and sometimes from university to university within each province. Please ask an official at the nearest Canadian diplomatic post for detailed information. Also, check whether the universities you are applying to have any medical insurance plans for international students.

The provinces of Alberta, British Columbia and Saskatchewan cover international students under their provincial health care plans. Manitoba, New Brunswick, Newfoundland, Nova Scotia, Ontario, Prince Edward Island and Quebec do not cover international students under their provincial health care plans. International students planning to study in one of these provinces must arrange for private medical coverage through private insurance companies.
What are the immigration requirements? 

To study at a Canadian university, you will need a study permit. You may also need a visitor visa, which will be issued to you at the same time as your study permit. To apply for a study permit, please contact your nearest Canadian diplomatic post. For more information, visit the Web site of Citizenship and Immigration Canada.

It is best to apply early, as processing of a study permit usually takes one or two months. There is a processing charge of $125 Cdn (approximately $80 US) for one person. If you plan to study in the province of Quebec you must pay another $100 Cdn for a Certificat d’acceptation du Québec. There is no fee for a visa when it is issued with a study permit. For more detailed information, please contact your closest Canadian diplomatic post.

Note: You must be sure to arrive in Canada with a valid study permit (and visitor visa, if required).